Character and theme in No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men (2007)

The blurb: Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.

Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minues

Starring: Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald

Written by Joel Cohen & Ethan Cohen, based on the book No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Directed by Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen

IMDb page

A Texan named Llewelyn Moss, while out hunting, stumbles across the remnants of a drug deal gone bad somewhere in the desert. He finds bodies, guns and spent cartridges, a stash of heroin, and, of course, cash. More than two million dollars in cash, actually, and Moss, like any sensible person, decides to keep it.

This wouldn’t be a big deal – nor much of a movie – if that was it. At the site, though, Moss also encounters one living person: a nearly-dead, bullet-riddled Mexican man, who says nothing but “agua.” Moss has no water, so he leaves the man there.

While lying in bed that night, however, Moss feels a pang of guilt over leaving the man there, and decides to bring the man some water. This is where things go wrong for our man Moss.

It’s dark when he gets back to the site. He parks his truck nearby and heads down to where he left the man, only to find the man now dead and the drugs missing. But before he can leave, another truck arrives, parked up on the rise beside Moss’s truck. The occupants slash his tires and come after Moss, who barely escapes with his life.

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Shin Godzilla vs. Red Tape

Much has been said about how political 2016’s Shin Godzilla was. It was as much a disaster/monster movie as a skewering of the Japanese government, as well as that of the United States, and their relationship.

And it’s all true, of course – it’s a beautifully-written film, and a hell of an addition to the series.

Something that’s always stood out to me on my viewings of that film, however, is how the film handles the endless bureaucracy that’s the Japanese government.

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Character in Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio

Talk Radio (1988)

Netflix blurb: With his show going into syndication, an acerbic radio talk-show host spouts opinions that anger everyone – including a local neo-Nazi group.

Runtime: 110 minutes

Starring Eric Bogosian, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Greene, Leslie Hope, John C. McGinley

Written by Eric Bogosian, Oliver Stone, based on Talk Radio by Eric Bogosian and Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg by Steven Singular

Directed by Oliver Stone

IMDb page

First of all, great, tense, film, with a fascinating – but infuriating – main character in Barry Champlain, the aforementioned acerbic talk show host. Plot summary here.


This is a tragedy. Barry’s flaw is his ego – he takes himself way too seriously, and needs to be talked about, whether that’s positive or negative. He condescendingly argues with, and insults, his callers. He’s booed at public appearances, but he shakes that off easily. He brags about his negative press coverage – it’s all good publicity. He pushes everyone around them to their limits.

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Character and theme in the film Boys in the Trees

Boys in the Trees (2016)

Netflix blurb: Dark forces and nightmares are unleashed when two teenage friends, estranged by one’s popularity, reunite for a Halloween walk through the forest.

Runtime: 1 hour, 52 mins

Starring: Toby Wallace, Gulliver McGrath, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Justin Holborow

Written and directed by Nicholas Verso

IMDb page

This is a good one, first of all. I absolutely loved it. An atmospheric tale of two estranged friends and their journey home – literally and figuratively – over the course of one weird 1990s night. Call it urban dark fantasy – don’t let the scary clown mask fool you, as it’s not a horror flick (although it has its moments).

I couldn’t find a good plot summary, so I’ll recount the story first. If you’ve seen it, go ahead and skip to theme down below.

Spoilers follow.

The story

The film focuses, really, on a kid named Corey, a budding photographer just at the end of his high school days, with plans to leave his Australian suburb and study in New York.

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Characters, theme, and kaiju: Pacific Rim: Uprising

The Blurb: Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.

Runtime: 1 hour, 50 mins

Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing

Written by Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, T.S. Nowlin

Directed by Steven S. DeKnight

IMDb page

Mechs vs. monsters, round two

The sequel to 2013’s Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim: Uprising introduces us to a (hopefully) post-Kaiju world. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article, which includes a nice plot overview.

Spoilers ahead.

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Character, theme and the Rock: some thoughts on Baywatch

The story, as told by the Netflix blurb:

To save their beach, elite lifeguard Mitch Buchannon and a former Olympian probe a criminal plot that threatens the future of the bay.

Directed by Seth Gordon

IMDb page

Interesting, this one, from a story/character perspective. I don’t like to what-if movies – it’s not fair to judge them on something they’re not trying to do – so let’s just take this as a little thought exercise, shall we?

First of all, I very much enjoyed Baywatch. It’s a lot of fun, very funny, and very entertaining (can never go wrong with the Rock, right?).

The part I want to look at is the arc of the character played by Zac Efron, Matt Brody. This is the main character – I’m using this term to describe the character with an arc, with a flaw to overcome.

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