(US/UK - 2013)
Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by Cormac McCarthy. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Bruno Ganz, Rosie Perez, Ruben Blades, Sam Spruell, Dean Norris, John Leguizamo, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Goran Visnjic, Natalie Dormer, Richard Cabral, Richard Brake, Andrea Deck, Giannina Facio. (Unrated, 138 mins)
Over the course of his lengthy career, Ridley Scott has been one of the key figures in the advent of the "director's cut," largely from his experiences with 1982's BLADE RUNNER. Scott famously clashed with the producers and for a decade, the version of the film that everyone knew was despised by both Scott and star Harrison Ford. Then, in 1992, the Director's Cut was released, only it wasn't a true "director's cut" in the sense that Scott, then busy filming 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE, wasn't directly involved in the project, which was assembled based on his notes and what was known to be his original ending. It was close, but not quite a director's cut, though it went a long way in establishing the film as the classic we know today and prompted many critics who dismissed the film in 1982 to reconsider it. In 2007, Scott was able to make subtle changes and "The Final Cut" finally provided fans with the BLADE RUNNER its maker always intended. Scott had similar, though much less drawn-out, experiences with Universal over the 1985 fantasy epic LEGEND. The studio sat on the film for a year and finally released it in 1986 with a different score and 30 minutes cut out.
footage of the cocooned Dallas (Tom Skerritt) and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) being used as food for the alien. Both characters were simply killed off in the '79 version after Scott opted to ditch the "cocoon" feeding angle. On the DVD, Scott explains that both versions are being offered and people don't have to worry that their preferred cut is being "replaced." He basically says "They're both here...watch the one you want to watch." That's been Scott's philosophy with the DVD and eventual Blu-ray presentations of most of his work after that. GLADIATOR (2000), BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001), KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2005), AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007), and ROBIN HOOD (2010) all have "extended versions" included alongside the standard editions. Sometimes, the changes help--KINGDOM OF HEAVEN's extended version adds 45 minutes that really do enhance and enrich the film--while other times, it's inessential. The 19 minutes added to AMERICAN GANGSTER add little to the film other than superfluous bloat. Scott doesn't offer these alternate cuts to illustrate dissatisfaction but rather, just as a bonus for fans. They're scenes or plot threads he decided not to use, but if you're so inclined, here's what the film looked like at one point. In most cases, Scott's extended versions serve as the cut before the final cut. Oddly, the one recent film of Scott's that feels compromised in its released version and really does warrant a director's cut is 2012's PROMETHEUS, and it has yet to materialize other than a handful of deleted scenes on the Blu-ray.
here) and a 138-minute "unrated extended cut." The film opened to some of the most toxic reviews of the year in what quickly became a ludicrous pile-on, culminating in numerous blurbs that it was the worst movie of the year, with Salon's Andrew O'Hehir going even further than that by declaring, in a stunning example of over-the-top hyperbole that should effectively prevent him from ever being taken seriously again, "Meet the worst movie ever made." Audiences despised it and the film scored a D on the witless CinemaScore. But then, something odd happened, and it happened quickly. Buzz started spreading around the internet that THE COUNSELOR wasn't nearly as bad as the reviews suggested and that, if approached with an open mind and an appreciation for the work of novelist Cormac McCarthy, making his screenwriting debut, it proved a rewarding experience. By the end of its second, and in most of the country, last week of release, it had already transformed from much-maligned box-office bomb to a genuine cult film that didn't get a fair shake from critics. I was discussing THE COUNSELOR with a friend on Facebook recently and someone commented "Were the critics watching the movie or were they watching each other?"