A couple of weeks ago I read an online post entitled “Ridley Scott’s Trojan Horse Career” the gist of it is, is that writers Sean Fennessey and Chris Ryan contend that Ridley Scott's films are polished delivery systems for ideas. Now whilst the article is well written, informed and conceived, until I watched Ridley Scott's latest film The Counsellor the relevance of it meaning expanded exponentially.
Ridley Scott's The Counsellor blew me away! Not in wow this is an awesome film kind of way, more along the lines of I can't stop thinking about the film days after experiencing its intensity kind of way.
|The Counsellor Film Poster - November 15 ZOOM|
SOME THOUGHTS ON RIDLEY SCOTT'S THE COUNSELLOR|
|THE COUNSELLOR BURNS WITH A SLOW INTENSITY|
A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.
Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem
UK Release Date:
15 November, 2013
|Based on a spec screenplay from author Cormac McCarthy (who also Executive Produces) which exhibits all the hallmarks that make his hard boiled writing style a favourite with film-makers, critics and audiences alike - in this regard The Counsellor could be taking place down the road from his previous No Country for Old Men.
The Establishing Shot: THE COUNSELLOR INTERNATIONAL TRAILER - 15 NOVEMBER 2013
As with Scott's previous films The Counsellor seems to have divided audiences, and this time I'm in the pro camp. I can however see why some may not enjoy it, it is decidedly low-fi and low concept when compared to many of his other efforts. On one level The Counsellor is exactly what it says on the tin - “A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.” Which is also the harrowing beauty and magic of it. I have to say that Ridley Scott is at his best when wandering into darker territory and it doesn't get darker than The Counsellor with its villain stripped of humanism and the dark hole left replaced with the baser animal instincts, a theme running throughout the film.
The Establishing Shot: RIDLEY SCOTT'S THE COUNSELOR HOUSE CLIP - 15 NOVEMBER 2013
Hidden within the drama of The Counsellor's fairly simplistic crime tale is a long overdue cold slap and kick in the balls to the crime genre as we have come to know it. With The Counsellor Scott elevates the discussion and explores morality,crime, punishment, greed and the nature of evil. Scott revisits the genre and eschews all the conventions that we have become attuned to within the crime genre. The Counsellor is not about last minute John Grisham solutions, crack shots, clever twists or slow motion bullets leaving a gun barrel, or even the finger pulling the trigger (or squeezing the trigger if I was to be technically accurate) - The Counsellor is about the shadow behind the man pulling the trigger and how society's complicity is part of this murky world .
Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott ask us to question our definition of good and evil - while reminding us of the harsh consequences of bad decisions. Similar themes were explored, arguably less successfully, in last year's Brad Pitt starrer Killing Them Softly from Director Andrew Dominik. Whilst Killing Them Softly was overtly slick to the point of distraction Scott's leaves the slickness to his slimy characters and the polished camerawork.
Although much of the story of The Counsellor takes place off screen, like the long fall from grace of the nameless lead character - a Counsellor, someone engaged in the Practice of Law, played by Michael Fassbender. Our story picks up with The Counsellor becoming involved in a drug deal with a long time associate and cool guy playboy - Reiner played with aplomb by Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt's sharp wise guy Westray
Video:The Establishing Shot:THE COUNSELLOR - IF YOU'RE NOT IN ... CLIP - 15 NOVEMBER 2013
Well actually the story starts with a lone motorcyclist riding the long stretches of New Mexico road, the sound of which wakes up out titular character. The relevance and symbolism of this may become clearer later on, like much of The Counsellor cause and effect are in full play throughout the film.
The dark tale of The Counsellor unfolds on two levels as it dually follows the behind closed doors “executive” discussions of the handful of lead characters around The Counsellor (Michael Fassbender), his other half Laura (Penélope Cruz), his long-time associate and friend Reiner (Javier Bardem), his other half Malkina (Cameron Diaz) and their business partner Westray (Brad Pitt) focussing on the visible and sometimes hidden relationships - think of it as The Social Network of crime, interwoven with events from the second thread which follows the more hands on aspects of their dealings.I lay this out quite explicitly, as immediately as the lights went up in the screening I attended I heard a voice behind me said “well that was hard to follow” and later I found myself explaining some of the finer points of the film to others who had just seen it.
The Establishing Shot: THE COUNSELLOR TRUTH HAS NO TEMPERATURE CLIP - 15 NOVEMBER
The cast is packed with powerhouse talent like the aforementioned Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz (as you have never seen her before), Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Brad Pitt, Rosie Perez, Rubén Blades as well as many other faces you'll immediately recognise - but the real stars of The Counsellor are the engaging way the story rolls out - with each scene giving you just enough information to link it to other events, like a puzzle it all slowly starts to fall in place. If you miss something repeated viewings may add further depth to the story.
The Establishing Shot: THE COUNSELOR RATTLING YOUR CAGE CLIP - 15 NOVEMBER 2013
Each line is delivered like a guillotine dropping yet as with the titular character, The Counsellor we don't interpret it as it intended - but rather like a modern smart man who works within the legal system and rubs shoulders with people on the other side of the law - we only hear it as hollow and see the angle or space to manoeuvre within the language used - that we have become accustomed to through media and the crime genre of late.
Despite my love for The Counsellor I did feel that the depth of characterisation was uneven, sometimes its a little too heavy handed, as an example there was at least one scene which, although pulled religion into the frame, I felt was redundant and the time could have been used better to develop other characters like Penélope Cruz's Laura who I think could have benefited from a bit more fleshing out.
Whilst Composer Daniel Pemberton continues to go from strength to strength with each of his outings on his way to being a major talent, his score for The Counsellor is subtle but brings an ambient western feel to proceedings and reminiscent of Carter Burwell's work for the Cohen Brothers. The score is notably haunting like a dog howling in a desert or someone hitting a barbed wire fence in the dark of the night.
Such was the impression left on me by The Counsellor for days after seeing it, whatever I was watching whether TV or film I was forced to listen to each word of dialogue coming from characters and had to wonder if they actually knew what they were saying.
The Counsellor Images Slideshow
|Craig is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond.|
When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, mentally storyboards the greatest film ever made & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime.
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