Posts Tagged ‘DRUGS’

The Mule (2018) ***

Dir: Clint Eastwood | Writ: Sam Dolnick | Cast: Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Manny Montana, Taissa Farmiga | US Thriller | 118′

Clint Eastwood digs up the story of American horticulturalist Leo Sharp and shovels it out as a plodding but endearing drama about a geriatric, green-fingered drug mule.

Most people won’t have heard of Leo Sharp. He was a popular plantsman who tended his award-winning day-lilies until his business went belly up in the digital age. Directing from Nick Schenck’s laboured script, Clint Eastwood plays him as savvy entrepreneur Earl Stone, who seizes the opportunity to finance his dwindling days by becoming a driver for the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.

The life and soul of any gathering, stone is an old school charmer for whom work is always a pleasure but family a chore –  and we feel his pain as he potters around in a state of perpetual regret for disappointing his nagging wife (Dianne West) and daughter. Infact, all the women in The Mule are seen in a negative light either nagging or as gaiety girls flashing their assets –  his grand-daughter is the exception (Taissa Farmiga gets the best female role).  Maybe there’s more of Clint in Stone than he’d like to admit.

And that’s not all. The DEA (in the shape of Bradley Cooper and Michael Peña) are on his tail, at a snail’s pace. Cooper does his stuff with consummate ease and follows Stone across the scenic landscape and the two compare notes on family faux pas. And clearly Clint relishes his role as he sallies forth on the open road, singing out loud at the wheel of his truck, a rather sly old curmudgeon one minute, and twinkly-eyed Roué the next. And what man wouldn’t when offered a threesome with Mexican babes.

The Mule is a slow roadie with a wonderful central performance from a Hollywood great. Still rocking into his nineties and in command of his faculties. There are few politically incorrect moments – and for a man who grew up in the 1940s you’ve got to appreciate how times – and attitudes – have changed. And when he delivered his acceptance speech at the Day-lily awards, Clint should have quoted Dorothy Parker’s famous line: “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think”. That said, The Mule is a respectable movie. And Clint is still a legend. How many of us can say that? MT

ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM FRIDAY 29 January 2019

Pajaros de Verano (2018) **** Marrakech Film Festival 2018

Dir: Ciro Guerra |Dir/Prod: Cristina Gallego | Drama | Colombia | Cast: | Carmina  Martínez, Jhon Narváez, José Acosta, José Vicente Cotes, Juan Martínez, Natalia Reyes | 110’

Embrace of the Serpent (2015) was the first Colombian feature to be nominated for an Oscar© and won Ciro Guerra the Art Cinema award at Directors’ Fortnight. The Bogota born director returns with his fourth and most ambitious film today PAJAROS DE VERANO (Birds of Passage) that explores the origins of the Colombian drug trade through this epic yet spiritual  multi-layered story about an indigenous Wayuu family of farmers turned drug-traffickers become involved in the booming business of selling marijuana to the American youth in the 1970s. But from a tiny seed of discontent passion and honour collide, and a fratricidal war breaks out that will put their lives, culture and ancestral traditions at stake.

Working this time in colour with his DoP David Gallego, Guerra creates a fabulous sense of place in the arid windswept plains of Colombia’s Guajira desert, where a deep unsettling feeling continually pervades the heady atmosphere with Leonardo Heiblum’s ground-breaking ominous soundscape.

Embrace of the Serpent writer Jacques Vidal and co-scripter Maria Camila Arias structure the story around five songs: Wild Grass 1968, The Tombs 1971, Prosperity 1979, The War 1980 and Limbo following the age-old traditional rags to riches and then tragedy formula. That said, this is an inventive and refreshingly original film whose poetic nature is continually punctuated by episodes of brutal violence and down to earth characters echoing recent South American fare such as Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, and Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja, and anchoring Birds firmly in historical reality despite its lyrical and often dreamlike folkloric overtones.

In this strongly matriarchal set-up, themes of capitalism vie with those of spirituality showing how both can breed antagonism if left unchecked, and this is eventually what transpires when male machismo and greed topples this delicate human society with tragedy and loss the inevitable outcome. Occasionally marred by uneven pacing BIRDS OF PASSAGE is nevertheless a startling achievement marking out Ciro Guerra and his co-director Cristina Gallego as growing talents on the South American scene. MT

 

MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL 2018

 

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