Cinephile Interview V: Marked Movies

Mr. Mark “Marakai” Walker is a Scot. Words like “The”, “Big”, and “Lebowski” pique his interest, particularly when pieced together as the title of a wonderfully goofy stoner comedy. Piece the name “Margaret” with the surname “Thatcher” and he may blow a gasket. Everything else (or what’s not in the interview below) has been checked, crossed off, tallied, and dotted at the aptly named Marked Movies.

This interview was conducted between November 25th and November 29th.

Your blog is, and your Twitter handle is @MarkusMarakai. May I ask, what’s a “marakai”?

As you well know, all over the Internet you’re asked for a username and sometimes it can be hard to find one that’s not already been used. “Marakai” is one that has always stood me in good stead. It isn’t just a random though, it’s been my nickname for many years now. I’m not even sure how it originated but it was once said by a friend and after that it, it just stuck. Some people actually know me as Marakai and are not even aware of my full name.

That’s really interesting to know. When I first came across your blog, I thought, “Isn’t that the name of the guy who catches flies with his chopsticks in The Karate Kid“? That was Miyagi, though.

Anyway, I digress. I always smile when I think of how much you can’t stand Margaret Thatcher. (No offense.) And I remember you saying that you were afraid to watch last year’s The Iron Lady, in fear that it would “anger [you] too much.” Am I wrong to say that a great film–or a film with great components, i.e. Meryl Streep’s performance as Thatcher–is one that leaves a print on you, be it anger or sadness?

That’s an interesting point but I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the case. In relation to Margaret Thatcher (who was Prime Minister at the time) I was angered by the treatment of Irish revolutionary hunger strikers that was so well depicted in Steve McQueen’s masterful movie Hunger. Such a powerful movie that angered and saddened me. However, anger could also manifest from a film that depicts individuals or events in a biased or overly sympathetic light. I’ve not yet seen The Iron Lady but from what I hear, it tries to instill sympathy for a woman that just doesn’t deserve it. Of course, I’d need to watch it before I can confirm that but my (possible) anger towards it may just come from it avoiding certain facts about the woman tyrannical reign. In short, a lack of accuracy cause some frustration.

I see what you’re saying. Unfortunately, the movie’s way of “sympathizing” is depicting her more in a state of dementia than as a politician. Still, those few sequences of the latter make me cringe to think of how it would be under her rule, as you were.

The punch line on your blog is a quote from the movie Blade Runner. Could you explain the significance of it?

Dementia is a terrible condition and I have sympathy for anyone and their families that go through it but frankly, it’s too good for that woman. (grins)

My tagline is indeed from Blade Runner. Quite simply, I was looking for a movie quote that would be fitting for film viewing or opinions. Originally I wanted to go with The Big Lebowski and something along The Dude saying “…Well, that’s just like my opinion, man.” but someone had already beaten me to it. Thankfully, Blade Runner is another favourite of mine and that line seemed fitting for watching stuff. It may well change in future though. I think I’ll go for a rotation of quotes.

Too bad the Big Lebowski quote was taken. Not only is it your favorite film, you have also written that it was your father’s favorite, as well. How did this happen? Was he the kind soul who introduced you to it?

Yeah, I was gutted when I realised that someone else had the same idea. Anyway, there are many quotes out there that will be suitable but I’m happy with what I’ve got just now.

It was my father that introduced me to Blade Runner but if truth be told, we discovered the Coen’s together. After seeing Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, it kind of snowballed from there. We rarely disagreed on films but he was a big fan of the Coens’ version of The Ladykillers while I found it to be enjoyable but very flawed. Whenever a new Coen’s film was released we were always right up for it. It also helped that we enjoyed “herbal” cigarettes and The Dude was a character that resonated greatly with us both.

Nice. What would you say is the worst Coen brothers film?

As much as I found lots of things to enjoy, I’d say The Ladykillers is their weakest. It just didn’t have that usual spark that they are known for. However, I thought Tom Hanks was excellent and I’d love to see the brothers collaborate with Hanks again with a stronger script.

Wow, Tom Hanks is a name I haven’t heard in a long time. I’ve always seen him as one of those “all over the map” actors, with a fair share of outstanding performances (Forrest Gump) as well as mostly forgettable ones (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close). What’s your overall take on him?

I’ve always liked Hanks. He’s one of those ‘everyman’ kind of actors who’s career has transformed remarkably over the years. I grew up with him in films like Splash and Big and to go from these lighter-hearted films to stand in the same light as Spencer Tracy in winning two Oscars back-to-back in a great achievement. Despite always being reliable, he’s not the type of actor that you’d expect to achieve this. Like you say though, poor decisions have been made on occasion. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of them and another would be The Da Vinci Code. Although I would put the latter’s fault in the hands of studio hack Ron Howard.

I never saw The Da Vinci Code, but I did see Angels and Demons, which adapted the book to which The Da Vinci Code was a sequel (I think), a little after it first came to DVD. I was about twelve years old, so I couldn’t face the fact that I was bored for half the movie (laughs). Just the “cool” parts.

Speaking of which: Other than Hanks in The Da Vinci Code, what other films do you feel you wasted your time with, just to see an actor/actress do what he/she does best?

Yeah, Angels and Demons suffered the same fate but for the life of me I couldn’t think of it’s title there. Very poor film.

I’d have to say that Robert De Niro is an actor that I’ll always take a chance on. I’ve watched many of his recent films and I’ve yet to see something that really hits the spot. A lot of his films now are not worthy of his presence and I’d love to see him get another meaty role with Scorsese; something that will challenge him again and show his love for the craft. As it is now, he’s always on auto-pilot. One of the biggest disappointments would have to be Righteous Kill. How is it possible that a film with De Niro and Pacino can be rubbish? I was really looking forward to that but director Jon Avnet made a real pigs ear of it and wasted a sublime opportunity to create something special. It may also mark the last time we see these great actors together. Would they ever take a chance with that amount of hype and build up again? I suppose the inclusion of “50 Cent” in the cast should have been warning enough.

Oh dear. “50 Cent” and “actor” are two words that make me shiver when paired. I’ve always held a philosophy that actors should sing/rap, and singers/rappers should not act. Of course, there are notable exceptions (i.e. Jamie Foxx in Ray), but for the most part, would you agree?

Haha. That’s a fine philosophy and one that could prove to be very entertaining. After all, Chris Cooper done a good job of it in The Muppets. I wholeheartedly agree that most singers should avoid acting. For every good one, there’s three bad ones. Although, I do enjoy Tom Waits’ acting I have to admit.

What!? You didn’t enjoy The Muppets? I’m quite shocked. How did you not just love it?

Yeah, I realise I’m in the minority on The Muppets. It thought it was vastly overrated. I have fond memories of the little guys but I’m not keen on song and dance numbers and I thought there was too much focus on the live actors – I also find Jason Segel to be highly irritating. It has great little moments and some sharp humour but overall, I was disappointed. My kids love it though, so it still gets watched on a regular basis.

(frowns) Sorry you were so disappointed.

The interview’s coming to a close (I’ve been trying to keep each interview at a limit of ten questions; luckily that many provides lots to discuss), so the one remaining question is…Is there a film you find close to perfect, the major flaw being a lack of common sense on the writers’ part (i.e. Jar-Jar Binks)?

Hmmm… That’s a difficult question that one but I’d probably have to go with Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia. The film is pretty much a masterpiece in my eyes but the raining frogs was a little unexpected. On closer inspection, it’s actually quite brave and in some ways fitting but the first time I seen it, I wasn’t sure about it. Don’t get me wrong though, I love it but that was a turn that had the potential the undo the whole film.

You can find Mr. Marakai on Twitter @MarkusMarakai

Be sure to check out his recent reviews of Raising Arizona, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Looper, and Ted.


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