The lovely Mrs. P. and I saw “No Country for Old Men” a couple of weeks ago. (We don’t get out to the movies much, and when we do, they tend to be animated movies; something to do with the two small humans that follow us almost everywhere we go.) Other than “American Gangster” and “Into the Wild,” it’s the only movie up for an Oscar that I have seen — and it’s better than those films by a country mile, so I am rooting for it. It sounds like it has a good chance of raking in some awards, which means more moviegoers will be exposed to lines like this:
Wendell: It’s a mess, ain’t it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell: If it ain’t, it’ll do till the mess gets here.
That line is delivered by Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the part of Sheriff “Ed Tom” Bell with humor and authenticity. He is one of the “old men” for whom this is “no country” anymore; as he tells another oldtimer in one scene, things in 1980s America just aren’t the same anymore:
Ed Tom Bell: It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Anytime you quit hearing “sir” and “ma’am”, the end is pretty much in sight.
Another scene captures Ed Tom’s understated sense of humor. In it, the sheriff and his sidekick Wendell enter a trailer looking for a man, and find a bottle of milk on a table.
Ed Tom Bell: Now that’s aggravatin’.
Ed Tom Bell: [points to a bottle of milk] Still sweatin’.
Wendell: Whoa, Sheriff! We just missed him! We gotta circulate this!
Ed Tom Bell: Well, okay. What do we circulate? Lookin’ for a man who recently drunk milk?
You don’t have to be a guy to appreciate this movie. But it helps. A lot of the dialogue is so funny because it accurately captures the taciturn manner that many men from Texas have.
Carla Jean Moss: Where’d you get the pistol?
Llewelyn Moss: At the gettin’ place.
. . . .
Carla Jean Moss: Fine. I don’t wanna’ know. I don’t even wanna’ know where you been all day.
Llewelyn Moss: That’ll work.
Llewelyn Moss is played by Josh Brolin, who was a standout earlier this year in the weaker “American Gangster.” But the only actor in the movie nominated for an Oscar is Javier Bardem, a Spanish actor who was, by the way, riveting in the Spanish movie Mar Adentro. He has a million great lines in this movie, but I’m not going to repeat any of them here. It would give too much away.
Me, I don’t plan to watch the Oscars. Never do. I plan to invite neighbor Jeff C. down here; he’s been here the last two Oscar nights so we can avoid them together. Jeff C., if you’re reading this, give me a call!