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Hammerle on ... 'Rush,' 'The Counselor'

Robert Hammerle
November 6, 2013
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bob hammerle movie reviewsRush

Director Ron Howard has brought us a wildly engaging film centering on two characters largely lost to sports history. Focusing on the intense battle between Englishman James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda for the Formula One Championship in 1976, Mr. Howard has recreated one of the great spirited duels that has taken place in any sport.

On top of that, we are graced by superlative performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, who play Hunt and Lauda, respectively. Dying some years later at the age of 46, Hemsworth’s Hunt wants to be a champion both on the track and in bed. Having literally no fear of death on the racetrack, he lived a private life filled with drugs, booze and beautiful women.

Lauda was the direct opposite, which fueled their personal rivalry. He was a dedicated driver from Central Europe who could have cared less about popularity. Lacking any of the dashing charm or charisma of Hunt, he lived and breathed racing on and off the track.

Competitors at the top of their game, these two individuals profoundly disliked each other. Hemsworth’s Hunt was an earthly version of his role as Thor in various films, here substituting a McLaren for Thor’s mighty hammer. He constantly taunted Lauda, relishing his pretty boy image.

Hammerle_Rush.jpgBut Hunt’s weakness was his lack of discipline off the racetrack, something that further separated the two men. His quick marriage to the beautiful model Suzy Miller, played with an edgy sparkle by Olivia Wilde, disintegrated given his infidelities.

On the other hand, Lauda was dedicated to his wife Marlene, played by the elegant Alexandra Maria Lara. He feared death on the track only as it related to her agony, and he became far more admirable in the process than Hunt.

What lies at the center of this compelling film was the tragic accident suffered by Lauda in a rain soaked race in Germany. Sitting in his wrecked vehicle for over 60 seconds while everything was consumed in flame, he was hospitalized in intensive care for 30 days. Fighting back from near death, Lauda suffered incredible facial burns and the loss of his right ear.

Incredibly, given the fact that Hunt was closing in on the championship, he came back to racing 45 days after the accident, suffering partial vision problems that added to his scars. The championship came down to the last race of the year, one that was also engulfed by a massive storm. Though history long ago vividly explained what happened, you get caught up in the intrigue as Lauda had to decide whether to seek the championship and in the process risk saying goodbye to his wife.

Simply stated, you could have absolutely no interest in Formula One racing and still love this film. Hunt and Lauda inspired each other, and you are likely to catch some of that feeling. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this good about a Ron Howard film. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure.

The Counselor

There is something so fundamentally hideous about the Mexican drug cartel that paralyzes any attempt to bring it to the big screen. Director Oliver Stone stumbled throughout in last year’s “Savages,” and the great Ridley Scott follows in his footsteps with “The Counselor.”

Quite frankly, its only strength comes from the screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, awash in developments that leaves you asking more than once, “What in the hell is going on?” Most viewers will soon realize that you are on a roller coaster ride into the depths of human depravity.

The plot focuses on a drug deal that goes bad in every possible way. Violence descends on everyone in a fashion seldom seen on the screen, and no one dies an easy death. It’s like swimming in a sea of sharks, knowing that one will eventually eat you.

The allure of the film comes from its talented cast, led by Michael Fassbender. Playing an attorney known only as the counselor, he succumbs to greed and gets involved in financing a load of cocaine coming in from Mexico. Engaged to the beautiful Penelope Cruz, their relationship is seen as based solely on sex with no holds barred and no part of the body going untouched.

Hammerle_Counselor.jpgMr. Fassbender’s counselor arranges his drug deal through Javier Bardem’s Reiner, a master crook with great hair. Like everyone else in the film, Reiner loves to drink, and seldom wastes the opportunity. It is clear that he is fully aware that his luck will eventually run out, a feeling accentuated by a delirious performance from Cameron Diaz as his girlfriend.

Ironically, Ms. Diaz is the center of the entire film, playing a wildly tattooed Barbados escapee with bright silver fingernails. She is as conniving as she is nasty, and the scene where she actually proceeds to make love to the windshield of Reiner’s car will not be soon forgotten. Reiner stared in shock from behind the steering wheel, and you’ll feel like you are peeking from the back seat.

Finally, Brad Pitt appears as a confidante of the counselor, a man who knows when it is time to cut and run. Without giving it away, he meets a fate while fleeing to London that is nearly as visually shocking as anything you will see in a modern film.

Director Ridley Scott has given us some extraordinary films over the years, and it is always worth remembering “Blade Runner” (1982); “Thelma & Louise” (1991); “Gladiator” (2000) and the underrated “Prometheus” (2012). Here, however, his artistic reach exceeds his grasp, and you are left with a film that glories in the demise of its characters.

While I won’t tell you the one person who lives at the end, it is fair to say that he escapes death because his protagonists simply want him to live with the crushing memory of the drastic consequences brought to those he loves. This film is the devil in human form, so you are warned.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  2. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

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  4. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

  5. Mr. Foltz: Your comment that the ACLU is "one of the most wicked and evil organizations in existence today" clearly shows you have no real understanding of what the ACLU does for Americans. The fact that the state is paying out so much in legal fees to the ACLU is clear evidence the ACLU is doing something right, defending all of us from laws that are unconstitutional. The ACLU is the single largest advocacy group for the US Constitution. Every single citizen of the United States owes some level of debt to the ACLU for defending our rights.

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