The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Message
Author
beamish13
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#26 Post by beamish13 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:22 pm

Altair wrote:As a long time lurker and reader of the forum who has finally decided to sign-up and post, may I offer a defence of Ridley Scott's work post-Blade Runner (1982) as well? I feel Scot has sometimes been unfairly criticised for being a filmmaker he is not; instead of trying to take him to task using auteur theory, he should be regarded, like Steven Spielberg, like a modern day Cecil B. deMill, only with a finer visual sense. He makes films usually of a consistent quality and tone, always with a mind as to what will work with the paying, viewing audience. In a sense then, he is a consummate populist director that can deliver more than action and explosions.
I enjoy many of his films as well, particularly the sensitive and pensive SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME. I'm also very interested in the 4+ hour cut of 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE that he mentioned in interviews a few years back.

User avatar
warren oates
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:16 pm

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#27 Post by warren oates » Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:27 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Ridley Scott's visual style seems too sleek and polished for a McCarthy story. The latter's stories always benefit from a gritty, weathered feel (such as in No Country and The Road).
I'm afraid that this once, the worst critical dig on Scott's style -- sleek and empty -- seems exactly right for what McCarthy has written, which isn't even quite a story but more of a glossily elided series of unfortunate events in search of one. As if we're seeing the season finale of a rather self-satisfied TV series we've never seen before, and we're expected to fill in all of the characters' blanks. There's also a weird Southwestern narco chic vibe to the whole thing, and a breezy transnationalism that puts me in mind of Miami Vice (both the TV show and the film).

The titular counselor hardly practices law at all and seems more like the one in need of advice, as he spends the whole first hour, engaged in two-person dialogue scenes, hearing how maybe he shouldn't be doing what he's nevertheless already committed to do (which doesn't ultimately require him to actually do much of anything except hand over some money) and which we ascertain is in any case already taking place. All the while, we're never quite understanding why he's involved -- aside from a vaguely expressed need for a financial windfall and access to criminal players who are also his clients -- or what may have lead him to this choice (free spending? bad investments? gambling?), or what he imagines he's risking one way or another. But the film really falls apart just when it should be getting more thrilling. All manner of stuff happens, bullets and bodies start flying. And yet Michael Fassbender's counselor spends the whole second half of the movie hearing from his partners in crime how there's pretty much nothing he can do now that it's all gone to shit. And the worst part is, all the people telling him that are right AND he just listens to them and pretty much does nothing. One of the characters promises the counselor early on that he may find himself in a position to make some very tough moral choices, ones that could surprise him and that he might regret. But the joke is that he's already made the only choice that matters offscreen and before the movie started. So it's unclear why we're following him through the rest of this at all.

There are the usual interesting technical and procedural details you'd expect from McCarthy, as well as a fair amount of philosophizing. There's some pitch black humor and some novel and cinematic ways to kill people too. Some of the better scenes don't have any of the leads at all, but also feel like digressions that might have been cut or explored further in subsequent drafts had anyone told McCarthy the truth about this script -- that it needed some serious rewriting. And Cameron Diaz who seems woefully miscast at first saying lines like "Truth has no temperature," grows into her weird role a bit more by the end.

Who would have thought McCarthy would hand in a script so monotonously chatty and with so many largely passive and resigned characters? Compared to the heroes of McCarthy's last few novels, the counselor is curiously lacking in the skills, resourcefulness, daring and willpower to make us want to follow him.* Even some of his stage plays, in spite of their limited settings, offer up more action and agency from their leads.

*
SpoilerShow
Even the half-baked plan to flee to Boise is his fiancée's idea. Does he make any clever decisions on his own initiative in response to the crisis? He charms a single woman out of her cell phone for a minute?
But, hey, maybe I'm reading it all wrong. Here's the best attempt at a save I've read yet by Bilge Ebiri.

wattsup32
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:00 pm

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#28 Post by wattsup32 » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:26 am

Having (finally) seen it yesterday, I am as baffled by this picture as I have been by an film in my life. For an hour and a half it seems not to be interested in being anything at all. It has no interest in allowing itself to be driven by what happens. It has no interest in exploring why it is happening. And, is has no interest in ruminating on the characters to whom thing are happening. At the same time it is, obviously, in no way an experimental film.

Imagine my surprise when, in the final 20 minutes, it becomes a propulsive, philosophical, character examination. I do not know what to make of it as a whole and I no longer understand what I thought of its parts.

I will say, the writing was a series of aphoristic spoutings seemingly crafted in the hopes of getting the viewer to repeatedly utter a Ted Theodore Logan-like "whoa..." at its "profundity." The actors were left with nothing to work with and, as a result, the best performance in the movie is from Rosie Perez.

I don't know what to think except that if someone asked me whether or not I'd recommend seeing it, I would say no. And, at the same time, I'm certain I want and need to see it again myself.

As I think about that statement, it reminds me of what I've always told people about my fascination with Ridley Scott (and to the same extent, Brian de Palma): his capacity for genius is rivaled only by his capacity for crap. In The Counselor, we may finally be getting equal doses in the same film.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#29 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:08 pm

Watched the extended cut today. I liked it, though not surprised at the mixed reaction. Watching it there were a few times I wondered what kind of wonderful craziness Tony Scott could have brought to it. It would be especially interesting to watch it back-to-back with Domino, where that visual excess hit it's peak (to me anyway). But this in comparison is much more muted and reserved, there is violence but the tension is brought out more by decisions and conversations.
Last edited by flyonthewall2983 on Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#30 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:14 pm

I really like warren oates' post, though I think that I'm more positive on this film overall. Its a very fatalistic piece, almost as if every character (except one, who naturally gets the most callous death, used and discarded on a garbage heap) is driven by their death wishes and the knowledge that they have inevitable horrific, non-natural deaths at some point in their future. Which seems to scare, amuse and weirdly turn them on. I'd agree that is is a very passive film, post-apocalyptically resigned in some ways, its just an apocalypse happening to a smaller network of criminal characters than on a world-wide scale, even if international travel is involved along the way.

It feels very much about people having to cope in a world where the significant choices were all thoughtlessly made long beforehand and there is no way of changing the inevitable. It also seems to suggest that its pointless thinking about the wrongs being done or feeling sorry for past behaviour that might have caused the present situation, just accept the consequences whether they are 'deserved' or not.

That's a very bleak and brutally callous worldview, but I like that we get the events shown through the eyes of someone who still reacts with some surprise to this kind of world, seduced by all of its lifestyle trappings and thinking that he can associate without being complicit. Its sort of a crime film where everyone but the main character and his girl knows they have no life outside of their criminal world, and they are kind of the naive lambs to the slaughter (I particularly like that we get another chance to see Penélope Cruz and Cameron Diaz in the same film after Vanilla Sky. They only share one scene together (though that is more than in Vanilla Sky!), but their characters act kind of like the bookends to the criminal middle - one naive, exploited and destroyed for falling in love; the other pragmatic, materially victorious but left kind of emotionally empty).

I quite liked the transnationalism aspect that was noted above too, with the sense that you might go to the ends of the Earth (or at least Boise, Idaho or London, England) and still end up captured or killed. You don't have to be unwisely travelling into the dangerous Mexican heartlands any more to be in danger, not when the stakes are so high. That's perhaps why the counselor himself is just left hiding in his hotel (a bit reminiscent of Charlton Heston hiding away and drinking himself into a stupor at the mid-point of Major Dundee. The one thing missing is a replacement girlfriend), his fate unknown - will he be killed for his crimes, or become a poet? I doubt anyone left standing at the end of the film would care either way, and either fate is probably punishment enough.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#31 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:31 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:14 pm
It feels very much about people having to cope in a world where the significant choices were all thoughtlessly made long beforehand and there is no way of changing the inevitable. It also seems to suggest that its pointless thinking about the wrongs being done or feeling sorry for past behaviour that might have caused the present situation, just accept the consequences whether they are 'deserved' or not.
I'm trying to think of a witty, intelligent way of putting the movie into the context of current events but I can't think of anything better than this.

User avatar
Big Ben
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:54 pm
Location: Great Falls, Montana

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#32 Post by Big Ben » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:16 pm

Colin's post is exceptionally well put. I suppose his description describes a lot of Cormac McCarthy's works though (He wrote this film.)

moreorless
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:34 am

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#33 Post by moreorless » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:29 am

I think you could say an argument both ways with Scott's direction, in one side that he misjudged the material and tried to craft it into a more conventional thriller and one the other that in itself was the point and without the misdirection it wouldn't work as well.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#34 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:31 am

Vulgar, gaudy and rambles a bit. Basically, it's the Trump administration.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#35 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:43 am

Now I have the image of Ivanka doing the windscreen scene in my mind whilst doing that strange 'staring into one's soul/bad attempt at hypnosis' thing she used to do at press conferences. Thanks flyonthewall! :-& :P

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#36 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:11 am

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:31 am
Vulgar, gaudy and rambles a bit. Basically, it's the Trump administration.
Biggest disappointment in my personal theatre-going history. I saw this with a crew of friends opening night and none of us were prepared for the overwritten, underperformed banality of it all. Brad Pitt coming back to say, "oh and another thing, Counselor" for the nth time in a single conversation didn't feel like the talent of Cormac McCarthy- though the irony is not lost on me that he often exposes the cruelty and banality of the world together.

User avatar
flyonthewall2983
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Indiana
Contact:

Re: The Counselor (Ridley Scott, 2013)

#37 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:21 am

What I said is not necessarily an indictment of the movie itself. It's prescience to the world as a lot of us see it, makes it at least something noteworthy in terms of recent cinema. That said I felt it was a pretty gruesome and unpleasant watch, and that the criticisms are at least valid in that sense.

Post Reply