Posts Tagged ‘penelope cruz’

the counselor

The Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is a lawyer who is deeply in love with Laura. (Penelope Cruz)  He wants to marry Laura, and buys her a prohibitively expensive engagement ring, and seems to be set for a life filled with happiness.  The Counselor inexplicably wants to become a part of the drug trade in Juarez Mexico.  He meets with his friend Reiner, (Javier Bardem) and a middle man named Westray (Brad Pitt) and despite their warnings, the Counselor goes ahead with his plan to make 20 million dollars on a drug deal. When a drug courier is killed, and the drug shipment disappears, the kingpin, Jefe (Reuben Blades) goes after Laura.  Does Laura survive?  Who has the drug shipment?

A movie with this kind of star power, directed by Ridley Scott should not be this appallingly bad.  I blame the writer Cormac McCarthy, I’ve read The Road and seen the film, I saw No Country For Old Men, and now there’s this movie, all three gave me a massive headache.  McCarthy’s writing style is enigmatic. There is no cohesive story, no central theme to build a story around.  Is it a cautionary tale about drugs or money or is it an exciting drama about the drug war with sexual overtones? It tries to be both, it ends up being a muddled mess.  The characters are spouting, flowery almost poetic language one minute, and spouting four letter words the next.  Neither the flowery language or the sex talk or PG-13 sex scenes move the story along one iota, and only serves to confuse matters even further.  McCarthy never answers the question why.  Why does a lawyer, with a beautiful fiancé have a desire to join the drug trade? The characters aren’t clearly drawn or delineated, and so the Counselor has great actors, a great director just begging for a good story.

This is the first time I’ve seen Michael Fassbender and his acting wasn’t compelling to me.  Brad Pitt gives a dull, listless rendering of Westray the middle man.  He has a very limited range of skills, limited to comedic action roles. Javier Bardem looks like a troll, I liked Bardem in Skyfall, his character was funny and a nice change of pace.  But this is supposed to be a different movie in tone than Skyfall, and Bardem plays ostensibly the same character, and it doesn’t work in this instance.  Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, who can be great actresses are used as little more than eye candy.  The other Latinos, Blades, Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo are all stereotypically portrayed as criminals, and there is not one heroic character of any race in the entire film, just men with varying degrees of murderous avarice.

The cinematography is stellar. El Paso Texas and Salt Lake City Utah look glorious doubling for Juarez Mexico, it’s those opening shots the draw the viewer in, just as much the dialogue repels the viewer.  It’s a pity that a great visual director like Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien) had to waste his time trying to breathe life into a lifeless script.

The Counselor.  Has No Appeal.

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The famous writer/ director Giudo Contini (Day-Lewis) has writer’s block.  He’s agreed to do a large scale musical, named Italia, but he’s run dry on ideas.  Guido tries to spend the night with his mistress, Carla, (Cruz) to stir his creative juices, but the only thing he stirs up is trouble with his current wife (Courtillard) who finds out he’s cheating on her, and finally leaves hm.  He tries to find solace in his muse, Claudia (Kidman) but even she is tired of his shenanigans with women.  Guido has nothing left to do but conjure up memories of his sainted mother (Sophia Loren) and a village prostitute from his childhood Saraghina (Fergie) to decide if women are to be put on a pedestal and admired or thrown in a gutter and ravaged.  Does Guido get his wife back?  Does Guido get rid of his writer’s block? Or does he move on to new starlet in waiting Stephanie? (Kate Hudsin)

This is a pointless, mindless, wreck of a movie.  It’s hard to imagine that this dreck was co-written by Anthony Mingella, and directed by Rob Marshall who directed the eminently better Chicago.  Guido is not a sympathetic character so it’s hard for anyone to feel badly for him.  It’s hard for anyone to feel anything for any of the women in this movie, they’re just glamorized strumpets and harlots, conquests for the Great Contini.  Why would Penelope Cruz and the formerly great Nicole Kidman and even Judi Dench play such degrading, demeaning roles?  It will take me years to wipe the memory of Judi Dench in a camisole from my mind but I will try.  The lobotomy begins tonight. Only Coutillard redeems herself as the wronged wife, and even she is forced to do a strip-tease number.  And what is with those accents?  Guido is supposed to be Italian, but Daniel Day Lewis lets his British accent slip in too often.  Courtillard is French, but sounds British , Kidman is Australian, god knows what accent she was doing, and Dench who’s  British is trying to do a French accent.  Penelope Cruz sounded Spanish, but she always does. This is dialect coach hell. And just when you thought the acting couldn’t get worse, along comes Kate Hudson, and Fergie,  Mamma Mia, no wait that was a good musical. Nine fails as a movie, it fails even more as a musical, the songs are not memorable and they are badly sung.  Most of the songs are bad because most of them start with the word Guido. Just skip Nine and hope this fine cast learns a lesson from this movie. Just because it’s a hit on Broadway, does not mean it will be a good movie.

Nine. More like a 1.

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Isabella (Cruz) is a chef in Brazil who suffers from motion sickness.  Her husband Toninho (Murilo Benicio) is also a chef, they run a restaurant together.  Her motion sickness is only eased when she does everything herself, drives the car, takes the lead in dancing and takes command in the bedroom.  This makes Toninho feel quite emasculated, so he cheats on Isabella, even though he still loves her.  Isabella does some kind of ritual to a Brazilian goddess and buries her love for Toninho at the bottom of the sea.

Isabella moves to San Francisco, tries to become a chef, and fails.  She then makes a pot of coffee that gets the attention of tv news producer Cliff (Fuersten) Cliff allows her to do the show just the way she wants to and, Isabella’s show is a smash hit.  Toninho cannot forget Isabella and follows her to San Francisco bossa nova band in tow, but has Isabella’s love for Toninho truly been buried forever?  Can she find love with Cliff and happiness on her own cooking show?

I didn’t really like this movie, because it’s like two different movies rolled into one.  One is a really good Latino movie with strong acting from Cruz and Benicio, and unmistakable chemistry between the two.  The other movie is a formulaic Hollywood comedy with the same old stock Hollywood characters, a bland romantic rival, a whole host of leering men, leering at Cruz of course, and the ubiquitous gay character, this time a gay, black transvestite who lives with Cruz and gives her advice on love. Gag.  Fuerstien is a bore as the romantic rival, and Harold Perrineau Jr, shows nothing in this role that hasn’t been seen before. The stereotype of the sassy black female is getting old fast.  The scenes that really work are between Benicio and Cruz, and Benicio and his bossa nova troubadours.  Cruz shows a deft comedic touch and some real sensitivity in the more serious scenes, too bad this movie strays from the story of the star-crossed lovers too often.

Woman on Top. Nowhere near the top of my movie list..

Movie Review: Elegy (2008)

Posted: November 26, 2011 in Drama
Tags: ,

elegy

David Kepish (Ben Kingsley) is a hedonistic college professor, who makes his name arguing that the Puritans killed another group of settlers, because they were atheists and believed in free love. David himself believes in love without entanglements, until he meets a beautiful student of his named Consuelo Castilla. (Penelope Cruz) David sets out to woo and bed Consuelo, and does so successfully, but then becomes consumed by her and possessive of her.  He follows her when she says she is going dancing with her brother.  David’s best friend George O’ Hearn (Dennis Hopper) suggests that David break it off with Consuelo, but instead of breaking it off, he continues to date her.  At the same time David is dating Consuelo, he is enjoying a no-strings attached sexual relationship with Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson)  David even goes as far as to lie to Carolyn about his relationship with Consuelo.   Meanwhile Consuelo is  getting frustrated by David’s lack of commitment to their relationship, he won’t even meet her parents at a party that Consuelo invites David to.  Tired of pursuing a serious relationship with David, Consuelo breaks it off.  Two years later, out of the blue, Consuelo calls David and asks him to meet her.  What does she want?  Does he meet her?

This movie starts promisingly enough, David is a witty, pompous , college professor who doesn’t believe in commitment will get his comeuppance when getting seriously involved with a younger woman, or that’s what I thought this movie would be but then it gets dragged down into the malaise of being a serious relationship movie.  The more time elapses, the more dour and melancholy it becomes.  I was glad when Consuelo called it quits, the relationship was getting downright painful to watch.  The big reveal is unnecessary and overly melodramatic, it plays more like a soap than a movie.  Consuelo’s request after the reveal is gratuitous and demeans the serious intent of the movie.  Kingsley is at his best when he’s the wise-cracking professor, but suffers as the lovelorn character.  Cruz shines as Consuelo in a very understated, grounded, serious performance, even though she is given some silly dialogue at times.  The movie suffers immensely when she’s not on screen.  I’d say the second half of the movie is much slower than the first hour.

Elegy:  Takes poetic license with love.