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Review: ‘The Counselor,’ Deranged, Dazzling, And Diabolical

Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt in Ridley Scott's 'The Counselor'
Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt in Ridley Scott’s ‘The Counselor’
I was slack-jawed and spellbound while watching Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay unfold on screen. Diabolically unpredictable and wildly discursive, problematic yet bold, the story itself is not the thing: it’s the characters and the words, and the twisted criminal universe in which they exist, standing apart from anything resembling a conventional legal thriller.

A desert-washed noir, The Counselor is set in the modern day, in the twilight zone where Texan bravado and Mexican fatalism collide with a woman who is an ice-blooded, fever-dream fantasy figure straight out of Jim Thompson. Waking up on a lazy afternoon under the sheets with a lawyer and his lady, the facts of the case are laid out plainly. The counselor ignores warnings raised by associates, enters into a drug deal, and pays the price when things go bad.

The fat is sliced from the plot bones and simmered in a philosophical stew served to the Counselor by a series of characters who form, collectively, a Greek chorus of doom. An Amsterdam diamond dealer (Bruno Ganz), a colorful middleman (Javier Bardem), and an impassive middleman (Brad Pitt) wax poetic to the lawyer (Michael Fassbender), who listens but does not hear what they are saying. An imprisoned mother (Rosie Perez) banters and bargains. And Malkina (Cameron Diaz), the colorful middleman’s femme fatale, a brilliant mastermind of uncertain Latin origin and overwhelming drive, prowls about like an imprisoned cheetah, biding her time until someone forgets to lock the cage.

To read the entire review, please visit Twitch.

The film opens wide throughout the Metroplex on Friday, October 25.

Review: Knight and Day

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in 'Knight and Day'
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in 'Knight and Day'

Tom Cruise as a spy gone crazy? I totally buy it.

From all outward appearances, Cruise has spent the past few years casually dismantling his carefully constructed public persona. On screen, he projects a very strong sense of forceful personality — that million dollar smile, that finely-honed body, that polite and righteous self-confidence — to the extent that it’s been difficult to buy him as a fictional character. As he approaches his 48th birthday, it’s tempting to dismiss him out of hand.

But he tries awfully hard to project the travails of Roy Miller, discredited FBI agent, in James Mangold’s Knight and Day. If he and Cameron Diaz, who plays the bewilderingly dumb garage owner June Havens, cannot completely shed their baggage as “Movie Stars” more than actors, it seems churlish not to credit their efforts.

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