Here's a rough transcript of a conversation I had earlier in the week with my old boss (OB), who's been a kindly maternal figure to me during my New York existence. OB: Kevin, have you seen No Country for Old Men?
OB: I need to talk to you about it. I watched it over the weekend and it really got me thinking.
Me: Yeah, it's pretty disturbing isn't it?
OB: Well the ending really gave me a lot to think about.
Me: Yeah there's no real resolution is there?
OB: Well did you think there was a social message that they were trying to say through the story?
Me: What do you mean?
OB: Well the movie is obviously saying something really dark about what's happened to our country.
OB: Well I was thinking about the Tommy Lee Jones character and what he says at the end of the movie. About how he doesn't understand what's happening around him.
Me: So it's like a pervasive evil that's gone out of control, and it's everywhere now...
OB: Well, just the fact that he seems so overwhelmed by the crime that's happening, and that he doesn't even understand why these people were doing these things... Don't you think it's about immigration?
Me: What do you mean?
OB: Well think about it. The bad guys in the movie are all [hushed tone] Mexicans, and look at how easily people can run back and forth across the border, and look at what happens? And look at the way they act. It's just so lawless and chaotic. And this cop can't do anything about it. It really breaks your heart.
Me: Did you get that from Lou Dobbs or something?
OB: You don't agree with me, do you? I mean, don't you think the movie puts out a pretty good case for immigration reform?
Me: Well, actually you might have uncovered something that's bothered me about this movie and I hadn't been able to put my finger on.
OB: So you don't like the movie?
Me: I admire it, I respect it. I mean, it's perfectly crafted and shot. Every scene is flawless in its own way. But there's something about it in the middle, and what it has to say about America, that just rubs me the wrong way. I left it feeling so rotten. I just don't buy that view of America.
OB: Well I can see what you mean. But it was very disturbing. I think it says a lot about what's wrong with this country.
Like I said above, I think my old boss put her finger on something about this film that for me just stinks. Though some have labeled the Coens as pure genre stylists with no socio-ideological affiliations, they strike me as long being neo-conservative in their vision of America (the one exception may be The Big Lebowski with its lampooning of Gulf War patriotism). I don't begrudge them their right to espouse their ideology (unwittingly or not). I think there have been many masterpieces of American right wing cinema (mostly in the crime and horror genre where the cinematic exploitation of audience fear and paranoia can far exceed any speech by Rudy Giuliani in eloquence). And it may just be another sign of our national schizophrenia that this film may win the best picture Oscar the same year that Obama (an anti-"No Country" candidate if there ever was) gets elected president.
Would you agree that No Country is pretty much right-wing in its view of America? Any right-wing American masterpieces you can think of?
PS: Long ago I predicted a There Will Be Blood / "Milkshake" mashup video, and sure enough there's one out - though it's pretty lame. Would any one venture one for No Country mashed with The White Stripes' "Icky Thump"?