Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

October 22, 2013

CALLERI: 'The Counselor' ambles along a familiar trail


Niagara Gazette — And speaking of spots, Diaz, wearing tight skirts and exhibiting a body-length leopard spot tattoo, hovers in the background. And yes, there are live leopards, two of them. They are treated as house pets and even get to sit in a restaurant listening to a piano player. At one point, Diaz, sleek in a clinging, hooded, neutral-colored dress, and looking a bit like Little Gray Riding Hood, begins to resemble a leopard.

Bardem, who cackles a lot, lets his hair do some of his acting. It’s jet black, spiky, and sweeps up and back like the rooster fin of a 1950s Cadillac Eldorado. He also wears a lot of bronzer, which makes him look like a tarnished Academy Award statue.

When the quirkiness of a film’s characters and backdrop begin to overwhelm the story, you’ve got serious problems.

The thrust of “The Counselor” is that drugs are moved from Juarez to Chicago in steel drums packed into the tanks of trucks used to clean septic systems. Yes, it’s as disgusting as it sounds. Why no one at the border questions why excrement needs to be shipped to Chicago is anyone’s guess. As for Chicago, it shows up in the movie in a laughable moment. You don’t need a degree in filmmaking — or even a road map — to recognize the dusty, sun-drenched light levels peculiar to southwest Texas, which passes for the Windy City. In fact, look at the right side of the screen, and you’ll see tall peaks. You know, those famous mountains surrounding Chicago, one of the flattest places in America.

One of the five key characters (played by Fassbender, Pitt, Bardem, Diaz, or Cruz — I won’t tell who) advances with a game of double-cross, which leads us to the ultimate round of death threats and actual murders, including the blood-soaked garroting. I will tell you that it’s not the unintelligible and lackluster Rosie Perez, who plays a woman in prison.

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