December 05, 2006

The Kangaroo Who Wasn't There

The Coen brothers next full-length movie is No Country for Old Men, an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel. The only McCarthy book I've read is his most recent novel, The Road, and I highly recommend it. It's an amazingly sparse tale of post-apocalyptic survival; the phrase "gray twilight" pops up so much that my memory of reading the book is like floating through some cloud of whirling ash. But in a very enjoyable way.

That being said, I strongly believe that the Coens next-next movie should be an adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's book, Gun, with Occassional Music. First off, it's a Raymond Chandler detective story and the Coens have done great stuff with the noir genre. Even better, it's set in a dystopic future where self-medicating with addictive memory-removal drugs is not just legal, it's considered civic minded. It's the Long Goodbye by Philip Dick - how can this not be a Coen brothers movie?

But the better reason is that under the structural and stylistic parts of the book there's some really great stuff going on with the power of language and the control it affords. In Gun's reality, only licensed "inquisitors" are able to ask questions, to the point where all but the most dissident members of society have lost the ability to have the kind of rapid-fire, question-answer dialogue that is the hallmark of hard-boiled noir. This post-modern slant seems very much in line with some of the stuff that makes The Big Lebowski more interesting beyond just being hilarious ... and I guess that's a reason why they maybe wouldn't wanna revisit the same territory. But there's nothing wrong with going back to the well sometimes. Especially when, you know, your most recent stuff wasn't so good.

As a vision of the future it's also timely in its comment on our reality (see above re: the role of authority in asking questions). But it does so within the context of a fully-realized and completely compelling world of its own; one filled with rapidly-evolved, intelligent animals and a centralized system of karmic accounting. In other words, it's science fiction at its best. And I'd like very much to see it in theaters in late 2007. If at all possible. Thanks.

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