Archive for the Mystery Category

Marshland

Posted in Crime, Drama, Foreign Language, Mystery, thriller with tags on November 19, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Alberto Rodriguez.
Screenplay: Rafael Cobos, Alberto Rodriguez.
Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Alévaro, Antonio de la Torre, Nerea Barros, Salva Reina, Jesús Castro, Manolo Solo.

“This place swallows you up”

In 2014, just before he won a leading Actor Oscar, Matthew McConnaughey was at the height of one of the biggest career turnarounds. It was a time that became gleefully known as the “McConnaisance” and one of the major projects that he was involved in was HBO’s television series, True Detective. It’s a surprise then that more people didn’t pay attention to Alberto Rodriguez’s Spanish thriller, Marshland. That said, it was a huge hit in its native Spain and while it made a brief arrival on the film circuit with many critics lavishing praise on it, it still seemed to disappear fairly quickly. It’s a shame as this is a dark, murder mystery that’s thoroughly deserving of a wider audience and shares many similarities with the aforementioned TV show.  Continue reading

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Eyes Wide Shut

Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Mystery with tags on November 3, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Stanley Kubrick.
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Alan Cumming, Marie Richardson, Thomas Gibson, Vinessa Shaw, Rade Serbedzija, Leelee Sobieski, Fay Masterson, Sky Dumont, Madison Eginton

“Millions of years of evolution, right? Right? Men have to stick it in every place they can, but for women… women it is just about security and commitment and whatever the fuck else.”

For many, Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest directors America has ever produced and has offered up some of the most thought provoking films throughout his career. Unfortunately, his last film didn’t receive the credit that it deserved. Literally days after delivering the final film, Kubrick died. However, in some senses, I’m actually glad Kubrick didn’t have to witness his swansong’s much maligned backlash. A big factor in this was the poor marketing campaign. For the first time, Kubrick released a film in the internet-age where information was readily accessible on the secrecy of its production. Rumours abound, it was flaunted as a sexually explicit bonkfest with Cruise and Kidman and the trailers teasing the audience with the real-life, married couple’s nudity certainly didn’t help matters. In truth, what (little) you see in the trailer is essentially all there is in the entire film between the couple. Added to which, there were rumours that Cruise would be shooting heroine for the film and wearing a dress. Needless to say, those who flocked in their droves to see such controversy where left sorely disappointed. What they really missed, though, was a rich and provocative meditation on sexual desires and the human psyche.  Continue reading

Chinatown

Posted in Film-Noir, Mystery with tags on August 30, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Roman Polanski.
Screenplay: Robert Towne.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Diane Ladd, Burt Young, Darrell Zwerling, Roy Jenson, Joe Mantell, Richard Bakalyan, Bruce Glover, James Hong, Noble Willingham, Rance Howard, Roman Polanski.

“Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown”

In the 1970’s a bunch of American filmmakers and actors were given a bunch of money and told to just go away and make movies. And that they did. The consistent results led to the 70’s arguably being the best decade in cinema that America has ever produced. We were gifted such classics as Taxi Driver, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Mean Streets, The Godfathers and Dog Day Afternoon. Chinatown is another of those films that can be considered a classic among this elite list and one of a few from this era of filmmaking that time has been most kind to.  Continue reading

Mulholland Falls

Posted in Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery with tags on July 7, 2017 by Mark Walker

Director: Lee Tamahori.
Screenplay: Pete Dexter.
Starring: Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Jennifer Connelly, Melanie Griffith, John Malkovich, Treat Williams, Kyle Chandler, Andrew McCarthy, Bruce Dern, Louise Fletcher, Daniel Baldwin, Ed Lauter, Titus Welliver, Richard Sylbert, Virginia Madsen, William Petersen, Rob Lowe.

“This is L.A. This is my town. Out here you’re a trespasser. Out here I can pick you up, burn your house, fuck your wife, and kill your dog. And the only thing that’ll protect you is if I can’t find you. And I already found you”.

Released in 1996, Lee Tamahori’s Mulholland Falls has largely been overshadowed by the Oscar winning L.A. Confidential – which followed a year later. Although I often find fault with the Academy, on this occasion, I’m not going to split hairs with them and argue that Tamahori’s film is as good, because it’s not. But that’s no shame in Tamahori’s efforts as, for me, L.A. Confidential is one of the best films over the last 20 years. Mulholland Falls is a very admirable attempt that doesn’t deserve to have become a forgotten addition to L.A. themed noir.  Continue reading

INLAND EMPIRE

Posted in Horror, Mystery with tags on June 6, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: David Lynch.
Screenplay: David Lynch.
Starring: Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, Harry Dean Stanton, Julia Ormond, Mary Steenburgen, Grace Zabriskie, Peter J. Lucas, Karolina Gruszka, Jan Hencz, Krzysztof Majchrzak, Ian Abercrombie, Jerry Stahl, Diane Ladd, William H. Macy, Jordan Ladd, Kat Turner, Kristen Kerr, Terry Crews, Nastassja Kinski, Scott Coffey, Laura Harring, Naomi Watts.

“I figured one day I’d just wake up and and find out what the hell yesterday was all about. I’m not too keen on thinkin’ about tommorow. And today’s slipping by”

A dream of dark and troubling things” is how Lynch himself described his directorial debut Eraserhead in 1977. It’s fitting then that his first and (so far) last film share similarities with this description. In fact, this is probably the most coherent thing you can take from INLAND EMPIRE (Lynch insists the title is capitalised). Even the marketing executives had no idea how to promote the film and, in the end, decided to punt it with the vaguest of taglines: A woman in trouble. The rest is basically up to the individual viewer. But make no mistake, INLAND EMPIRE lands you squarely in Lynchland.  Continue reading

Nocturnal Animals

Posted in Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, thriller with tags on February 15, 2017 by Mark Walker

Director: Tom Ford.
Screenplay: Tom Ford.
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Armie Hammer, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Jena Malone, Graham Beckel.

“Enjoy the absurdity of our world. It’s a lot less painful. Believe me, our world is a lot less painful than the real world”

Former fashion-designer Tom Ford took his first steps into film directing with A Single Man in 2009. It’s a film that didn’t initially catch my eye but when I finally caught up with it, it really impressed. In fact, I thought it a near masterpiece of style and composition. As a result, I’ve been very eager to see what Ford would do next and although his follow-up isn’t quite as good as his debut, there’s still much to recommend.  Continue reading

Coherence

Posted in Mystery, Science Fiction with tags on January 17, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: James Ward Byrkit.
Screenplay: James Ward Byrkit.
Starring: Emily Baldoni, Hugo Armstrong, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Lorene Scafaria, Elizabeth Gracen, Alex Manugian, Lauren Maher.

“This whole night we’ve been worrying… there’s some dark version of us out there somewhere. What if we’re the dark version?”

Much has been said about Karyn Kusuma’s dark mystery The Invitation in 2015. It became the dinner party thriller that people were talking about yet James Ward Byrkit’s Coherence (which was first released two years earlier) went largely unnoticed. It did gather some positive word-of-mouth around the festival circuit but this film was more dynamic and much more deserving of a wider audience.  Continue reading