Performance Notes: No Country for Old Men; Radiohead; Scenes from a marriage

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The Film

No Country for Old Men

Certificate 15. On general release

Overview: Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem star in the Coen brothers' violent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel, an elegy for the old West set in Texas in 1980. Josh Brolin's hunter stumbles across a botched drugs deal in the desert. He duly takes the loot and runs. However, Bardem's psychopath and Jones's sheriff are on his tail.

Our view: "For what is ostensibly a thriller, one detects very little urgency. Like the Texan folks it's set among, the movie takes its own, sweet time... There are moments of bloody violence here, yet never do we feel the simple pity for a life lost...

Bardem is pretty wonderful, despite a haircut that makes him look like a psychotic cousin of The Monkees." Anthony Quinn

Critical view: "No Country for Old Men is a wonderwork... The film is one masterly demonic tableau after another." financial times"[This] is the most violent and infuriating film Joel and Ethan Coen have made... It seems churlish to take issue with a film with such rich characters. But I lost touch with the final reel. I couldn't picklock a meaning from the climax." the times "Violent, poetic, gripping, thrilling and blackly funny: that'll be the Coens doing what they do best then." empire"It may be the best they [the Coens] have ever made. But even if it isn't, it's still better than 99 per cent of last year's Hollywood crop... As a piece of cinema, it is plainly terrific and exactly what the Coen brothers do best." evening standard

The Gig


93 Feet East, London E1

Overview: Fresh out of contract with their label, EMI, Britain's biggest rock band sensationally announced they would perform a free gig in a shop, Rough Trade East, 12 hours before it took place. In the end, the crowds were so huge the Oxford five-piece relocated to a nearby venue. They played their new album, In Rainbows, four years in the making, in its entirety.

Our view: "12 hours of foot-stamping, teeth-chattering and sound-checking were finally, inevitably worthwhile: the gig – a run through of In Rainbows followed by an encore of classics – was a triumph. From the first bars of "15 Step" it's clear that the oft-incomprehensible howls of Kid A and Amnesiac are gone – Yorke's voice is back and stronger than ever." Tim Walker

Critical view: "Radiohead played the songs from In Rainbows in order, followed by a selection from their peerless back catalogue. The lissom funk of "15 Step" immediately sent frontman Thom Yorke into an antic reverie of dancing and twitching. On "Bodysnatchers", all three of the band's guitarists let rip with some ferocity... epically moving." the daily telegraph"It was just a great set to have seen – worth the wait, easily – but most of those who had tried to come didn't see anything. To be sure, it was free – but even so." evening standard"Most remarkably of all they looked happy and perhaps a little surprised that an album with such a long gestation period sounds so organic on the stage of a tiny venue." the times

The Play

Scenes from a Marriage

Belgrade B2, Coventry. Until 2 February

Overview: More than 40 years after Trevor Nunn began his career at the Belgrade Theatre, he returns to Coventry to direct his wife, Imogen Stubbs, in an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's epic 1973 TV series, which starred Liv Ullmann. The drama centres on a smug, rich couple, Marianne (Stubbs) and Johan (Iain Glen), trapped in a suffocating marriage.

Our view: "It can't be easy stepping into the shoes of Ullmann but Stubbs continually defies expectation. Her face is more expressive than Ullmann's, reacting almost instinctively to each critical moment... She paces her performance with infinite care... the production is all the more powerful for the concentrated performances he draws from the actors." Lynne Walker

Critical view: "It's a piece that nails the festering rows and lingering discontents of the marital state with unblinking precision... For a husband to direct his wife in such a play, mutually exploring every emotion, every cruel word in microscopic detail, must require mutual trust of a special kind and I salute both director and actress for their courage." the daily telegraph"Nunn's production lacks the forensic qualities necessary to make this dissection of a marriage really hurt." the guardian"The piece has its problems. Is this smug person all that interesting as a person? Come to that, is Marianne? Yet under Nunn's characteristically careful and lucid direction Glen and Stubbs leave you feeling that, yes, maybe they are." the times

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