Javier Bardem

review the counselor

The Counselor is one of the most cinematic and uncinematic movies of the year. It’s the former because director Ridley Scott used  the production to craft a beautifully uncomfortable atmosphere, truly evoking the themes, ideas, and visuals of scribe Cormac McCarthy‘s writing. Yet, it’s uncinematic because, to no one’s surprise, McCarthy loves to do things his own way. The movie doesn’t give you conventional exposition, backstory, or whatever else audiences might expect from easily digestible and normative filmmaking. The lead, The Counselor (Michael Fassbender), isn’t given a name. Why? Because he doesn’t need one. But the film isn’t vague – it tells you everything you need to know. The script itself is a slightly different matter. The people who loathed The Counselor, of which there are many, based on its D Cinema Score and a current rating of 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, would have torn the screen apart if  Scott used everything that McCarthy provided for him on the page. The script is just that good. Scott’s final product contains both minor and major deviations in McCarthy’s script (which reads more as a novel than a traditional screenplay), and following are ten of the most notable changes.

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The Counselor header

There’s a definite formula going for Javier Bardem. The wackier his haircut and outfit, the better the man’s performance. Think of that Dorothy Hamill ‘do in No Country for Old Men. Or his oh-so chic cream ensembles and bleached brows in Skyfall. Now gaze at these stills and tell me why I’m so excited to see The Counselor. The Ridley Scott film is an all-star ensemble that pairs Bardem with heavy-hitters like Cameron Diaz, real-life wife Penelope Cruz, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt, as seen through these newly released stills. While the beautiful people are clearly beautiful, Bardem and Diaz are the most interesting to look at; the couple knows how to dress. Flowing caftans, rose-tinted glasses, printed silk shirts – it’s like Hunter S. Thompson was a billionaire drug lord and not just a normal drug user. The film, from a Cormac McCarthy script (No Country for Old Men) centers on a lawyer (Fassbender) who is under the impression that he can make some quick cash by getting involved in the Mexican drug game, and then getting out just as easily. Check out the rest of the new stills after the break.

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jennifer-lawrence

What is Casting Couch? Casting news concerning names like Paul Giamatti, James Franco, Emmy Rossum, Mia Wasikowska, and even more. Many, many, more. We’re bursting. Now that she’s ruled the box office with her starring role in The Hunger Games and ruled awards season with her Oscar win for The Silver Linings Playbook, there’s only one logical next place for Jennifer Lawrence to go—the producer’s chair. That’s right, when an actor becomes a real force in Hollywood, we generally see them take a more creative role over the movies that they star in, and Variety is reporting that she’s going to be beginning that process by both starring in and producing her next project, Rules of Inheritance. From an Abi Morgan adaptation of Claire Bidwell Smith’s memoirs, and to be directed by Susanne Bier, Rules of Inheritance will see Lawrence playing a young woman “who loses her family, but finds herself in the process.” There’s a silver lining.

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wonder

To The Wonder has proven itself as Terrence Malick‘s most critically disliked film to date. Malick’s sprawling epic, The Tree of Life, was met with scoffs, but Wonder has been met with snickers and laughs. The hype and conversations spurred by The Tree of Life were exciting, which hasn’t been the case for Malick’s newest movie, and it’s easy to see why. For both good and bad, his sixth film symbolizes everything we expect from the filmmaker. The good, at least for non-Malick fans, is that To The Wonder is a simple, mostly linear story. The two leads, Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), are madly in love. Neil, from Oklahoma, strikes up a passionate relationship with Marina while traveling Europe with the graceful Ukrainian woman. Of course Neil can’t live overseas with her forever, so he decides to bring Marina and her 10-year-old daughter back to Oklahoma with him. For a while, it goes smoothly. Then it doesn’t. Then it does. And it continues on like that for sometime.

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To The Wonder

The theme of the first trailer for Terrence Malick‘s To the Wonder might be the inevitability and unpredictability of love. This sweeping emotion that takes hold of us even when we’re not looking for it, even as we fight against it. Back at Toronto, Andrew said the film — which stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams — was a more focused movie from the auteur, which should give some skeptics a bit of hope even as the faithful are won over wholly by this first look. Check it out for yourself:

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Culture Warrior: James Bond

Warning: this post contains mild spoilers for Skyfall. At some point during the middle of the first decade of this century, it felt like the practice of rebooting franchises would not see an end anytime soon. A gritty, realist new Batman origin story was followed quickly by a new blonde James Bond who, supposedly modeled after the new spy paradigm of the Bourne series, seemed as messy as he was vulnerable.

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  The James Bond series is something of a hub in the course of film and pop culture history. As iconic as it is on its own, it tends to be informed by other material as often as it does the informing. In the beginning, for example, the movies were highly influenced by the works of Alfred Hitchcock. Author Ian Fleming even wished for Hitch to direct the first movie adapted from his 007 novels. And Cary Grant was famously sought for the part of Bond, which would have been interesting had he continued with the second film, From Russia With Love, given how much it calls to mind North by Northwest. Instead, little-known Sean Connery embodied the character, and after the first two installments made the actor famous, Hitch cast him in Marnie. As usual, the director capitalized on a movie star’s pre-existing notoriety, his screen value, which makes it quite difficult for us to see Connery’s Marnie character, Mark Rutland, as anything but James Bond as a wife-raping publisher. Hitch went another step with his next film, Torn Curtain, which was an admitted direct response to the 007 films. He wrote to Francois Truffaut in 1965: “In realizing that James Bond and the imitators of James Bond were more or less making […]

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Skyfall is the conclusion of James Bond’s coming-of-age story. At the end of Casino Royale, he may have declared himself Bond, but the young .00 wasn’t there just yet. As shown by the divisive Quantum of Solace, Bond was still a rebel – a guy who took advantage of having a license to kill. He was dangerous. The Bond we see in Sam Mendes‘s Skyfall is still a “blunt instrument,” as producer Barbara Broccoli calls him, but he’s wiser and older now. By the end, all three films tie together nicely, even if you’re not a fan of Quantum of Solace. Broccoli and her fellow producer, Michael G. Wilson, say that was the intention. Here’s what Wilson and Broccoli had to say about now bringing in auteur directors, how James Bond has grown since Casino Royale, and why Steven Spielberg hasn’t made a Bond film yet:

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Skyfall

Skyfall feels, in many ways, like the last film in Daniel Craig‘s tenure as James Bond. It’s only his third go round as the British secret agent, but he’s already haggard, unshaven and tired of the back-stabbing, gun-toting rat race. When a list of MI6’s undercover agents is stolen (that’s right, it’s the old NOC list chestnut!) Bond and Agent Eve (Naomie Harris) are tasked with recovering it, but the mission goes awry and Bond is left for dead. He’s not, obviously, but he’s enjoying the peaceful anonymity and seaside screws too much to give a damn about anything else. But when MI6 is attacked back in London Bond rises from the dead and returns to duty. He tries to anyway, but injuries, indifference and a battered spirit threaten to keep him on the bench. It’s only when the stakes get personal for him and M (Judi Dench) that he musters the will needed to fight back. But will it be too late? Skyfall is big, beautiful entertainment that delivers the expected action set-pieces but adds truly artistic visuals and multiple odes to Bond films of the past fifty years. It’s never dull, occasionally surprising and unafraid to delve into Bond’s life more than any film since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Unfortunately (and unnecessarily), all of that comes at the price of gaping plot holes and staggering lapses in logic.

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Daniel Craig Skyfall

God help whatever poor soul is given the task to follow up Sam Mendes‘s work on Skyfall. Mendes has brought the James Bond franchise to a level beyond what we would hope and expect from a fifty-year-old series. Most characters couldn’t endure that lengthy amount of time, but Mendes and the brass behind the franchise have made a bold reason to believe that Bond is far from dead. Even looking past Roger Deakins‘ rich cinematography, Thomas Newman‘s intense but subtle score (which I’m listening to/fawning over as I write these words), and the magnificent locations milked for all their beauty, there’s still plenty more to love about Skyfall. Mendes has brought his voice to the franchise while also preserving Bond’s greatest traits, making the film one hell of a character-driven action movie. But just how did he do it?

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Last night a bunch of critics in the UK were treated to an early screening of Skyfall, and while nobody invited any of our diehard 007 junkies, I figured it’s worth our while to take a look at the first reactions to the new James Bond blockbuster. To do so, I’m using the recent breakdown of elements by one of FSR’s resident Bond experts, Kevin Carr, in order to dissect the reviews and highlight their takes on each individual ingredient. What about overall opinions? It seems they’re generally of a simple consensus, that Skyfall is not only a great return for the series following the disappointing Quantum of Solace but it may be one of the best Bond installments yet. This feat is achieved, apparently, in director Sam Mendes‘s balance of serious and nostalgic tone, brought about with a script (by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan) pays tribute to the past films and franchise conventions while still also delivering a lot of fresh ideas. And Roger Deakins‘s cinematography sounds like a real highlight of the film — even Oscar-worthy, according to some critics. Check out what the reviews (linked at the bottom of the page) have to say about Bond’s fit with the 10 main ingredients of a 007 film after the break.

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If you’ve watched a movie about love, marriage, the environment and religion all wrapped up together with only enough dialogue to fill a few minutes of a Tarantino screenplay, it was probably a Terrence Malick film. His latest, To The Wonder, uses the same voyeuristic style that the director has been working on from Days of Heaven and refuses to discard. The film uses emotion and voice over as a narrative compass which pushes the film forward in a way that almost feels documentary-like. We’re cutting into this couple’s life at distinct points to find out how they truly feel about one another and how that progresses. It’s easy to casually view Malick’s latest efforts and label it with a word like “pretentious.” The film is very demanding and requires great attention as well as an ability to consider rounded viewpoints on the topics at hand. This is where Malick’s style comes to an advantage. The film makes the core themes become points of discussion as opposed to cannons bursting with the filmmaker’s own position.

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Daniel Craig Skyfall

With the new trailer for Skyfall, director Sam Mendes and the hairstylists have recognized the true method to ensuring Javier Bardem is a terrifying villain: give him the most ridiculous haircut possible. There’s no telling what sort of dastardly work he’s up to here, or what James Bond will have to do to stop him, but none of that matters because it’s all overshadowed by the kind of blond wig Dave Chapelle used when he was doing whiteface. It’s like what Donald Trump would look like if he never went thin on top. How do those back goosebumps feel? Of course the real star of this trailer is Roger Deakins‘ cinematography, followed closely by Daniel Craig in a death-defying turn as 007. Check it out for yourself:

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One of this fall/winter’s more anticipated films for action junkies is the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. This time around, Bond’s 23rd to be exact, the titular agent is tasked with protecting M and looking cool while doing it. He may also get to slip in a quick shower or two with an attractive woman between all the shooting, running and falling out of things. The official synopsis is here: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.” Sam Mendes directs Daniel Craig in his third go round as Bond, and they’re joined by Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw. Check below for the new Skyfall teaser that aired during last night’s Olympic Games opening ceremonies. It was a nice pairing with the Bond-themed video featuring Craig escorting the Queen to the games by helicopter before the duo skydived down to join the masses.

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While the rest of the movie-going universe debates the merits of Prometheus, Ridley Scott is busy putting the final touches on the Cormac McCarthy-scribed thriller The Counselor. The film stars Brad Pitt as a lawyer who gets involved with drug trafficking, and already sported the promising supporting cast of Michael the-best-thing-about-Prometheus Fassbender and McCarthy veteran Javier Bardem. According to Deadline Bloomington, another McCarthy veteran (remember All the Pretty Horses?), Penélope Cruz, has officially been added to the cast after being rumored for a role for some time. No word on what character she’ll play, but despite any reservations audiences have had about Scott’s latest star-studded genre outing, this cast in the first script penned by really-freaking-good novelist Cormac McCarthy seems promising. Deadline notes that the film has been described as [sigh...] “No Country For Old Men on steroids,” which promises exactly the opposite of everything that made that Best Picture winner interesting. Principal photography for The Counselor begins this summer.

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The most striking thing about the new Skyfall trailer is the beauty. Yes, there’s the beast. The brawn. Daniel Craig still looks hulking and dark as James Bond, but the trailer shows off some truly gorgeous shots without giving them all away. That’s what happens when you hire Sam Mendes to direct and Roger Deakins to director photography. The latest entry in the Bond franchise sees M’s past coming to haunt everyone and 007 attempting to kill the people trying to kill him. This time, you know, it’s personal. Now see if you can spot any shaky-cam. Check out the trailer for yourself (as if you’ve bothered to read any of this anyway):

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We’ve been pretty closely following the development and casting news of Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor (written by no less than Cormac McCarthy), and while the bulk of casting so far has been quite exciting (Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt, to name the big guns), this is the first rumor that gives us pause. Twitch Film is reporting that Cameron Diaz has landed a role in the film, one Angelina Jolie was once hotly pursuing. The role of Malkina is one of two big female parts in the film, making this one of Diaz’s most juicy (and somewhat unexpected) gigs yet. While Diaz has yet to show that she’s capable of truly carrying a dark and dramatic role on her own, she has dipped her toe in interesting fare, stuff like The Box, Gangs of New York, and Being John Malkovich. She’s also continued to work on her comedic talents, showing a sort of weird fearlessness in recent roles, particularly the not-so-flattering Bad Teacher. And, hell, she’s even playing the female lead in the Coen brothers-penned Gambit remake, so perhaps Diaz is ready to take the next step in her acting career.

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The casting process for Ridley Scott’s next project, The Counselor, has been an absolute dream for people who like to write down famous people’s names. After going through a laundry list of the biggest actors working in Hollywood, Scott has seemed to settle on the titanic trio of Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt to play the three main male roles in this Cormac McCarthy-penned, lawyer-gone-bad drama. There has yet to be a consensus on who’s going to play the lead female role, that of the Fassbender character’s fianceé, however. The most recent buzz was that Pitt’s real-life fianceé Angelina Jolie was being looked at to come on board, but that never sounded like anything more than a long shot. And, sure enough, a recent report from THR claims that the actress’ role in the upcoming Disney film, Maleficent, would conflict with The Counselor’s shooting schedule.

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When Cormac McCarthy writes a script for Hollywood, it seems that everyone and their brother comes out of the woodwork to try and get a job on the production, right quick. It wasn’t long after it was announced that his original screenplay, The Counselor, existed before it was also announced that Ridley Scott would be directing and Michael Fassbender was attached to play the lead role. And ever since then, there’s been a who’s who of entertainment industry royalty lining up to get in on the fun. Not too long ago it was said that Javier Bardem and Jeremy Renner were being looked at for the two remaining male roles, that of the villain and a drug runner, and that Natalie Portman was showing interest in coming in as the female lead.

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Javier Bardem in Skyfall

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that usually has more to say. But it’s a little hung over from SXSW and a little out of practice, as it took most of last week off. That said, it’s keepin’ it weird. We begin this evening with a first look at Javier Bardem as a Bond villain. He’s looking pretty skeevy. Also sinister, very sinister.

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