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Sunset Song Review

Excellent

This isn't your usual period movie. A powerfully emotional depiction of rural Scottish life at the turn of the 20th century, Terence Davies' drama is both strikingly earthy and artfully beautiful. Based on the classic 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbons, it's a gritty story that takes a deeply personal approach to both the time and place, building complex characters that are so easy to identify with that we feel each surge of happiness and heartbreak.

It's set in The Mearns, in the Scottish north east, where Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) grew up on her family farm hoping to one day become a teacher. But her perpetually pregnant mother (Daniela Nardini) simply can't take any more of this, and her sensitive brother Will (Jack Greenlees) moves to get away from their hardened father John (Peter Mullan), leaving Chris to care for him. Eventually she ends up running the farm herself, and finally finds some happiness when she falls for nice-guy neighbour Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). She worries about him becoming like her father, but their marriage is blissfully sweet. Until the Great War breaks out and he enlists to join the fight.

The story's main focus is on the way the demands of life change us in both obvious and subtle ways. This gives the film a complexity that gets deep under the skin, making the themes timeless while also challenging preconceptions. For example, instead of just being a villainous brute, John's violence might be a symptom of his experiences. And Chris' tough-minded tenacity may come from the same place that pushed her mother over the edge. Like us, these are people trying to steer their destinies in the face of everyday pressures and the forces of nature. And yet the film never feels terribly bleak. It's hard and gruelling, but also hopeful.

Continue reading: Sunset Song Review

Hector Trailer


For the past 15 years, Hector McAdam has been somewhat of a drifter having left his small Scottish village Hector found solace moving from shelter to shelter in various parts of the UK. Hector might be in his latter years but each Christmas he finds himself traveling to London to visit a homeless refuge where he has friends.

After years of drifting, in a bid to reunite with his family, Hector takes steps to track down and find his brother and find a way to begin to make amends for his constant absence.

Hector once again takes to the road and begins a journey that will take various turns - both emotionally and physically. Even though the setting of Hector's life is one of sorrow, his personality and resilience makes for a heart-warming look at life.

Continue: Hector Trailer

Sunset Song Trailer


Chris is a young heroine from a rural Scottish community, with an intense passion for life and a loyalty to the often unforgiving land, who has given her heart to the unsettled Ewan.

With a dysfunctional family, who have already faced dark times, Chris choses to devote herself to the land as World War One begins changing the world around her. But when Ewan decides to enlist in the army, Chris faces greater hardships than ever before as her once happy marriage crumbles.

As all seems lost Chris, a woman of remarkable strength, is able to draw from the ancient land at look to the future, even if the modern world is threatening everything she holds dear.

Continue: Sunset Song Trailer

Hercules - Extended Trailer


Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus and his people, all Hercules wants from life is to rest quietly with a loving family. Unfortunately for him, now is not the time for resting as the gods have delivered another bout of chaos to the world. Being well known by all as a man with all the strength of a god, Hercules is forced to lead a battle against a new menace as the King of Thrace gets him and some like minded warriors to band together as the world's most formidable army. They must defeat a powerful rival general as the vicious descendents of Hades infect the land. It's a deadly mission, the minions of hell being immortal and ruthless, and their defeat can only be accomplished by someone with power above the mortal realm.

Continue: Hercules - Extended Trailer

Tyrannosaur Trailer


Widower Joseph spends his days walking the streets and frequenting various pubs in an industrial town in England. He is incredibly violent and sometimes takes out his anger on passersby and harmless pets.

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War Horse Trailer


In rural England during the First World War, a horse named Joey befriends a young boy called Albert. One day Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches in France, seeing firsthand the horrors of the Great War, yet touching the hearts of everyone he meets, including a French farmer, a German soldier and the British army. Although too young to enlist, 16 year old Albert joins the army and heads to France to find his friend.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Trailer


Harry Potter and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, continue their search for Voldemort's Horcruxes - dark magical objects that help the user gain immortality. Having found and destroyed one Horcrux - a locket belonging to Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin - the three friends travel from Ron's older brother Bill Weasley's house by the sea to the wizarding bank, Gringotts and then to Hogwarts to look for the final remaining Horcruxes.

Continue: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Trailer

NEDs Review


Good
While it's beautifully shot in period style and features terrific performances from the largely non-professional cast, this film struggles to get us involved simply because there isn't much we can grab hold of.

In 1972 Glasgow, young John (Forrest) is a bright spark who certainly will never become a "Non-Educated Delinquent". He lives on a rough estate, and as he heads for secondary school he begins to be targeted by the bullying local gang members. But he keeps his head down, hides behind the fierce reputation of his big brother (Szula) and excels at his studies. Then two years later, John (now McCarron) falls in with a group of thugs who offer him acceptance and camaraderie. Of course his studies start suffering as a result.

Continue reading: NEDs Review

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Review


Excellent

Cranking up the action and emotion, JK Rowling's Harry Potter saga moves into the first half of its extended grand finale. It's a relatively harrowing film punctuated by real violence, and it cleverly starts weaving together both the plot and the relationships.

After the tragic events of the previous school year, Harry (Radcliffe) and his pals Ron and Hermoine (Grint and Watson) know that they can't go back to normal. Instead, they're on the run from Voldemort (Fiennes) and his fearsome Death Eaters. They also have an overwhelming task: collecting the horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden to ensure his immortality. But where to look? And when they find one, how do they destroy it? Then a rebel journalist (Ifans) tells them the story of the Deathly Hallows, which makes their quest even more urgent.

The plot has a very different structure, as our three heroes are propelled by startling events into increasingly uncertain situations. Persistently chased by the bad guys and unable to trust anyone, they are profoundly alone and constantly in danger. We strongly feel their lonely desperation all the way through the film, so when another nasty thing happens to push them further along, it's genuinely unsettling.

Although it feels far too long, Yates and Kloves thankfully mix the dark drama with lighter comedy, allowing the characters to grow organically. Over seven films the story has grown increasingly gloomy but, despite the relentless anxiety, this chapter has an insistent pace, which is helpful since pretty nightmarish things are happening. There's also some subtext in the political storyline, as the villains seize control first of the media and then the government.

By now, the three central actors have settled solidly into their roles, adding subtle edges in every scene. Intriguingly, Grint has emerged as the most complex performer, but all three are excellent. And the who's who of British acting talent around them is fantastic. Stand-outs this time are Nighy (as a slippery politician), Isaacs (as a disgraced baddie) and Mullan (as a vicious security guy). But several others get a chance to shine as well, and of course there's a lot more action to come in Part 2.

Boy A Review


Very Good
The title of John Crowley's Boy A comes from a court case where two young defendants are referred to as Boy A and Boy B. Both murderers before their proper teen years, these alphabetically-labeled tykes get sent to a juvenile facility; only one makes it out breathing.

The majority of Crowley's sophomore effort, after the jumpy gangster flick Intermission, focuses on the redemption of this young man in the public eye. Given the new handle Jack (Andrew Garfield), the titular young offender finds a job through his rehabilitation specialist Terry (Peter Mullan) at a warehouse and delivery service. With a new best friend named Chris (Alfie Owen) and Michelle, his new receptionist girlfriend (a superb Siobhan Finneran), Jack starts feeling at home in the small shady room he's given. The public remains unaware of him until, fatefully, he helps save a young girl from a car accident and gets his picture in the local news.

Continue reading: Boy A Review

Children Of Men Review


Excellent
Perhaps because of its bleak outlook, its lushly dark tones, or its often blunt criticism of the current world state, Alfonso Cuaron's fourth major film will have to fight just as hard as his two Spanish films to find an audience. The bearer of one the worst marketing and public relations campaigns in years, Children of Men could have been the wriggling stepson that Universal has made it out to be, but it turns out to be anything but.

It's 2027, and the youngest person in Britain (and the world), Baby Diego, has just been killed by a rabid fan; he was 18. Somewhere between 2006 and 2016, women started becoming infertile, causing mass miscarriages and major panics. Theo (Clive Owen) doesn't seem that concerned when we meet him, narrowly averting an explosion near a local café. He spends his time with his friend Jasper (a wily Michael Caine) who makes cannabis mixed with strawberry and tries to forget the family he once had. Julian (Julianne Moore), his ex-wife, has taken up with a pack of refugees that fight against the military state that has been active since London began understanding its grave future. When Julian stumbles upon a girl who miraculously is with child, she immediately kidnaps Theo and puts him in charge of getting the girl, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), to a specialized group of the world's smartest people known as the Human Project.

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On A Clear Day Review


Very Good
Over here in America, it seems we just cannot get enough of the gentle shenanigans of average, everyday Brits. If they are slightly older and perhaps finding themselves financially strapped and driven to eyebrow-raising lengths by the hard times, well, so much the better. Into this proud lineage comes On a Clear Day a charming, if slight, bit of fluff from across the pond that has nothing whatsoever to do with the similarly-titled Barbra Streisand musical from the '70s.Peter Mullan plays Frank, a quiet, middle-aged Scot who is left floundering when he is laid off from his shipbuilding job. He embarks on a mission, seemingly on a lark, to swim the English Channel in an effort to give himself purpose and shed personal demons that have plagued him for years. Admittedly, this is quite thin, plotwise, but if we learned anything but a new dance routine from The Full Monty, it's that working-class British fellows made redundant can be remarkably entertaining in keeping themselves occupied.Though he staunchly refuses to tell his family anything about his intentions, Frank has a small clique of friends - former coworkers, mostly - serving as his motley training crew, headed by a put-upon Chinese fish-and-chips vendor (Benedict Wong) and given hyper energy by the cheerfully hapless Danny (Billy Boyd). They are caught up in Frank's determination to change his life, and predictably inspired to do something new with their own, and it is remarkably sweet and uplifting in a straightforward and non-saccharine way, a rarity these days.First-time feature director Gaby Dellal has crafted a dutifully small and endearing bit of fluff, only faltering briefly with some easily-forgiven flaws. She does fall victim to a hallmark of young directors - the need to be unnecessarily flashy - with her shooting of action via its reflection in a small domed mirror or her slow pans of an ordinary boat. Also, the film is not adept at offering fleshed-out logic. Why this unassuming Scottish man takes on a personal mission to swim the Channel, or what he hopes it will accomplish - and what it does ultimately accomplish - is left unaddressed and open to interpretation. But if you accept the pull of those crazy urges we get from time to time - the desire to do something stupid, and hard, and to revel in a feeling of true accomplishment - then that is probably sufficient in the way of movie logic.What gives the film layers and makes it so watchable is the extremely capable acting. Mullan (My Name is Joe, Young Adam) is an immensely likeable actor, and his Frank is an amiable and capable fellow, but he can also be profoundly frustrating. Being taciturn is one thing, but he often seems to outright ignore his wife (the adorably floopy Brenda Blethyn). And he is deeply scarred by the death of his son nearly 25 years ago, but he's so distant from his surviving son that it borders on rude. This persistent haze that surrounds poor Frank, and mires him into such melancholic inaction, is what prevents On a Clear Day from being a straight-up comedy. All of the characters are witty and quirky (though not aggressively so) and have their moments of amusing antics, but they are also each battling a very real sadness, and the film does well in striking a balance between the two.There is little about On a Clear Day that is especially profound or innovative, to be sure. The most effusive praise it will likely garner is that it is genuinely cute and sweet without becoming twee or simplistic. That said, there is certainly a place - and a market - for films like these. I certainly know what I'll be telling my Auntie to see the next time she tells me they don't make "nice movies" anymore.Nope, can't see forever.

The Claim Review


Good
In the vein of Unforgiven comes this moody western about another small town in the middle of nowhere, struggling with its place in a world quickly passing it by.

Central to the story is Daniel Dillon (Peter Mullan), mayor of the town of Kingdom Come, Nevada, located on the spot of the gold claim he struck during the 1849 gold rush, some 20 years earlier. Or so we are led to believe. As it turns out, Dillon's claim was given to him in trade -- in trade for his wife and daughter, sold as if they were slaves.

Continue reading: The Claim Review

The Magdalene Sisters Review


Weak
Stirring up controversy for its depiction of Ireland's brutal, now-defunct Magdalene laundries for wayward girls, Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters muckrakes the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and comes off seeming self-righteous, gloomy, and redundant. Opening with young Margaret (Anne-Marie Duff) getting raped at a family gathering by her cousin, followed by brash Bernadette (Nora-Jane Noone) cooing to boys in the schoolyard, and finally showing timid little Rose (Dorothy Duffy), whose illegitimate child is snatched away at the hospital, The Magdalene Sisters firmly and staunchly paints its victims into a corner and keeps them there. The parents hide their eyes in indifference or dismay, sending them into the cruel clutches of the incomparably cruel Sister Bridget (Geraldine McEwan) and her chamber of horrors--a prison run by nuns where beatings, canings, oppressive work conditions, and random cruelties are part of the daily routine.

There aren't any particular surprises in The Magdalene Sisters once the three heroines are locked away. Most sequences follow the same pattern, where the lank-haired, poorly fed, and half-clothed girls aspire for freedom, love, or fair treatment and are met with beatings and brutality. Lest there be any doubt of Sister Bridget's wicked witch nastiness, she's often seen counting her money and turning a blind eye to the random injustices within her makeshift girl's prison. Often compared with Louise Fletcher's Nurse Ratched, a more careful viewing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will reveal subtleties to the character that don't exist in the one-note tyrant, Sister Bridget.

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Criminal Review


OK
Argentinian filmmaker Fabian Bielinsky enjoyed a surprise hit in 2002 with his crackling con artist scheme Nine Queens. The intricate thriller about an established crook and his inexperienced protégé moved at such a rapid clip that it left your head swimming with twists until all the facts finally crashed into the table.

Criminal, first-time director Gregory Jacobs' generically-titled attempt at an American remake, performs the cinematic equivalent of the doggie paddle. It takes Bielinsky's well-paced con and changes just enough so that the story no longer makes any sense.

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Young Adam Review


Bad
"That was pointless," muttered a fellow critic after leaving a screening of Young Adam. Well, he's almost right. The only discernable purpose of the movie is to have Ewan McGregor's solemn, conscience-deprived drifter Joe screw every woman in sight. I was immediately reminded of interviews with James Spader around the time of David Cronenberg's remarkable Crash, where he described his proactive role in the casting process because he gets to have simulated sex with each of his female co-stars. If that seems a shallow way of viewing this adaptation of Alexander Trocchi's celebrated beat novel (which has earned comparisons with Albert Camus's The Stranger), well, this is a pretty shallow movie from the word go. The images feel flat, the dialogue literary, and the performances strong but non-captivating.

Joe works a barge between Glasgow and Edinburgh, working for grouchy middle-aged public servant Les (Peter Mullan) and his miserable wife Ella (Tilda Swinton). Shortly after they discover a dead body floating in the water, Joe and Ella begin a torrid affair right under Les's nose. Much like the Jack Nicholson-Jessica Lange version of The Postman Always Rings Twice, this film adaptation keeps all the fleshy sex scenes front-and-center while losing the moral confusion and dark side of cultural idealism that can't be captured onscreen via Ewan McGregor's endless brooding and cigarette smoking and arid shots of Joe against industrial backdrops.

Continue reading: Young Adam Review

Miss Julie Review


Weak
After single handedly crafting the worst film of 1999, the unbearably heavy handed art house rubbish The Loss of Sexual Innocence, jazzy auteur Mike Figgis brings his experimental eye to an adaptation of August Strindberg's Miss Julie.

It's a brilliant play, one which observes naturalistic behavior and flawed, complex characters without judgment. It's filled with beautifully written scenes of emotional conviction. Naturally, Figgis is so hell bent on his radical tinkering with form and content that the story becomes a muddle of sensual implications taken straight from fashion magazine perfume ads.

Continue reading: Miss Julie Review

My Name Is Joe Review


Bad
Okay, so your name is Joe. So what?

Joe turns out to be a recovering alcoholic, and in 28 Days fashion, winds his way to recovery, stopping only for a tepid romance with a lady friend. Then My Name is Joe turns gangsterish, before an abrupt and uninteresting ending -- which might have been redeemed if the film was remotely interesting anywhere along the way.

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Session 9 Review


Excellent
Director/writer Brad Anderson, who turned heads with the winning romantic comedy Next Stop Wonderland, does a narrative about face with Session 9, a creepy, psychological thriller more likely to twist heads than turn them. After displaying a knack for witty dialogue and strong pacing with Wonderland, Anderson applies those skills to the difficult horror genre, and delivers an exciting, low-key treat.

You can think of Session 9 as a kind of 5 Angry Men meets The Shining. A crew of asbestos removal workers -- played with solid force throughout, with notable performances by David Caruso (Kiss of Death, NYPD Blue) and Peter Mullan (The Claim) -- has the unenviable task of spending a week in an enormous, abandoned insane asylum, gutting it at a fever pitch pace in order to make it safe for renovation. The hospital once housed 2,300 "patients" at its peak, and very few of them were happy. Makes for an excellent haunted house story.

Continue reading: Session 9 Review

Ordinary Decent Criminal Review


Bad
I can only imagine one thing worse than Kevin Spacey trying on an Irish accent, and that's sultry Linda Fiorentino doing the same thing.

Accents are hardly the biggest problem with this movie, though. It's a dull-as-a-Nerf-ball script that makes Ordinary Decent Criminal far less than ordinary. It's almost painful sitting through its rote heist vignettes and endless expository scenes in between them. A bunch of IRA rhetoric doesn't add anything to Spacey's cryptic criminal, who just wants to help out his family while avoiding a fearsome prosecutor.

Continue reading: Ordinary Decent Criminal Review

Peter Mullan

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Peter Mullan Movies

Tommy's Honour Trailer

Tommy's Honour Trailer

Tommy Morris is an expert golfer who learned the sport from his father; the greens-keeper...

Sunset Song Movie Review

Sunset Song Movie Review

This isn't your usual period movie. A powerfully emotional depiction of rural Scottish life at...

Hector Trailer

Hector Trailer

For the past 15 years, Hector McAdam has been somewhat of a drifter having left...

Sunset Song Trailer

Sunset Song Trailer

Chris is a young heroine from a rural Scottish community, with an intense passion for...

Hercules Movie Review

Hercules Movie Review

Far more entertaining than it has any right to be, this is a big, messy...

Hercules Trailer

Hercules Trailer

Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus...

Hercules - Trailer Trailer

Hercules - Trailer Trailer

Hercules is a bitter and haunted demi-god filled with resentment for the people and the...

The Liability Movie Review

The Liability Movie Review

Blackly comical writing and direction add a playful slant to what could have been a...

The Liability Trailer

The Liability Trailer

Adam is just 19-years-old but, after managing to prang his mother's mobster boyfriend's car, is...

Welcome to the Punch Movie Review

Welcome to the Punch Movie Review

After the tiny drama Shifty, British filmmaker Creevy turns to both Hong Kong and Hollywood...

Welcome To The Punch Trailer

Welcome To The Punch Trailer

Max Lewinsky is a determined police detective who remains bitter about never managing to find...

War Horse Movie Review

War Horse Movie Review

Spielberg takes the hit stage play (based on the Michael Morpugo novel) to the big...

Tyrannosaur Movie Review

Tyrannosaur Movie Review

Actor-turned-filmmaker Paddy Considine expands his 2007 short Dog Altogether into his first feature, and it's...

Tyrannosaur Trailer

Tyrannosaur Trailer

Widower Joseph spends his days walking the streets and frequenting various pubs in an industrial...

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