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The Counsellor Tony Ridley Scott Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Rosie Perez, Natalie Dormer, Bruno Ganz, Toby Kebbell, John Leguizamo, Dean Norris,

The Counselor: when a lawyer invests in a drug smuggling operation that goes south, the world around him collapses. This movie essentially comprises of a heap of dragged-out scenes where fine actors deliver lines that probably looked great in a script, but end up coming over as quasi-biblical, pears of faux wisdom “that would sound totally rad in the trailer, man.” Some of the conversations were so vague and non-directional that they felt intentionally cryptic for no reason. The other distracting aspect was the ridiculously over-luxurious, decadent and excessive lifestyle of every protagonist; lavish clothes, jewels, cars, props, and even animals – it feels more like you’re flipping through a high-end fashion magazine. The casting here is crazy-good, and the quality of actors is world-class, there’s even some great flashes of acting – but it’s all crushed under the weight of great expectations. The most fun you can get out of this is playing the “OMG it’s that guy” cameo-spotting game, with the likes of Toby Kebbell, DeanHankNorris, Donna Air, Rosie Perez, Bruno Ganz. And seriously, does Cormac McCarty just sit at home thinking of new ways to kill people all day? In a nutshell, The Counselor is too arthouse-y for it’s own good – and the distracting stars, lifestyles, plot, and “that would be cool in a film” conversations make it all feel like a surreal advert – aimed more at getting punters in the screen, than delivering a decent film. You can’t help but feel disappointed that a cast/director/writer this good have produced something so ordinary and forgettable – when compared to a lesser cast and (arguably lesser) director doing balls-to-the-wall a film like Savages. The Counselor is a ridiculously convoluted (although NOT as hard to follow as people have made out) that lets us know immoral actions may have grave consequences – ahhh duh duh duh duh!

Score: 4/10

Knight and Day A wanted super spy (Cruise) somehow thinks it’s OK to tangle a random civilian (Diaz) into his escape plans. Up front – there are simply too many things to dislike in this movie; the plot is terrible, the tone is uneven – big action or goofy parody, derivative script, neither lead is any good, neither lead is watchable or likable, etc, etc… The secret agent keeps knocking out the gal when she’s just about to put 2 + 2 together, that’s no way to treat a Lady, even if she is only with you for the money! Moreover, the whole film feels like a big, strategic, crass plan to simply make a ton of box office, without as much of a thought given to the actual product.

It genuinely made the Mrs and I want to make a suicide pact, but before things got that far, we switched it off after a record-breaking 15 minutes. Bankable A-list stars, does not a good movie make! GAME OVER, Cruise.

Alternative Plans: just went to bed early that night, ‘cos that’s how we roll.

Bad Teacher. Having seen the trailer, and there being not much else out at the time, a friend and I thought we’d chance a matinée showing to fill in a few hours between loutish drinking in our city’s lovely gardens and heading out in the evening. So the film starts, and it’s nothing but concentrated averageness. Diaz figures out JT has some money dawns some hot-pants & washes cars, keeps trying to woo him… then the credits start?

Turns out there was a lot more to the story, but I had fallen asleep after 25 minutes, only to be woken up by a sharp elbow to the ribs, end credits rolling, and the phrase “that was pretty bad”… I guess it could have been the effect of two Henry Weston ciders, but I believe it’s more likely to be my acute narcolepsy; which is triggered by watching terribly shit films (this has happened one other time).

Alternative plans: my subconscious had clearly decided that sleeping would be more productive than sitting through this. Pre-town powernap!!!

The Box: a mysterious box appears on your doorstep – you press the button inside and get a million dollars; but someone, somewhere dies… do you do it? Despite this fairly strong concept and the interesting central question, this is undoubtedly the single worst sci-fi film I can ever remember watching – including all those B and Z movies. Most things in the film were pointless and poorly done; CGI, script, acting, style, direction, accents, the science, plot, music, 70s setting, 2 hour length… None of the actors set the world on fire, but Diaz in particular was woeful. There’s not one single redeeming or good aspect to this film I can think of. It could (and should) be re-made a hundred times better, however I doubt anyone will go near the story it after this abomination. Certifiably stinking!

Score: 0/10

Gangs of New York: Scorsese’s star-studded epic tale of one man’s quest for revenge in 1880’s New York. It starts and ends with some ultra-graphic violence and bloody guts – although the end is still quite flat – and pretty much everything in between is all about the drama & story. The cinematography’s more plain and subtle than you’d expect from a master like Scorsese, although the elaborate sets, large cast, costumes and historical references seem meticulous and keep your eyes plenty pleased. Daniel Day Lewis slightly overcooks his character, although was the highlight as usual and the rest of the cast were decent; even John C Reilly and his silly face. Like all ‘foreign’-background roles everyone’s accents oscillated between Americana and Irish (other than the natives Gleeson and Neeson). It’s a great effort, but quite a drawn out affair that lacks depth in both characters and story. Because it’s so specific, New Yorkers would appreciate it most.

Score: 6/10