Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Counselor (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Counselor” -
A Cormac McCarthy
Morality Play

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy (né Charles McCarthy) spans genres, his books ranging from Southern Gothic to Westerns to Post Apocalyptic. Most have been adapted into movies.

These include “All the Pretty Horses,” “The Road,” “Child of God,” and “No Country for Old Men.”

Now McCarthy has written his first original screenplay, a “lurid, adrenaline-fueled thriller” titled “The Counselor.” Yes, he’s also adapted it into a novel, but it was conceived as a movie about an attorney (i.e. a counselor) who gets involved with drug dealers.

“The Counselor” is now playing at Tropic Cinema.

Directed by action-movie maestro Ridley Scott, “The Counselor” delivers a great cast: Michael Fassbender as said counselor; Penélope Cruz as his sultry but naïve girlfriend; Brad Pitt as a disreputable middleman; Cameron Diaz as a feline bad girl; Javier Bardem (Cruz’s real-life husband) as Diaz’s dangerous partner; along with Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo, and Bruno Ganz. Plus Rubén Blades as Jefe.

It’s a non-stop ride as the greedy lawyer gets in over his head with bad guys (and gals). A septic tank truck filled with cocaine is being moved from Columbia to Chicago, a risky scheme.

Fassbender gives his usual square-jawed performance as the unnamed lawyer, while Cruz and Diaz offer an erotic pairing. Pitt adds to the scenery. And Bardem gives us a menacing but more manic villain than his Oscar-winning role in McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men.”

“You need some courage within yourself,” says Bardem, “to really jump into Comac McCarthy’s world and dig in. Because you may see things or hear things that you don’t want to hear or face about human nature.”

Known for dense Biblical prose and dialogue-heavy scenes, McCarthy says he wrote the screenplay in five weeks as “a break from the two novels he was working on.”

The Wall Street Journal reports: Some have pronounced it a brilliant and profound morality tale in league with his novel “No Country for Old Men.” Others have dismissed it as “the worst thing McCarthy has ever written.”

Note: This is the first time Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem have appeared together since they met while filming Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” However, they do not share any scenes in “The Counselor.”

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