Posts Tagged ‘Penelope Cruz’

The Counselor: So Out of Order—Movie

October 25, 2013

“¿Cómo?”  (What? How?) A bartender says this to the Counselor in his last scene in the movie. I think the bartender speaks for all of us who manage to sit through the entire 117 minutes of “The Counselor.”  “¿Cómo?—How did so many A-listers and terrific actors sign up for this mess of a film?The Counselor Poster 2

“The Counselor,” directed by Ridley Scott with screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, is the story of the downward spiral of a lawyer (Michael Fassbender), known only as Counselor. When we first meet the Counselor, he’s in bed with his soon-to-be fiancée, Laura (Penélope Cruz).  Although he lives large, the Counselor has money problems which lead him to shady dealings with drug lord, Reiner (Javier Bardem). Reiner lives with girlfriend, Malkina (Cameron Diaz) who has a thing for cheetahs and watches over her own sinister businesses.  Brad Pitt  has a small, but critical role as Westray, the Counselor’s world-weary middleman.  The Counselor is quickly in over his head and his stint in the drug business predictably goes south. Frankly, the rest of the movie is a hodge-podge and makes no sense. There’s a monologue here, a monologue there. Characters come and go. With five minutes left in the film, we are introduced to new characters…Well, hello there Dean Norris and John Leguizamo. And wait, isn’t that Goran Visnjic?

Everyone… and I do mean everyone… is a philosopher in “The Counselor.”  I don’t think I’ve heard so much pretentious gobbledygook in one film…ever. How did the actors manage to deliver this dialogue without cracking up?  Either there were multiple takes or they are all even better actors than I imagined.

As bad as this movie is, Michael Fassbender manages to rise above the screenplay. For my money, he’s actually much better in this…showing a range of emotions… than he is in “12 Years a Slave.” Brad Pitt is still the best looking character actor in the business. Penélope Cruz doesn’t have all that much to do except look beautiful and she certainly succeeds on that score. What to make of Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz? Bardem does a laudable job in playing a very likeable drug dealer, but with that kind of laid-back attitude, it’s hard to understand how his character has lasted that long in the drug business. And his hair—really? What is the point? In reality, the way everyone in the film is sweating from the heat, there is no way his hair would be able to stand up like that. Cameron Diaz is a hoot. She’s over the top in every way. Some of it is self-inflicted as this is one of her worse performances. But do they really have to hit us over the head with how much she admires cheetahs? From her cheetah-like hair to her cheetah tattoos to  her print clothing, there’s nothing understated about her. And it is a miracle that she is able to lift her hands and hold her head up with the amount of heavy jewelry she’s wearing.

I’m at a loss. Ridley Scott is not some schlock director nor is Cormac McCarthy a hack writer—quite the opposite. How did they come up with this piece of junk? Save your money. If you want to ponder that question, ponder it when “The Counselor” comes to your television.

1 nugget out of 4

Nine—Movie

January 8, 2010

I  loved Nine. However, this is definitely not your grandmother’s musical and will not be for everyone. Based on the Broadway musical, which in turn is based on the autobiographical Fellini movie 8 ½, Nine is directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and written by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella. Nine stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido, a legendary Italian director, struggling with creative block…struggling with his life.  Pressed by colleagues and the press for details on his next movie, he flees to a spa to reflect on his life. While there he has present-day encounters with and  flashbacks to the women who have been important  in his life and have made him the man he has become…for better or worse. The problem with the movie is that not enough of these scenes flow well together.

Each actress in the film has a featured song, some with better success than others, but all do a really great job. Penelope Cruz, as Guido’s mistress, Carla, is terrific. Her scenes are powerful…you feel her hurt and pain. But who knew she could sing and dance…I mean really sing and dance. Her voice is strong and what that woman can do with her body is amazing. Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, plays the prostitute who introduces the young Guido to sex. Her song, “Be Italian” is the film’s signature piece, the one you’ll hum leaving the theater and her way with it is a show stopper. Marion Cotillard, as Guido’s wife Luisa, has some very strong scenes that will break your heart and unlike her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Cotillard does her own singing and does a great job. Nicole Kidman, as his muse, Claudia, has a rather small role, but she acquits herself nicely.  Who knew Judi Dench, playing Guido’s costume designer, could sing, but sing she does and shows off a nice pair of legs in the process. Sophia Loren, displaying the oddest eye makeup in movie history, has a small but important role as Guido’s dead mother. Kate Hudson, whose role as journalist Stephanie was unnecessarily added for the movie, rounds out the female cast. Finally, there is Daniel Day-Lewis. There appears to be nothing this man cannot do. He’s extremely graceful and can more than carry a tune.

To some extent Nine is undone by its script, but if you love great singing and dancing, you’re in for a fun time at the movies.

3 nuggets out of 4

Broken Embraces—Movie

January 8, 2010

I don’t have the words in English or Spanish to say how great Broken Embraces is. Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, the movie stars Penelope Cruz and Lluís Homar. The story takes place in the 1990s and present day. Broken Embraces involves “Harry Caine” (Lluís Homar) a blind writer, his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo) and Magdalena (Penelope Cruz), a secretary, part-time call-girl and aspiring actress. How the writer becomes “Harry” and turns blind is told in flashbacks as current events bring forth a flood of memories and confessions. Broken Embraces is a combination love story, melodrama and detective story and is told from Harry’s point of view. Although Cruz is wonderful in this and has never looked more beautiful, it is really Harry’s story and Homar is exceptional in that role.

This is one of the best movies of the 20000-2010 year.

4 nuggets out of 4


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