When a Great Novelist Writes a Great Movie

Reporting on Cormac McCarthy’s The Counselor

A quick note – The following is a column on the movie The Counselor. If you have seen the movie, continue. If you have not seen the movie, I would suggest turning away. I don’t want to sound like an elitist or be exclusionary. That wouldn’t be good for my SEO. I just don’t want to spoil it for anyone, and this entire column is a spoiler alert. Sometimes you pick the columns. Sometimes the columns pick you. If you have not seen The Counselor, I would suggest going to your nearest Redbox because your nearest Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores have been replaced by Starbucks. I would search this Redbox for The Counselor. If this Redbox does not have The Counselor available, kick it repeatedly. It does not have feelings. If this Redbox does have The Counselor available, rent the movie, watch it, read the following column and then make a sizeable donation to the Corey White Needs a Life Fund. We take checks!

Disclaimer #1: I do not condone senseless acts of violence perpetrated against our brave and defenseless Redbox machines which stretch elegantly across a nation under God.

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Many writers have penned novels about the American West, but few have done so with the brilliance of Cormac McCarthy. He is also one of the few writers that has been genuinely blessed by Hollywood. His novels are rarely butchered, and often they make compelling vehicles (i.e No Country for Old Men and The Road). This is probably because McCarthy is so gifted when it comes to crafting dialogue (although he is allergic to quotation marks). He shares this gift with the late Elmore Leonard (who incidentally had his own story turned into a fabulous television series called Justified). McCarthy creates unforgettable characters and paints them into the tapestry of the West. McCarthy also understands that you would have to be out of your mind to write a novel in this day and age. So McCarthy decided to give script-writing a try. The result is The Counselor.

I am sitting in my bunker inside The Compound embedded and ready to report on McCarthy’s latest nightmarish vision. Armed only with a pen and a piece of notebook paper, I am fully aware that I could end up on the wrong end of Javier Bardem’s high-powered cattle gun. But I will risk it for the cause of good journalism. I am a professional. So here goes. Let’s hit play….

Fassbender Cruz.png

Love in the Modern Age, Part 1: Cunnilingus

Who is this Michael Fassbender? The previews prior to The Counselor included one for 12 Years a Slave which he’s also in. If you are an actor and you are watching a movie you’re starring in and you see a preview for another movie you’re starring in you have to think to yourself, “Damn it feels good to be a gangster.” Unless you’re Adam Sandler; then you must wonder, “Why do I do this to myself?”

Aerial camera pan over the expansive shabbiness of Juarez: How responsible is Catholicism for creating all of those people?

McCarthy puts drugs in septic tankers to secretly transport them, and a million drug dealers let out a collective, “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that.”

I wonder how much research McCarthy did about diamonds for this movie. A great writer has to be sort of an expert in everything, a walking Google if you will. If this whole screenwriting thing doesn’t work out, McCarthy can go into P.R. for De Beers.

Bloody Mary.png

Am I the only one terrified that that Bloody Mary is going to spill over Javier Bardem’s very white couch and carpet, and Michael Fassbender is going to get a very real life tutorial on how a bolito works? McCarthy creates suspense on many different levels. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem continues to find creative ways to kill people. He is like the MacGyver of sadists.

Cruise

I immediately dislike Cameron Diaz. How is that possible? I’ve been in love with her since I saw The Mask. I must be blinded by her fingernail polish.

Pitt

Is that Brad Pitt’s real hair or extensions? I’m leaning towards real because he wore that hairdo in World War Z. The fountain of youth is hidden away in Bragelina’s backyard. Brad Pitt will spend eternity making high quality movies and his wife, Angelina Jolie, will spend it saving orphans from lives of squalor while lecturing the United Nations on various world evils.

Getting into a verbal confrontation with a former client at the polo club #WhitePeopleProblems

Cameron Diaz is a gold-digger with a gold tooth and a hideous tattoo. Plus, she makes priests blush and she does dirty things with auto-machinery. She should marry a rapper. She belongs on the Real Housewives of Juarez. I hate her.

Love in the Modern Age, Part 2: Cameron Diaz just had sex with a sports car. Do they have a contraceptive for that? The sight of this blew back Javier Bardem’s entire hairline.

Javier Bardem used the word “gynecological.” That is going to be a field of study for future alien college students majoring in why men decided to blow the earth up in a nuclear holocaust.

If you every find yourself in a Cormac McCarthy story turned movie, do not travel down desolate Texas highways on a motorcycle at a high rate of speed. On second thought, avoid Texas altogether. On some lonely Lone Star highway, Javier Bardem is stalking about, a coyote howling in the distance, his cattle gun and bolito always within reach.

Love in the Modern Age, Part 3: Smartphone Sex

“Life is being in bed with you. Everything else is just waiting.” If this whole screenwriting thing doesn’t work out, McCarthy could become a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card writer.

A guy dressed as a cop comes at you with an oozie #DrugDealerProblems #DudeAtTheWrongPlaceAtTheWrongTimeProblems

There is no way Penelope Cruz is getting out of this alive. This isn’t All the Pretty Horses. This is All the Pretty Barbados B—ches Who F—k Ferraris and Count Carats. Cameron Diaz, I hate her.

Penelope Cruz has a thing for potatoes and blue turf. Boise, a nice place to hide. Unless you’re the Oklahoma Sooners.

Love in the Modern World, Part 4: “I don’t want to lose you.”

“If the ax comes through the door, I’m gone.” Cameron Diaz, I hate her.

Javier Bardem loses his lady, gets shot in the rear, gets his sunglasses and snakeskin boots stolen by grimy Mexican children, and then is eaten by his pet cheetahs. This hasn’t been a good day for Javier Bardem.

I have to have a good sense of humor because guys in Columbia keep sending me dead bodies in waste containers because they think it’s funny #JohnLeguizamoProblems, and Dean Norris thought hanging out with Walter White was a blast.

The world needs more philosophical drug kingpins. Especially those who can fit killing a woman and explaining it to her bitter fiancé, in Webster-searing words, around naptime. That should be a requirement on the resume.

I spent a night with a beautiful woman and she stole all of my money #BradPittProblems

OMG, Brad Pitt just got bolitoed. That’s serious. So much blood. I didn’t see this coming. Damn. My bunker at The Compound has just been soiled. Cameron Diaz, I hate her.

Cameron Diaz wins. She is the cheetah. Her ugly tattoo is an analogy. Cameron Diaz, I hate her.

Disclaimer #2: I don’t actually hate Cameron Diaz. In fact, her performance was really eye-opening. She nailed it. Through McCarthy’s words, Diaz created a unique, wonderful and terrifying character. With only the slight raise of a silver-tipped finger, Diaz’s Malkina is able to destroy the lives of three very powerful men. She does so by effectively and effortlessly using their weaknesses against them and ruthlessly understanding the things they want most. Diaz plays the role with such power, a power usually reserved for men. On those rare instances when women have an opportunity to play a villain there is usually a hint of remorse. In Diaz, we see no remorse. We just see cold, hard calculation and brutal accuracy of action. She truly is the cheetah toying with her pray, teasing it with her silver claws until she decides she is ready to sink her golden teeth into its body.

The works of Cormac McCarthy are unique in that the villains are more important to the story than the heroes. The antagonists set the tone; the protagonists are just reactionaries. The villains always represent something greater than themselves. They represent a sweeping deficit of society. We watch All the Pretty Horses roam untamed in the West and we wish to bow those beautiful animals to our will, to force them into bondage, while our own souls yearn to be as free as they are. We travel the Blood Meridian and discover the ultra-violence of the West, the savagery of it all, and we find ourselves a willing captive of all of it. We walk The Road and search for the final remains of hope and humanity in the world. All we find is the coldness of ash and the flickering light of death. We are an ancient sheriff, standing as a lone spectator in No Country for Old Men, watching greed tear through the skull of man from the angry blast of a cattle gun and knowing that nothing can be done.

It changes you, that moment. You change when you watch your parents get thrown from a helicopter into a certain death, or when you see your girlfriend banging an automobile, or when you see a gorgeous woman smile at you in a hotel lobby and you just have to say to her, “come have a drink with me.” That moment that you sacrifice your morality for money, your life will never be the same.

The bolito tightens around your neck. You lie dead on the streets of Juarez, children and cheetahs picking at your remains. Your soul falls into a Mexican wasteland, and you find yourself a soulless man wandering the streets of Juarez. Yet she’s still out there, the devil, shining like a flawless Amsterdam diamond. However, you can just make out the imperfections: a tiny grain of soot, a reminder of what forged her, that pressure that made her what she is today: a cheetah print tattoo, a gold tooth, silver nail polish and a jagged memory.

It begins as lust. It may be the hope of offering more to the love of your life: a bigger diamond, a flashier house, a more expensive car, a better life. It may be exotic women, smart women, dance clubs and pool parties. It is always more. Greed always lives on the edge ready to fall off.

We push it down, that feeling. We hide it in a septic tank and cover it with toxic chemicals and send it north to Chicago. But it will only be opened, the noxious fumes settling in on another virgin nose, and then returned, stamped Columbia, back to that hell in which it was created.

We can send it south, to that pit deep in the recesses of Hades known as Juarez, to remain far away from us. Yet it only grows, festering, waiting for that moment when it can kill us because that is all it wants.

We can run away from it, on a steely-eyed steed, speedily gaining ground between us and it. Yet it will only leave us decapitated on the edge of some lonesome road and our loved ones to awake in a prison of pain.

We can try and escape it, making a U-turn on a dusty Texas back road. But an arch-angel, wearing a police uniform, will instead mow us down with his oozie.

We can believe it can’t touch us hiding in a fortress in a Rocky Mountain town. But our futility leads us back to that squalored place of doom. A place where we must pay for our sins and those of the ones that we love.

It is inescapable, a bolito firmly clinched around our necks tightening towards our corroded artery. We force our hands around it, trying to save ourselves. Then comes a small chuckle of inevitability and the realization that whatever we do we will never escape the fate that we have created for ourselves.

The snuff film exists, the one with the beheaded young female and the be-hooded man. It’s out there. It may be a DVD with the word Hola! scribbled in black magic marker on its face. It might be sitting in your hands right now. It is waiting for you to place it in the DVD player, for you to hit the play button and for you to become an accessory to the eternal deviance of humanity.

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