It's been too long since anyone made a really good western. I guess the last one was "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," but few people even got to the end of the title, let alone that stultifyingly beautiful movie. What else comes to mind? The HBO series "Deadwood"? Slim pickings.
After the exceptionally hard-hitting "No Country for Old Men," the Coen brothers have flipped back to their default mode -- screwball farce -- in this disappointing return to the indifferent form that has plagued them over the past 10 years.
In "No Country for Old Men," the Coen brothers' masterly film of Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel, a professional killer lugs around an ungainly contraption, a pressurized air canister with a strap, a hose and (at the end of it) a metal prod. It's the kind of stun gun they might use in a slaughterhouse.
George Clooney may have taken direction from the filmmaking Coen Brothers in the past – for 2000's O Brother, Where Art Thou? and 2003's Intentional Cruelty – but at Monday night's National Board of Review awards dinner in New York, it was clearly a case of role reversal.
"It feels great. It's a big surprise. I'm very happy about the whole thing with No Country, because I think it's a movie that is really risky and it gets to people, and it's difficult to be in a movie that gets to people."
In the Big Lebowski, John Goodman's character, Walter Sobchak, says: "You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me." I recalled the genius of Goodman when my editor here at SI.com asked me for what he called my "sporting New Year's resolutions."
George Clooney and Casey Affleck took top male honors from the National Board of Review, which prides itself on being the oldest movie organization in the country (it's 98 years old) and the first to announce its prizes each year.