Friday, October 25, 2013
The Counselor 
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Chicago Tribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (D. Callahan) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review
Do you reject the glamor of evil?
-- Profession of Faith at the Baptismal Rite
About the most positive thing that could be said of the film, The Counselor  (directed by Ridley Scott, screenplay by Cormac McCarthy) was that the wardrobe and makeup people outdid themselves in dressing-up the film's long-long-gone/sinister "power couple," the ever smiling/ever stoned Reiner (played by Javier Bardem) with a perfectly spiked "black sun" hairstyle (Honestly, how could one ever sleep in that, and how much time would it take to get it all groomed to such perfection each morning?) and his quite literally "tough as nails" girlfriend Malkina (played by Cameron Diaz). I generally NEVER notice nails, but Malkina had PERFECTLY MANICURED "platinum" (or stainless steel ...) colored finger nails that INSTANTLY give one the impression that she was half-human/half-unbelievably-bad-news. Then she had a LONG, LONG, MEANDERING "leopard style" tattoo that began at her neck and then flowed down her side, down to her a...). Together the two raised a pair of "snow cheetahs" which they'd let loose each late-afternoon, to run-down (and kill ...) jack-rabbits on the Texas prairie outside of El Paso where they lived, as they calmly sat drinking shaken flavored martinis and contemplated the sunset each day. The Devil himself could not have been more exquisitely drawn.
Into their world entered a lawyer, known to us only as "The Counselor" (played by Michael Fassbender). Already apparently wealthy, he apparently simply had a taste for more. And so he enters into a fairly "high return" (hence also high risk ...) drug deal with said power couple. Both Reiner and Reiner's middle-man Westray (played by Brad Pitt) who does Reiner's negotiations across the border with the (Mexican) drug lords warn (indeed try to _counsel_) "the Counselor" that he's getting into a world far more dangerous than his wildest imagination. But "the Counselor," a dressed-for-success type-A personality lawyer won't take their counsel for caution and jumps right in. Besides, he has a striking trophy-wife-to-be named Laura (played by Penélope Cruz) who he wants to impress with his prowess/success.
This can't possibly end well... and, of course, it doesn't. It ends horribly, horribly badly and involves killings so grotesque that if not mirroring the _reality_ of the cross border City of Juarez today, would have no possible place on the screen / story-telling today.
Even then, honestly ... the prophet Isaiah offers good advice:
Hear, you who are far off,
what I have done;
you who are near,
acknowledge my might.
On Zion sinners are in dread,
trembling grips the impious;
“Who of us can live with the consuming fire?
Who of us can live with the everlasting flames?”
He who practices virtue and speaks honestly,
who spurns what is gained by oppression,
brushing his hands
free of contact with a bribe,
stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed,
closing his eyes lest he look on evil.
He shall dwell on the heights,
his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness,
his food and drink
in steady supply.
-- Isaiah 33:13-16 (Morning Prayer Thursday, Week 1)
Yes, there is Evil in this world, but there certainly is no need to glory in it. Honestly, this film is not for the faint-hearted and of little conceivable value to anybody else.
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