Saturday, October 26, 2013

Help! Cormac McCarthy's The Counselor

I'll start by saying that I really enjoyed Fassbender's performance as a high-class lawyer faced with a decision that leads him down the road to a hellish punishment.

Good job, Cormac McCarthy! You know how to do dark themes. As for writing screenplays, I'm not so sure.

I love the NOVELS of Cormac McCarthy. I love his visceral themes, his simple dialogue that's pregnant with suggestions, his grim outlook on humanity. He's a great novelist, but here he has written a screenplay that is more novel than screenplay, and it dominates the story so much that it's impossible for this to be Ridley Scott's MOVIE. It's Cormac McCarthy's heavy-handed screenplay all the way through.

I won't list the film's many drawbacks, but I will say that McCarthy's penchant for dialogue overwhelms the story very quickly. We get numerous long, slow, often incidental dialogues before anything really happens. When things happen, there is a gripping tension in the film, but that doesn't last long enough to be very satisfying.

Actually, my main reason for writing this post is to send out a cry for help. Don't you love the Internet! Anytime I see a movie (and I usually see it opening night on Friday) and I come away somewhat confused by the ending, I dash home to my iPad and go to Wikipedia and, damn, if there isn't a big long detailed summary of the entire film already online! Jeez, how do they do that so fast? Geeks! Sorry.

The cry for help: Man, I guess Cormac thinks it's cool and cerebral to be vague about the plot. I'm okay with films like that as long as they deliver clarification at the end - an example being a film like Syriana that strings together seemingly unrelated scenes that all become related at the end.

I guess Cormac's commentary is that the details of the drug deal and who flim-flams whom are not important. But, damn, I want to know! It's important. So my cry goes out to anyone who can provide a summary of the film tying in the motorcyclist, the drug deal (and I guess the Counselor and Reiner (a Javier Bardem performance that makes me want to cringe when I see him in a preview) are going to make 20 million because they're buying and then selling for more?), the wire dude who takes over the deal, the fake cops who take over the takeover, Westray's (an enjoyable Brad Pitt) role in it all, and at what point Malkina (a very creepy Cameron Diaz) takes control of everything.

Or, maybe, Wikipedia's updated with a full summary.

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