The Counselor: A Shakespearean tragedy of greed and desperation. (by Ser_Stephen_Seaworth)
The Counselor, like previous McCarthy adaptations, is gorgeous to behold, but unlike No Country and the others, this one is unnervingly bright, lensed in iridescent yellows and grungy grim tones. It lacks the scope of a Gladiator or a Kingdom of Heaven, instead acting as a somehow intimate, character-driven or perhaps "dialogue-driven" is better tale. It is, one could say, Ridley Scott's first fable yes, Legend notwithstanding . Allow me to explain. The story, like most McCarthy tales, is simple: a nameless lawyer Fassbender , madly in love with his fiancée Laura Cruz and <more>
seeking to provide for her and give her the life she deserves, decides to get in a once-and-I'm-out deal: namely, to get involved in a venture dealing with twenty million dollars worth of drugs being ferried to the States from Mexico. The counselor's associates in this job are the flamboyant Reiner Javier Bardem, returning to McCarthy's bleak world yet again, though this time sporting a Brian Grazer-esque hairdo instead of Chigurh's pageboy and middleman Westray Brad Pitt, sporting a Tom Petty style , both of whom warn the counselor that this deal will change his life in ways he cannot fathom. The film also focuses on Reiner's Argentinean squeeze Malkina, played by Cameron Diaz. Malkina is a glammed-up diva in the Donatella Versace vein comparable to Kristin Scott Thomas's equally diva-like turn in Only God Forgives; they could be sisters , sporting a cheetah-spot design tattooed to her throat and a felicitous feline sneer everywhere she turns she even owns a pair of cheetahs that she sics on desert jackrabbits for her and Reiner's amusement . Of course, as is wont to happen in McCarthy's world, something goes wrong, sh_t hits the fan, and the lives of every character hangs in the balance. Characters are sliced, diced, shot and in one gruesome instance subject to a weapon of grim ingenuity that involves a motor, a loop of unbreakable wire, and a jetting gout of blood. Yet the film also brings levity to it in spades, to the point that The Counselor could almost be considered a black comedy. Much of the film's action is "interaction," as the counselor deals with the other characters that warn, judge, and even blame him for the capricious trick of fate that has sealed their own. McCarthy's penchant for cipher-like monologues is in full play here, and it can bog down an unwary traveler. That said, for all of its deep soliloquies and terse warnings, the film is not indecipherable, and at times McCarthy's caustic wit comes across brilliantly. Scott and McCarthy manage to coax some pretty impressive work from their cadre. Michael Fassbender, whose character is himself little more than an archetype the "good man who f_cks up once and pays for it dearly" , is actually quite good here, and I'm probably in the minority when I say that I prefer his turn here over his acclaimed performance in Shame a film I respect but have little affection for . Cruz makes the most of a rather lightweight part, and even though her character exists as little more than an ideal, it still works. Bardem is, for once, the comic relief, playing an entrancingly funny motormouth who is the polar opposite of his last McCarthy character. He is the one who has the most fun with the dialogue and despite English being his second language, he nails Cormac's every nuance. Pitt's Westray is laid-back yet high-strung, and seems an easy fit for the actor, giving every line a wry twist. But the true revelation is Diaz's against-type turn. She is the character audiences will remember most of all, and not just because of her fornication with a Bentley it makes sense in context . . . I think . There is a hard, wicked steel in her performance, almost predatory. There are other memorable turns, like Ruben Blades's one-scene wonder and even Dean Norris of Breaking Bad fame, that make this a truly sumptuous ensemble. The Counselor is not an easy watch, both because of its violence and because Scott and McCarthy I have to credit both men; it feels like such a collaborative creative effort don't dumb it down. It's a simple story, but it's also one that feels like Scott's most mature work. It isn't without its flaws certain scenes run on a bit long, while others feel a bit short-changed , but The Counselor results in a perverse viewing that is, in a word, unforgettable.
By the time it's over you realize this is more blood curdling and wicked than any horror tale. But it sneaks up on you. It's like "Savages", "Blow" and "Traffic" all rolled into one that reaches out and punches you in the throat with the scope and depth of the cold blooded darkness it portrays. It disarms you from the beginning with the extensive normality in it's engaging dialogue, it's interesting characters and even humor, especially one scene involving a Ferrari. But even knowing this I doubt anyone would be prepared for where it takes them, <more>
unless they come from this world. Written by Cormac McCarthy, it's very similar in tone to his best known work, "No Country for Old Men".I know some will disagree well, many already have with the lukewarm ratings and disappointing box office it's getting--the R ratings crowd apparently opting for MTV's "Bad Grandpa", sigh , but I think this is Ridley Scott's best since "Gladiator". The cast is superb, especially Diaz and Bardem; and I gotta plug Natalie Dormer whose character has a small part but makes a tremendous gesture that sets her above the otherwise maleficent current to the story. I'm definitely going to have to watch this again.It's probably over-the-top irony, but think Glen Frey's "Smuggler's Blues" when the credits roll. Edit: I'm bumping it up from 9 to a 10/10...a masterpiece. There's a couple of possibilities, but I doubt anything's going to surpass it this year.
A dark, bleak masterpiece about predators - 10/10 (by rockenrohl)
Don't believe the bad reviews here: If you love intelligent, really dark gangster movies, this is definitely one to see.It's so sinister it hurts - but not in an "in your face" way, but gradually. McCarthy has written a piece about predators very eloquent predators - the dialogs, or rather monologues, are a thing of real beauty . And don't let anyone tell you they are not good because nobody talks like this. This is not the point of this movie, anyone who wants a realistic, mindless action thriller is in the wrong movie. These are dark poetic gems, perfectly brought to <more>
life on the big screen.The plot is merciless. There's no relief some great comic relief moments aside, but they leave the viewers as puzzled as the characters in those scenes , the violence is shot in a way that shows you what violence is it hurts, it's terrible, there is nothing noble about it .The predators and this is maybe the main theme of this movie triumph all the way, to the point where it almost physically hurts. Diaz is perfect as the ice cold greedy killer in big cat tattoos , this is, in my humble opinion, her best work ever. As viewers, we are left as baffled by the predators' moves as are the many innocent bystanders we see again and again in restaurants, on the streets, in Mexican bars .There are, however, many people with redeeming qualities if you know and like McCarthy's work, think the ending of "The Road" . This is where the word "counselor" clearly becomes ironic: He does not counsel anyone, he just listens, he gets counsel throughout the movie. And even all the predators only Diaz is purely evil beyond redemption have good counsel for him. He just does not listen to anyone, and that is his downfall. Even while he really does his job as counselor, in prison with the perfect Rosie Perez, he just receives orders. There's also the brief, brilliant appearance of Natalie Dormer towards the end - here, we get a brief glimpse of humanity, too. And, of course, we get it in Laura's love great as Diaz' opposite: Penélope Cruz - doomed, because the counselor cannot listen.Acting was very, very strong throughout. And visually, the whole thing is a feast, too. Not just because Scott knows what he's doing in every scene. Whoever chose the settings and clothing should get an award, it was just perfect in every way.
one of the greatest morality plays of all time... (by A_Different_Drummer)
Disguised as a suspense thriller ... and with a script to die for. Literally.Oddly I was reminded of Claires Knee 1970 a film that was supposed to be about erotica but in fact, if you listened to the dialog, was also a morality play disguised as something else.I will be honest -- I gave it a 9 and almost gave it a 10. That is because as a reviewer I look for flaws -- much the same same way one of the characters in this film first looks at a diamond.And I found none. The cinematography, casting, acting, scripting, direction - all perfect.That such a perfect film was created to tell an <more>
abstract story will be a loss to some viewers but a gain to others.The script, pound for pound, almost has more memorable quotes than Godfather. I have seen a lot of films -- too many -- but will never forget the dialog about "coincidence" or "grief." Highly recommended. A great film, but not an easy film.And as good as Fassbinder is -- and he is -- Cameron Diaz steals the movie even with minimal screen time, using her eyes like a weapon, as far from her role in Charies Angels as the earth is from the moon.
No Amount Of Money Can Make You Great (by onewhoseesme)
We were told about this ahead of time, that in the Last Days it would become very dangerous. Two of the things that make the days dangerous are that men become lovers of Self and lovers of Money. Selfish and greedy are the kind of people that are on display here. They are experts at their craft, with all of them at the top of their game. Including the writer and director. That is part of what they want us to see. There are no hero's or heroines, only wolves and one queen of the damned. She thinks herself a predator of predators, but she is only full of pride. Two odd events occur because <more>
of it, one with a Ferrari the other speaking to a priest. As with Hannibal Lecter, she does these things out of sheer contempt for others. The only virtue was murdered in a snuff film and thrown out with the trash. You don't see it, but more than implied; it is clearly understood. If you know what you are looking at. You are in fact expected to. It speaks only the language of those in the know. This is a sharp slick well heeled and highly polished view of the way we are now. At least at the top of the food chain of those that devour each other. How we have become as a people and a society who placed acquiring things above the saving of souls, more than a century ago. You don't have to be a drug dealer to fit in here, just shallow and materialistic. A very west coast ethos is portrayed, especially that of Southern California.By the end of the film evil is speaking of its own purity. Which is a flat out lie because the position it is taking is a false position. It does no exist. Its false premise is that of Evil being the equal opposite of Good, which is dualism. Not Christianity. Many who do not perceive the difference between them think the two are the same thing, but they are not. The difference is vast. Lucifer is a fallen archangel who was created good and of his own free will became bad. God is not his opposite, God does not have an opposite. The opposite of Lucifer would be Michael, another archangel. The one who kicked him out of Heaven.Good and evil are not opposites and they are not equal, not even a little. Evil is a parasite of good. A bank robber, a drug dealer or a murderer are all going after good things. They are just going about getting them the wrong way, that's what is evil. Choosing the wrong way to get what you want. Because there is a right way. Houses and cars and money are all good in themselves. Evil needs good just to exist, good does not need evil at all. Any more than you need some parasite sucking your blood or eating your organs. You would be much better off without them. That's what the next world is about, all of the Good none of the bad.Money is not the root of all evil, the Bible does not say that. It says the Love of money is the root of all evil. This film is an excellent portrait of that. It would be a mistake to think this only applies to drug traffickers. This kind of thing is done in business every single day by men and women throughout the entire world, among the rich and the poor. Men are stabbing each other in the back and cutting each others throats by the millions, in normal acceptable business practices. Criminals are just much more straightforward about it. More visceral more immediate, more honest. They are just very very mistaken.Most convicts don't think they deserve the punishment they got, their only regret is that they were caught. What we keep seeing here is a bunch of people who haven't been punished, living their lives as though there won't be a reckoning. The darkness does not comprehend the Light. It never has. The Judgment will change all that. Nobody you know has ever gotten away with anything, and nobody will. It's not over yet. There are some nuggets of truth here and there, it is as well written as Mamet or Clancy. But it's not the truth that sets you free, that's another fractional misquote from the Bible. It is only the truth you know that sets you free. Let me give you a little. Jesus said "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:19-21 NIV Nobody is getting away with nothinghttp://fullgrownministry.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/hero-4/
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Ridley Scott's riveting crime thriller based on a screenplay by Cormac McCarthy (by murtaza_mma)
The Counselor presents the unfortunate tale of an unnamed lawyer, only referred to as the "Counselor," who, blinded by his lust for lucre, despite being repeatedly warned against it, takes a plunge into the diabolical world of drug trafficking, exposing himself to the merciless Mexican drug cartels around the troubled El Paso–Juárez border area. The border is a metaphor for the dichotomy that exists between the civilized world that we think we have built for ourselves and real world, hiding behind its goody-goody façade, which is governed by anarchy and barbarism—a pattern <more>
that's key to celebrated American author and playwright Cormac McCarthy's oeuvre. The Counselor's self-inflicted annihilation has all the ingredients of a quintessential Shakespearean tragedy, save its contemporary setting.Films have been known to glorify murders as well as the brutal designs the perpetrators employ to manifest the figments of their gory imaginations. The Counselor depicts two such horrific designs, both of which rely on the ingenious use of alloy wire to terminate the victim. The cruelty involved in both these designs transcends imagination. It's heinous. It's insane. And, yet, it's no less glamorous. While the first design results in an instantaneous death, the second makes death look like a grand spectacle, just the kind of material that Peeping Tom would have cherished. As per the first design, an alloy wire, tied at an optimum height between two poles on the opposite sides of the road, is used to decapitate a speeding biker. The second design uses a throttling apparatus called a "Bolito," wherein a loop of alloy wire is slipped over the victim's head, and a small, battery-run motor attached to it, steadily and irreversibly, tightens the loop around the throat until the carotid artery is severed. Speaking of the art of killing, there is a chilling scene in which Westray Brad Pitt's character gives a graphic account of a hapless young girl who was slaughtered by one of the drug cartels in order to make a snuff film for a rich client who even went on to rape her headless corpse.Vintage Ridley Scott, McCarthy's cynical world is on full display here, in all its glory. It's essentially a treacherous realm inhabited by shifty, savage beings capable of doing the most depraved deeds. McCarthy's trademark motifs of greed, lust, malice and death are omnipresent. The dialogue is gritty and replete with philosophical and spiritual overtones, a facet which makes it daunting for the viewer to imbibe it completely during the first viewing, thereby making multiple viewings essential. Here, this critic would like to draw your attention to two conversations in particular. The first takes place early in the movie wherein the great Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, playing the part of a Jewish diamond dealer, delivers a haunting lecture in philosophy. The second takes place towards the end of the film during which Rubén Blades' character Jefe demystifies the true meaning of life and death for the Counselor. Barring these two exchanges the movie has several interesting interactions that the Counselor has with Reiner Javier Bardem's character and Westray. The Counselor serves to be a highlight-reel of some of the most graphic and gory scenes every filmed in cinema. And, while these disturbing sequences may enthrall a serious film-goer or a lover of the crime thriller genre, they are bound to repulse the uninitiated lot. Perhaps, it's one of the reasons why the movie failed to impress at the box office. Then, there's the movie's ending that may not seem satisfactory to everyone. But, despite its serious nature, the material is not devoid of humor and sex—a great respite for the casual viewers who are liable to get restless when exposed to a relatively heavy dose of material.Overall, The Counselor comes across as a multifaceted work of cinema that underlines what a team of a seasoned director and a gifted writer is capable of delivering and yet so rarely delivers. A star studded ensemble cast, for once, doesn't end up overshadowing the movie's narrative and, if anything, it only strengthens it. Michael Fassbender, who plays the titular role, delivers yet another gutsy performance during which he goes through a gamut of emotions, once again demonstrating his remarkable acting range. Cameron Diaz is an absolute delight to watch as the quintessential mobster's moll. As Malkina, she is the epitome of feminine villainy and charm. To watch the coldblooded Malkina go about her business is to witness a bloodthirsty predator playing with its helpless prey. Diaz delivers the definitive performance of her career; it's indeed sad that despite giving such a thorough performance she has gone completely unnoticed at this year's major award functions. Javier Bardem, never the one to disappoint, looks exquisite in the role of a sybaritic drug kingpin. Penélope Cruz looks steaming hot as the Counselor's love interest, Laura, especially in the opening bedroom scene she shares with Fassbender. Brad Pitt gets limited screen time but steals every scene that he is a part of. The final scene featuring Westray with a Bolito around his neck is truly unforgettable. The Counselor's explicit gory content makes it a difficult film to watch. The movie requires patience and an intelligent viewer will savor it for a long time to come. Just make sure that you go for the 138 minute long extended cut. A must watch! A more detailed review can be read at:http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/
Was so very reluctant to go see this due to the amount of extremely negative reviews, glad I didn't listen.Like all of you I was drawn to the writer, director & cast combination which told me this film had a chance at greatness, well I'm not so sure about greatness but this is a very good movie, one which both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed.The plot is secondary, only the story outline is necessary "honest citizen" buys into a onetime drug deal which goes bad and there are serious consequences to act as a framework around the events that unfold. We do not need <more>
details of who, what , where or when regarding the drug deal, we only need to see the greed and the evil it leads to, play out.Yes the dialogue is metaphorical, gloriously so, and the actors deliver this as it was intended to be delivered by the writer and the director. This dialogue is superb in setting the ominous tone for the film, we do not need to know who is picking up what and delivering to whom, we only need to know that it didn't happen and somebody has to pay, pay a price beyond imagining! While there are moments of amusement, it is a deadly serious morality tale that does not play out to our long established preconceptions. Decisions today can make for impossible decisions and terrifying consequences tomorrow.Do not judge, rate or review this film within the traditional confines of typical Hollywood movies, as it barely applies, maybe it does to the star power but not to the content nor the execution.I really cannot wait to see this movie again, I give this an 8/10.
Went and saw The Counselor tonight. It is very different than it's advertised, or what people may be expecting. On the outside it looks like a thriller, and it does have the set up of a good thriller, but its more just a dark brooding and sometimes darkly humorous drama that has thriller like moments. I'm fairly certain if you liked No Country for Old Men the style won't be all that different to you, since it is written by Cormac McCarthy like the source material for that one was, except The Counselor was personally written by his hand alone. I've read reviews complaining its <more>
too predictable but I feel like that's the point, as it involves a relatively "good man" getting in bed with a drug cartel and everyone kind of tells him to be sure that he understands, that bad things could/will happen. I don't see this as a complaint, since A. real people get involved in this stuff knowing bad things can happen despite all the warnings heard ahead of time and B. some of the obvious foreshadows have great pay offs, and C. knowing what's to come and watching anyways has a sort of knowing dread about it. Anyways, I've read a couple reviews offering it high praise and a lot of them completely bashing it, I'm somewhere in the middle but leaning more toward the former positive critique. It is a slow moving film, with lots of dialogue, and every character seems to get a lengthy monologue.
There were only 4 of us in the theater this afternoon - Sunday - which didn't surprise me as all the headlines said "Counselor a failure" referring to the ticket sales. I went because I was afraid it wouldn't make it another week in the theater. I loved it, but most Americans probably won't . It was gory but not enough action for the average viewer and not marketed to the artsy crowd. It was intelligent with some really great performances/Cameron Diaz showed some real acting chops - creeped me out - and Javier Bardem made me laugh. At the end I felt like I had watched a <more>
new/modern play by Shakespeare with great soliloquies, tragic and comic characters. Had an interesting soundtrack which of course just flashed by so I can't comment specifically - when will ASCAP force the movie studios to give more credit to musicians and not list them last after the caterers?