Schnack and Wilson’s film implicitly pays homage to Altman’s seventies opus; like Nashville, Strangers is a backstage musical that simultaneously revels in and critiques indigenous cracker-barrel spectaculars, and frames the locale as a microcosm of American history and identity.
Who knows what lines of dialogue, what images, are meant to convey humor: People dressed like garbage cans, dancing? A close-up of oven-burnt sausages? A man “meditating” in lotus pose on top of a car? Hippies singing a round of “Ten Little Indians” on a Ken Kesey–style school bus?
Typical of the writing and pacing in director Aaron Schneider’s film is a line from the funeral director’s assistant, drawn out for so long that sighs from the audience are audible between his pauses: “You wanna be at your funeral. Party. Alive? But. You can’t have a funeral if you’re not. Y’know. Deceased.”
he core mystery of No Country for Old Men (both book and movie) is existential. The action may take place in a standing pool of blood, but the meat and gristle is the ugly side of surviving into old age: reckoning with cosmic disappointment from midlife to retirement.