A Hidden Life

Posted in Biography, Drama, History, War with tags on June 15, 2020 by Mark Walker

Director: Terrence Malick

Screenplay: Terrence Malick

Starring: August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Matthias Schoenaerts, Franz Rogowski, Bruno Ganz, Michael Nyqvist, Wolfgang Michael, Karl Markovics, Ulrich Matthes, Tobias Moretti, Maria Simon, Martin Wuttke, Johannes Krisch, Johan Leysen.

“Better to suffer injustice than to do it”

Despite his reputation of being a very philosophical and existential filmmaker, it’s fair to say that not everyone responds favourably to a Terrence Malick picture. He has such an idiosyncratic and ponderous style that some viewers simply don’t have the patience for him. Even those that do, didn’t take kindly to his recent trilogy of contemporary set-works To The Wonder, Knight Of Cups, and Song To Song. That said, when Malick is working on stories from the past, he’s able to excel and fully realise the themes that he endeavours to express. A Hidden Life sees Malick return to a bygone time in history that suits his craftsmanship but, more importantly, sees him return to scintillating form. Continue reading

Us

Posted in Horror, thriller with tags on January 8, 2020 by Mark Walker

Director: Jordan Peele.
Screenplay: Jordan Peele.
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Tim Heidecker, Madison Curry, Anna Diop, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

“They look exactly like us. They think like us. They know where we are. We need to move and keep moving. They won’t stop until they kill us… or we kill them”

When Get Out hit the screens in 2017, it was one of the few films that genuinely earned the positive word of mouth and appreciation that many critics and viewers afforded it. It marked the arrival of Jordan Peele as a new voice for horror despite him being better known as a comedian and it also done no harm to Peele’s reputation when he earned himself an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. With that, there was much anticipation for his follow-up feature and it’s with delight that Peele matches his previous work and shows that contemporary horror is in very capable hands. Continue reading

Marriage Story

Posted in Drama with tags on December 12, 2019 by Mark Walker

Director: Noah Baumbach.
Screenplay: Noah Baumbach.
Starring: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Azhy Robertson, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever, Wallace Shawn, Matthew Maher, Brooke Bloom, Robert Smigel, Mark O’Brien.

“Getting divorced with a kid is one of the hardest things to do. It’s like a death without a body”

Although it wasn’t his directorial debut, The Squid And The Whale in 2005 was the film that made the majority of film lovers sit up and take notice of Noah Baumbach. It was my first experience of his style and he instantly captured my attention with his unflinching look at a couple navigating a divorce and the effect it has on their two adolescent sons. It is said that the film was heavily autobiographical and captured Baumbach’s own personal experiences of his parents’ separation and arguably remained his best film after 14 years of consistently excellent output. With Marriage Story, Baumbach has returned to that similar storyline with claims that it has again been influenced by his own marital breakdown to actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. Whether or not these claims hold any truth, there’s no denying that he has a complete understanding of the anatomy of a relationship and the cruel and devastating torment it can put upon a person, regardless of gender. Continue reading

Ad Astra

Posted in Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction with tags on December 9, 2019 by Mark Walker

Director: James Gray.
Screenplay: James Gray, Ethan Gross.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, John Ortiz, Loren Dean, Kimberley Elise, Donnie Keshawarz, Sean Blakemore, Bobby Nish, LisaGay Hamilton, John Finn.

“So many times in my life I screwed up; I’ve talked when I should’ve listened, I’ve been harsh when I should’ve been tender”

Over recent years we’ve actually been quite spoiled in the sci-if genre with the amount of space travel films utilising the current high standard of special effects to realise their vision. Alfonso Cauron’s Gravity was a bit of a game changer but it’s been followed up with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and most recently Damien Chazelle’s First Man in terms our protagonists exploring just as much about themselves as they are the cosmos. Now, it’s the turn of James Gray with Ad Astra and as much as you’d expect that this space/self exploration angle might be getting a bit tired, Gray proves that there’s still mileage left in our fascination with ourselves and our place within the solar system. Continue reading

Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on December 6, 2019 by Mark Walker

Director: Quentin Tarantino.
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Damien Lewis, Austin Butler, Julia Butters, Luke Perry, Mike Moh, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Bell, Clifton Collins, Jr, Nicholas Hammond, Damon Herriman, Costa Ronin, Lena Dunham, Lorenza Izzo, Rafal Zawierucha, James Landry Hébert, Martin Kove, Samantha Robinson, Brenda Vaccaro, Dreama Walker, Rachel Redleaf, Harley Quinn Smith, Rumer Willis, Maya Hawke, James Remar, Michael Madsen.

“All the streets are silent… except when Rick Dalton’s got a fucking shotgun, I’ll tell you that”

From his directorial debut in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs, you’ve got to hand it to Quentin Tarantino for maintaining the amount of interest and desire for his filmmaking contributions. Starting as a mere video store clerk to the pinnacle of the film industry is the stuff of dreams for many people and he actually made it happen for himself. It’s fitting then that he turns his focus onto Hollywood itself and uses his extensive and esoteric knowledge to explore the industry and the many influences that have played a part in his own development as a filmmaker. Continue reading

The Irishman

Posted in Biography, Crime, Drama, History with tags on November 28, 2019 by Mark Walker

Director: Martin Scorsese.
Screenplay: Steven Zaillian.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Ray Romano, Domenick Lombardozzi, Jake Hoffman, Steven Van Zandt, Jack Huston, Katherine Narducci, Welker White, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Louis Cancelmi, Sebastian Maniscalco, Paul Ben-Victor, Paul Herman, Jim Norton, J.C. MacKenzie, Barry Primus.

“You might be demonstrating a failure to show appreciation”

Way back in 1973, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese worked together for the first time with Mean Streets. It was a vibrant and creative crime film that put them both in very high estimation and their careers flourished as a result. They would go on to collaborate a total of eight times which delivered such iconic work as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, to name a few. Throughout this time they earned a reputation for quality and it’s very difficult to name another actor/director collaboration that’s produced as much greatness. Now, after a 24 year wait (since Casino in 1995) they return to the gangster milieu of which they have become synonymous with. It’s now their ninth film together and it’s, unsurprisingly, another work of real substance. Continue reading

Joker

Posted in Crime, Drama, thriller with tags on November 20, 2019 by Mark Walker

Director: Todd Phillips.
Screenplay : Todd Phillips, Scott Silver.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert DeNiro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Shea Whigham, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Josh Pais, Marc Maron, Douglas Hodge, Leigh Gill, Rocco Luna, Brian Tyree Henry.

“When I was a little boy and told people I was going to be a comedian, everyone laughed at me. Well no one’s laughing now”

Surrounding the release of Joker there was an interesting debate that began around superhero movies – Marvels Cinematic Universe, in particular. This debate found traction from comments made by Martin Scorsese who, as we all know, is considered to be one of the most influential directors in American cinema’s history. It stirred up a lot of emotions in the industry with many fans and actors involved in Marvel’s movies criticising Scorsese’s comments that they shouldn’t be regarded as cinema and that they’re more like “theme park” movies that are crowding out talented cinematic voices when it comes to box-office showings. Personally, I found Scorsese’s comments to be a breath of fresh air and wholeheartedly welcomed them. He’s right. With that in mind, though, it’s interesting that he was originally a producer on Joker before walking away due to other commitments. What’s more interesting is that Todd Phillips’ Joker references the past work of Scorsese and shows that a comic book character can actually be based around emotional and psychological experiences without resorting to mindless “theme park” entertainment. Continue reading

New York, New York

Posted in Drama, Musical with tags on November 11, 2019 by Mark Walker


Director: Martin Scorsese.
Screenplay: Mardik Martin, Earl Mac Rauch.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Liza Minnelli, Lionel Stander, Barry Primus, Georgie Auld, Mary Kay Place, George Memmoli, Dick Miller, Clarence Clemons, Steven Prince, Don Calfa, Frank Sivero, Diahnne Abbott.

“Do I look like a gentleman to you in this shirt and these pants?”

A lot has been said about the collaborative work of Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro but the one that is often forgotten about or even frowned upon is their work on 1977’s New York, New York. Admittedly, the lack of financial success or interest at the box-office hasn’t helped the film’s reputation but on reflection this lengthy and ambitious musical often impresses. To be fair, much of this will depend on whether or not the individual viewer enjoys the music and period in which it’s set. But if you do, then there’s much to admire. Continue reading

Top Ten of 2018

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 30, 2019 by Mark Walker

The time has come again to pick the best films from last year and as much as it’s a pleasure throughout the year, it’s always a chore when finalising the end result. It’s quite a difficult task especially given the mixed released dates from across the globe (I’m basing the list on U.S. release dates and those in contention for awards) and the fact that 2018, in particular, was a very strong year. As always, this is by no means an exhaustive list as there’s a number of films that I didn’t catch in time – these were predominantly foreign cinema like Shoplifters, Cold War and Burning. There’s also number of films that could’ve made my list had the competition not been so strong and I’ll give a near-miss shout out to Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman in that respect but, in the end, the following are among the films that resonated with me most. So, without further ado, these are my favourite films from 2018… Continue reading

The Favourite

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on January 10, 2019 by Mark Walker

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos.
Screenplay: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara.
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Mark Gatiss, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, LillyRose Stevens, Jennifer White.

“As it turns out, I’m capable of much unpleasantness”

Late in 2018, the Oxford English Dictionary announced that over a hundred film-related words and their names had all been turned into adjectives. Some of these included, “Lynchian”, “Tarantinoesque” and “Kubrickian” to describe the style in which these cinematic auteurs operate. Kubrickian, for example, is described as a “meticulous perfectionism, mastery of the technical aspects of film-making, and atmospheric visual style in films across a range of genres”. Since their inclusion, I think it’s fair to say that Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite is the first film that can officially use one of these nomenclatures as Lanthimos delivers an exquisite piece of work that looks and feels very much like something that Stanley Kubrick would’ve been proud of. Continue reading

Bad Times At The El Royale

Posted in Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery, thriller with tags on December 28, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Drew Goddard.
Screenplay: Drew Goddard.
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Lewis Pullman, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman, Shea Whigham, Xavier Dolan, Mark O’Brien, Charles Halford, Jim O’Heir, Billy Wickman.

“Shit happens! Get the whisky”

Primarily known for his writing on television shows like Alias and Lost before his transition to film screenplays, Drew Goddard made quite the impression in 2012 with his feature directorial debut, The Cabin In The Woods. It was a creative horror that subverted expectations and recieved quite a positive fan base and put the spotlight on Goddard for one to watch. Oscar also shed some light on him with an Academy Award nomination for his screenwriting on Ridley Scott’s The Martian in 2016 but it was always behind the camera that Goddard showed the most promise. With Bad Times At The El Royale, Goddard has, once again, returned to directing and shows a keen eye for genre filmmaking. Continue reading

The House That Jack Built

Posted in Crime, Drama, Horror with tags on December 16, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Lars von Trier.
Screenplay: Lars von Trier.
Starring: Matt Dillon, Bruno Ganz, Uma Thurman, Riley Keough, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Grabøl, Jeremy Davies, Jack McKenzie, Ed Speelers, David Bailie, Emil Tholstrup, Osy Ikhile.

“The old cathedrals often have sublime artworks hidden away in the darkest corners for only God to see. The same goes for murder”

Over the course of five years, Danish provocateur Lars von Trier delivered his “Trilogy of Depression” with AntiChrist in 2009, Melancholia in 2011 and the two-parter Nymphomaniac in 2013. Despite, an extensive career that has always quoted controversy, these three films alone managed to shock and upset viewers and critics alike with graphic scenes of genital mutilation, sadomasochism and full penetrative sex. Since then, von Trier has waited another five years to deliver The House That Jack Built and if you’re wondering if he has anything left to shock you with then wonder no more. Take a moment and a reminder that this film is about a serial-killer and remember that this is Lars von Trier we’re talking about here: the enfant terrible of contemporary cinema. Continue reading

GoodFellas

Posted in Crime, Drama with tags on May 2, 2018 by Mark Walker


Director: Martin Scorsese.
Screenplay: Martin Scorsese, Nicholas Pileggi.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent, Chuck Low, Frank Sivero, Mike Starr, Tony Darrow, Frank DiLeo, Debi Mazar, Illeana Douglas, Christopher Serrone, Joseph D’Onofrio, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Johnny Williams, Frank Pellegrino, Gina Mastrogiacomo, Suzanne Shepherd, Beau Starr, Stella Keitel, Vincent Pastore, Isiah Whitlock Jr, G.W. Bailey, Vincent Gallo, Tobin Bell, Samuel L. Jackson.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster”

Such is the impact that they’ve had on popular culture, it never comes as a surprise to hear Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather and The Godfather part II mentioned whenever the mob movie is being discussed. Not only are they synonymous with the sub-genre but they’re also widely regarded as two of the best films ever made. Few films have come close to ever stealing their thunder but if there was one that has the potential to pop a couple in the back of their heads, it would be Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas which expanded on (and complimented) Coppola’s films by providing a fascinating insight into the day-to-day machinations and the allure of mob life from a more personal point of view. Continue reading

You Were Never Really Here

Posted in Crime, thriller with tags on April 25, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Lynne Ramsay.
Screenplay: Lynne Ramsay.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola, Judith Roberts, John Doman, Alex Manette, Dante Pereira-Olson, Frank Pando.

“I want you to hurt them”

After only four films – Ratcatcher, Morven Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin and You Were Never Really Here it’s now apparent that Scottish director Lynne Ramsay has managed to forge her own particular style. She’s also a director that’s so focused on her own approach that she won’t just bow down to studio pressures as her proposed adaptation of The Lovely Bones will attest to and her ill-fated vision for Jane Got a Gun – both films that she walked away from despite being heavily involved in the initial stages. Her latest, You Were Never Really Here, is somewhat the perfect example of her uncompromising approach and how powerful her bad-assitude can play out on screen when she’s left to express her own vision. Continue reading

Ready Player One

Posted in Action, Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction with tags on April 20, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Steven Spielberg.
Screenplay: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline.
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen, Ralph Ineson, Susan Lynch, Clare Higgins, Perdita Weeks.

“People come to the Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be”

When Jaws was released in 1975, it done so well at the box-office that it was the first film to become, what we now know as, the “blockbuster”. Having been responsible for this, it looks like Steven Spielberg (at the ripe age of 71) isn’t in any mood for changing as Ready Player One – his 33rd film – is still an example of the big brand of entertainment that he’s now synonymous with. That said, he hasn’t been delivering that many of these types of films for quite some time now, choosing instead to focus on more dramatic material but I’m happy to say that he still possesses that childlike imagination and adventurous touch. Continue reading