All joking aside, it's fascinating to note that No Country and There Will Be Blood share physical as well as psychic space. Big chunks of the movies were shot against the same flat, parched backdrop, the real Roadrunner-and-Coyote, West Texas landscape outside the town of Marfa. ''We ran into Paul [Thomas Anderson] once while we were shooting,'' says Ethan Coen. ''When we were shooting a scene with Josh Brolin tracking a blood trail, we had one very wide shot of Josh in the frame. He was just walking in this most remote place in the United States, and then behind Josh [arose] this big plume of black smoke over the ridge. We thought, Son of a bitch, the scene is ruined. We sent a grip over to see what was happening. It turned out it was Paul, testing an oil-well fire. We had to wait for the smoke to dissipate.''
Kinda makes you think the films had crossover potential, doesn't it?
Plainview: ''I...driiiiink...your...MILK shake!!!''
Chigurh: ''Drink this, friend-o.''
That face-off will never happen, of course. Nor will any sequels, no matter how popular Anderson's and the Coens' movies become. There will be no Chigurh Rising. No There Will Be Blood II: Oil Be Back! Their creators are artistes for whom such commercial allure is nil (and Javier Bardem is no Robert Englund, running his Freddy down so many nightmares on Elm Street). Some viewers have been left outraged, puzzled, or downright derisive about the abrupt, dangling notes upon which No Country and Blood conclude. But, despite their open-endedness, these tales of very bad behavior possess a slamming-door finality. Once the screen goes black and their spells are broken, you're glad to be rid of these villains...even as you also know they're all you'll want to think and talk about for days.
Additional reporting by Benjamin Svetkey