Matthew Lickona noon, July 29
"I've seen it all, counselor," intones worldly-wise dealmaker Brad Pitt. "It's all shit." This is very close to the point of The Counselor. Pretty shit, pricey shit, exciting shit, lovable shit, even enduring shit - but still shit. The counterargument, to the extent that one is offered, is so brief and blunt that it barely registers. Novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) takes his first shot at screenwriting, hanging meditations on his preoccupations - sex, death, violence, and maybe God - on the story hook of a bad-boy lawyer who tries to take the easy way out of his financial troubles by facilitating a drug deal. Whereupon he discovers that he's more boy than bad, and that there is not, in fact, any such thing as the easy way out. People tend to speak in pronouncements - "You don't know someone until you know what he wants" - and the story sometimes feels like its serving the dialogue. But it's pretty fine dialogue. (How do you make an audience listen to a poetic monologue on grief and death? Deliver said monologue to a desperate protagonist who wants so very badly to hear something else, the something he hopes will come after the monologue.) Cameron Diaz gets the role of a lifetime as a well-preserved specimen bent on self-preservation. With Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz. Directed by Ridley Scott. 2013.