The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

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Monterey Jack
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#26 Post by Monterey Jack » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:29 pm

Skrmng Skll Th Thd wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:37 pm
How do they say "pelican"?
"'Ey, Manolo, look at de pelly-kangs! Fly, pelly-kangs, fly...!" :lol:

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#27 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:20 pm

This is getting praised to the moon and back, with David Ehrich calling it Eastwood's best film "in more than 25 years," Glenn Kenny saying it's "quite grand," and the only bad reviews I can find calling it racist on some level (which isn't a criticism that can be dismissed out of hand, of course, but still seems somewhat dubious)

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MichaelB
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The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#28 Post by MichaelB » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:25 pm

This review suggests that it has quite a few problems over and above playing racism for laughs.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#29 Post by domino harvey » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:26 pm

I'd look harder. Took me ten seconds to see this is at 67 so far on Meta

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#30 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:34 pm

There were 3 reviews on Metacritic when I posted that, the embargo just lifted. I will correct and say it's in 'love it or hate it' territory, as even the middling reviews seem really dismissive of it

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Brian C
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#31 Post by Brian C » Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:24 am

The Guardian review that MichaelB posted hits pretty close to the mark, I'd say. This is a film that really doesn't have a lot going for it, and in fact feels downright amateurish. As with many recent Eastwood films, I'd have never guessed if I didn't know otherwise that it was made by a filmmaker with decades of directing films; it has the feel of a director just trying not to lose control of the production during their first film. At one point, I think a scene where Eastwood gets beat up was reworked to excise the beating, but he still has blood all over his face in the next scene anyway. At least it's not shot to look as ugly as most of his work during the past decade.

The film's approach is just so superficial. Eastwood's character regrets being a bad husband and father, but his self-flagellation never really goes beyond the point of mopey self-pity. I can get behind the idea of showing the drug-running scenes as essentially vacations - it's kind of a novel approach, at least - but even the scenes with him getting guns shoved in his face simply have no urgency either. I'm still not sure whether Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena, and Laurence Fishburne are in the movie, or if someone subbed them out for cardboard cutouts as a prank on Eastwood and Eastwood didn't notice.

All I can really say is that it plays like some weird old-guy fantasy projection. "Young people think we're slow and useless, so wouldn't it be fun if their condescension made it easy to live a life of crime, hit the road, make big money, bang young women like in the hip-hop videos, and then just to show everyone up, when I'm caught I'll stick my chin out and solemnly take responsibility?" Honestly it's just kind of weird, like Space Cowboys but not a comedy.

Although at least the "pecan" line is fixed in the actual movie so that the pronunciation is consistent. I'll consider that a win for me.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#32 Post by BenoitRouilly » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:42 am

I agree with the aforementionned Guardian review (Benjamin Lee). The filmmaking is passable, and the scenario is largely underdevelopped.
It's a shame to see racist/sexist remarks in lieu of comedy nowadays.
It's troubling to see such a childish view of a drug cartel, after the morbid reality all over the news, and the more profound fictions in recent films and series.
I'm wondering what is the point of this film :
SpoilerShow
An oldman could only redeem himself of a lifetime of selfishness by deciding to drive his drug-loaded SUV into a funeral thus breaking the work code of criminals. Only these unnecessarily high stakes show the man's effort. Not to mention the prison sentence he's willingly accepting, seemingly to pay for his life-long lack of attention to his family. And never to pay for his support of the drug traffiquing...
Last edited by BenoitRouilly on Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Roscoe
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#33 Post by Roscoe » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:44 am

Brian C wrote:
Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:24 am
This is a film that really doesn't have a lot going for it, and in fact feels downright amateurish.
The above is a handy summation of my feelings about Eastwood's career output.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#34 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:36 am

This suffers from nearly all of the now-familiar shortcomings of Eastwood's late-career directorial efforts: odd pacing, tonal missteps, mediocre-to-poor supporting performances, and a fatally under-cooked script. There's a point about two-thirds of the way through the film where the family of Eastwood's character begins to get more screen time, and the movie more or less comes to a dead stop for some atrocious line readings and misguided attempts at drawing some tears from the audience, only to lurch forward again to a finale with almost no dramatic tension or thematic payoff. There are multiple head-scratching choices, including what the Guardian review linked above called "an odd, leering montage of asses grinding to music" and a bizarre non sequitur of a traffic stop that might be making fun of the fears of minorities having to interact with police, though one can't be one hundred percent sure with filmmaking this muddled. Altogether, definitely not a good movie.

All that said: Eastwood — solidly in his late 80s but very convincingly playing a man in his 90s (with minimal makeup or prosthetics; take that, Tilda Swinton!) — gives his most perversely likable, roguish, and all-around successful performance in at least 25 years, if not more. His nonagenarian drug mule isn't a sympathetic or confused old man forced against his will into criminality, but a stubborn, selfish bastard who neglects his family almost pathologically until he can no longer keep his livelihood afloat on charm alone. It made me genuinely happy to see Eastwood take a break from the squinty-eyed curmudgeon he's been playing basically this entire century so far and fully inhabit a shit-talking, self-satisfied, horny geezer with a sense of humor. He defies the law, the best interests of his family, and the demands of his cartel employers with a truly believable air of being too old to give a shit, yet still has almost childishly wide-eyed reactions to bags of drugs, pairs of hot prostitutes, and pushback on his use of the word "negro".

Honestly, I think I'd swap Eastwood in over any of the current Best Actor Oscar candidates, and not begrudge him a win in the slightest; maybe the worst thing about the script and the film itself ultimately being so mediocre is that it prevented what could easily be his last classic performance from being recognized.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#35 Post by BenoitRouilly » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:14 am

I agree with your take on the film. As for Eastwood :
DarkImbecile wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:36 am
It made me genuinely happy to see Eastwood take a break from the squinty-eyed curmudgeon he's been playing basically this entire century so far and fully inhabit a shit-talking, self-satisfied, horny geezer with a sense of humor. He defies the law, the best interests of his family, and the demands of his cartel employers with a truly believable air of being too old to give a shit, yet still has almost childishly wide-eyed reactions to bags of drugs, pairs of hot prostitutes, and pushback on his use of the word "negro".
How much of this performance is for the show, how much is that Eastwood real self talking? And is it really funny nowadays to mock these side characters in a racist/sexist way? What did this side of Earl Stone bring to the film?

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#36 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:08 pm

BenoitRouilly wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:14 am
How much of this performance is for the show, how much is that Eastwood real self talking? And is it really funny nowadays to mock these side characters in a racist/sexist way? What did this side of Earl Stone bring to the film?
To respond, in order:

1.) I wouldn’t presume to know Eastwood’s real self, and I don’t know that it matters much. His performance works for the character either way, is as much a “movie star” performance as a man in his late 80s can give, and is a departure from the archetype that has defined so many of his more recent roles, which is what felt noteworthy about it — entirely separate from the questionable quality of the material he’s performing.

2.) No, it’s decidedly not; in case it wasn’t clear from my initial thoughts, one of the worst things about the script and Eastwood’s direction is the self-serving way it treats these side characters and the excuses it gives the audience for laughing along with Eastwood’s character at them. That said, where some recent incarnations of Eastwood’s curmudgeonly racist persona delivers these type of lines with a scowl, his portrayal of Earl Stone does so with a smirk and an shrug, which works for his performance and is a refreshing departure. Like I said, I’m trying to separate his performance from the socio-political worthiness of the role and the movie as a whole; I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for being unable or uninterested in doing so.

3.) I think his lack of concern for basic social decency aligns pretty well with his inexcusably selfish and cruel treatment of his family and anyone else who isn’t helping him feel like the most important guy in the room at any given moment. Presenting him as a basically decent guy who just couldn’t be bothered to be politically correct because he’s a straight-talker who tells it like it is would have been far more insidious than making him a callous asshole who says things that a callous asshole would say.

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BenoitRouilly
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#37 Post by BenoitRouilly » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:29 pm

Thanks for the pointed answers. I guess I'm unable to separate the art from the content (or attitude). But is it really surprising to see Eastwood play a decent role in a bad movie? Wouldn't we expect better than just Eastwood, the great Hollywood actor, on auto-pilot. He's the producer and director on top of that, so he can't just blame the script or the screenwriter for not giving him a better role... he's the one in charge who made all the bad decisions.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#38 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:46 pm

BenoitRouilly wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:29 pm
But is it really surprising to see Eastwood play a decent role in a bad movie?
No, it's pretty much the standard at this point; the fact that he gives a performance better than decent is what's surprising. Maybe it's the heightened contrast between what he's doing in front of the camera versus behind it that makes it even more striking to me.

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tehthomas
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Re: The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018)

#39 Post by tehthomas » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:43 am

There was a hilarious review of "The Mule" by Pete Davidson and John Mulaney on Weekend Update. They should review more films.. they do a better job than 99% of the current film criticism out there these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5TEsdb918c

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