Archive for 2009

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

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The Road

Posted in Drama with tags on June 15, 2016 by Mark Walker


Director: John Hillcoat.
Screenplay: Joe Penhall.
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Michael Kenneth Williams, Garret Dillahunt, Molly Parker, Bob Jennings, Agnes Herrmann, Buddy Sosthand, Kirk Brown, Jack Erdie.

“When you dream about bad things happening, it means you’re still fighting and you’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry”

I’ll always remember the experience I had reading Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel The Road. It wasn’t something I was initially drawn to but the fact that a film adaptation was in the pipeline led me to investigate further. It was a very bleak and emotionally shattering read but it was also morbidly fascinating and nigh-on impossible to put down. When I came to the end I remember wondering how this could be visually translated to the screen considering it delivered so little in terms of descriptive prose. Credit then to Australian director John Hillcoat for delivering a faithful recreation of a very intimate novel. Continue reading

(500) Days Of Summer

Posted in Comedy, Romance with tags on December 30, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Marc Webb.
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloë Grace Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Rachel Boston, Minka Kelly.

No! Don’t pull that with me. This is not how you treat your friend! Kissing in the copy room? Holding hands in IKEA? Shower sex? Come on! Friends my balls!

Before he was given big bucks and entrusted with reinventing the franchise of “The Amazing Spider-Man“, director Marc Webb cut his directorial teeth on this highly appealing and (un)romantic-comedy. For a debut it’s very impressively handled and brings a fresh approach to the tired old boy-meets-girl formula.

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Moon

Posted in Drama, Science Fiction with tags on November 20, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Duncan Jones.
Screenplay: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker.
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElliogot, Benedict Wong.
Voice of: Kevin Spacey.

I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be“.

Being the son of legendary musician David Bowie must put a lot of pressure on you, especially if your chosen profession is also to entertain. However, this is a pressure that director Duncan Jones seems to relish. His talents are used in a different medium from his father but equally as impressive with this relatively low-budget debut and he produces one of the finest science fiction film’s for quite some time.

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The Limits Of Control * * * *

Posted in Drama with tags on July 12, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Jim Jarmusch.
Screenplay: Jim Jarmusch.
Starring: Issach De Bankole, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal, Luis Tosar, Alex Descas, Paz De La Huerta, Jean Francois Stevenin, Oscar Jaenada, Youki, Kudoh, Bill Murray.

Jim Jarmusch has always been a director that’s very particular in his structure, his pace and his mood. Some of his films and approaches are more successful than others and often they are not everybody’s cup of tea. So, if your not a fan, I would advise that you avoid this one entirely.

A mysterious, nameless assassin (Isaach De Bankole) travels across Spain on some kind of criminal mission. Wandering throughout the picturesque city he comes across an incalculable ensemble of oddballs who join him in drinking coffee, passing him matchboxes with directions contained inside and delivering existenstial monologues and advice.

This offering from Jarmusch could been seen as a self-indulgent experiment and it will most definitely not appeal to everyone. The length approaches 2hrs and the pace is very meditative indeed. It’s quite possibly one of the slowest films I’ve ever seen. Yet, despite this, I found it also retained a sense of purpose. It always looked like it had a reason and a direction, although it was never exactly clear what they were. The first 20 mins alone, consist of De Bankole just wandering around… then he does a spot of Tai Chi… drinks an Espresso… more Tai Chi… the occasional, ambiguous meeting with eccentric strangers and their philosophical confabulations… more Espresso and then at least half an hour passes before he realises he’s forgotten to do his Tai Chi, and promptly does so again. Believe me, that’s about all that happens throughout, but I still found it strangely captivating.
The locations are wonderful and perfectly captured by the excellent cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who crafts a dreamlike painting of a film. If you can imagine a crossover between the pace of Anton Corbijn’s “The American” with the philosophical surrealism of Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” then this would be the result. Also, if you are familiar with the documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, which explores the difference between art and pretentiousness, this would make a nice companion piece to discuss along with it. It’s undoubtedly a real audience splitter which I have heard many people disliking. In fact, I’m the only person I know that has rated it highly.

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Ostentatious and experimental filmmaking from Jarmusch that’s definitely not for all tastes. However, it’s brave, bold, odd and highly meditative while epitomising it’s very title in ‘the limit of control’.

Mark Walker

Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee * * *

Posted in Comedy, Documentary, Drama with tags on April 6, 2013 by Mark Walker

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Director: Shane Meadows.
Screenplay: Shane Meadows.
Starring: Paddy Considine, Dean Palinczuk, Olivia Colman, Shane Meadows, Richard Graham, Seamus O’Neill, Alex Hunter, Matt Helders, Nick O’Malley, Jamie Cook, Nigel Reeks.

Director Shane Meadows is no stranger to low-budget filmmaking. In fact, most of his films to date have been made with relativity tight constraints. This time around, he goes that one step further and makes an all-out, fly on the wall mockumentary, which also happens to be his third collaboration with actor Paddy Considine.

Documentary maker Shane Meadows (playing himself) follow the life of music manager Le Donk (Paddy Considine), who reckons he’s unearthed a new talent in rapper Scor-Zay-Zee (Dean Palinczuk). As a slot with band The Arctic Monkeys opens up, the would-be manager and his protege hit the road to try and make a name for themselves.

If the brilliant “A Room For Romeo Brass” and “Dead Man’s Shoes” were anything to go by, you’d be forgiven for getting very excited about the prospect of Meadows and Considine working together again. I know I certainly was. Unfortunately, this film isn’t quite up to their previous high standards. In fairness, they’ve adopted a different approach but for a film with a running time of just over an hour you’d expect it to move briskly and get down to telling it’s story. In the early stages it does this, with some hilarious observational humour and “kitchen sink” drama that’s reminiscent of Ricky Gervais’ “The Office” but the delivery soon becomes a bit stale. The idea is good, the performances are good but for a film to enter into this mould it needs to provide more laughs than it does. I’m sure it probably will appeal to many people but for me, as a big fan of Meadows, I had set my sites too high. It loses it momentum and relies too heavily on the presence of Considine and his perfect balance of ambition and desperation. He’s most definitely the highlight here. However, there’s only so much one man can carry. The humour and awkward situations are well captured but it essentially there isn’t much of a story and becomes not much more than a showcase for real-life rap artist and freestyler Scor-Zay-Zee, who’s not that appealing to begin with.

An interesting, if unsuccessful, project from Meadows. He’s not made many bad movies and I wouldn’t say this is bad either. It’s just not as eventful as it could have been.

Mark Walker

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Fantastic Mr. Fox * * * * 1/2

Posted in Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family with tags on September 13, 2012 by Mark Walker

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Director: Wes Anderson.
Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach.
Voices of: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Helen McCrory, Brian Cox, Garth Jennings, Roman Coppola, Wes Anderson, Jarvis Cocker, Adrien Brody.

Director Wes Anderson’s quirky indie humour and off-beat dysfunctional characters have been very appealing to me over the years. Upon the news that he was adapting a classic children’s novel, using animation, I thought he might have been going a little too far outside his comfort zone and wondered if his idiosyncratic style would actually transfer to a different medium. Thankfully, my curiosity was put to ease as this did not dissapoint.

Based on Roald Dahl’s story about a sly and egocentric fox that always strives for better things for himself and his family, while seemingly oblivious to the dangers his quest for status brings to his family. He sets out to rob the three local farmers Boggis, Bunce & Bean of their possesions and attracts a lot of unwanted attention for everyone in the process.

Anyone familiar with Anderson’s idiosyncratic style will know that, despite this being animation, his approach hasn’t changed at all. It still possesses his wit and charm in abundance. The stop-motion animation takes a little getting used to but once you’ve attuned yourself to it, there’s no let up in the pace of, not just, Anderson’s visuals but also the characterisation and his daring in not being constrained by the medium itself. His eclectic use of music and screen captions are also present, making this every inch a Wes Anderson adventure. Credit must also go the voice cast; each and every single one of them inhabit their characters and deliver the sharp and intelligent dialogue to perfection, bringing the little stop-motion animals to life. These little creatures have more zest and life than most live-action movie characters are ever afforded and they add to another odd collection of dysfunctional family members that seem to be Anderson’s forte and feature regularly in his oeuvre.
For many, this is actually their favourite Anderson film. Personally, mine still sits with “The Darjeeling Limited” but this is certainly one of his finest, eccentric and most unique moments.

Not only does this foray into animation not disappoint, it actually thoroughly impresses. This is how it should be done. A subversive, cerebral treat for adults and children alike. “Fantastic” indeed.

Mark Walker

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