Mark's Message Wall

xtiandurden
Christian Corleone 18 months ago

No problem Mark!

SirPant
Anthony Lawrie 21 months ago

"Remember the British gangster film "Sexy Beast" released in 2000? You know? The one where "Gandhi" goes ape shit?

Ha ha, nice one buddy, made me laugh!

About Mark

Hometown:
Glasgow, Scotland
Favorite Movies:
The Big Lebowski, Once Upon a Time in America, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Memento, Amélie, Blade Runner, L.A. Confidential, The Darjeeling Limited, Trainspotting, Cidade de Deus (City of God), Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects, Carlito's Way, Miller's Crossing, No Country for Old Men, Wild At Heart, Jean De Florette, Manon des Sources (Manon of the Spring) (Jean de Florette II ), The Third Man, The Maltese Falcon, Raging Bull, Children of Men, True Romance, Saving Private Ryan
Favorite Actors:
Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Daniel Day-Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Jack Nicholson, Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mickey Rourke, Sean Penn, Richard Jenkins, Tom Waits, Vincent Cassel, Robert Carlyle
Bio:
Despite my relatively low review rating on this site, Im an avid movie lover. My reviews don't reflect in any way the amount of films i've watched. I just like to add something a little more substantial than putting in a few stars to reflect my opinion. Although it is very tempting to take the easy route! I notice some people like to keep a certain privacy on this site also which baffles me...? It's a social networking site at the end of the day and we seem to share a common interest. The more friends and film recomendations the merrier.

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Oldboy

Oldboy

(2013)
13 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Park Chan Wook's 2004 Korean original of "Oldboy" is one of the most visceral and emotionally devastating thrillers that you're ever likely to find. As a result, it totally baffled me when I heard about the intentions for an English language remake. I don't care how much of an impressive cast or crew were assembled, as far as I see it, there really isn't anything else that could have been brought to treading this ground again. Now that I've seen Spike Lee's version, I stand by that even more. This was a completely pointless exercise.

Estranged husband and father Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is on a downward spiral with his alcohol problem. One drunken night he's kidnapped from the streets and wakes up in a locked room with no windows and no means of communication. He's held here without explanation, while on the outside he's framed for the murder of his ex-wife. After 20 years in this locked room, heâ??s suddenly released and sets about finding out the truth and why he was held in the the first place.

I'll start with the (very few) positives this film has to offer and that simply comes down to Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen. They are both on particularly fine form and give this misguided endeavour more than it actually deserves. The same can't be said for the villains of the piece, though. Normally, the nasties are the one's that stand out in a film of this type but in this case, it's them that suffer the most in their caricature roles; Jackson is his usual, reliable self and (with that idiosyncratic tone of his) can make even the worst of dialogue work for him. He adds a requisite sprinkle of menace but he's so elaborately overdressed that he looks like he's just there to do a little turn on the catwalk. Copley, on the other hand, I feel both sorry and embarrassed for. He's even more ridiculous. His accent and histrionics are so laughably bad and completely misplaced that he looks like he's wandered in from a child's pantomime. The only thing missing was an audience taking great delight in booing or hissing him off the stage. If Copley doesn't get his act together soon, he'll fade into obscurity and his wonderful work in "District 9" will be a thing of the past.

The film itself looks the part, though, and Spike Lee almost gives the impression that he knows what he's doing by capturing a suitably grim and foreboding atmosphere. However, it's ultimately the script that lets everyone down here. It's practically a scene-for-scene remake of the original (well, the good bits at least) but the changes that they do make to the story don't improve it in the slightest. It really is perplexing why they would've even went to the bother and why such an acclaimed director and cast would put their reputations at stake.

The scene that stood out for me was the ridiculous hallway fight (where Lee is obviously trying to emulate Park's impressive handling of a similar one-take scene from the original). Here, Brolin takes on an abundance of adversaries and it's obvious how badly choreographed it is. His opponents are absolutely nowhere near him as they swipe the air with pieces of plywood while our man sets about them with his claw hammer. It's was around this point that I gave up on the whole affair, as it was apparent that the filmmakers were putting as much of an effort into the film as I am this review.

With almost ten years between them, I can only assume that Hollywood thought that this was ripe for a remake. It's not! Granted, it might work a lot better for those that are unfamiliar with the original but for others, it's pretty much a guarantee that it won't. If it does appeal to those that are already versed in Park's sublime original, then I'll eat my claw hammer with a live Octopi chaser.

Mark Walker

Nymphomaniac: Volume I

Nymphomaniac: Volume I

(2014)
20 days ago via Movies on iPhone

When provocateur Lars von Trier released the magnificent "Dogville" in 2003 and followed it up with "Manderlay" in 2005, I was very eager to see him complete his USA: Land of Opportunities trilogy. Unfortunately, the third instalment "Wasington" never came to fruition. He did, however, venture into another trilogy - focusing on depression. The gruelling and unforgettable "AntiChrist" was the first, followed by the restrained and meditative "Melancholia". Now, von Trier completes this outstanding trilogy in style.

Volume I: Joe (Charlotte Gainbourg) is found in an alleyway by a compassionate man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). She is badly beaten so Seligman takes her back to his home to nurse her. It here that Joe proceeds to tell him her life story of being a self-confessed nymphomaniac and the encounters she has had during her adolescence.

Volume II: Joe's story of sexual exploration grows darker as she recounts her erotic adult experiences of group sex and bondage and how she found herself in the alleyway where the A-sexual, scholar Seligman found her.

Von Trier is certainly no stranger to quoting controversy. Throughout his whole directing career he has always managed to raise a few eyebrows and invite some vitriolic hatred towards his films. Personally, I regard him as one of the most important and visionary directors that we've ever had. I admire his unflinching approach to taboo subject matters as well as his intelligence in tackling such endeavours. He, admittedly, can be shocking but there's always a level of intelligence to his films that far out way any of the gratuity that he's proclaimed to deliver. "Nymphomaniac" is no different and it's definitely a film to masticate over. Yes, I said masticate... That's just your dirty minds taking hold already.

As you will have noticed, this is a review that encompasses both volumes in their entirety. The film is one complete story and being released in two parts, only strikes me that audiences wouldn't have been fully prepared for a 4 hour sitting (although the Director's Cut would be even more of a challenge as it runs for a full 5 1/2 hours).

Say what you will about von Trier and his movies but there really isn't anyone else at the moment that's tackling the matters that he does. As a society we often avoid uncomfortable subject matters or issues but if we fully explore the artform of film and how it can help us cathart or explore our innermost desires or fears then von Trier is certainly at the forefront of doing so. His films are, by no means, for those of a sensitive or prudish nature but for those willing to delve into the depths of human psyche or behaviour this man really shows no bounds. I, for one, applaud his unrepentant boldness and audacity.

The numerous claims that this is just a self-indulgent porn film are sorely mistaken. This is, in fact, so much more than that. It's an odyssey of self discovery and nihilistic sexual exploration, laid out in eight novelistic chapters (which also reflect Fibonacci numbers and the amount of times our protagonist was penetrated when she lost her virginity) and incorporates everything from masturbation, a montage of penises, the use of a Nymph in fly-fishing, Johan Sebastien Bach's polyphonic harmonies and the use of the Prusik knot in bondage. If that's not enough to wet a voracious vulva, then an education in "the silent duck" may just do the trick. But (as the tag line says) "Forget about love". Love, we are informed, is "just lust with jealousy added".

Von Trier doesn't mince his words here and he rarely skips a beat. There are shades of the sexual promiscuity that he covered so well in "Breaking The Waves" and a similar, playful humorousness that he delivered in "The Idiots" - where he also had porn actors engage in genuine scenes of intercourse. Speaking of which, the intercourse scenes here are seamlessly and impressively handled with CGI and it's difficult to tell where the porn actors start and the dramatic actors end. It's quite an achievement and it's during these scenes that some will view the film as exploitative or mere titillation but there's a truth and depth to von Trier's ambitions. He questions the intrinsic polarity of how a form of sexual-liberation can also be empty and soulless and he explores how science and religion form the constructs of how we behave socially.

Of course, a certain willingness to go along with von Trier's philosophical ramblings is required and that's where his cast pay him dividends. It's through the commitment and bravery of his ensemble that he's able to realise his vision and few, if any, let him down; Charlotte Gainsbourg (who has appeared in the complete trilogy), once again, shows a fundamental courageousness and Stellan Skarsgård (another of von Trier's most reliable regulars) anchor the film with their naturalistic approaches. Solid support also comes from Jamie Bell as a sadomasochist and the American contingent of Willem Dafoe, Christian Slater and Shia LeBeouf (despite a very questionable accent) deliver good work. From that assemblage, though, it's Uma Thurman who really shines as a scorned wife and mother. In one of the films most memorable scenes, she gate-crashes the house of her husband's mistress asking to show her children the "whoring bed", which their father has found so sacred. The biggest revelation, however, is newcomer Stacy Martin who fearlessly tackles her extremely difficult role with as much professionalism as an actress twice her age. Von Trier has unearthed a talent in this young actress and I'd be very surprised if we don't see more of her in the future.

Quite simply, this a work of outstanding quality and substance and von Trier has opened up a whole new can of possibilities. He's somehow managed to cross the boundary between pornography and mainstream filmmaking and delivers an ethical hypothesis that's by turns comedic, sensationalist and intimate but does require a progressive open-mindedness in order to be receptive to it's provocative themes. Trust me, leave your conservative mind at the door and embrace a true work of art.

Mark Walker

Nymphomaniac: Volume II

Nymphomaniac: Volume II

(2014)
20 days ago via Movies on iPhone

When provocateur Lars von Trier released the magnificent "Dogville" in 2003 and followed it up with "Manderlay" in 2005, I was very eager to see him complete his USA: Land of Opportunities trilogy. Unfortunately, the third instalment "Wasington" never came to fruition. He did, however, venture into another trilogy - focusing on depression. The gruelling and unforgettable "AntiChrist" was the first, followed by the restrained and meditative "Melancholia". Now, von Trier completes this outstanding trilogy in style.

Volume I: Joe (Charlotte Gainbourg) is found in an alleyway by a compassionate man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). She is badly beaten so Seligman takes her back to his home to nurse her. It here that Joe proceeds to tell him her life story of being a self-confessed nymphomaniac and the encounters she has had during her adolescence.

Volume II: Joe's story of sexual exploration grows darker as she recounts her erotic adult experiences of group sex and bondage and how she found herself in the alleyway where the A-sexual, scholar Seligman found her.

Von Trier is certainly no stranger to quoting controversy. Throughout his whole directing career he has always managed to raise a few eyebrows and invite some vitriolic hatred towards his films. Personally, I regard him as one of the most important and visionary directors that we've ever had. I admire his unflinching approach to taboo subject matters as well as his intelligence in tackling such endeavours. He, admittedly, can be shocking but there's always a level of intelligence to his films that far out way any of the gratuity that he's proclaimed to deliver. "Nymphomaniac" is no different and it's definitely a film to masticate over. Yes, I said masticate... That's just your dirty minds taking hold already.

As you will have noticed, this is a review that encompasses both volumes in their entirety. The film is one complete story and being released in two parts, only strikes me that audiences wouldn't have been fully prepared for a 4 hour sitting (although the Director's Cut would be even more of a challenge as it runs for a full 5 1/2 hours).

Say what you will about von Trier and his movies but there really isn't anyone else at the moment that's tackling the matters that he does. As a society we often avoid uncomfortable subject matters or issues but if we fully explore the artform of film and how it can help us cathart or explore our innermost desires or fears then von Trier is certainly at the forefront of doing so. His films are, by no means, for those of a sensitive or prudish nature but for those willing to delve into the depths of human psyche or behaviour this man really shows no bounds. I, for one, applaud his unrepentant boldness and audacity.

The numerous claims that this is just a self-indulgent porn film are sorely mistaken. This is, in fact, so much more than that. It's an odyssey of self discovery and nihilistic sexual exploration, laid out in eight novelistic chapters (which also reflect Fibonacci numbers and the amount of times our protagonist was penetrated when she lost her virginity) and incorporates everything from masturbation, a montage of penises, the use of a Nymph in fly-fishing, Johan Sebastien Bach's polyphonic harmonies and the use of the Prusik knot in bondage. If that's not enough to wet a voracious vulva, then an education in "the silent duck" may just do the trick. But (as the tag line says) "Forget about love". Love, we are informed, is "just lust with jealousy added".

Von Trier doesn't mince his words here and he rarely skips a beat. There are shades of the sexual promiscuity that he covered so well in "Breaking The Waves" and a similar, playful humorousness that he delivered in "The Idiots" - where he also had porn actors engage in genuine scenes of intercourse. Speaking of which, the intercourse scenes here are seamlessly and impressively handled with CGI and it's difficult to tell where the porn actors start and the dramatic actors end. It's quite an achievement and it's during these scenes that some will view the film as exploitative or mere titillation but there's a truth and depth to von Trier's ambitions. He questions the intrinsic polarity of how a form of sexual-liberation can also be empty and soulless and he explores how science and religion form the constructs of how we behave socially.

Of course, a certain willingness to go along with von Trier's philosophical ramblings is required and that's where his cast pay him dividends. It's through the commitment and bravery of his ensemble that he's able to realise his vision and few, if any, let him down; Charlotte Gainsbourg (who has appeared in the complete trilogy), once again, shows a fundamental courageousness and Stellan Skarsgård (another of von Trier's most reliable regulars) anchor the film with their naturalistic approaches. Solid support also comes from Jamie Bell as a sadomasochist and the American contingent of Willem Dafoe, Christian Slater and Shia LeBeouf (despite a very questionable accent) deliver good work. From that assemblage, though, it's Uma Thurman who really shines as a scorned wife and mother. In one of the films most memorable scenes, she gate-crashes the house of her husband's mistress asking to show her children the "whoring bed", which their father has found so sacred. The biggest revelation, however, is newcomer Stacy Martin who fearlessly tackles her extremely difficult role with as much professionalism as an actress twice her age. Von Trier has unearthed a talent in this young actress and I'd be very surprised if we don't see more of her in the future.

Quite simply, this a work of outstanding quality and substance and von Trier has opened up a whole new can of possibilities. He's somehow managed to cross the boundary between pornography and mainstream filmmaking and delivers an ethical hypothesis that's by turns comedic, sensationalist and intimate but does require a progressive open-mindedness in order to be receptive to it's provocative themes. Trust me, leave your conservative mind at the door and embrace a true work of art.

Mark Walker

Grudge Match

Grudge Match

(2013)
33 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Although their careers have went in very different paths, Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro have been around roughly the same amount of time and have, on occasion, come together. In 1976, they were Best Actor nominees for two of their most successful roles in "Rocky" and "Taxi Driver" (both losing out to Peter Finch in "Network") and in 1997 they shared the screen for the first time in "Cop Land". Now they're at it again...

Henry 'Razor' Sharp (Stallone) and Billy 'The Kid' McDonnen (DeNiro) where once two towering rivals in the boxing ring. However, after one win each, Sharp promptly announced retirement leaving the public and McDonnen eager for a deciding match. 30 years down the line, they are both given another opportunity to settle their score once and for all.

Who would win in a fight between Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta? - you can almost hear the film being pitched by some fanboy fantasist as two of cinema's most iconic films and boxing characters are capitalised on. There seems to be a lack of decorum in it's concept and it only goes to show that money always does the talking in Hollywood.

Basically, what you see is what you get. It has an element of fun but really never extends to anything more as it leans heavily on the ridiculously cliched and self-indulgent end of things. In fairness, this probably did sound like a good idea, especially when the leads seem to be game for sending themselves up but really, it's all just mediocre tosh.

You'd have to be punch drunk to find anything more than a modicum of enjoyment and that essentially comes from the two stars' commitment and conviction. Stallone does his usual Sly-schtick and the kind of vehicle you expect from him these days. The same could be said for DeNiro but he does seem quite up for having a laugh and surprisingly delivers an entertaining performance. As for the support, Jon Bernthal does what what he can in a small underwritten role as DeNiro's son while Kevin Hart's promotor is only added for irritating comic relief. Alan Arkin brings a welcome light humour to the proceedings but it's certainly not up to his usual standard and Kim Basinger has little to do but stand around the periphery, sulking about her past history between the two boxers. That's about all that can be said as this certainly isn't a film that would require any form of an in-depth dissection. I've said enough already.

It's so much Grudge Match as Pudge Match. The two ageing stars struggle to move themselves around the ring let alone land a blow. There are some blows to be had, though, but they only connect with their fading reputations.

Mark Walker

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused

(1993)
35 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Richard Linklater is one of those directors that consistently delivers fresh and original material yet somehow remains a filmmaker with a lower profile. His projects certainly gain the respect they deserve but they never really go over and above that in terms of awards. He's always been innovative and has adopted some daring approaches to filmmaking with the likes of his free-form indie debut "Slacker", the expansive "Before Sunrise" trilogy, the philosophical "Waking Life" and it's rotoscope animated companion piece "A Scanner Darkly". Even his forthcoming "Boyhood" - a 12 year project following a boy's journey from 5 to 18 years old - is a feat that few, if any, directors have tackled. However, one of his most poignant and entertaining escapades happens to be the mosaic "Dazed and Confused". It was largely ignored upon it's release but has since gained a strong cult status. And for very good reason.

The year is 1976 and it's the last day of high school in a small Texan suburbia. Everyone's up for a party and in search of booze and drugs but first, the incoming freshmen must go through some embarrassing initiation rituals organised by the senior students, who take great pleasure in putting the youngsters in their places.

Much like his aforementioned and experimental approach to "Slacker", Linklater doesn't have a lot going on narratively. He's fully aware of this, however, and acts only as a mere vessel in allowing his actors the space to breathe and run free in their roles. That being said, there's still a complete focus here and the result is far more solid and entertaining than his debut. It's not often I'll praise a film for it's lack of narrative but in the case of "Dazed and Confused" it's the characterisation that leads the way and each and every one of the actors really shine; Wiley Wiggins is our young guide throughout this turbulent time for teenagers as he falls into a friendship with the senior students on his last day of freshman year and Linklater astutely captures a whole myriad of teenage angst and the carefree emotions of a disaffected youth.

Let's not forget that this was only Linklater's second film and it wasn't just him that was finding his way, but also the impressive cast that he put together. Largely unknown at the time of the film's release, many of the actors would go on to become part of the Hollywood firmament. We get well judged performances from all sorts of high school types; from Jason London and his jock pals Sasha Jenson and Cole Hauser to Rory Cochrane's stoner, Adam Goldberg's nerd and Ben Affleck, playing one of his most unlikeable characters, as the school bully. The most memorable from the entirely great ensemble, though, is a small but dynamic and scene stealing role for Matthew McConaughey as the older guy who refuses to grow up and move on.

Outwith the performances, Linklater also has a keen eye for capturing the 70's setting (in all it's flair and hair) and taps perfectly into the tone of the era. It's a nostalgic look back at daunting initiations, rebellion and the agonising awkwardness of adolescence and it's told with an affectionate wit and charm. I may not have went to an American high school or got involved in tanning some freshman ass with a pre-made baton but the energy and love for this poignant time really shines through and still operates at a level that will appeal to everyone who has any memory at all of their school experiences or peer pressure.

Sharing much in common with George Lucas' "American Graffiti" or Greg Mottola's more contemporary "Superbad", this is a funny and insightful coming-of-age contemplation. Linklater has delivered some wonderful film's over the years and I'm sure he'll continue to do so but, so far, this is his best film to date. It's absolutely superb.

Mark Walker

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Intel Hollywood Star Program (July 2012 - December 2012)
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