The absence of a compelling story

As I said in my last post I hope to highlight some of the more unnoticed processes that go into making a movie and touch on the people who are behind these accomplishments. This week I wanted to highlight directors Joel and Ethan Coen. These brothers are responsible for great movies like “True Grit”, “No Country for Old Men” “The Big Lebowski” and “O Brother, Where Art Though” and I believe that is because of their take on adapting and creating story lines. For “True Grit”, they wanted to stay more true to the novel and like I said before, the movie proves that it works better this way.

So over break I had a bunch of Christmas money and when I went to Walmart it was open season for me in the movies section. I kept trying to remember movies that I had read good things about and heard recommendations to see and as I was going through the many bins I came across “No Country For Old Men”. This movie had won many Oscars and had great reception from critics so I thought “Why not?”

One thing that I did remember was to read the book first and then watch the movie. I recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, or saw it and didn’t understand it, to do the same. This might turn some off to the idea of seeing the movie because it requires homework. The story revolves around three men who even though they are not together onscreen for more than a few scenes, their lives impact each other in very distinct ways. Josh Brolin plays Moss, a regular guy who finds a drug deal gone bad out in the middle of the desert. He takes the briefcase of stolen drug money and later is discovered by the drug cartel who orders a crazed hit man named Chigurh played by Javier Bardem to kill him and retrieve the money. In the middle of this is sheriff Ed Tom Bell played by Tommy Lee Jones who has to deal with chaos of the drug deal and find Moss before Chigurh does. What made this movie chilling was the way the Coen Brothers filmed it. The movie has barely any music in it with most of it being at the end during the credits. This choice in direction makes every moment focused on the characters and their actions. Javier Bardem’s performance is creepy and with no music it makes his twisted sense pure evil making me question if there is a person truly out there who is this disturbed. After watching this movie it might require multiple viewings in the future to truly understand it. For me, I felt that the movie seemed unfinished or anti-climatic, but I think that’s only because I’m so used to a cookie cutter standard of how movies are done. This is really a shame because there are some great films out there that don’t get the recognition they deserve because of the unconventional way are done.

I think any book that is adapted into a movie should be done to the integrity of the novel and not molded to fit in with corporate Hollywood’s outline for making money.

To keep true to this format if a book is being adapted into a screenplay, sometimes the director or the studio will hire the author of the book to write the screenplay or be a producer for the movie. Films like “Holes” and “The Godfather” were done this way. But ultimately it’s the director’s decision in this process because its his or her vision.

I think Hollywood has trouble understanding this concept because they are so concerned about making money that they don’t care if the movie is good as long as it makes money. Great movies like “Fight Club”, “Zodiac”, “The Social Network” and the Harry Potter movies were all adapted and had some form of success if not in theaters, but on home video and it was because they were faithful to their source material and had people who actually took the time to make a great film and didn’t try to cash in and make terrible adaptions like “Percy Jackson & The Olympians” or “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”