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Non-Review Review: The Counsellor

There are two ways of looking at The Counsellor, both handily articulated by the movie itself.

At one point, two characters engage in an abstract conversation about grief. They speak on the phone about what it means to lose something that is irreplaceable, and what that does to a person. They speak in metaphors and lyrical turns of phrase, dancing around the issue at hand. One participant in the conversation recounts the story of Spanish poet Machido, who managed to channel his grief into beautiful and moving poetry. Poetry woven from misery and suffering, beautiful and yet torturous. Much like The Counsellor itself, a story about corruption and consequences and greed and wraith, articulated with thoughtful elegance.

There's a lot going on under the hood...

There’s a lot going on under the hood…

At another point, one character regales another with a tale of his strange sexual misadventures. Awkward metaphors are used to describe exactly what went down, as the other character (and the audience) watch on in a state of awkward disbelief. Using surprisingly elegant language – never at a loss for words to describe a truly surreal turn of events – the storyteller crafts a stunning portrait of a bizarre encounter. Trying to make sense of it all, the listener articulates the thought running through the mind of most of the audience. “Why did you feel the need to tell me that?”

The Counsellor straddles both extremes almost recklessly, veering from a sophisticated and thoughtful moral tale into something grotesquely indulgent and almost distractingly oblique. During one conversation, the seductive Malkina asks her lover Renier how he sees things playing out. He can’t help but imagine two contrasting extremes. With just a hint of self-awareness, Malkina point out that there’s a middle that Renier just isn’t seeing.

Deal or no deal?

Deal or no deal?

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The Why of Sci-Fi…

“Science-fiction” is one of those genres which finds itself consistently boxed in by film fans. Mentioning that hyphenated word calls to mind images of “warp speed”, space ships, transporters, aliens, time travel and all manner of weird genre devices. It’s part of the reason why so many film viewers attempt to stay away from the genre – I have encountered more than a few people will dismiss a science-fiction film or television show off-hand because it must be camp or ridiculous. I remain convinced that this is the reason that Battlestar Galactica never got the attention it deserved (with advertisements on my local channels playing down the fact that it happens “in space”). However, what is science-fiction when you boil it all down?

Are viewers spaced out by sci-fi?

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Non-Review Review: The Road

Fire is a recurring image in the work of Cormac McCarthy. Particularly the notion of a generational line “carrying the fire” and being the good guys. There’s a moment at the end of No Country For Old Men, another adaptation of McCarthy’s work, where the tired sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones shares a weird dream he’s been having with his wife, where he finds himself walking down a long road, and he passes his father – who is carrying a torch. It’s a powerful image, which really cuts to the heart of the piece. For those wondering what that road and that torch may actually look like… well, there’s this.

The Road less traveled...

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Is Anton Chigurh an Angel?

Yes, you read the title right. Is Anton Chigurh, the sociopathic hitman from No Country For Old Men who kills his victims an instrument used to cull cattle, an instrument of divine will? I stumbled across an interesting argument on-line which proposed that McCarthy (who is – apparently – staunchly conservative) wrote the character as an angel who was sent down to purge all those connected in anyway with the money from the drug trade – bringing on the old-school biblical wrath which you don’t see too often these days. Talk about executing your purpose with zeal.

Everytime Chigurh kills somebody, an angel gets its wings. It's pretty crowded up there, too.

Everytime Chigurh kills somebody, an angel gets its wings. It's pretty crowded up there, too.

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Non-Review Review: No Country For Old Men

It’s a funny world. But it has always been a funny world and it’s arrogant to presume that the world waited until we got here to go and get itself in a mess. Sure, some of us carry the fire off into that night, but it’s a very cold and very dark night and all we have is faith that there is an even greater fire out there waiting for us. No Country For Old Men is a stunning film – an odd fusion of the Coen Brothers with Cormac McCarthy which manages to say a hell-of-a-lot without weighing itself down with too much exposition or dialogue. It’s a great film which realy stands out even amongst the Coens’ already-impressive filmography.

Yes, it's a silencer. On a shotgun.

Yes, it's a silencer. On a shotgun.

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Science Fiction by any other name…

I’m genuinely excited about The Road, the adaptation of the novel from Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. despite a shakey production history, it looks like the Weinstein might be able to mount a successful Oscar campaign for this science-fiction tale. Oops. I shouldn’t have mentioned that hyphenated word. Pretend you didn’t hear it – maybe the Academy hasn’t heard it either. In fact, given the way that people talk about the book and the film, you’d be lucky to hear that ‘tag’ even within the same paragraph. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

A nice father-son day out...

A nice father-son day out...

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