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

Annihilation

Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction with tags on March 19, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Alex Garland.
Screenplay: Alex Garland.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Benedict Wong, David Gyasi, Cosmo Jarvis, Edward Mannering, Honey Holmes, John Schwab, Sonoya Mizuno.

“It’s not destroying… It’s making something new”

Beginning his career as an author and responsible for the source material of Danny Boyle’s The Beach in 2000, Alex Garland then directly ventured into the film industry by doing screenplay’s – again with Boyle on 28 Days Later and Sunshine – before he eventually took the reigns himself by making his directorial debut with the magnificent science fiction film Ex Machina in 2014. On this evidence, it’s fair to say that Garland has went from strength to strength and his sophomore film, Annihilation, continues that trend. One could even argue that it’s his best work yet. Continue reading

Top Ten of 2017

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3, 2018 by Mark Walker

The time has come to mark another end to the film year and although these posts are not something that I often manage to do, I have been fortunate enough to catch enough films over the last year to be able to chime in with some of my favourites. As is always the case, however, this is not an exhaustive list and any films that eluded me could possibly have made the cut. There are films like Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, Sally Potter’s The Party and the late Harry Dean Stanton’s farewell appearance in Lucky that I wanted to afford some time to but, alas, there’s just not enough hours in the year to catch everything. Added to which, as much as this was a consistently good year for film, there was really only one that received the coveted 5 star treatment. That said, some could possibly achieve that after I’ve had more time to process them or give a reappraisal while other leading awards contenders like Dunkirk, Lady Bird, The Post, Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri didn’t do enough to even warrant a place here.

As is always the case with me, I compile these lists in relation to U.S. release dates and can include everything leading up to (and including) the Oscar nominations and other festival or annual awards. So without further ado, this is my list of 2017’s finest.

. . . 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

The Florida Project

Posted in Drama, Independent with tags on February 9, 2018 by Mark Walker


Director: Sean Baker.
Screenplay: Sean Baker.
Starring: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Rivera, Caleb Landry Jones, Edward Pagan, Jasineia Ramos, Jason Blackwater, Josie Olivo, Karren Karagulian, Macon Blair, Patti Wiley, Sandy Kane, Valeria Cotto, Aiden Malik.

“Excuse me, could you give us some change, please? The doctor said we have asthma and we have to eat ice-cream right away”

Sean Baker is a director that been around for a while but I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t until 2015’s indie drama, Tangerine, that people began to sit up and take notice. In fact, I shamefully still didn’t acknowledge him and decided to overlook Tangerine. That’s a decision that I now regret and must remedy forthwith. Instead, I went straight into The Florida Project having no prior knowledge of Baker’s work and now that I’ve had a taste of his remarkable ability, this is a director I will be watching very closely and one whose back catalogue is now a priority for me. Continue reading

The Shape Of Water

Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Romance with tags on February 6, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Guillermo del Toro.
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor.
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nick Searcy, Cyndy Day, David Hewlett, John Kapelos, Lauren Lee Smith, Morgan Kelly, Nigel Bennett, Stewart Arnott.

“The natives in the Amazon worshipped it. Like a god. We need to take it apart, learn how it works”

Guillermo del Toro has found himself to be quite the respected filmmaker over the years but, if I had to be brutally honest, I’d have to say that he’s really only made a few films that could be classed as ‘great’ and he’s not adverse to being disappointing on occasion. His latest films, Crimson Peak and Pacific Rim received a very mixed reception with the latter, in particular, being a huge misfire for me. That said, I do admire the man’s imagination and I keep returning, hoping to see something of the greatness of Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone and most importantly his near masterpiece of fantasy, Pan’s Labyrinth. His latest, The Shape of Water, doesn’t quite hit the heights of the latter but that still doesn’t stop in from being del Toro’s best film for quite some time. Continue reading

Blade Runner 2049

Posted in Mystery, Science Fiction with tags on January 29, 2018 by Mark Walker


Director: Denis Villenueve.
Screenplay: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Barkhad Abdi, Lennie James, Edward James Olmos, David Dastmalchian, Hiam Abbass, Tómas Lemarquis, Wood Harris, Elarica Gallacher, Vilma Szécsi, Mark Arnold, Loren Peta.

“They all think it’s about more detail. But that’s not how memory works. We recall with our feelings. Anything real should be a mess”

We now find ourselves in an age where the filmmaking craft is so preoccupied with making money that it hinders the art form itself and saturates the market with crowd-pleasing dross. The rise of the superhero blockbuster has played a huge part in this and, as result, the creative and artistic nature of Blade Runner 2049 has become a casualty. Like Ridley Scott’s film before it, it has proven to be a box-office failure and despite the desire to provide sequels, the masses simply weren’t interested in this one. But 2017 took the sequel to a whole new level. They weren’t just money-spinning exercises but revisits to much loved cult classics that were intent on exploring their characters in a whole new depth: 20 years after the drug-addled exploits of Trainspotting, Danny Boyle brought a satisfying maturity to T2 while, 25 years later, David Lynch revisited the quaint logging town of Twin Peaks with The Return – a deeply surreal 18 episodes that has reinvented the way that television can be viewed. Going even further back than that, Denis Villenueve revisits Blade Runner after a 35 year hiatus and relieves my nervous disposition with the impressive completion of a 2017 hat-trick. Continue reading

The Snowman

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


Director: Tomas Alfredson.
Screenplay: Hossein Amini, Peter Straughan, Søren Sviestrup.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chloë Sevigny, J.K. Simmons, Jonas Karlsson, Adrian Dunbar, James D’Arcy, Genevieve O’Reilly, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer, David Dencik, Jamie Clayton, Michael Yates, Ronan Vibert.

“You could save them you know… gave you all the clues and everything”

Michael Fassbender may be of the one of the most talented and reliable actors of his generation but the same can’t always be said about some of his film choices. Assassin’s Creed only added to another failed video-game adaptation and his work with Ridley Scott on Prometheus, Alien: Covenant and The Counselor also failed to impress (although, I was admittedly one of the few admirers of the latter film). My point being, though, is that he’s not quite as bankable as he once was. Over recent years, you’re just as likely to catch a stinker as you are a work of quality and The Snowman doesn’t do anything to remedy this issue. Continue reading

Mother!

Posted in Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery with tags on January 18, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Darren Aronofsky.
Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky.
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig, Stephen McHattie, Jovan Adepo.

“You never loved me. You just loved how much I loved you. I gave you everything. You gave it all away”

With the Oscar recognitions surrounding them, you could say that Black Swan and The Wrestler have been Darren Aronofsky’s most commercially successful films. In fact, they operate as great companions pieces that explore very similar themes. It comes as no surprise then that Aronofsky has chosen to follow-up his last film, Noah, by exploring similar themes again and approaching another biblical interpretation. Only this time, he does so from a very personal and contentious angle. 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

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on January 8, 2018 by Mark Walker

Director: Martin McDonagh.
Screenplay: Martin McDonagh.
Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish, Zeljko Ivanek, Kerry Condon, Amanda Warren, Malaya Rivera Drew, Kathryn Newton, Sandy Martin, Brendan Sexton III, Nick Searcy, Jerry Winsett, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Clarke Peters.

“What’s the law on what you can and can’t say on a billboard? I assume it’s you can’t say nothing defamatory, and you can’t say, ‘Fuck’, ‘Piss’ or ‘Cunt’. That right?”

Although Martin McDonagh’s last film, Seven Psychopaths, had a fervent fan base I was very disappointed in it; narratively it was all over the place and I found the humour to be extremely forced. With Three Billboards… it’s good to see that McDonagh has taken stock and decides to deliver something a bit different this time. Like his brother, John Michael, did after delivering laughs with The Guard, he followed it up with a more serious tone in Calvary and it was a magnificent change of direction. This doesn’t quite hit the same level as his brother’s aforementioned film but there’s still plenty to admire here. Continue reading

Dunkirk

Posted in History, War with tags on December 28, 2017 by Mark Walker


Director: Christopher Nolan.
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan.
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Barry Keoghan, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, James D’Arcy, Kevin Guthrie, Adam Long.

“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”

It’s now fair to say that Christopher Nolan has become a director that instils huge anticipation when he announces a new film project. He’s equally adept at providing low-key, personal, thrillers like Memento and Insomnia and more than proved his worth with big-budget spectacles like The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and Interstellar. It’s fitting then that he tackle a war drama – a genre that demands an element of both approaches. After Steven Spielberg shell-shocked us with Saving Private Ryan and Terrence Malick encouraged us to ruminate and philosophise with The Thin Red Line, anyone treading the same ground had huge boots to fill. On this occasion, Nolan does an admirable job but I’d have to be honest and say that he doesn’t quite reach the high benchmark that had already been set by these contemporary films. Continue reading