The Mule (2018, Imperative Entertainment, Bron Creative and Malpaso Productions)
Directed by Clint Eastwood. Based on ‘The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule’
by Sam Dolnick. Featuring Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Dianne Wiest and Andy García.
Directed by, produced by and starring Clint Eastwood, The Mule is a crime drama/thriller in which 90 year old Earl Stone (Eastwood), a World War II veteran and flower farmer, turns to alternative sources of income after his farm is repossessed by the bank. The story is based on the true story of Leo Sharp that was reported in the New York Times.
Earl who has been isolated from his family decides to turn up to his grand-daughter Ginny’s party after having nothing more to lose. After getting into an argument with his daughter at the party (played by his actual daughter, Alison Eastwood), Earl is about to drive off in his beaten-up old car when he is approached by one of his grand-daughter’s friends. Realising that Earl is living out of his car, Ginny’s friend gives Earl a business card with a phone number suggesting that he can get work as a driver. Earl, desperate for money, phones it up and takes on the job, thus quickly becoming a drug mule for a Mexican cartel.
Eastwood as always, even as an 88 year old in real life, demonstrates his superior acting and directing abilities in The Mule. However, and unfortunately, Eastwood alone could not make this a good movie. Given the subject matter I found the storyline a little slow and was expecting much more tension and action, particularly with the drug cartel connection. There were also several unbelievable moments in the movie where Earl manages to evade the cartel whilst he is visiting his dying ex-wife. In real life I am sure the cartel would not be so forgiving. Earl’s sudden change of heart towards his family was also somewhat unbelievable after being estranged for so long. I also found the DEA agent character played by Bradley Cooper very wooden and lacking authenticity. There were some good, light comedic moments as Earl plays his golden oldie hits whilst on the road much to the dismay of the cartel. But really, this just added to the un-believability of the story.
All in all, The Mule is worth a watch but lacks the action, intensity and storyline that it could have gave us.
Reviewed by Annabelle Davis – Rated 3/5
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019, Netflix and Dease Productions)
Directed by Dan Gilroy. Featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge and John Malkovich.
This new Netflix horror release comes from the pair who gave us Nightcrawler (Gilroy and Gyllenhaal, and also Russo). It starts off by showing the conceited lifestyle of the uber-rich artworld, which demonstrates the competitive but incestuous relationships of those who work in it. Desperate to prove her worth and progress in her career at the gallery Josephina (Zawe Ashton) stumbles across the art of her recently deceased neighbour, Dease. Josephina steals the collection and promotes herself as an agent of his works. Dease’s paintings are more than just paintings though, and have a supernatural element to them with almost everyone that comes into contact with them falling prey to death.
Velvet Buzzsaw was ok for a horror movie. There are some nice, funny, morbid scenes but I did feel that this side of the story was not embraced enough and they focused too much on the trite relationships of the art dealers, critics and artists. The horror component of the movie really doesn’t come to the fore until the end of the movie which I was quite impatient with.
For the all star cast that appeared I feel that they didn’t try enough to make this movie great. If you don’t take the movie too seriously it is a good watch, particuarly for those who enjoy horror. But don’t expect too much. You’ll have to wait a while for the horror to happen.
Reviewed by Annabelle Davis – Rated 3/5