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A Late Quartet

26 Feb 20133 stars

Unlikable characters blight this grown-up drama starring Christopher Walken

As befits an unapologetically grown-up and classy film about posh people who have loads of money and play in a string quartet, this drama has some supremely elegant, subtle and well-turned scenes. It also has moments of preciousness choking enough to…

Stand Up Guys

5 Jun 20133 stars

Trio of old-timers Pacino, Walken and Arkin, united in predictable yet humorous gangster drama

While Robert De Niro has been vigorously debasing his art and reputation as a Viagra-popping oldster in The Big Wedding, his Godfather co-star Al Pacino has been alternating cinematic dreck (Righteous Kill, 88 Minutes) with more interesting TV work…

Stand Up Guys

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 95 min
  • Directed by: Fisher Stevens
  • Written by: Noah Haidle
  • Cast: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin
  • UK release: 28 June 2013

Val (Pacino) is an ex-con who meets up with old friends Doc (Walken) and Hirsch (Arkin) for one last job – but Doc has reluctantly agreed to kill him. Stevens is less concerned with story than with knockabout badinage, and although the dialogue is weak and the plot predictable, it just about delivers.

A Late Quartet

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 105 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Yaron Zilberman
  • Written by: Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman
  • Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener
  • UK release: 5 April 2013

Peter (Walken) is an ageing cellist whose decision to retire from his longterm quartet causes the lives of his fellow musicians to become unstuck. Walken is effortlessly lovable and moving but the other characters are a serious test of the audience's sympathies, Hoffman's in particular coming over as a weak, mean-minded…

Seven Psychopaths

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • UK
  • 110 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Martin McDonagh
  • Written by: Martin McDonagh
  • Cast: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Tom Waits
  • UK release: 7 December 2012

Alcoholic screenwriter Marty (Farrell) has a title for his new script but no story, until his unstable friend Billy (Rockwell) kidnaps the beloved dog of a crime boss (Harrelson). Sensational performances from Rockwell and Walken plus McDonagh’s riotous script and energetic direction make it an unabashed, very funny…

Dark Horse

  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 84 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Todd Solondz
  • Written by: Todd Solondz
  • Cast: Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Christopher Walken
  • UK release: 29 June 2012

Still living at home, toy collecting man-child Abe (Gelber) forms an unlikely relationship with the dysfunctional Miranda (Blair) leading him to question his life and the opinions of the people around him. Moving and funny, but Happiness director Solondz favours comedy over compassion for his immature protagonist.

The Maiden Heist

  • 2008
  • US
  • 89 min
  • E
  • Directed by: Peter Hewitt
  • Written by: Michael LeSieur
  • Cast: Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman, William H Macy, and Marcia Gay Harden

Roger, Charles and George are museum security guards with more than a vested interest in their job. Each has a favourite piece he habitually admires in his own eccentric way, so all three are horrified to learn that their beloveds will soon be transferred to a museum in Denmark. Taking it upon themselves to save their…

Balls of Fury

  • 3 stars
  • 2007
  • US
  • 90 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Robert Ben Garant
  • Written by: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon
  • Cast: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q, James Hong, Robert Patrick

Randy Daytona (Fogler) is a one-time table tennis prodigy recruited to avenge the death of his father Pete (Patrick) by infiltrating a crime lord's island tournament. So far so yeah whatever, but the welcome arrival of master criminal/ping pong fanatic Feng (Walken) lifts 'Balls of Fury' onto the 'Airplane!' level of…

Man of the Year

  • 2 stars
  • 2007
  • US
  • 110 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Barry Levinson
  • Written by: Barry Levinson
  • Cast: Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, Jeff Goldblum

Robin Williams reunites with writer-director Barry Levinson ('Good Morning Vietnam', 'Toys') for this embarrassing political thriller/romantic comedy about a talk show host who, fed up with the political system, suddenly decides to run for president. A great conceit gives way to sentiment, lame jokes and sloppily executed…

Hairspray

  • 4 stars
  • 2007
  • US
  • 116 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Adam Shankman
  • Cast: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, James Marsden, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, Taylor Parks

Faithful adaptation of the Broadway musical rather than a remake of John Waters' 1988 film. Although darker elements of the story are lost in pursuit of fun and a mainstream audience, this all-singing, all-dancing teen flick shines amid a summer of noisy blockbuster sequels. Travolta's surprisingly endearing performance…

Undertaking Betty

  • 2002
  • 94 min
  • Directed by: Nick Hurran
  • Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina, Christopher Walken

A woman and an undertaker fake her death when she finds out her husband is cheating on her.

Sleepy Hollow

  • 4 stars
  • 1999
  • US
  • 105 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Tim Burton
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci

During the final days of 1799, ambitious young policeman Ichabod Crane (Depp) is sent to the fog-shrouded village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of decapitations, but his scientific beliefs are shaken when he comes face to space with the Headless Horseman. Burton gives Washington Irving's Gothic folktale a…

Antz

  • 1998
  • Tim Johnson
  • 83 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson
  • Written by: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz, Todd Alcott
  • Cast: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Anne Bancroft, Dan Aykroyd, Danny Glover

When worker ant Z-4195 (Allen) meets Princess Bala (Stone), he falls completely in love, but, while trying to prove himself as a soldier, he uncovers a dastardly plan to flood the colony. 'Antz' is brightly coloured and full of gags, so adults will chuckle while kids are pulled in by the slick computer animation.

Wild Side

  • 3 stars
  • 1995
  • US
  • 105 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Donald Cammell
  • Written by: China Kong, Donald Cammell
  • Cast: Anne Heche, Joan Chen, Christopher Walken

In 1995 'Wild Side''s producers re-cut the film against Cammell's wishes. In April 1996 he shot himself. Now the 'Performance' co-director's last movie sees the light of day in the form he intended. This psychosexual thriller, in which four players - banker, racketeer, estranged wife and bodyguard - f**k each other over…

Pulp Fiction

  • 4 stars
  • 1994
  • US
  • 150 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
  • Written by: Quentin Tarantino
  • Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis

Much more ambitious than Reservoir Dogs, the most awaited second feature of the 90s has many scenes that crackle with Tarantino wit, and a few others that fall flat as the writer-director bravely experiments. Interlocking stories in the pulp crime manner concern hitmen, ailing boxers, gang bosses and their molls, drug…

True Romance

  • 1993
  • US
  • 119 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Tony Scott
  • Written by: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary (uncredited)
  • Cast: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken

Comic bookstore assistant Clarence meets, sleeps with and marries novice hooker Alabama within a matter of hours, then the lovebirds find themselves on the run with an accidentally stolen case of cocaine. Limelight-stealing cameos and writer Quentin Tarantino's verbal set-pieces fire this excellent movie, the epitome of…

Batman Returns

  • 1992
  • US
  • 126 min
  • 12
  • Directed by: Tim Burton
  • Cast: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken

Batman must stop Penguin becoming Mayor of Gotham, all whilst deciding what he should do with the new Catwoman.

King of New York

  • 1990
  • US
  • 104 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Abel Ferrara
  • Written by: Nicholas St John
  • Cast: Christopher Walken, Laurence Fishburne, David Caruso, Wesley Snipes

Extremely violent and amoral account of New York drug lord Frank White (Walken), who kills quite a few people but is really a decent cove, whose dream is to open a hospital for the people of his native South Bronx. A twisted tale of criminal loyalty and glamorised violence which wastes the considerable talents of its…

The Dead Zone

  • 4 stars
  • 1983
  • US
  • 103 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: David Cronenberg
  • Cast: Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt

A schoolteacher survives a car crash only to find he has second sight; soon his psychic powers lead him into confrontation with an ambitious politician. Cronenberg eschews his usual visceral style and plumps instead for a more brooding thriller that utilises Walken's skeletal features to their best advantage.

Neuroscience at the Movies: Brainstorm

  • 1983
  • USA
  • 106 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Douglas Trumbull
  • Cast: Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher

: Reel Science This is great for rollercosters and sex but when scientist Walken is confronted with a tape recorded during someone’s death, he has to think twice before pressing play. Utilising Showscan special effects this is an undeniably stimulating film to kick off our Reel Science programme and ignite a discussion…

Heaven's Gate

  • 1980
  • US
  • 219 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Michael Cimino
  • Written by: Michael Cimino
  • Cast: Kris Kristofferson, Chris Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt
  • UK release: 2 August 2013

Extraordinary full-length 70mm version of Cimino's notoriously expensive western, which looks at the conflict between immigrant settlers in 19th century Wyoming and the aristocratic empire-builders who want them swept out of their way. Absolutely stunning photography and a wealth of period detail almost make up for the…

The Deer Hunter

  • 1978
  • US
  • 180 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Michael Cimino
  • Cast: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage, Meryl Streep

The Vietnam war has the effect of disrupting the lives of a small steel town, as various friends go off to face the horrors of war and return with emotional scars. A daring triptych structure, the first part of which displays a rare sympathy for the traditions and rituals of the emigrant community, marks this out as a…

Annie Hall

  • 1977
  • US
  • 93 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Woody Allen
  • Written by: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
  • Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Christopher Walken, Colleen Dewhurst

Two decades before Sex And The City had its first orgasm, Annie Hall was laying bare the mores of modern, urban romance to devastating effect while also zoning in on the specific psyche of Allen Konigsberg: anti-Semitic paranoia, metaphysical angst, the search for true love. There's a highly charged on-screen electricity…

Seven Psychopaths

24 Oct 20124 stars

Unabashed violent comedy from director of In Bruges

Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to In Bruges is as fiercely violent as its title suggests, and a whole lot funnier. Its film-within-a-film concept finds alcoholic screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) troubled by writer’s block; he’s got a title – Seven…

Dark Horse

12 Jul 20124 stars

Todd Solondz film is supremely dark and disturbing suburbia satire

Supremely dark and disturbing satirist of American suburbia Todd Solondz’s seventh feature is his most fully realised and mature film (in cinematic terms, if not subject matter) to date. It might not boast the jaw-dropping subversive outrageousness of…