Archive for 2019

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