Whiplash

Posted in Drama on February 5, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Director: Damien Chazelle.
Screenplay: Damien Chazelle.
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton, Suanne Spoke, Max Kasch, Charlie Ian, Jayson Blair.

“If you deliberately sabotage my band, I’m gonna fuck you like a pig”.

One simple word springs to mind when I think of Whiplash. Just one word… “Oz“.
Those that are familiar with the HBO series that ran from 1997 to 2003 will no doubt remember the brutal intensity of the white supremacist character Vern Schillinger. It was one of my first experiences of actor J.K. Simmons and ever since then I’ve been a big fan. Now I’m not suggesting that Simmons is the only thing about this film that strikes you but he’ll mostly be the thing that leaves you continually thinking about it.

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A Most Violent Year

Posted in Crime, Drama on February 2, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Director: J.C. Chandor.
Screenplay: J.C. Chandor.
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, Elyes Gabel, Catalina Sandino Morelo, Peter Gerety, Christopher Abbott.

“When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can’t do”.

After the impressively talkative Margin Call and the hypnotically silent All Is Lost, the third film from J.C. Chandor had a lot of expectations behind it. However, due to a misjudged marketing campaign, I think many people will be left disappointed with A Most Violent Year. It’s doesn’t have echoes of The Godfather as the trailer would have you believe but is, in fact, a leisurely and low-key criminal affair that will mostly appeal to those who are prepared for it’s more personal story.

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Mourning Has Broken

Posted in Independent on January 29, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Directors: Brett Butler, Jason Butler.
Screenplay: Brett Butler, Jason Butler.
Starring: Robert Nolan, Shaun Devlin, Karen Sazuki, Jen De Lucia, Robyn Kay Pilarski, Damien Gulde, Katy Stephen, Sara Miller, Mike Donis, Graham Kent, Brett Butler, Jason Butler, Michael Salesio, Kevin Scott, Graeme Boyce, Joann Nordstrom, Vittorio Cortese, Jane Pokou.

“Respect the big screen and fuck, fuck… Fuck the little screen. Respect silence… and listen to surround sound. Listen to others and, truly, go and fuck yourselves”

With the intention of focusing more on independent cinema, I found myself chatting with co-writer/director Brett Butler and he kindly invited me to view his film Mourning Has Broken. He informed me that the film was shot for only $1000 and the project was actually a part of a Toronto 1KWave Feature film challenge to write, shoot, edit, and deliver a feature film in 3 months. The idea was spearheaded and funded by Canadian Indie film Queen Ingrid Veninger and they impressively shot the entire film in 5 1/2 days with almost 30 locations.

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What We Do In The Shadows

Posted in Comedy, Horror on January 27, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Directors: Taiki Waititi, Jermaine Clement.
Screenplay: Jermaine Clement, Taiki Waititi.
Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taiki Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford, Ben Fransham, Jackie van Beek, Rhys Darby, Elena Sejko, Simon Vincent, Cohen Holloway, Duncan Sarkies, Aaron Lewis, Jason Hoyte, Karen O’Leary, Mike Minogue.

“Yeah some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ‘Oooh, those are some nice pants'”.

Anyone familiar with the little independent, Antipodean comedy Eagle vs Shark or the cult TV series Flight of the Conchords will happen to find themselves on comfortable ground with What We Do In the Shadows as the co-creators of these works, Taiki Waititi and Jermaine Clement collaborate again to deliver one the most genuinely funny comedies for some time.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

Posted in Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy on January 23, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Director: Wes Anderson.
Screenplay: Wes Anderson.
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Edward Norton, Adrian Brody, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Mathieu Amalric, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Tom Wilkinson, Léa Seydoux, Larry Pine, Florian Lukas, Karl Markovics, Waris Ahluwalia, Wally Wolodarsky, Bob Balaban, Fisher Stevens.

“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… Oh, fuck it”

Those familiar with Wes Anderson will now know that his style needs no introduction. So much has been written or said about his idiosyncrasy that there are few adjectives left in which to describe his very unique approach to filmmaking and storytelling. Those that find him ostentatious or grandiose will likely want to avoid this (his eight film) while those that rejoice in his work will no doubt find this a boisterous festivity and celebration of his artistry.

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The Monuments Men

Posted in Action, Comedy, Drama, War on January 21, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Director: George Clooney.
Screenplay: George Clooney, Grant Heslov.
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban, Demitri Leonidas, Alexandre Desplat.

“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for”

When George Clooney made his directorial debut in 2002 with the off-beat Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and followed it up with the superb McCarthyism drama Good Night and Good Luck it seemed that he had just as much talent behind the camera as he did in front of it. However, the dull Leatherheads and largely disappointing The Ides of March came next which threw some doubt over his ability to call the shots. The Monuments Men, unfortunately, has more in common with his latter efforts.

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Kramer vs. Kramer

Posted in Drama on January 16, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Director: Robert Benton.
Screenplay: Robert Benton.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry, Jane Alexander, George Coe, Howard Duff, JoBeth Williams, Bill Moor, Howland Chamberlain, Jack Ramage, Jess Osuna.

“Who’s gonna read me my bedtime stories?”

The 1970’s has always been a decade of film that I’ve never withheld my appreciation for. I’d go as far to say that’s it’s been the best in terms of America’s productivity. It was the decade where we were introduced to some of the finest screen actors in Robert DeNiro, Jack Nicholson & Al Pacino. We had films of such high calibre as The Godfather’s, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, The Deer Hunter, Dog Day Afternoon. I could go on and on here but I mention this because Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep where another two of these marvellous performers and Kramer vs. Kramer one of the films that’s so often forgotten about.

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