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No Country for Old Men {2007}.

No Country for Old Men, a 2007 existential noir western thriller by Joel and Ethan Coen, examines the dilemma of Llewelyn Moss {Josh Brolin}, who somewhat inadvertently ends up in the crosshairs of, among others, sociopathic assassin/operative Anton Chigurh {Javier Bardem}, a most singular character with a ruthless code and nihilism to spare. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell {Tommy Lee Jones} wants to help Moss, but, though plenty smart and resourceful, he realizes with the likes of Chigurh, whom he wryly and despairingly describes as a ghost, he’s in over his head; he’s dealing with a new kind of human. New, yet as old and implacable as the unforgiving landscape.

It is the uncanny accomplishment of the Coens to have rendered an extraordinarily nuanced environment where everything means something, yet nothing means anything. The interface of chance and inevitability is front and center.

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Fargo {1996}.

The 1996 film Fargo, a Coen Brothers masterwork, presents the story and precipitous moral/psychological decline of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), the misadventures of the bungling kidnappers (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) whose “help” he enlists, and the dogged attempts of Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) to make sense of it all. Macy’s performance is mind-boggling, Buscemi and Stormare are brilliant, and McDormand carried away an Oscar for her finely-nuanced portrayal. Carter Burwell composed the memorable theme.

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The Missouri Breaks {1976}.

This offbeat, rather twisted Western presents the intertwined stories of Tom Logan (Jack Nicholson) and his good-hearted, somewhat hapless rustling gang, and Lee Clayton (Marlon Brando), a so-called “regulator” (hired killer) whose job it is to identify and curtail the activities of Logan, et al. As the film progresses, an ever-increasing sense of dread and disquiet permeate the proceedings, as it becomes clearer all the time that the eccentric Clayton is a ruthless, sadistic sociopath, who relishes his deadly machinations and depraved exploits. The bounty hunter’s bewildering array of accents and disguises also merits mentioning.

Arthur Penn directed this cult masterpiece, and allowed the actors, especially Brando, to find their own way with the characters, including improvising much of the dialogue. Idiosyncratically paced, this oddball absurdist comedy/western thriller deconstructs the genre to beautiful effect, and Marlon Brando’s incomprehensibly stunning performance ultimately defines and lifts the film to the very heights.

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Actors Actors of Greatness cult films Film Film Music photography

The Wicker Man {1973}.

The Wicker Man, an extraordinary, curious, classic cult film, debuted in 1973 and has only gained in popularity since. The movie stars Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, and a host of locals from the small Scottish towns where it was filmed. So many memorable moments.

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Actors of Greatness Auteurs Directors Film Film Music Michael Mann photography Psychopaths serial killers Tom Noonan

Manhunter {1986}, Directed by Michael Mann.

This Big Hush: Shriekback.
Coelacanth.

The extraordinary film Manhunter, filmed in 1986, features auteur-like vision by director Michael Mann, and memorable performances by Tom Noonan, Brian Cox, and William Petersen. Based on the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, Manhunter possesses an eerie noir-ness, focuses often on the similarities between hunter and hunted, and resonates powerfully to this day.

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Twin Towering Talents: Phoenix and Eilish.

Joaquin Phoenix, who won the Oscar for best actor, and Billie Eilish, who performed a subdued, poignant, and haunting version of Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday”, were two of the vastly gifted artists amongst the assemblage at the 2020 Academy Awards ceremony.

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The Petrified Forest {1936}.

A tour de force by titans of the silver screen: Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, and Bette Davis. Mr. Howard insisted that a relatively unknown Bogart be cast for the role of iconic outlaw Duke Mantee; it became the actor’s first big breakthrough.

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Actors Actors of Greatness

Javier Bardem.

Actor Javier Bardem won a well-deserved academy award for his portrayal of the formidable/sociopathic Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men, a Coen Brothers film.

The featured scenes above bring existential dread to new heights.

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Actors Actors of Greatness David Thewlis Dr Moreau existentialism Film Geniuses Marlon Brando photography

The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Marlon Brando and David Thewlis engage in a mostly courteous exchange of ideas, and find said ideas to be at loggerheads. Various snouts, hooves, and outrageous spectacles are discussed. From The Island of Dr. Moreau, 1996. Both actors are at the pinnacle of their craft.

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π‘«π’†π’‚π’…π’˜π’π’π’…. 𝑫𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝑾𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓.