Archive for May 12th, 2016


© 2016 by James Clark



    Ridley Scott readily lets us know that he is an avid searcher amongst the films of newcomers, for the sake of keeping up with the latest thoughts and skills. He never gives us a break, however, about his encyclopedic coverage of films from the past. Unlike Michael Mann, who warmly treasures the impetus derived from the work of Jean-Pierre Melville, our eclectic helmsman here chooses not to explicitly identify that range of inspiration contributing to those heights he so often soars to. As with his breathtaking TV commercials, for Scott it seems to all come down to the season’s hit and its filmic brilliance. A large problem about that strict immediacy is that his formidable perceptiveness ardently digs into the problematics of world historical discernment. His sagas flame high and wide with being on the hunt for this planet’s catastrophic and institutional malignancy. This is long-term work in spades. And though that might constitute a reason for hiding it at the summit of Mount Everest, the forward motion of that contrarian manifold takes place with far more transparency than Scott, a hugely divided agent of popular entertainments— “I don’t make films for other people. I make films for me” –is prepared to tolerate.

Keeping in mind that caveat, with The Counselor (2013) we not only have wave after wave of presentations based upon films of Melville; but, moreover, without this component The Counselor cannot come into its own as a richly tempered hopeful communication. Sure, it’s got a flashy cast and devastating horror hooks. But, to all intents and purposes, it looks the part of a relentless dismissal of every vestige of adult integrity. Seemingly doing his utmost to leave intact the rattlesnake smarts of the Cormac  McCarthy screenplay, he declares, “I was very happy with The Counselor. I think it was cynical and too nihilistic for some people, but I like nihilistic.” He likes a lot more than that. And thanks to Melville’s Le Doulos he knows how to royally tip a scale, overloaded with sentient figures amounting to sewage trucks, with an abundance of rhapsody. “Music is dialogue,” is another of Scott’s sayings, one, in fact, which particularly reaps benefits from Le Doulos. (more…)

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