Critics Consensus: The Counselor is Eccentric but Uneven

Plus, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is rude, ribald, and funny, and Blue Is The Warmest Color is Certified Fresh.

This week at the movies, we've got an amoral attorney (The Counselor, starring Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz) and an onerous octogenarian (Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, starring Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll). What do the critics have to say?

The Counselor

34%

On paper, The Counselor's pedigree is impeccable: its credits include a top-notch director (Ridley Scott), an A-list cast (Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz), and a screenplay from a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Cormac McCarthy). However, critics say the result is a bit of a jumble, a collection of eccentric performances and interesting scenes that never fully coheres into a strong narrative. Fassbender stars as a financially strapped lawyer who invests in a risky drug deal; when the transaction is inevitably botched, our hero plunges into a demimonde of sketchy characters and increasingly desperate straits. The pundits say The Counselor is never less than watchable, but its dour tone and occasionally confusing storyline keeps the story from being fully absorbing. (Flip through this week's 24 Frames for a gallery of the best and worst movie lawyers.)

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

60%

It appears that Johnny Knoxville has taken the words of Dylan Thomas to heart; playing a misanthropic old man in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, he does not go gentle into that good night. And critics say that's mostly a good thing, for while this Borat-esque hidden camera comedy is pretty hit-and-miss, it still offers plenty of rude, ribald fun. There's a loose storyline this time -- Knoxville stars as Irving Zisman, a mischievous 86-year-old on a road trip with his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) -- but it's mostly an excuse to string together a series of outrageous gags that shock unsuspecting onlookers. The pundits say Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa rises and falls on the strength of its jokes, but some of them are gleefully, shockingly crude, and Nicoll nearly steals the show with his pitch-perfect comedic chops. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema's most wild and crazy old people.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • I Am Divine, a documentary about John Waters' Pink Flamingos muse, is at 100 percent.
  • The Square, a doc about the politics of Egypt since the demonstrations in Tahrir Square in early 2011, is at 100 percent.
  • The Palme d'Or-winning Blue Is The Warmest Color, a coming-of-age drama about a teenager who falls in love with an older art student, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • When I Walk, a documentary about a filmmaker suffering from multiple sclerosis, is at 88 percent.
  • Torn, a drama about two women who form a bond after their sons are killed in a bombing, is at 86 percent.
  • Spinning Plates, a doc about the innovative staff members who work at three cutting edge restaurants, is at 82 percent.
  • Toad Road, an indie thriller about a group of teenagers whose debauchery leads them to investigate a creepy local legend, is at 80 percent.
  • Capital, starring Gabriel Byrne in a drama about the Machiavellian schemes to wrest control of a bank when its CEO dies unexpectedly, is at 75 percent.
  • Blood Brother, a doc about an American who works in an orphanage for HIV-infected children in India, is at 73 percent.
  • Claire Denis' The Bastards, a neo-noir about a man with an unconventional plan to avenge his brother's suicide, is at 63 percent.

Comments

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

Oooo, another Ridley Scott stinker. The guy is a hack. Ever since Hannibal, his films all became garbage. Yes, that includes the Alien prequel, or pre pre prequel, Prometheus. Scott needs to give up. Age has not helped him.

Oct 24 - 06:05 PM

Francesco Fortuna

Francesco Fortuna

I thought American Gangster and Black Hawk Down were pretty good, to each his own I suppose.

Oct 24 - 06:31 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

Black Hawk Down was decent, until it became a bore in the last act.

Oct 24 - 08:07 PM

The Juggernaut

The Juggernaut

At least we'll always have the original Alien.

Oct 24 - 06:39 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

And Blade Runner, though I liked Logan's Run more.

Oct 24 - 08:08 PM

Elizabeth Welker

Elizabeth Welker

You just shattered your credibility by preferring Logan's Run to Alien. Silly.

Oct 26 - 01:33 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

You just made yourself look stupid. I'm not gonna say why because it's obvious what's wrong with your statement.

Oct 26 - 10:07 PM

RoHiT

Good Looking RoHiT

Prometheus wasn't that bad.

Oct 24 - 07:59 PM

Stewart H.

Stewart Hoffman

It certainly had some problems - I enjoyed it more on the second viewing. Looks great - great score - just didn't make a tremendous amount of sense!

Oct 24 - 09:41 PM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

It wasn't bad if you hadn't seen Alien prior to watching it, but after...

Oct 25 - 04:58 PM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Matchstick Men and Kingdom of Heaven were pretty good. But yes, he has slipped. His pacing is off these days, it seems. Prometheus was like a dish made with lobster, white truffle, and caviar cooked in a microwave.

Oct 24 - 08:44 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I liked Gladiator. Shocked that something Cormac McCarthy wrote is a rotten tomato. Maybe his words don't translate well to the screen....Unless the Cohen Brothers are in charge.

Oct 24 - 09:13 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

I reread No Country and realized how easily it could have been a rotten. McCarthy's stories need the perfect director.

Oct 25 - 12:34 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Too True Too True

Oct 25 - 02:53 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

Thelma and Louise & The Duelist anyone?

Oct 24 - 09:52 PM

closedmouth

Anna Belle

I wasn't aware they were made after Hannibal.

Oct 25 - 07:40 AM

King  S.

King Simba

I thought Matchstick Men, American Gangster and Black Hawk Down were all great films, while Kingdom of Heaven is underrated in my opinion (way better than most historical epics released after Gladiator), so I wouldn't say his post-Hannibal career hasn't been without its bright spots.

Oct 25 - 09:03 AM

Francesco Fortuna

Francesco Fortuna

I thought American Gangster and Black Hawk Down were pretty good, to each his own I suppose.

Oct 24 - 06:31 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

Black Hawk Down was decent, until it became a bore in the last act.

Oct 24 - 08:07 PM

The Juggernaut

The Juggernaut

At least we'll always have the original Alien.

Oct 24 - 06:39 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

And Blade Runner, though I liked Logan's Run more.

Oct 24 - 08:08 PM

Elizabeth Welker

Elizabeth Welker

You just shattered your credibility by preferring Logan's Run to Alien. Silly.

Oct 26 - 01:33 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

You just made yourself look stupid. I'm not gonna say why because it's obvious what's wrong with your statement.

Oct 26 - 10:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'm still seeing The Counselor. Bleak and dialogue-heavy doesn't deter me, especially when Cormac McCarthy is writing the dialogue. Comparisons to Killing Them Softly also don't deter me, because I loved that film. Bad Grampa looks like fun. Toad Road looks very interesting. Also looking forward to Denis' Bastards, Costa-Gavras' Capital, and Blue is the Warmest Color.

Oct 24 - 06:39 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Cormac McCarthy Dialogue is absolutely Fantastic. I remember when No Country for Old Men ended and I was stunned! Shocked! Amazing! I looked to my wife and said "WOW!" She gave me this look as if I was nutz. What the hell was that!? She said ha ha ha. Before I come across as a "I'm just smarter then everyone else" type of guy, My wife is way smarter than me and way more artistic as well. Dunno what it is about a McCarthy story that I love so much but it happens every time.


Thought the Road was a horrid film though. What did you think of The Road?

Oct 24 - 09:16 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Road wasn't bad, but I place the blame on Hillcoat, who has shown his limitations with each succeeding film of his. It isn't that the film was "bleak" (as is the book) but that it failed to convey its quiet beauty, instead reduced to maudlin bathos. A film about disaffection doesn't have to be disaffected. If the Coens succeeded as the best McCarthy interpreters, it could well be because of the moral distance they place between the camera and the characters. The Road captured the desolation of the book, but failed to reveal much human nature from it.

Oct 25 - 08:15 PM

Typhon

Typhon Q

I find it ironic that Jackass got the higher score this week.

Oct 24 - 06:39 PM

David Dragesco

David Dragesco

ahahaha david from http://www.lyonmetropole.com/lyon/hotel-lyon.html

Oct 25 - 02:18 AM

Marc Cerone

Marc "Cerone" Chaudry

Just by looking at that 33% I can tell The Counselor is going to be one hell of a pulpy good time.

Oct 24 - 07:19 PM

crusader151

Peter Marsh

You'd think so, but no. It's just fucking atrocious. Bad Bad Bad.

Oct 25 - 01:29 AM

RoHiT

Good Looking RoHiT

Prometheus wasn't that bad.

Oct 24 - 07:59 PM

Stewart H.

Stewart Hoffman

It certainly had some problems - I enjoyed it more on the second viewing. Looks great - great score - just didn't make a tremendous amount of sense!

Oct 24 - 09:41 PM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

It wasn't bad if you hadn't seen Alien prior to watching it, but after...

Oct 25 - 04:58 PM

RoHiT

Good Looking RoHiT

I'm gonna watch lesbian porn. Oh sorry, I mean Blue Is The Warmest Color.

Oct 24 - 08:02 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

Black Hawk Down was decent, until it became a bore in the last act.

Oct 24 - 08:07 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

And Blade Runner, though I liked Logan's Run more.

Oct 24 - 08:08 PM

Elizabeth Welker

Elizabeth Welker

You just shattered your credibility by preferring Logan's Run to Alien. Silly.

Oct 26 - 01:33 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

You just made yourself look stupid. I'm not gonna say why because it's obvious what's wrong with your statement.

Oct 26 - 10:07 PM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Why does Blue is the Warmest Color need to be 3 hours long? Zzzzzz.

Not surprised by The Counselor. It looked a little over saturated. When will we get Blood Meridian via the Coen's. Its Oscar gold potential I tell ya! Oscar gold!

Oct 24 - 08:39 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Blood Meridian via the Coen's....Awesome. That would make me so happy (ala Greag from South Park) So Happy.

Oct 24 - 09:18 PM

Ronald Domholdt

Ronald Domholdt

Craig

Oct 27 - 03:17 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

thank you.

Oct 27 - 09:27 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

Length doesn't matter if it's great storytelling.

Oct 24 - 09:53 PM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

For this type of film, though? A character drama like this? No. A war film or epic, yeah. But this? No.

I see the good reviews and will watch it but I feel like I have weekend homework on the way. Hooey!

Oct 24 - 10:45 PM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

OK. I've just Wikipediaed it and am told that the film contains overly-long lesbian sex scenes that utilize prosthetic genitalia........ I'm sold on 3 hours.

Oct 24 - 11:11 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

3 hours of porn. I'm down.

Oct 25 - 01:34 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

The Coens would be completly wrong for Blood Meridian. Altouch the Coens are fearless directors, the movie is, in my opinion, too bleak for the Coens. I thing John Hillcoat (who directed The Road and The Proposition) would be the right guy to do it. The Coens should however adapt Patrick DeWitt's Novel "The Sisters Brothers". That would fit them like a glove. Also, if a Blood Meridian movie adaptation was nominated for an Oscar it meant that the novel hadn't been properly adapted for screen as it's intense violence and scalping would never meet Oscar standards.

Oct 25 - 03:23 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

This may not make you feel better, but currently, James Franco is holding the rights to Blood Meridian.

Oct 25 - 08:16 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Really? I wasn't aware of that. Well, those are troubling news indeed.

Oct 27 - 05:38 AM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Matchstick Men and Kingdom of Heaven were pretty good. But yes, he has slipped. His pacing is off these days, it seems. Prometheus was like a dish made with lobster, white truffle, and caviar cooked in a microwave.

Oct 24 - 08:44 PM

Marcellus E.

Marcellus Esquerra

Sort-of surprised with The Counselor, Bad Grandpa doesn't look very funny. Since both films seem like garbage, I guess I will finally check out Gravity this week.

Oct 24 - 09:01 PM

Jon Cox

Jon Cox

skipping the theater this weekend

Oct 24 - 09:01 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I liked Gladiator. Shocked that something Cormac McCarthy wrote is a rotten tomato. Maybe his words don't translate well to the screen....Unless the Cohen Brothers are in charge.

Oct 24 - 09:13 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Lone Cowboy

I reread No Country and realized how easily it could have been a rotten. McCarthy's stories need the perfect director.

Oct 25 - 12:34 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Too True Too True

Oct 25 - 02:53 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Cormac McCarthy Dialogue is absolutely Fantastic. I remember when No Country for Old Men ended and I was stunned! Shocked! Amazing! I looked to my wife and said "WOW!" She gave me this look as if I was nutz. What the hell was that!? She said ha ha ha. Before I come across as a "I'm just smarter then everyone else" type of guy, My wife is way smarter than me and way more artistic as well. Dunno what it is about a McCarthy story that I love so much but it happens every time.


Thought the Road was a horrid film though. What did you think of The Road?

Oct 24 - 09:16 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The Road wasn't bad, but I place the blame on Hillcoat, who has shown his limitations with each succeeding film of his. It isn't that the film was "bleak" (as is the book) but that it failed to convey its quiet beauty, instead reduced to maudlin bathos. A film about disaffection doesn't have to be disaffected. If the Coens succeeded as the best McCarthy interpreters, it could well be because of the moral distance they place between the camera and the characters. The Road captured the desolation of the book, but failed to reveal much human nature from it.

Oct 25 - 08:15 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Blood Meridian via the Coen's....Awesome. That would make me so happy (ala Greag from South Park) So Happy.

Oct 24 - 09:18 PM

Ronald Domholdt

Ronald Domholdt

Craig

Oct 27 - 03:17 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

thank you.

Oct 27 - 09:27 PM

Robert Skillstad

Robert Skillstad

And Sacha Baron Cohen is kicking himself in the head this weekend if Bad Grandpa is a boxoffice hit for taking reality comedy Borat to a different level.

Oct 24 - 09:31 PM

Stewart H.

Stewart Hoffman

It certainly had some problems - I enjoyed it more on the second viewing. Looks great - great score - just didn't make a tremendous amount of sense!

Oct 24 - 09:41 PM

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman

It wasn't bad if you hadn't seen Alien prior to watching it, but after...

Oct 25 - 04:58 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

Thelma and Louise & The Duelist anyone?

Oct 24 - 09:52 PM

closedmouth

Anna Belle

I wasn't aware they were made after Hannibal.

Oct 25 - 07:40 AM

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