I’ve been reading a lot of Faulkner lately. This has nothing to do with me liking Faulkner (I don’t) or thinking that he’s an American master (at this point, I’m convinced that he’s not. Rather, it seems that a few critics–notably Malcolm Cowley and Cleanth Brooks–decided either that a. Faulkner is really great and/or b. America needs a new master of literary fiction, and it might as well be Faulkner. It seems amazing to me that these two critics conned a whole generation into believing that someone whose books were so unbelievably poorly written was actually, like, a totally awesome and important writer). I’m taking a class that requires me to read Faulkner.
Anyway, over the course of my reading, I got to thinking that the Coen brothers, two guys that have made some of the best American films ever (masterful films, certainly) are fond of Faulkner: the flood in O Brother Where Art Thou? hearkens to Faulkner’s novella Old Man (as does the whole milieu of that film really), the slow southern grotesque of Blood Simple is pure Faulknerian, ditto the gloomy doom of The Man Who Wasn’t There, and the failed screenwriter W.P. Mayhew in Barton Fink is essentially a caricature of Faulkner during his days in Hollywood.
So well and anyway, the Coens have a new movie coming out, No Country for Old Men, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. Cormac McCarthy is often compared to Faulkner, though I have no idea why. They’re American? That’s it. They’re American. Like I said though, No Country for Old Men. Early reviews suggest that this is a return to form for the Coens, who have either been stumbling or just lazily cashing in lately (see: Intolerable Cruelty; The Ladykillers)–but we’ll have to wait until November to find out. For now, check out the trailer: