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Peter Howell’s “Golden Tongues and Black Hearts” Is Tongue-Tied and Tepid

In response to Peter Howell’s 634‑word review of The Counselor on Toronto Star 

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2013/10/24/golden_tongues_and_black_hearts_enliven_the_counselor_review.html

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Peter Howell seems like a very agreeable fellow, if his review of “Golden tongues and black hearts enliven The Counselor: review” is any indication. While The Counselor has been a bit of a controversial subject in the hands of other movie reviewers, here it receives glowing praise with only a single asterisk.

Howell engages in a fair amount of recap of the film, as if merely explaining the plot will win readers over as he himself was won over. There’s the old adage “Show, don’t tell,” though, and his telling is far from convincing. He conveys a vague sense that he likes the film, but readers finish not exactly sure why.

It’s never fully spelled out. Granted, things don’t necessarily always need to be spelled out if the writer is skilled enough to deal in subtleties. In Golden tongues and black hearts, Howell is not such a writer. Here, vagueness is just vagueness. There is little art behind it.

Most movie reviewers would use the concluding paragraph to solidify their stance on the film, but Howell merely uses it as an opportunity to present an opaque quote from the movie that, while it certainly indicates the movie is violent, does not indicate if it is good or bad.

With Golden tongues and black hearts, too much is left up to the reader’s imagination. It is vague, uncritical, and ultimately a disappointment.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation