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FLICKS: Movie memories & The Mule

Posted on 19 December 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

It was 20 years ago this Christmas Eve that I lost my Uncle Billy. Besides my Mom and Dad, I spent more Christmases with Uncle Billy than any other family member, so I am very sensitive to people suffering from loss when it seems as if everybody is singing about happiness and joy.

As I was dealing with the raw grief of the situation, the movies playing on the big screen included Mighty Joe Young, You’ve Got Mail, Stepmom and Jack Frost. I wanted to avoid the tear jerker Stepmom (the previews revealed Susan Sarandon as a dying mother and Julia Roberts as her future replacement), so I went to see Mighty Joe Young and You’ve Got Mail.

The most shocking film was Jack Frost, a comedy in which Michael Keaton portrayed a musician who dies in a car accident and returns to earth as a snowman. Like No Country for Old Men being released during the Christmas week, I feel an obligation as a columnist to alert my readers about watching a potential melancholic mind trap of a movie on a happy holiday.

With a heavy marketing push on television, The Mule has presented screen legend Clint Eastwood as a haggard old man driving on the U.S. Interstate Highway. Inspired by a true story, Eastwood portrays Earl Stone, a successful florist who constantly disappoints his family. With all of its film noir trappings, The Mule is a surprising revelation for the holiday season.

In 2005, Earl enjoyed the harvest of a good economy. Twelve Years later, his home is being foreclosed upon. With the exception of his grandchild Ginny (Taissa Farmiga), Earl receives no support from his ex-wife, Mary (Dianne Wiest), and he is not on speaking terms with his daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood — Clint’s real life daughter). While attending a disastrous family function, Earl is offered a simple job by a Mexican man.

The job is simple. All he has to do is drive cargo to Chicago. Upon staying at a designated motel, Earl receives a bundle of cash in the morning. The job is easy and Earl continues to do it, even when he discovers he is a courier for the Mexican Drug Cartel, headed by Laton (Andy Garcia).

Under such an austere situation, the trademark dark humor of a Clint Eastwood movie shines through. There are great scenes of Eastwood driving his truck by himself, singing road songs on the radio and getting the lyrics wrong. There are funny scenes involving Earl’s new found wealth and his propensity for being a Robin Hood. That written, The Mule does not detract from a simple message about family, career and redemption. With that sentiment, there is no other way to end this column then with these two words, “Merry Christmas!”

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