Monday, March 10, 2008

New on DVD - No Country for Old Men and Gone Baby Gone

Two outstanding films from 2007 are now out on DVD. Gone Baby Gone was released on February 12th and No Country for Old Men drops tomorrow on March 11th. At first I wondered how I would tie a post about the two movies together, but as I returned to each of the films I saw a number of commonalities:

1. Both are the result of brother teams: No Country for Old Men was adapted and directed by the amazing Coen Brothers (several of their cast members referred to them as one person with two heads) and Gone Baby Gone featured a collaboration between Ben Affleck who directed younger brother Casey.

2. Both feature the locale as a character in the story. In Gone Baby Gone, the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester looms large on the screen while in No Country for Old Men the harsh and unforgiving landscape of west Texas enhances the movie's theme of survival.

3. Both are based on novels: No Country for Old Men on the book by Cormac McCarthy and Gone Baby Gone is the second of Dennis Lehane's novels (the first being Mystic River) to be adapted for the screen.

4. Both feature actresses with amazing accent abilities. Amy Ryan who played Helene McReady in Gone Baby Gone did such a convincing accent in her audition, Ben Affleck asked her which part of Boston she was from. And Kelly Macdonald effortlessly affected a west Texan drawl as Carla Jean Moss but between takes she slipped right back into her native Scottish lilt.

5. Both contain depictions of venerable old school lawmen: In No Country for Old Men it was Tommy Lee Jones' Sheriff Bell while in Gone Baby Gone, Morgan Freeman's Captain Jack Doyle filled the bill.

There are some other connections as well--like the fact that Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) shared the screen with Garret Dillahunt (No Country for Old Men) in The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford. Or both movies have drug related subplots and ambiguous endings. But enough of that!

No Country for Old Men deservedly won four Oscars including Best Picture. The DVD release includes a "Making Of" featurette which not only digs a bit deeper into the story and characters, but offers insights into makeup, special effects and even that infamous Anton Chigurh hairstyle. There's also a feature on working with the Coen Brothers--which, according to cast and crew, is a uniquely wonderful experience. Some crew member have worked with them on 7-10 films! The last featurette is titled "Diary of a Country Sheriff" and it offers additional insight into the Sheriff Ed Tom Bell character, as well as other characters in the movie.

The bonus features on the Gone Baby Gone DVD are less impressive. There's a selection of deleted scenes--pretty much all of which were rightfully not included and audio commentary. The "Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck" featurette seems more like a justification for the actor's foray into directing. Unnecessary since the film itself justifies Mr. Affleck as a competent and talented director. The "Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone" bonus is really more of the same. The deftly executed story is reason enough to buy or rent the DVD, but it would have been nice to have included more illuminating bonus features.

So if you're looking for some great flicks to add to your DVD library or to your Netflix queue, here are a couple of titles to check out!

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