Every year the gulf between between those who judge films for what they actually are (or seem to be) and those who like or dislike films based on what the films do for them seems to get wider and wider. Industry lowbrows tend to favor comfort-blanket movies; others get their comfort blankets at Bed, Bath and Beyond and deal with movies on a slightly more engaged or inquisitive or cultured basis.
Case in point: Kris Tapley‘s item about No Country for Old Men screening at the Academy yesterday afternoon, and, according to one witness, how “‘people just got up shaking their heads’ following the film’s admittedly chilling ending.”
The guy also tells Tapley that “the screening was going well for the first hour or so, but the final act induced a certain level of shock that did not read as the positive sort. And, the attendee notes, there was very little applause over the film’s credits.”
You can’t goad people into being brighter or more educated or more respectful of the craft and intentions of the Coen brothers or original author Cormac McCarthy. You can try and shame them into responding a little less impulsively, but most of the comfort-blanketers are fairly dug into their way of seeing and processing. Some films reach right in and touch you; other times you have to probe and work your way into them. The general rule-of-thumb is that you need to at least try and meet a film halfway, but the comfort-blanket crowd…I don’t know. It’s very dispiriting. Infuriating, I really mean.
Due respect to a fellow columnist, but the ending of No County for Old Men isn’t “chilling” — it’s about sadness, lament, resignation. And no audience has ever clapped or or cheered as No Country cuts to black and final credits. It’s not that kind of film. It’s the kind of film that kicks in an hour or two later, or over dinner later on or while you’re driving or showering the next day.