A labor of love, to be sure, but a simple, small-scaled domestic drama with none of the broad appeal of the hugely popular "Shakespeare in Love" of 1998, this thoroughly respectable Sony Classics pickup will command the interest mostly of older-skewing art house habituees.
Less cranky and inciting than Gran Torino but persuasively expressive in conveying an old man's regrets along with his desire to improve himself even in late age, The Mule shows that Eastwood's still got it, both as a director and actor.
One is grateful to have Momoa for company. Unlike some strutters who can't hide how delighted they are to show off their trainer-honed bods, Momoa wears his superb physique casually and his take-it-or-leave-it, devil-may-care attitude makes the narrative's long haul much easier to bear than would otherwise have been the case.
The freshest and most stimulating aspect of the film is the visual style, which unites the expected Marvel mix of “universes” (it used to be assumed there was only one universe in creation) with animation that looks both computer-driven and hand-drawn, boasts futuristic as well as funky urban elements, moves the “camera” a lot and brings together a melting pot of mostly amusing new characters.
Mendelsohn's villain is boringly one-note, Eve Hewson's Marion uses an incongruous Yank accent and always looks as though she's just stepped out of the makeup trailer, F. Murray Abraham swans around in fancy cardinal's vestments looking sinister and Foxx seems pissed off that he's not somewhere, perhaps anywhere, else. As for Egerton, he's a boy doing a man's job.
Slack and unexciting compared to Ryan Coogler's blisteringly good 2015 reconception of a 1970s icon for modern audiences, this follow-up is an undeniable disappointment in nearly every way, from its dreary homefront interludes to a climactic boxing match that feels far-fetched in the extreme.
The dramatic approach here is clear, efficient and entirely on-the-nose, with little time for anything that might distract from the hagiographic effort in play. Its sole purpose is to ennoble and proclaim a hero, which its subject almost certainly is. But it makes for notably simplified drama.
What is gratifying about the film is Volf's obvious love for and devotion to Callas, as well as his completist's urge to track down and include every scrap of footage at all relevant to telling her story and documenting her greatness.
Reasonably engaging as far as it goes, Searching for Ingmar Bergman evinces great appreciation for the writer-director's legacy and offers the testimonies of numerous eminent enthusiasts, but it leaves a good deal to be desired.
Venom feels like a throwback, a poor second cousin to the all-stars that have reliably dominated the box-office charts for most of this century. Partly, this is due to the fact that, as an origin story, this one seems rote and unimaginative. On top of that, the writing and filmmaking are blah in every respect; the film looks like an imitator, a wannabe, not the real deal.
Dramatically and philosophically void and unprovocative on the grand scale of apocalyptic speculative fiction, this low-budget indie is somber and dreary on a moment-to-moment basis and leaves its talented cast stranded with few opportunities to alleviate the sense of stasis.
The mix of commentators is unusual and lively, hardly the usual crowd that often pops up in documentaries like this, the clips are illustrative and on point in addition to often being eye-popping, and the film looks certain to please Keaton aficionados. Most importantly, it's likely to induce newcomers to investigate the great stone face for themselves.