Cormac McCarthy, who died Tuesday, is widely considered one of the greatest novelists of his generation, laconic, poetic and baroque, able to see the essence of human nature in the most dire circumstances. had been His writings, with their western landscapes, noir-esque dialogue, and biblical tendencies, proved to be catnip for filmmakers including the Coen brothers, Ridley Scott, and Billy Bob Thornton. Take a look at how this most individual writer left his mark on the screen.
“All the Pretty Horses” (2000)
Perhaps the mildest of McCarthy’s Border trilogy novels, this film adaptation tells the story of young John Grady Cole, who hightails across the border into Mexico and falls in love with a wealthy rancher’s daughter (Penelope Cruz). It depicts a story of falling into and running away. She breaks the law with her family and goes through a terrifying prison life. Yes, this is mild by McCarthy’s standards. Matt Damon plays Cole, a sensitive young man who is stunned in love, riding on the success of “Good Will Hunting” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Cruz, who hails from Spain, is doing her best as the daughter of the southern border. Thornton directs with a lyrical respect for the original, if not all guts and imagination.
The Coens return to their Texas noir roots for their first feature, Blood Simple, as their most successful McCarthy adaptation to date. The film won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, as well as Javier Bardem starring as one of McCarthy’s nihilistic villains, a merciless hero who speaks in riddles and unleashes deadly rhetorical jousts on his prey. He was also praised for playing a killing machine and supporting him. But the heart of the film is about a briefcase full of money and the crazy opportunist (Josh Brolin) who steals it, with Tommy Lee playing a small-town sheriff who wants to get out of the game.・It is Jones. Every moment it becomes ominous and incomprehensible. He’s the old man of the title, the author’s agent, the poetic soul who’s just waiting until it’s all over.
“The Road” (2009)
The Road, the novel (2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning) that brought McCarthy’s world to a wider audience, depicts the spectacle of post-apocalyptic hell as a heartbroken father (Viggo Mortensen) over his young son (Kodi Smit). I will save you with my pure love. -McPhee, a young actor with already extraordinary instincts). It is inhabited by cannibals and other desperate survivors, played by the likes of Robert Duvall, Michael K. Williams, and in a brief but hauntingly terrifying performance, Garrett Dillahunt. A gray land of ruined wreckage. Directed by John Hillcoat. “The Road” ranks alongside “No Country” as one of the purest visual distillations of McCarthy’s prose.
McCarthy sometimes likes to take some characters and just let them explain what it means. His 2022 novel Stella Maris fits this bill, and McCarthy’s play Sunset Limited, about a god-fearing ex-con named Black (Samuel L. Jackson) and a secular humanities professor. So does the HBO movie version of. Called White (Tommy Lee Jones), Black helped him jump into the subway. Trapped in Black’s apartment, they poked and parried, Black offering street divinity and White boiling down to his own suicidal thoughts. Both actors clearly enjoy the opportunity to speak McCarthy’s lines, but who can blame them? It was part of Jackson’s magnum opus and allowed him to return to his theatrical roots through a tightrope-walking act of philosophy and emotion. Jones’ staging is artisanal, but that’s all the material really needs.
The Counselor (2013)
Ridley Scott, who directed the only original screenplay in McCarthy’s resume, was an outburst of criminal nihilism that was unfairly maligned and misunderstood, elevating the noir direction of “No Country” to the point of apotheosis. there is Michael Fassbender plays a no-nonsense lawyer whose hobbies go deep into the Mexican cartels. Other players come and go, including Brad Pitt, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, and Cameron Diaz, who had a spellbinding encounter with a luxury car you can’t miss. This is how McCarthy and Scott contagiously revel in the dark side of humanity, including his two heroic murder scenes that are notable for their brutality and creativity.