Archive for the Biography Category

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

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

American Made

Posted in Action, Biography, Crime, Drama with tags on January 15, 2018 by Mark Walker


Director: Doug Liman.
Screenplay: Gary Spinelli.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke, Jayma Mays, Alejandro Edda, Benito Martinez, E. Roger Mitchell, Jed Rees, Mauricio Mejía, Jason Warner Smith.

“It ain’t about room, alright? It’s about weight”

Say what you will of Tom Cruise as I’m fully aware that some don’t take to him at all but, personally, I’ve always been a fan. That said, it’s been some years since I’ve fully embraced a film of his as nothing has really showcased his abilities. As good as they were, I turned a little cold on the Mission: Impossible series where Cruise seemingly focused on being an action star for a while. American Made, however, sees him return to what he does best. This is a tailor made role for the likes of Cruise’s cocksure mannerisms and shit-kicking grin. In fact, the film thrives on him in the lead which makes this very enjoyable entertainment. Continue reading

The Infiltrator

Posted in Biography, Crime, Drama with tags on April 14, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Brad Furman.
Screenplay: Ellen Brown Furman.
Starring: Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Gilgun, Juliet Aubrey, Amy Ryan, Yul Vasquez, Olympia Dukakis, Jason Isaacs, Art Malik, Said Taghmaoui, Juen Cely, Rubén Ochandiano, Simón Andreu, Christian Contreras, Michael Paré, Carsten Hayes, Daniel Mays.

“This is what I do. I’m an undercover narcotics agent. I sit with murders and bait men and I lie. I lie my ass off”

After their collaboration on The Lincoln Lawyer in 2011, Director Brad Furman reunites with Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo once again. Most of the positivity surrounding that film was slightly overshadowed by Matthew McConaughey’s renewed invigoration for dramatic acting (or the start of the McConaussance as it came to be known) while the likes of Cranston and Leguizamo filled in as support. The film itself was a decent enough legal thriller and now with The Infiltrator, Furman explores the other side of the law. Only this time, his fringe players take the central roles.  Continue reading

Steve Jobs

Posted in Biography, Drama with tags on February 21, 2016 by Mark Walker


Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenwriter: Aaron Sorkin.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, Makenzie Moss, John Ortiz, Adam Shapiro, Sarah Snook.

“They won’t know what they’re looking at or why they like it but they’ll know they want it”

With The Social Network in 2011, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin managed to strike a chord with critics and audiences by making a film about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg an improbable success. Sorkin went on to win an Oscar for his writing but, personally, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. This time Sorkin is at it again by focusing on Apple Inc. co-founder, Steve Jobs and if this film is anything to go by, I really should give The Social Network another chance. Continue reading

The Revenant

Posted in Action, Biography, Drama on January 28, 2016 by Mark Walker

 
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Screenplay: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Joshua Burge, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Duane Howard, Melaw Nakehk’o, Arthur Redcloud, Fabrice Adde, Christopher Rosamond, Lukas Haas.

“I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I’d done it already”

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s track record speaks for itself in terms of his sombre and unrelenting material. Working alongside screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, his loose trilogy of films Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel all dealt with tragedy and issues of loss and grief and his 2010 film Biutiful confirmed that grim material was his forte. However, his biggest success came last year with Birdman where he was awarded the Oscar for best director. Birdman wasn’t just successful in terms of awards, though, it proved that Iñárritu had the ability to craft something of a lighter nature. But now that he’s got that out the way, he’s back to delivering another punishing drama. Continue reading

21 Years: Richard Linklater

Posted in Biography, Documentary with tags on November 23, 2015 by Mark Walker


Directors: Michael Dunaway, Tara Wood.
Featuring: Keanu Reeves, Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, Greg Kinnear, Nicky Katt, Jason Reitman, Kevin Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Julie Delpy.

“Eighteen films. One legend”

They say that a career should never be judged until 21 years have past and although it’s hard to believe, director Richard Linklater has now achieved this milestone. As a result, filmmakers Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood decide to shine some light and appreciation on one of the most inventive and daring of contemporary American filmmakers. Continue reading

Awakenings

Posted in Biography, Drama on September 24, 2015 by Mark Walker


Director: Penny Marshall.
Screenplay: Steven Zaillian.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, Penelope Ann Miller, Ruth Nelson, John Heard, Max Von Sydow, Alice Drummond, Judith Malina, Richard Libertini, Anne Meara, Barton Heyman, George Martin, Keith Diamond, Mary Alice, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Vincent Pastore, Vin Diesel.

“I’m sorry. If you were right, I would agree with you”

Despite being a prominent director throughout the 80’s and 90’s, surprisingly, Penny Marshall seemed to hang up her boots after 2001’s Driving in Cars with Boys. To be fair, her films always had a cloying or whimsical tinge to them and her last few movies didn’t reach the heights of her earlier work like A League of Their Own and Big but she always showed promise as a director – with Awakenings, arguably, being her most accomplished work. Continue reading

Foxcatcher

Posted in Biography, Drama on February 13, 2015 by Mark Walker

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Director: Bennett Miller.
Screenplay: Dan Futterman, E. Max Frye.
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, Brett Rice, Jackson Frazer, Samara Lee.

“I’m gonna give you everything I have”.

After the likes of Capote and Moneyball it comes as no surprise that Bennett Miller has chosen yet another true story for his third feature film. With these films in mind, it also comes as no surprise that his ability to focus on an individuals obsession and determination is as intense as he’s proven already.

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Serpico

Posted in Biography, Crime, Drama with tags on June 16, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Sidney Lumet.
Screenplay: Waldo Salt, Norman Wexler.
Starring: Al Pacino, Tony Roberts, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe, Biff McGuire, Barbara Eda-Young, Cornelia Sharpe, John Medici, Alan Rich, Edward Grover, Norman Ornellas, James Tolkan, Richard Foronjy, John McQuade, M. Emmett Walsh, F. Murray Abraham, Kenneth McMillan, Tracey Walter, Judd Hirsch.

Frank, let’s face it, who can trust a cop that won’t take money?

With their second collaboration in 1974, Al Pacino and Sidney Lumet delivered one of the very best films of the decade with “Dog Day Afternoon“. It was a taut and captivating true-life story of a bank robber that gets way in over his head. Two years previously, though, they worked on another true-life story from the opposite side of the law. This time it was NYPD officer Frank Serpico and how he got way in over his head with police corruption rife all around him.

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Dallas Buyers Club

Posted in Biography, Drama with tags on February 11, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Jean-Marc Vallée.
Screenplay: Craig Borten, Melissa Wallack.
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, Steve Zahn, Michael O’Neill, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne, Kevin Rankin, J.D. Evermore.

Let me give y’all a little news flash. There ain’t nothin’ out there can kill fuckin’ Ron Woodroof in 30 days

There has been no better or more consistent actor over the last few years than that of Matthew McConaughey. It’s a fact! From someone who started a bright early career and worked with the likes of such quality directors as Richard Linklater, John Sayles, Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, he soon drifted into the dreaded rom-com territory that’s no better than drifting into obscurity altogether. His reputation wasn’t amounting to his early promise and it seemed he would never recover. So when did it all go right for him then? Well, in 2011, he got back in tow with Linklater to do “Bernie” and followed that up with dark and blisteringly brave performances in William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe“, Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike“. It didn’t stop there, though. He continued his solid work in Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” and a brief but excellent role in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf Of Wall Street” before finally delivering this awards laden performance in “Dallas Buyers Club“. The resurrection of his career is complete and McConaughey’s work has now, rightfully, gained the respect of critics and viewers alike.

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

Posted in Biography, Comedy, Crime, Drama with tags on January 27, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Martin Scorsese.
Screenplay: Terrence Winter.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner, Pj Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Ethan Suplee, Jake Hoffman, Joanna Lumley, Shea Whigham, Cristin Milioti, Leah Ebersole, Katarina Cas, Brian Sacca, Henry Zebrowski, Spike Jonze.

On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my “back pain”, Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine… Well, because it’s awesome“.

Although retirement may possibly be on the horizon for one of America’s finest directors, at age 71, Martin Scorsese certainly doesn’t look like he’s slowing down. If anything, he’s as racy as he’s ever been and shows as much energy as someone half his age. “The Wolf Of Wall Street” may not be his most original approach to filmmaking. We’ve seen all this before as it strongly resembles the structure and downfall of Henry Hill in “Goodfellas“. It does feel a little like he’s repeating himself here but it’s still entirely suitable for the story he’s relating. I can’t see how else he would have done it. If he’d played it more straight, it probably wouldn’t have worked. He had to be outrageous and for that, it’s most certainly amongst his funniest outings.

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Rush

Posted in Action, Biography, Drama, Sport with tags on January 22, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Ron Howard.
Screenplay: Peter Morgan.
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jamie de Courcey, Pierfrancesco Favino, Natalie Dormer.

A wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends“.

Before he became a director, Ron Howard was originally known for his acting as Richie Cunningham from “Happy Days” and that character seems to have plagued his career since. Howard can certainly resemble the character’s name in some ways; He makes production companies ‘rich’ and he most certainly delivers ‘ham’ but he lacks the ‘cunning’ to be the truly great director that he perceives himself to be. Please excuse the very poor puns but if Howard can get away with as many clichés as he does, then I deem myself the right to use as many bad puns as I want. “Rush” is further proof of Howard’s over-praised talents and no amount of money or positive word-of-mouth will change that.

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12 Years A Slave

Posted in Biography, Drama with tags on January 17, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Steve McQueen.
Screenplay: John Ridley.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams, Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Garret Dillanhunt, Kelsey Scott, Bryan Batt, Taran Killam.

My sentimentality stretches the length of a coin

After so vividly scrutinising the agony and the plight of Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands, in his 2008 directorial debut “Hunger” and following that up with an equally agonising portrait of sex addiction in 2011’s “Shame“, artist turned director Steve McQueen quickly established himself as a very raw and unflinching filmmaker. As did, his fearless leading actor Michael Fassbender. Now, with their third collaboration, it doesn’t look like they’ve had any change of heart and tackle the painful subject of slavery in 1840’s America.

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Fruitvale Station

Posted in Biography, Drama with tags on January 7, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Ryan Cooglar.
Screenplay: Ryan Cooglar.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ariana Neal, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Keenan Cooglar, Marjorie Crump-Shears, Trestin George, Joey Oglesby.

I’m good, I’m good, I’m gonna be good“.

I have to admit that the true events that took place involving Oscar Grant on December 31st, 2009, weren’t all that familiar to me. I have vague memories of hearing something but there wasn’t very much UK media coverage about this day. As a result, I went into this film rather blind and for those that find themselves in the same situation as myself, I’d advise that they leave it that way. It makes the story all the more effective and hard-hitting but even if you are aware of this man and what happened, there’s still no denying how raw and effecting this film truly is.

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