Friday, October 25, 2013

On Docket: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color,' and 'The Counselor'

ONE regret of Yours Truly dating to The 51st New York Film Festival is that I did not see tender, lovely and controversial “Blue is the Warmest Color” in its New York premiere.

Of course, one had opportunities, but was being a bit of a brat, whining about not wishing to see a nearly three-hour film. And not any long film, but one that made history at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in winning the Palme d’Or for both director Abdellatif Kechiche and its two lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux.

It also contains explicit sex scenes, hinted at in its rating. And it has been banned from some theaters. (See trailer at top).

Regarding the ecstasy and agony of young lesbian love over the course of several years, “Blue” garnered universal raves. It doesn’t have any marquee names, which is in part why it is opening in only four U.S. theaters today.

“Blue” will eventually open wider but certainly nothing on the scale of the 3,000-plus theaters in which the “The Counselor” is enjoying its opening today. (“Blue” is also opening in India, Japan and Spain today, while “The Counselor” also opens in the United Kingdom).

Few moviegoers will see “Blue,” a very deserving, if disturbing, film. On the otherhand, massive numbers (at least have the opportunity to do so) will see “The Counselor.” What a pedigree, has this latter film! The director is Ridley Scott. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and octogenarian Cormac McCarthy (“No Country for Old Men.”) makes his screenwriting debut.

“The Counselor” boasts a dreamlike cast: Michael Fassbender (who seems lately to do no wrong, cinematically speaking), Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, as well as spouses Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. (See trailer below).

Set on the Texas-Mexican border, “The Counselor” commences a bit awkwardly with some sexy bedroom banter between Counselor, MF’s only moniker in the movie, with his betrothed, Laura (PC). He loves Laura to death, a good, godly and naive woman for whom he is prepared to do anything.

Indeed, Counselor’s love knows no legal bounds, leading him down a slippery slope into the underworld of cocaine – not a place for a decent man such as he. Too late, especially by the time his paths cross two lowlifes, Westray (BP) and Reiner (“No Country for Old Men alum JB.)

The film is beautifully shot. The performances are universally good; vixenish CD, for instance, further hones her facility for playing sexy with a bit of humor. What a pity then, that the film fails to make a good case for itself.

Place the blame squarely on the high-falutin’ palaver CM insists on that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Muddled, muddled is this puzzle. Too many minced words; too many soliloquies about greed not being good. A surfeit of this type of verbiage wrapped awkwardly around killings, beatings, decapitations, big cats and drug deals gone bad. And to what end?

In the final analysis, “The Counselor” – with every advantage – fails the client. That is, the moviegoing public.

"Blue is the Warmest Color" is rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content. Visit to learn more about the film. "The Counselor" is Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language. Visit to learn more about the film.

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