Tag Archives: No Country for Old Men

Review – ‘The Counselor’ (2013)

The Counselor (2013) is a rare pleasure in film viewing – one of those perfect storms in which every element of the production seems to have conspired to make the end product horribly, hysterically crap. Having managed a modest box-office success despite being critically panned, the film seems to have vanished completely from the collective popular consciousness. That’s a real shame, because for anyone who appreciates a good bad film, it’s essential viewing.

One thing that’s certain is that the problems definitely start with the writing. Due to the laurels piled on Cormac McCarthy after the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men (2007) – of which more later – some reviews did try to defend The Counselor as “a good script gone bad”. Now, I would never deny that McCarthy has written some great novels, but anyone who’s seen this film surely can’t deny that he’s written at least one king-Hell turd of a script too.

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‘True Grit’ – false Coens?

True Grit (2010) was always going to get good reviews with such prestige at both ends of the camera, although despite the timing it doesn’t seem like a film with any major awards ambition.  Unlike the strategically kooky Oscar-seeking missile deployed recently by Aronovsky and Hershlag, this is a work of genuine creative vision which deserves its hype.  What’s interesting is that even the positive reviews are chiefly united by a sense of surprise, even confusion, that the Coen brothers’ latest follows the Western’s tracks so closely.  It has been called “the first straight genre exercise in their career”, “probably the least ironic picture in the Coen Brothers’ worthy canon”, and even “just a couple bloody gunfights removed from an old-fashioned Disney yarn”.  Ethan Coen himself has claimed that it was partly conceived and could be viewed as a Christmas movie (hopefully TV schedulers will take him at his word come December).

SUBTEXT IS FOR PANSIES

If the definition of “A Coen Brothers’ movie” is that it be relentlessly sardonic, and dementedly hostile towards genre convention, the consensus seems to be that this is the least “Coen Brothers” the Coen brothers have ever been.  Despite the praise there seems to be a sense in some quarters that, in making a film people can easily understand, the filmmakers have failed to fulfil their duty to be as difficult and inscrutable as possible.  The St. Petersburg Times‘ reviewer sums up this sense of betrayal, pointedly judging that “True Grit is a very good movie that might be more embraceable if we didn’t know who was pulling the trigger”. Continue reading