Film reviews, news & interviews
The idea of a movie spin-off from BBC One's spy show Spooks has been lurking with intent ever since the tenth and final series ended in 2011. Finally it's here, helmed by director Bharat Nalluri (who shot the first and last episodes for TV) and with Peter Firth's Sir Harry Pearce at its centre. Where, as the Spookfather-in-chief, he had to be.Since Spooks stuck unswervingly to its grand tradition of bumping off leading characters – diehards will still be wiping away a tear at memories of Rupert...
Confounding expectations from the first frames, Girlhood is the endearingly scrappy and staggeringly beautiful third film from French writer-director Céline Sciamma (Tomboy) and no relation to Boyhood. Intimate and exuberant, it's a coming-of-age story that takes us into the company and confidences of a quartet of teenage girls. They're part of a community of marginalised minorities living in the rundown Parisian suburbs, and have forged their own alternative family unit as a sanctuary from and...
England was movie-mad long before the US. Contrary to appearances in a Hollywood-dominated world, the celluloid film process was patented in London in 1890 and by 1905 minute-long films of news and horse-racing were being made and shown widely in purpose-built cinemas, with added sound. The race to set up a film industry, though, was swiftly won by the entrepreneurial Americans, attracting eager new UK talents like Charlie Chaplin. However, it was a British film that in 1925 was the world's first in-flight movie, and soon the arrival of young suspense genius Alfred Hitchcock and a new legal requirement for a "quota" of British film in cinemas assisted a golden age for UK film. Under the leadership of Alexander Korda's London Films, Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) is considered the first true sound movie, documentary techniques developed and the first Technicolor movies were made.
Brief_EncounterWhen war intervened, British filmmakers turned effectively to lean, effective propaganda documentaries and heroic, studio-based war-films. After Hitchcock too left for Hollywood, David Lean launched into an epic career with Brief Encounter (pictured), Powell and Pressburger took up the fantasy mantle with The Red Shoes, while Carol Reed created Anglo films noirs such as The Third Man. Fifties tastes were more domestic, with Ealing comedies succeeded by Hammer horror and Carry-Ons; and more challenging in the Sixties, with New Wave films about sex and class by Lindsay Anderson, Joseph Losey and Tony Richardson. But it was Sixties British escapism which finally went global: the Bond films, Lean's Dr Zhivago, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music made Sean Connery, Julie Christie and Julie Andrews Hollywood's top stars.
In the 1970s, recession and the TV boom undermined cinema-going and censorship changes brought controversy: a British porn boom and scandals over The Devils, Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange. While Hollywood fielded Spielberg, Coppola and Scorsese epics, Britain riposted with The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and Gandhi, but 1980s recession dealt a sharp blow to British cinema, and the Rank Organisation closed, after more than half a century. However more recently social comedies such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Full Monty, and royal dramas such as The Queen and The King's Speech have enhanced British reputation for wit, social observation and character acting.
As more films are globally co-produced, the success of British individual talents has come to outweigh the modest showing of the industry itself. Every week The Arts Desk reviews latest releases as well as leading international film festivals, and features in-depth career interviews with leading stars. Its writers include Jasper Rees, Graham Fuller, Anne Billson, Nick Hasted, Alexandra Coghlan, Veronica Lee, Emma Simmonds, Adam Sweeting and Matt Wolf
Starring Pitch Perfect's Anna Kendrick and Smash's Jeremy Jordan, THE LAST FIVE YEARS by Tony award-winning composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage, taking place over a five-year period. Jamie Wellerstein is a young, talented up-and-coming novelist who falls in love with Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress.
Their story is told almost entirely through songs, using an intercutting time-line device. Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s start at the beginning of their relationship and move forward to the end of the marriage.
Its beautiful pop music score portrays an honest, heart-breaking, often funny exploration of love, and its consequences on individual identity.
The Last Five Years runs at the Empire Leicester Square from April 17–May 1, and then is released on VOD from May 1 and on DVD from May 4. To book tickets click here.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
latest in Today
Experimental singer-cellist edges closer to the mainstream
First widescreen adventure for Harry Pearce and his MI5 crew
Céline Sciamma takes a sympathetic and spirited look at marginalised teens
The Swedish dream-pop outfit drift beautifully into darker territory
Kristin Scott Thomas is a worthy successor in Morgan's rejigged reviva...
How the popular MI5 drama finally made it to the big screen
Anglo-French poetry and music revives World War One's real voices
Mixed blessings from impressive soprano-and-piano duo in Schumann and Berg
Soul-searching theatrical quartet puts America under the microscope
Welcome comeback from absentee south coast contenders
An extraordinary 20th-century life recalled in age
Thrilling two-hander about a disintegrating relationship
Mesmerizing or self-indulgent? Verdicts will be out on latest Taiwanese aut...
New play about zero-hour contracts is powerfully authentic, but depressingl...
Nothing deep, but plenty of glitter as the Covent Garden pit band hits the...
A literary line-up honour the British human rights institution