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I saw Cormac McCarthy & Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” on a flight recently. It had been really poorly reviewed, but I wanted to see a film where Cormac McCarthy had personally written the screenplay, rather than written a screenplay-length book (No Country for Old Men) for the purpose of being immediately turned into a screenplay by the Coen Brothers.
Anyway, most of the reviewers are wrong. However, I ABSOLUTELY don’t recommend it because it’s a hateful, nihilistic film. It is nothing other than a subtraction from the good of the world and you’ll be less of a person for having viewed it.
BUT - it is a well made film. Where The Coens’ NCFOM meanders on its way to hell, The Counselor is a bullet train. It’s a faster ride, on rails, to the same shithole Cormac McCarthy, a brilliant man who paints exclusively in black these days, wants you to die in. The script, filled with proper soliloquies, is more like a play than a film, which surely turned some morons off, but against Ridley Scott’s tableaux - and this is his best work since Gladiator - it is striking and aesthetic harmony is indeed achieved.
Regardless, fuck No Country for Old Men and The Counselor and The Coens and Ridley Scott, and most especially Cormac McCarthy. It isn’t enough for me that they’re all wildly, preternaturally skilled in their chosen disciplines. I just don’t understand why an artist would want to spend their time and talents in a world like that. No nuance, no possibilities, just hate and fear and constriction. I reject it!
Clearly this is me talking around the edges of my own personal manifesto(s), and I’m not “correct” in what I’m talking about here. It’s just how I feel and I wanted particularly to tell every reviewer who lauded NCFOM and slammed The Counselor to please SPARE ME as, seen from space, they’re remarkable similar. The only significant difference is that The Counselor doesn’t have a Tommy Lee Jones character roaming around saying, “Well geez, this sucks.” Perhaps that makes it the more compassionate film as it has led me to become that character and write this ridiculous post.
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First, by Amanda Hess at Slate
Second, by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic
I first saw these because I read Ta-Nahesi Coates fairly regularly. He’s a very curious, very passionate, very intelligent writer and I love to see him take apart a subject, no matter what it is. Then I saw my name when he excerpted some sections of a piece by Amanda Hess from Slate. I was excited but then I saw that Hess is showing me as emblematic of the problem both pieces aim to illuminate, which is that actress (VERTIGO!) and Oscar presenter Kim Novak did not get her plastic surgery in a vacuum. She got it in a culture where aging, most particularly for women, leads directly to the shelf or the garbage heap.
They’re both great pieces and I recommend reading them. The joke of mine that they reference, which I tweeted while watching the Oscars, is certainly mean, and Kim Novak and those who get plastic surgery are certainly the butt of the joke.
Both the articles linked above are better and more useful to the world than the joke I made and I hope you’ll read them.