For Tuesday, 4/8 (SOC 240)

  1. We’ll finish the last 10-15 minutes of No Country for Old Men next class–very aggravating that technical difficulties prevented us from finishing it all on Thursday. I guess the podium was childproofed.
  2. Please also read Craig Reinarman, ‘The Social Construction of Drug Scares’ in our reader.

Regarding the film, here’s our story thus far: West Texas, early 1980s: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a welder and Vietnam vet, comes across the scene of a drug deal gone wrong (‘…gettin set to trade. Then, whoa, differences‘, as one lawman succinctly puts it) and winds up with a briefcase full of money–over 2 mil. In hot pursuit comes a passel of baddies, chief among them an implacably grim reaper by the name of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a rogue Special Forces vet with a rigidly merciless brand of outlaw justice.

Two steps behind the both of them is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Three generations deep in (anti-)gangsterdom, Bell nevertheless struggles to come to grips with the trail of murder and mayhem that Chigurh leaves behind; it seems to him to herald the dawning of a radically new kind of evil (or at least a precipitously downward definition of deviance). 

Moss displays genuine invention and pluck in escaping the bad guys in a series of shootouts and chases; but when Chigurh designates even Moss’s wife as an enemy combatant, the ‘retired’ welder arranges to rendezvous with her in Odessa. The plan is for her to take the money and skedaddle off to California while he deals with his tormentor; unfortunately, we’re denied the satisfaction of a climactic battle between Kinda Good and Evil when Moss is fatally ambushed by some of the Mexican drug runners.

In the last full scene that we witnessed, Sheriff Bell returns to the scene of the shootout later that night while Chigurh is in Moss’s motel room, retrieving the money bag from a ventilation duct. The mystery deepens when Bell enters the room: there’s no sign of Chigurh, even though the signs point to his presence (the lock is blown out, the window is latched shut, and the grate to the ventilation duct has been removed with a coin). Bell knows he’s there somewhere, but leaves without confronting him. Why?


To be continued…


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