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The Mule (2018)

Lonesome Rhodes
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This movie played like a valedictory on Clint Eastwood's life.  Through his character, Earl, Clint imparts lessons he may have learned, if not put into effect, in his storied life.   There were no obvious "fourth wall" moments.  Yet, I most certainly took most of the movie as an intensely personal and cautionary tale, warning us to value humans/humanity over all other concerns in our lives.  

Earl is a horticulturist of note in Peoria, IL.  He is a legend in certain flower circles/communities.  And he is an arse.  A charming one, to be sure.  Earl is quite similar in nature to the grizzled veteran Clint portrayed in Gran Torino.

He has devoted most of the hours and energies in his life, and his family's, to his business and his love of flowers.  Predictably, they are not amused.  At all.  

Like many small town businesses, Earl's runs afoul of the Internet (A warning from Clint as to the Goliathan Internet).  A hop, skip, and a jump later, Earl is a drug mule for the Sinoloa drug cartel.  

Earl had loved driving throughout America in his former business.  He was a road warrior supreme.  Much of the movie observes him as he often travels the back roads of the Great Southwest and Midwest.  An "excellent adventure" if you will.  A few of his encounters are absolutely classic.  We see the savvy Clint Eastwood we've so often seen in his career.   Arguably, the most important scene was with a young African-American family.  Earl's language ain't exactly "woke."  But, his willingness to help them out spoke way more than any words could.   I am convinced this is a message from Clint, as he sees things.  Or, it's just another stop on the road as Earl slowly and surely becomes prized within the cartel.  You decide the significance, if any, if you choose to see this movie.

One thing the movie touches upon is how there is little curiosity among the people in his life as to how Earl came into a lot of money.  Everyone sure took it, though.  Yes, they did.

For me, I think the movie too much lionizes Earl, whose actions while seeking redemption, are incredibly bad for so many in our country and the world.  The man spent decades digging the holes he dug.  I am unsure as to his redemption.  

There are a number of moments which any maven of Eastwood and his Malpaso movies will warmly recognize and embrace.  I cherished these as I was sitting in the theater.  There's little from a cinematic and audio perspective which demand The Mule be seen in a theater.   It's the best of Eastwood, though, in taking  on incredibly large questions and using the smallest of human moments to thrash out potential answers.

Nice job, Clint.  You may switch over your mortarboard tassel.

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I saw it on Sunday and I enjoyed it.  Not as good as Gran Torino but if this is to be his last onscreen role, it's a better one to finish on than Trouble with the Curve.  Clint proved he could still bring it. 

Someone noted that Clint subverted his image again by played the dupe.  Earl is definitely taken advantage of when approached to do this job.  But that doesn't let him off the hook, as he ultimately is the one to make the decision to keep going back for more and more runs to make more and more money.  Earl isn't nearly as bad as Walter White but again, he ultimately ends up doing what he's doing because he enjoys it and it gives him a chance to keep doing what he's been doing for decades.

Those shots of the back roads of the Southwest and Midwest were beautiful and a real treat to see.

Andy Garcia's Laton response to Earl asking him who a guy has to kill to get a place like this made me laugh out loud.

The guy who wrote the screenplay, Nick Schenk, not only wrote Gran Torino but two episodes of Narcos as well.

Edited by benteen
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Great comment, thank you both.

Any however brief homage to Kelly's Heroes? Maybe a standoff over a parking space or a couple of notes of music?  And there are so many Eastwood movies that I've loved (some for odd reasons), this sounds to be a classic in the best way for us.

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Great performance by Clint Eastwood. Even though he's not on the Academy Award Best Actor shortlists, I wouldn't be surprised to see him nominated on Tuesday.

Loved the story, especially how quickly things fell apart. Just as quickly as he jumped into being a mule.

It's great to see Andy Garcia as well!

Oh and FUCK YOU to the granddaughter who bitches him out when he says he can't make it to dying grandma's bedside. He PAID for your wedding and he ALSO PAID for your beauty school. (I'm unsure if the beauty school graduation scene was meant to be unintentionally hilarious). 

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Loved this film and am glad I saw it but I may be the only one on the planet that wanted Clint to sing a bit of the "Paint Your Wagon" soundtrack in those car scenes.

Yes the movie was really bad but my family lived and died by that soundtrack on childhoof road trips. I would have cried happy tears for just a bit of "Gold Fever".


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