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Drama

The Mule (2018)

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Film Review : The Mule

Family’s the most important thing.
Work’s fine, if it’s in second position.
But first position should be family.

The Old Man & the Gun” might be the piece de résistance of Robert Redford. “The Mule” might be the grand finale in Clint Eastwood’s career. This legendary actor looks shockingly old. I even felt sorry for him at certain times. The way he was treated is inconsistent with the image you have of him in other movies. I hoped that as a veteran, he would use a few handy fighting movements to silence the arrogant cartel members. Forget it. Clint Eastwood stayed loyal to his role as a submissive and defenseless elderly person who does what he’s told. But you can rest assured, Mr. Eastwood is and remains a brilliant and respectable actor. There’s no praise great enough when it comes to his acting talent. And this tough, almost 90-year-old man may slide the director’s chair under his weathered butt for many years because as a producer he made a few great movies as well (such as “Trouble with the curve”, “Sully” and “American Sniper“).

 

 

It’s not a nerve-wracking film.

Not only does Eastwood play the leading role in “The Mule“, but he also produced it. The pace Eastwood uses here is striking. Everything goes smoothly, quietly and calmly. It’s the age, I guess. In any case, he takes his time to tell the story. It didn’t bother me at all because it’s a pleasure to see how the Eastwood actor does his thing. Even though he’s someone who has reached a blessed age, he still knows how to impress as an actor. More than the film itself actually. Not that it’s a really boring film, but there’s not much action here either. I have the impression Eastwood is using this film to apologize to his close relatives for being frequently absent because of his busy career. Perhaps that’s why his own daughter Alison Eastwood was assigned the role of his movie-daughter.

 

 

No quality time with the family.

Eastwood plays the war veteran Earl Stone. A famous florist who, after his company is declared bankrupt, has to find another way to earn some money. Stone is an old-fashioned grump who lost contact with society apparently. Hence his misplaced comments about the internet and the way he addresses an African-American family. He was a true bon vivant and charmer in his younger years. Someone who led his own life in his own way and had little or no time for his family. That’s why he’s not welcomed with open arms by his wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) and daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood) when he returns after the internet ruined his business.

 

From flowers to drugs.

The only one who receives him with open arms is Rico, a friend of Earl’s granddaughter, who tells him about a seemingly simple job that pays good money. And before he realizes it, he’s a drug mule driving around for a Mexican drug cartel. His innocent appearance and stoic calmness ensure that Earl doesn’t appear on the radar of Detective Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper). While this motivated agent decisively searches for “El Tata”, this cheerfully singing grandfather transports kilos of cocaine stacked between pecans in the trunk of his car. Colin Bates even gets a free life lesson from Earl somewhere in a diner along the highway.

 

 

Drugs and family – bad combination as well.

Of course, drug smuggling is the main subject of this film. A story based on true facts where 87-year-old Leo Sharp was caught with smuggling 90 kilos of cocaine. This film also shows how ruthless drug cartels are. But it’s also a film about regret, remorse and the frantic attempts to heal lost family ties. Perhaps it felt kitschy and corny at some point, but that was compensated by the subtle humor that seeped into the dialogues (a lesbian motorcycle gang and comparing a Mexican authoritative figure with the “Fuhrer”). Maybe a bit daring at certain moments, but I could only make approving chuckling noises. “The Mule” certainly isn’t Eastwood’s best film and the ending is a bit too abrupt. But it was still a pleasure to see movie icon Clint Eastwood at work again.

 

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

 

Drama

Retro Review | ‘All is lost’ – Starring Robert Redford

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Normally I start a review with a quote from the film in question. That’s a bit difficult in this case since “All is lost” lacks any conversation. The only thing that would qualify is a frustrated cry of the famous F-word. For the rest it is just sloshing water, creaking wood, noise of hitting ropes, and lots of rain and falling water, you hear throughout the film. I can understand his frustration, because how the hell is it possible to have a collision between your pleasure boat and a container on that immeasurable ocean while doing an afternoon nap?

 

All is lost

 

It’s difficult to call this movie unnerving exciting. I dare to say that it was dead boring after a certain time. The only decision I took after watching this film is that I’ll never set foot on such a boat and float around on the ocean with nothing but water around you as far as you can look. And in the worst case, not only around you, but also down at you.

 

All is lost

 

Robert Redford, the icon of the white screen, had to carry the complete movie. He was, after all, the only living figure in this wet movie. Besides an unidentified hand at the last moment. No idea what RR‘s name was. Besides, there is a total lack of background information about his character. Except that we know where exactly he is sailing. I can’t complain about his acting performance because this was sometimes astounding. The only thing that amazed me was how stoically calm he was the whole time. A damn container makes a leak, no electricity or radio, a storm that shows up, the whole boat turns upside down, he hits his head against an iron pole, the boat is sinking, the lifeboat ends up in a storm, also turns upside down and then it catches fire … but does he keep a straight face? Yes sir! He’s a paragon of utmost restraint. I found this a bit exaggerated because I certainly would need a spare box of diapers in those circumstances!

 

All is lost

 

The explanation might be that he’s an experienced sailor. Yet this experienced sailor had to read a  handbook on how to determine his position using the stars. And apparently, he never used a sextant before. There were times when it was so predictable. I said at one time it wouldn’t surprise me if “Jaws” would suddenly show up. Afterward, they wandered around his dinghy. And that his boat could sink at any moment, could not stop him to crawl aboard a second time. And of course the second time it went down.

 

All is lost

 

The movie itself wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t very entertaining either. And sailing seems to be a dull affair after all. The end was cheesy and followed the well known Hollywood guidelines. For me, the end would have gained enormously in strength, if at that ultimate moment RR wants to grasp the saving hand, he’d be dragged down by a great white shark. But that is too exaggerated and would be enormously ironic.

 

 

My rating 3/10
Links: IMDB

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Adventure

Enola Holmes | Very Much Worth A Watch

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Enola Holmes [Netflix]

‘Enola Holmes’ is one of those films that confirms my belief that I will never make a serious film critic. There will no doubt be people who will review this film pointing out the number of flaws, from the inaccurate backdrops to the overtly political messages (BLM and Feminism are all over this film, which personally made me love it more), but none of that concerns me. I thought it was terrific fun and enjoyed it immensely.

I watched this with my 12-year-old daughter who is probably slap bang in the demographic target audience of this film, and like me, she loved it. What is clear is that this is a career goal vehicle for star and producer Millie Bobby Brown, who is allowed to show off her considerable comic timing, her tough as nails action abilities and demonstrate an emotional side she has shown so well previously in three years of ‘Stranger Things,’ and you know what it works. She is a completely enchanting screen presence from the moment we meet her as she clumsily, comedically struggles to ride a bike across a field.

The constant breaking of the 4th wall with narrations and knowing winks to the camera may grate on a few, but I thought it added to the charm of the whole piece, nobody is taking this too seriously, and that surely is the point. Henry Cavill comes in as older brother Sherlock in casting that probably helped get the film made, with Cavill turning up occasionally as the reassuring presence in Enola’s life, but is generally given very little to do. Likewise, Helena Bonham Carter is a touch of familiarity but is sparsely used. The subplot involving the darker side of Bonham Carter’s Eudoria’s disappearance isn’t fully explored and is one of the lower aspects of the film.

The film itself isn’t all slapstick, sweetness and light, Burn Gorman’s Linthorn is at the top end of sinister as a hired hitman who would have served as an equally terrifying adversary in one of older brother Sherlock’s adventures, and Sam Claflin has great fun as moustache-twirling “nasty” older brother Mycroft Holmes.

The film lags a little in the middle third which after the breakneck pace of the opening act is to be somewhat expected but picks up sufficiently for a more than satisfying conclusion.

Like most child stars, the true test is when that child becomes an adult, and Millie Bobby Brown has proved here that she has the presence and personality to be able to have a long and varied career. Only time will tell of course, but if nothing else this is a film that can be enjoyed for years to come. Great fun all round.

You can follow me on Twitter @DomHolder  and read some of my reviews on Letterboxd at letterboxd.com/DomH and read some more of my film blogs on dominicholder.wordpress.com/

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Action

Marvel / Disney + Release – WandaVision | Official Trailer 2

TV-Series Spinoff from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Containing the characters Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff and The Vision. Plot is unknown at the time.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

2020

Director:

Marvel | Disney

Cast:

Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Kat Dennings, Kathryn Hahn, Randall Park, Teyonah Parris, Shane Berengue

Plot Summary:

TV-Series Spinoff from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Containing the characters Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff and The Vision. Plot is unknown at the time.

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