The Counselor: A Screenplay

This topic contains 42 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Richard L. 4 years, 2 months ago.

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  • 25 Oct 2013 at 2:30 am #4280

    Candy Minx
    Member

    Good question Richard. I think the script does deal with the concept of the head body divide well enough. And maybe that divide is the real gap explaining why the counselor takes a stab at easy money because he is disconnected now.

    I also think it’s a story where evil has a particular new (?) form. The role of Anton chirgurh is now manifested as a total chaos….beyond the human body. It is the energy of chaos grinding away… You know that big plastic island in the ocean? It’s made of all our garbage but it’s not from one place it’s just there…this grinding chaos in the counselor world is just there…it’s just a drug war existing swallowing endlessly grinding.

    I think the story does a good job of portraying that…as does the movie.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 12:26 pm #4291

    Glass
    Member

    Nice post, Candy. I bet you’d love Tim Morton’s stuff. Ecology Without Nature. Hyperobjects.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 12:54 pm #4294

    Candy Minx
    Member

    Thanks peter…I will look for that book today. I am over my reading slump!!! Thanks to jack reacher!!!!


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    25 Oct 2013 at 1:56 pm #4299

    The Tramp
    Member

    Once upon a time there was a major American novelist (his other attempts at being a playwright were mostly failures) who decided to sell himself and make money. Ridley McCarthy and Cormac Scott, the peddlers, meddlers, filth-pushers born from that decision only show that a horrendous script tends to give birth to a horrendous film. Comparing it to Shakespeare is a sin against intelligence. The smell of money was McCarthy’s strongest calling. Maybe other works will be published in the future to redeem such a wretched “work”. Otherwise, the dust will settle and Sir Thomas Browne be proved right.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 2:17 pm #4300

    Candy Minx
    Member
    25 Oct 2013 at 2:21 pm #4301

    Candy Minx
    Member

    I forgot to say how wonderful Rosie Perez was in the movie. John legozamo was good too… The scene he was in with dean Norris (hank!!!!!) was so surreal and disturbing both Stagg and I were like” what was that? ” creepy”


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    25 Oct 2013 at 3:41 pm #4303

    travis
    Member

    Thanks to Wes and Candy for responding to my question about the second scene between Ruth and the counselor

    Candy Minx: I forgot to say how wonderful Rosie Perez was in the movie. John legozamo was good too…

    It’s too bad that second scene didn’t make the cut. It would have been a strong scene for Perez. It also would have allowed the audience to see more of the counselor’s remorse.

    I’m guessing it was cut for clarity. I don’t understand why Ruth would blame the counselor for her son’s death. In the movie, Westray simply tells the counselor that Ruth wants him dead. Again, why? It was just a coincidence that the counselor bailed out her son, or was it? Was it part of the set up?

    Anyone with answers to those questions, your help would be appreciated.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 4:22 pm #4305

    The Tramp
    Member

    Insisting on the same point over and over appears silly, especially if adulation stands now as the preferred mode of criticism. Yes, Mr McCarthy has written an ill-conceived, poorly written script, thereby showing that some of his stylistic traits are, by now, mere clichés (the degree of misogyny-and outright racism-has reached appalling heights). He is no Chaplin, no Graham Greene, and certainly no Vladimir Nabokov. Then you add all-mouth-and-no-trousers Ridley Scott and the recipe for failure is complete. As for the hypothesis that this was merely a pause between two novels, it seems ludicrous. As if Bach had said that between the Passion According to St John and the Passion according to St Matthew Passion,he had been working for Tarantino’s new soundtrack. Can a worn-out master come back to what he did best? That is the only question worth asking.


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    25 Oct 2013 at 6:31 pm #4307

    Candy Minx
    Member

    Yeah, that scene could have shown a swing of the counselor with Ruth turning in some remorse. Believe me, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, the counselor surely feels remorse. Fassbinder made me care about the counselor to a degree. Where in the printed text I didn’t really care about him one way or another…I kind of thought he was just ignorant.

    I have had a number of surprising questions arise since seeing the movie last night. The first has to do with ruths son. It kind of hit me that the kid might have been part of the set up the whole time…and I didn’t get that ever before.

    A lot of the story has the interesting effect on me of processing that we come in on this set up actually maybe months after it was planned. I’m not really sure of the sense of time…because the timing is very strange…and it really is apparent when watching the movie.

    A couple of comments here in a variety of the threads I wanted to respond to…one was by Mike, and I can’t seem to track it down…but Mike I wanted to say how very moved and impressed I was by your last comment and your decision to try to talk about this story even though you didn’t like it. I really believe that a democratic voice is the ultimate way to discuss art and literature…I believe it’s a huge accomplishment when someone can say…hey this isn’t about me liking or disliking but analyzing whether something works well or not or has anything to offer. Richard also had a comment I appreciated about asking if the screenplay and story succeeds in portraying and exploring the grids it sets up. Regardless of “good” or “bad” in style or content.

    Martin, this is one of the attractions, for me, of grinders. I probably have a similar kind of taste as your son and his buddy who stay up all night watching such grinders. I do too. And I do think this screen story is a grinder of sorts. It kind of is a grinder and a Jim Thompson kind of universe at once. I think it might become a sort of mini-cult film.

    And Ken, I meant to respond to your notes on Malkina the other day and her names meaning. Yes, you really were one of the people …along with me…and a couple of others that was sure that the script wasn’t a fake. (I still laugh at the negative cynical attitude of those folks…scholars even ha! who thought it was a fake…and started a silly rumour) The fingerprints of McCarthy were all over this script for better or worse since day one two years ago.

    After so many negative posts the last two years here at forum…about this script it’s been very refreshing to start to read some more wise and carefully thought out responses in the last few days or so about this script.

    Since last night…I have been quite surprised how at often I’ve thought about Cameron Diaz’s Malkina.

    I am somewhat fascinated by this character. We know she was the child of drug dealers (her parents were thrown out of a helicopter in South America…isn’t that a classic drug dealer death? (what movie is that from?)

    I found myself curious about her philosophies…about cowards. She really is living with no fear…which was kind of scary lol. She is like that kind of enlightened being of the judge…and with no time for altruism….she actually surprised me as a character.

    The other thing…like the kid on the bike…as a question about the set up and the plot…so was the kid and Ruth all the time associated with The Counselor from the get go. There was something in his face that made me think that too.

    And…now dumb question…what the hell was with the trucks. The kid had the security box that was needed to use the starter in the trucks. Is this idea like taking your steering wheel off your car…as the best way to prevent theft (and drive a manual…most people don’t drive manual in the u.s.) Was the box with red, green black cords a system to allow only secure planned drivers to start the truck? Have I got that right?

    And…was it an opportunity that the counselor got the kid out of jail…and THEN got him to deliver the starter box?


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    23 Nov 2013 at 4:14 am #4684

    Richard L.
    Member

    Some have pronounced it critic proof, but it is no such thing. The screenplay seems to be a cautionary tale against material addiction–and with its high cost, beautiful cast, slick production, and $10 million dollar advertising campaign, it is a cautionary tale against itself.

    What was that line from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN?–”it has to be so simple a child can understand it”–or something like that. Lines like that have no temperature.

    That’s from my own post in the other Counselor thread, the one on the movie. I reposted it here because I want to post a rebuttal to my earlier take on it. Let’s concentrate on the screenplay here.

    RE: “…The screenplay seems to be a cautionary tale against material addiction”

    Well, yes, but it is much more than that. More accurately it is about THE GREAT SLEEP and WAKEFULNESS and NATURALISM. It is a multi-faceted Cormac McCarthy parable that fits into his early oeuvre. It is surreal naturalism. It is the Dali picture on the 1st edition of BLOOD MERIDIAN. In fact, if and when we ever see the movie, that is what I’m going to look for. It is the intrinsic human condition as seen through the eyes of Cormac McCarthy.

    Look at BLOOD MERIDIAN. Those who see light in that novel (and I am certainly in that number) recognize that the light there is dim indeed. As McCarthy looks at the world (and I speak of Cormac McCarthy the writer), the light is just as dim. The world is consumed by vanity, greed, violence, and the exploitation of the weak and addicted by the strong and psychopathic. Our sentimental notion that it isn’t so, that the good guy always wins, “that a pure heart will foil the electric chair,” as H. L. Mencken used to say, leads us astray again and again.

    “The world is like an enormous spider web and if you touch it, however lightly, at any point, the vibration ripples to the remotest perimeter and the drowsy spider feels the tingle and is drowsy no more but springs out to fling the gossamer coils about you who have touched the web and then inject the black, numbing poison under your hide. It does not matter whether or not you meant to brush the web of things. Your happy foot or your gay wing may have brushed it ever so lightly, but what happens always happens and there is the spider, bearded black and with his great faceted eyes glittering like mirrors in the sun, or like God’s eye, and the fangs dripping.”

    –ROBERT PENN WARREN, All the King’s Men

    “People dont pay attention,” Chigurh says to a man he has forced to call a coin toss. “And then one day there’s an accounting. And after that nothing is the same.” —NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

    McCarthy’s opening line of The Counselor screenplay and the last line of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD men are not carelessly placed. The mind-numb population, their ears affixed to propaganda and glamor, their attention so easily distracted by the culture of celebrity glitz, their lives strapped to the addictions of money, power, drugs, alcohol, consumerism, and sex (see, for instance, Raoul Vaneigem’s The Revolution of Everyday Life). You can tell them to wake up, but they think they’re already awake. This Great Sleep, or The Big Sleep (as Chandler took it from Robert Penn Warren) is death-in-life, a world of sleepwalkers yielding compulsively to the Will Force.

    Perhaps the only light inside the screenplay is the part played by Penelope Cruz. A dim light indeed. But the larger light is in seeing the whole as an observer and in recognizing the greater reality represented by the art of this Dali picture.

    Some of us discussed the cheetahs in one thread or another, along with McCarthy’s symbolic use of cats in other novels and about those in the works of other authors as well. Cheetahs was the name of the topless bar associated with drug kingpin Jamiel Chagra (Chigurh), but undoubtedly McCarthy uses them only as an exotic symbol of the animal side of our nature. Likewise the catwoman, Malkina.

    RE: “the truth has no temperature”

    Earlier I made fun of the “truth has no temperature” quote, and it seems like all the negative reviewers everywhere have done the same. But considered in context with McCarthy’s naturalism, it is a logical sentence.

    Accused of making a cold-blooded remark, Malkina replys that the truth has no temperature. Not knowing the warmth of human love and compassion, caught in the Will Force, that is her natural attitude. In the Dali-like screen-play, she rings true.

    There is a possible source here that has not yet been mentioned. That source is THE QUARK AND THE JAGUAR: ADVENTURES IN THE SIMPLE AND THE COMPLEX by Cormac McCarthy’s friend, Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the Nobel Prize. I have a first hardcover edition of this, the one with the cat looking fiercely out of the crystalline cover.

    Gell-Mann talks about his encounters with the elusive and seemingly illusive jaguar and other big cats. And he says that “meeting the jaguarundi in Belize somehow strengthened my awareness of the progress my colleagues and I had made in understanding better the relation between the simple and the complex, between the universal and the individual,” between the basic laws of nature and certain facets of the life of the mind.

    McCarthy doesn’t waste too many words, which is why, when he bothers to name these cheetahs, Sylvia and Raoul, we should be paying attention.

    If you should be writing a paper on McCarthy’s use of the cheetahs in here, be sure to see Willis R. Sanborn’s book, ANIMALS IN THE FICTION OF CORMAC MCCARTHY. But there’s more than that. I’ve blogged about it somewhere if it hasn’t disappeared into the ether by now.


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