The Mule


Viewed – 30 January 2019

The last time I watched legendary actor Clint Eastwood would probably be Gran Torino, a movie which has become one of my favourites.  So sitting down to this was with some anticipation and well, would such an actor put himself back in front of the camera again (considering he’s also a respected director) for anything less that something worthwhile?  Let’s see.

The Mule

Eastwood plays Earl, an elderly man who has spent much of his life missing out on important events with his family in favour of growing his horticulture business.  Yet when he falls on hard times and age seems to be finally taking it’s toll, he attempts to reconnect with his loved ones.  However when attending his granddaughter’s engagement party he is approached by a guy offering him the chance to make some money.  All he has to do is drive – something Earl is very experienced in.

This gently observed and absorbing story is anchored by a wonderfully nuanced performance from Eastwood who turns a self-centred, world-weary character into a loveable, charming man who’s adept at turning even the riskiest situation to his favour.  The way he gets in the good books of ruthless Mexican drug dealers, who go from threatening him to befriending him is just a joy to watch.  Add to this the growing relationship he builds with his estranged family, and I was totally invested in what was going on.  Bradley Cooper is on board as a dedicated DEA agent and Diane Weist (remember her?) plays Eastwood’s ex wife.

One character development later in the movie is a touch cliched and some ideas feel a bit out of place despite the humour intended (Eastwood and some hookers?), yet the story expertly juggles an increasingly deadly scenario with emotional and heart-felt family drama that really got in the feels.  A must watch.

Verdict:  5 /5

Sicario


Viewed – 02 February 2016 Online-rental

I had heard some good buzz surrounding this gritty thriller set in the drug underworld of the Mexican Cartels, so was quite hyped up to sit down to it finally.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Looper) plays an F.B.I. agent who attracts the attention of a team of government agents when she stumbles upon a crime scene associated with the Mexican drug barons.  Given the opportunity to join a top secret mission into Mexico, she at first thinks this is a chance to further her career, until eventually she starts to realize maybe what she’s involved in may not be strictly by the book.

SICARIO Day 01

Skilfully shot and with a very authentic feel, this thriller was packed full of tension and drew me in easily with echoes of Stephen Soderberg hit ‘Traffic’ as well as aspects of cult TV series Breaking Bad.  However with an emphasis on secret operations and misleading information, especially from the point of view of Blunt’s character I’ll admit I found this confusing for a good portion of the run time.  The subject is nothing particularly new and doesn’t really go anywhere all that surprising, but with added support of a cool and mysterious Benicio Del Toro and the always enjoyable Josh Brolin … this at least had some solid performances to help me through a convoluted narrative.  Blunt is especially good in an emotional role that cements her reputation as one of the more interesting British actresses around.  I’d have really likbenicioed more action to offset the tension as it’s a movie where I was expecting something to kick off any second.  Tense moments such as a claustrophobic tunnel scene and a drawn out freeway journey certainly added to such expectations.  Yet much is left until the closing moments, which by then I was feeling more frustrated than entertained.

The movie however pulls no punches as far as showing the shocking lengths these drug dealers will go to, but with several confusing characters (not helped by similar Mexican names) and a pace that rushed through important plot details … this, although intriguing could have been so much better.

Verdict: 3 /5

We Are What We Are


Viewed – 26 May 2011  Blu-ray

When first seeing that title, I thought it was a cheap cash in to reflect Let The Right One In’s clever, not obvious title.  Several months later and what the movie actually turns out to be is a realistic interpretation of the little explored cannibal sub-genre made famous by movies like Cannibal Holocaust and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  I went in with high expectations, expecting another foreign export that would push boundaries and raise eyebrows.  The reality?

The story follows a small family consisting of a father, mother, two sons and a daughter.  When the father dies unexpectedly in a shopping mall, coughing up blood, the family soon realise they have to fend for themselves.  This is when we discover that the family live on human meat, and their father used to kidnap prostitutes and bring them home for the family to feed on.  Now what surprised me was the fly on the wall style and real-world Mexico setting, where these people exist unnoticed within a bustling city.  What puzzled me however was upon the discovery of the father’s cannibalistic taste following an autopsy, the Police appear indifferent to the revelation like it’s an every day occurence.   Adding further to the confusion is how the family seem so incompetent, kidnapping hookers in plain sight and squabbling amongst themselves.  It doesn’t help that nothing is revealed on why these people are cannibals apart from a vague mention to a ritual, and although the family seem well realised as characters, they are given little to do other than pine for their next feed.

For what is basically a horror, this is not scary, and just a few gruesome sound effects and stomach churning silhouettes bring little to the (ahem) table.  On a plus, director Jorge Michel Grau certainly delivers a technically competent and stylish movie, with the Mexico backdrop used well and every shadow and eerie subway showcased admirably.  Just a shame that the material just couldn’t make this viewer care.

Verdict:  2 /5

Amores Perros


Viewed – 04 February 2011  Blu-ray

Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu certainly impressed me with his multi-layers, emotionally draining drama 21 Grams.  Intelligently plotted, unconventional and with powerhouse performances from its lead actors.  So naturally I was curious as to what made his name in the first place, and so here we have a tough, complex drama following three groups of people and how their live’s become interconnected following a horrific car crash.

 

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