Archive for the Drama 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

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

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

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

A Separation

Posted in Drama, Foreign Language with tags on April 13, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Asghar Farhadi.
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi.
Starring: Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

“What is wrong is wrong, no matter who said it or where it’s written”

After About Elly and The Salesman I’ve decided to complete my Asghar Farhadi trilogy by ending on probably his most widely received and critically acclaimed film, A Separation. By winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 2011, this is arguably the film that brought Farhadi a lot more global attention. That said, it’s not just because it won the Oscar that suggests it’s a good film, its because it’s a great film and the Academy would’ve been fools to ignore it. This film showcases Farhadi at the peak of his powers when it comes to assembling a narrative with great depth that explores numerous important moral complexities. Continue reading

The Salesman

Posted in Drama, Foreign Language, Mystery with tags on April 11, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Asghar Farhadi.
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi.
Starring: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Baba Karimi, Farid Sajjadihosseini, Mina Sadaati, Maral Bani Adam, Mehdi Kooshki, Emad Emani, Shirin Aghakashi, Mojtaba Pirzadeh, Sarah Asadollahe, Sam Valipour.

“Degenerate is the one who speaks his mind through swearing”

After About Elly, the second instalment of my Asghar Farhadi trilogy is his latest film The Salesman. Alongside it’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language film of 2016, it was also a nominee for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival with Farhadi winning Best Screenplay and Shahab Hosseini winning Best Actor. So it’s fair to say that this film hasn’t exactly went unrecognised in terms of awards. However, I’ve yet to hear much personal discussion on it from anyone other than the critics and it would seem that Farhadi has still some way to go before he gets the recognition he deserves among your average film enthusiast. Continue reading

About Elly

Posted in Drama, Foreign Language, Mystery with tags on April 9, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Asghar Farhadi.
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi.
Starring: Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Peyman Moadi, Taraneh Alidoosti, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zare’i, Ra’na Azadivar, Ahmad Mehranfar, Saber Abar,

“A bitter end is better than a never ending bitterness”

As he’s a director that has taken me some time to catch up with, I thought I’d just dive right in with a back-to-back trilogy of highly acclaimed, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi. I’ve heard a lot about his Best Picture winning Foreign Language films, The Salesman in 2016 and 2011’s A Separation but it was actually by pure happenstance that I stumbled onto About Elly. This is a film that would normally have slipped under the radar for me – as it has for many – but it was a great introduction to Farhadi’s approach to filmmaking and his undeniable ability to maintain control and pacing throughout his films. Continue reading

Dead Man’s Shoes

Posted in Drama, Horror, thriller with tags on March 31, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Shane Meadows.
Screenplay: Paddy Considine, Shane Meadows.
Starring: Paddy Considine, Gary Stretch, Toby Kebbell, Stuart Wolfenden, Neil Bell, Paul Sadot, Seamus O’Neill, Joe Hartley, Paul Hurstfield, Emily Aston, George Newton, Craig Considine, Matt Considine, Andrew Shim.

“You! You were supposed to be a monster. Now I’m the fucking beast. There’s blood on my hands, from what you made me do”

Five years after their first collaboration on 1999’s A Room for Romeo Brass, Paddy Considine and Shane Meadows penned a script together about some of the memories and experiences they remembered from their working-class backgrounds. Although they were obviously embellished, the result led to Dead Man’s Shoes – a visceral and uncompromising tale of vengeance that became an instant cult hit and still stands as some of the best work they’ve ever produced. Continue reading

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Posted in Drama, thriller with tags on February 18, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Dan Gilroy.
Screenplay: Dan Gilroy.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Hugo Armstrong, Lynda Gravatt, Amanda Warren, San Gilroy, Tony Plana, DeRon Horton, Amari Cheatom.

“Each of us is better than the worst thing we ever did”

After his brilliantly dark urban thriller Nightcrawler in 2014, a lot of eyes were on director Dan Gilroy with an eagerness to see what he’d deliver next. Roman J. Israel, Esq. promises to be just as intriguing but it lacks the dramatic drive that made Gilroys’s last film such captivating viewing. That said, it boasts a strong lead performance that’s enough to maintain your interest. Continue reading