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Two nights ago, I watched Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man; last night, I watched the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There. So maybe the connection I’m making between the two is completely arbitrary, but the similarities – and differences – between them struck me. On the surface, both are weird-ass black-and-white movies that tackle old, mostly dead genres (the western and the classic film noir), but beyond that, they’re hardly mirrors of each other. Dead Man deliberately avoids western clichés to present something off-kilter, while The Man Who Wasn’t There faithfully reflects noir elements before pulling the rug out from underneath, but in their own way, they both put a unique spin on old genres.

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No Country for Old Men is one the best films in the catalogue of Joel and Ethan Coen, arguably the best American directors working today. Though it lacks the humorous tone of many of their previous works, they don’t suffer under the weight of dramatic pretension, and No Country is about as flawless a movie as you’ll find in recent memory. It’s no easy task to adapt a Cormac McCarthy novel to the screen (in addition to the difficulty of translating his inimitable tone and style, there’s the uneasiness of portraying the rather brutal violence in his films and doing justice to his themes in a new medium), but the Coens manage it without a hitch.

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