Friday, June 28, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: Arctic (2018)

Apparently, getting marooned on the plains of Arctic is not as half as fun as it sounds and Mads Mikkelsen is a great choice for an actor to explore the same situation. He plays Overgård, a man in this predicament but also one who managed to find a semblance of stability, rooted in numerous routines, in his terrible form of everyday life. As he waits for the rescue in his downed aircraft-turned-shelter faith drops a helicopter on him, almost literally. Instead of salvation, he is left with a badly injured woman and a series of big and potentially deadly decisions he has to make.

Joe Penna, the director of this minimalist film is steady at his helm and he was able to steer it commendably. Low on words and high on non-verbal explanation, Penna did what J.C. Chandor did with All is Lost, only changing the punishing sea with the punishing snow - it looks like water in all of its forms wants to kill us when we get marooned. But, cinematographically, in both cases, a strong lead managed to push a great setup even further, creating a very impressive story and very quiet adventure film.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Two-Paragraph Review: The Mule (2018)

One of the things I appreciate about Clint Eastwood more and more with the passing of time is the fact that this guy is actually really weird. In other words, I’m still not sure what is going on in his mind after all of these decades of him in front and behind the camera. The Mule is a good example. This film is a thriller about an old orchid grower who becomes a narco-trafficker for the Mexican cartel out of necessity. Slowly, he ventures further into the scheme and this cannot end well.

A standard thriller, right? Yes, but, at the same time, it has a huge number of comic moments, which I’m not sure if they were added by design or by accident. It is also vaguely political in a way that is not desirable to me, even though I know where Eastwood's personal political compass points. This all makes The Mule feel like a strange collage of part of different TV shows that are on air at the same time. Drama, comedy, thriller, and a love story, it’s all in there and it all partially makes sense. The movie is ultimately enjoyable mainly thanks to Eastwood's acting, but where it wanted to take us intellectually remains a mystery to me