ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott, and The Counselor-- Why All The Haters?

Yeah. There are spoilers, but not a lot of them.

I caught this on TV today. I was frankly enthralled. I loved the characters--
  • Javier Bardeem as a bronzed drug kingpin whose taste in clothes is a cross between Miami Vice and Lady Gaga.
  • Brad Pitt playing an El Paso scoundrel-drug mover, his visage prettied-down with long stringy hair and bruises.
  • Cameron Diaz as an ex-stripper, hypersexual, upward-climbing panther
  • Michael Fasbender as the philisophical foil for the action
  • Ruben Blades dispensing wisdom and justice like the Angel Gabriel
Parts of the movie I thought were beautiful. Like the conversation about snuff films and Ruben
Blades final scene. I said to myself, 'Who wrote this. It's beautiful.'

Come to find out it was written by Cormac McCarthy so of course it's beautiful.

Only I seem to be the only one thinking this.
A great writer's pompous idea of pulp fiction, treated with stultifying seriousness by everyone else involved. - Guy Lodge of Time Out 
It's filthy, nasty, sexy, absurd, appalling, and exhilarating, and it succeeds as a musky union of novelist Cormac McCarthy's bleakness and Ridley Scott's sense of chic. - Wesley Morris of Grantland 
The Counselor is the cumbersome end product of a high-minded writer trying to slum and a slick director aiming for cosmic depth. - Sam Weisberg of The Village Voice

It's been described as MUMBLECORE. What the fuck is mumblecore? A few clicks later and the internet tells me that it's a real thing.

Mumblecore is a subgenre of independent film characterized by low budget production values and amateur actors, heavily focused on naturalistic dialogue. Filmmakers often assigned to this movement include Andrew Bujalski, Lynn Shelton, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Joe Swanberg, and Ry Russo-Young. The term mumblegore has been used for films mixing mumblecore and horror gore.

There's even a list of Mumblecore Directors and a list of ten essential Mumblecore films.

Seriously? Which is the problem. Critics take themselves too seriously. so seriously they had to crete a term for movies that don't rely on CGI or big budgets or high paying actors, movies where people talk naturally. Shit. I call those movies. Some of them are pretty smart too like Clerks and Bottle Rocket. Wait? One of the Owens brothers is in that film. Does that make it not Mumblecore? Does Quitin Tarantino write Mumblecore. I'm just asking because there's an awful lot of talking in his movies... NATURAL TALKING even.

Back to The Counselor.

Andrew O'Herir of Salon.com literally hates it. I mean he hates it so much he calls it THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE-- 

There are a couple of decapitations in “The Counselor,” possibly as many as three, along with two shootouts, one of them entirely non-germane to the so-called plot. Oh, and there’s a scene where a woman has sex with a car. We’ll get to that. But the narrative of the film is almost entirely discursive, and largely consists of the Counselor sitting around with his obviously crooked associates —Pitt in a dingy white suit, stringy hair and a black eye; Bardem in hilariously ugly designer duds, accessorized with girly cocktails — having stilted, stylized conversations about women and money and snuff films and the meaning of life that don’t go anywhere. It’s like a mumblecore movie about a bunch of Sarah Lawrence philosophy majors, made by coked-up rich people for 100 bajillion dollars.

And that's a bad thing?

And someone email Mr. O'Herir and let him know that mumblecore movies don't have big budgets or stars or at least according to the definition they don't.

Was the movie stylized? Sure. It's as stylized as a Tarantino film.

Were there long sections where they talked and nothing happened? Sure, like a Tarantino film. But in my opinion all the conversations in The Counselor and Tarantino films are important.

Like Cameron Diaz in the confessional. The priest won't let her confess because she's evil and there is no redemption for pure evil. 

Ruben Blades conversation is characterized as worthless. Check this out--

RubĂ©n Blades, playing some kind of Mexican drug lord. McCarthy really thinks he’s writing up a storm here; the speech goes on and on, signifying nothing beyond sorry dude, you’re screwed. Fassbender, here as throughout the film, stands in for the audience in his blankness, his pigheadedness, his lack of qualities. We were repeatedly told it was a bad idea to watch this movie but we went ahead and did it anyway, and now it can’t be undone. As Blades’ pseudo-Shakespearean soliloquy more or less puts it, whose fault is that?

But it has a purpose. Look at all the other movies out there. Normally, there's a happy ending where the hero wins. The point of this movie, the point against everything Cormac writes, is that you can't win against the very nature of a thing.

Cormac writes about man against nature.The Crossing was a book about man's inability to overcome nature. You can't argue with it. You can't cheat it. You either win or you don't. Blood Meridian was the same way but in this case the Comanches represented nature.  The Road was the same way as The Crossing as was No Country For Old Men, except in an irony, Javier Bardem plays 'nature' as an irrestiable force that cannot be stopped.

It's no difference in The Counselor. It's about man against nature. In this case nature is law/trust. If you break it there's no going back. There's no arguing through it. The justice nature delivers is as immutable and determined and concentrated as the Old Testament. It's fucking black and white with no 50 Shades of Gray.

The only two problems I had with the movie was the title and Penelope Cruz. The title made everyone think this was a movie about a lawyer, which is why I didn't go to see it. Had they changed it, it would have definitely earned out. And Cruz's character was a little flat. The part was necessary, but by casting her, you come to expect more. They could have cast an unknown and had the same effect.

Mumblecore my ass.

The problem is that viewers (especially critics) forgot what Cormac McCarthy writes about. Sometimes there are no happy endings. Sometimes you just can't win. Sometimes you shouldn't do things you know are wrong. Sometimes Bad Shit Happens.

I loved this movie



  1. AND... sometimes you get the right ending. Sometimes it's not a happy ending. Sometimes it is.

  2. I'm a sucker for happy endings. Growing up in the John Hughes Teen Universe, there's always a happy ending. But this one worked for me because I knew it was McCarthy