I don’t know why Paul Haggis‘ In The Valley of Elah (Warner Independent, 9.14) wound up using almost half the cast of Joel and Ethan Coen‘s No Country for Old Men (Miramax, 11.9), but these films are certainly joined at the hip in this sense.
Elah has Tommy Lee Jones in the lead role and Josh Brolin in supporting, and this situation is reversed in Old Men. (Jones’ supporting role — a small-town sheriff — is far more pivotal than Brolin’s character is in Elah. You could argue that Jones’ guy is central to Old Men — the soul of that film, a one-man Greek chorus.)
In both films Jones has a frank, sobering chat with an old friend played by Barry Corbin (i.e., the Air Force general who said “Hell, I’ll piss on a battery if it’ll do any good!” in John Badham’s WarGames.)
Kathy Lamkin plays a straight-talking blue-collar employee in both — a fast-food worker in Elah, a trailer-park secretary in Old Men. And Josh Meyer has a walk-on role in both.
Elah was filmed after Old Men. Ellen Chenoweth was the Old Men casting director; Sarah Finn and Randi Hiller did the casting for Elah. They must be phone buddies.
And of course, Roger Deakins shot both.