Now, back to the earnestness. This week’s seasonal frock drama is Mary, Queen of Scots (Rating: B), starring Saoirse Ronan as the unfortunate Catholic Queen, and Margot Robbie as her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, in a film tracing their different lives until Mary’s last unfortunate day. Reviewer Kim Hughes did not lose her head over the movie, a film she describes as historically accurate and beautiful to look at but with a dull pall.
In our other bio-pic, Blaze (Rating: C-plus), Ethan Hawke, taking the director’s chair, traces the life of the late Texas singer-songwriter, Blaze Foley, starring Ben Dickey and Alia Shawkat as his wife, Sybil Rosen, whose memoir inspired the first half of the film. Jim Slotek found the cameo-stuffed film deficient in grit and somewhat meandering in tracing Blaze’s downward spiral.
Also based on a true story is The Mule (Rating: B) directed by and starring 88-year-old Clint Eastwood as an egocentric flower enthusiast who starts transporting cocaine for a Mexican cartel to impress his estranged family. More a well-crafted sentimental comedy than a hard drama, it’s an entertaining “old man” road movie, says reviewer Liam Lacey, if not on the level of The Straight Story or Nebraska.
For another perspective on drugs in the family, we have a possible Oscar acting contender, Ben Is Back (Rating: B-plus), starring Julia Roberts as the mom, whose son (Lucas Hedges) shows up on Christmas morning, straight from a rehab facility, an appearance that gets more complicated when someone steals the family dog. Karen Gordon says the drama, written and directed by Lucas Hedges’ father, Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) is somewhat uneven but superbly acted by Roberts and Hedges.