Who's in It:
Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald
The Basics: It's 1980 in West Texas, and a trailer park dweller (Brolin) finds a suitcase full of money. Sociopath Bardem wants the money. Sheriff Jones wants to find Bardem, but mostly he wants to rest and be done with all the evil in the world. Naturally, he has to get to that place by dealing with the most relentless evildoer he's ever encountered.
What's the Deal? This is the most unstoppably grim and tense movie the Coen brothers have ever made. It's full of long, deadpan silences and longer stretches of breath-stopping suspense, all without the normal cues movies that call themselves "thrillers" usually throw at you to soften the blow of the violence and the fear. It's scarier than all the self-proclaimed horror movies I've seen all year and better-looking than most of the "art films" I've seen, too.
What It's About: All crime dramas worth anything are about more than the crime and the guns. They're about human nature and the big ugly fight between good and evil and all that Flannery O'Connor stuff, and this movie gets to join the ranks of the best of them. Evil kind of kicks everyone in the butt here, though.
The Long Hair of Death: Bardem, as the man with the odd, long, bowl-cut/pageboy hair and a powerful air compressor that a lesser murderer might give a cute nickname to, is the single most chilling human being to inhabit a movie about death in Texas since Leatherface. This is the guy you fear will be standing over your bed when you wake up in the middle of the night.
Irony Banished: One beef people have with the Coen brothers is that they seem to be smirking and winking their way through their regionalisms. And you only have to watch O Brother Where Art Thou? or Raising Arizona to see that they do like to have fun at the expense of hicks. But this one isn't like that at all. It's as true to West Texas in 1980 as a movie can be (I know; I lived in that area then) and doesn't have time to mock anyone, because it's too busy murdering them all.