tue 24/10/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray review: Land of Mine

Saskia Baron

Danish director Martin Zandvliet brilliantly explores a little-known episode in 1945 when more than 2,000 German POWS were forced to clear almost two million land mines that had been buried on the beaches of the west coast of Denmark in anticipation of an Allied invasion. Many of these POWS were schoolboys who had been conscripted in the final year of the war when the Nazis were desperate for soldiers. Roland Møller plays a Danish sergeant who has spent the war fighting with the British (...

DVD/Blu-ray: Vampir Cuadecuc

Tom Birchenough

Pere Portabella’s remarkable Vampir Cuadecuc is almost impossible to classify. It may have been filmed on the set of Jesús Franco's 1970 Hammer horror film El Conde Dracula – with the obviously enthusiastic participation of a cast led by Christopher Lee – but it certainly isn’t a "making-of" film.

The Death of Stalin review - dictatorship as high...

Nick Hasted

Like Steptoe and Son with ideological denouncements, Stalin’s Politburo have known each other too long. They’re not only trapped but terrified, a...

The Best Films Out Now

Theartsdesk

There are films to meet every taste in theartsdesk's guide to the best movies currently on release. In our considered opinion, any of the titles...

Dina review - a poignant treat

Owen Richards

Director Dan Sickles has known Dina her entire life. He knows her engaging personality, and he knows her tragic past. It’s the former which he and co...

DVD/Blu-ray: A Man Called Ove

Saskia Baron

Neither Scandi noir nor IKEA fantasia: an endearing Swedish black comedy about a grumpy old man

LFF 2017: Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool / Professor Marston and the Wonder Women reviews - stellar turns by Annette Bening and Rebecca Hall

Saskia Baron

Two fascinating true stories of iconic women told with not quite enough flair

LFF 2017: Mindhunter / My Generation - Fincher comes to Netflix, Caine does Swinging London

Adam Sweeting

The Feds get scientific, plus Michael Caine's Sixties revolution

Loving Vincent review - Van Gogh biopic of sorts lacks language to match its visuals

Matt Wolf

Artistry aplenty jostles cloth-eared writing in painstaking hagiography

Blu-ray: The Party

Graham Rickson

Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers on form in influential if excruciating 1960s comedy

The Snowman review - Michael Fassbender can't save Harry Hole

Jasper Rees

Unbalanced Jo Nesbø adaptation is an absurd misfit on the big screen

LFF 2017: Blade of the Immortal / Redoubtable - Samurai slasher versus the Nouvelle Vague

Adam Sweeting

Interminable slaughter from Takashi Miike, and Godard deconstructed

LFF 2017: The Shape of Water review – outsider s.f. and inter-species sex from del Toro

Nick Hasted

Sally Hawkins is an innocent wonder in a Cold War creature feature. Also, Lean on Pete and 6 Days

LFF 2017: Last Flag Flying review - anti-war film without a bite

Demetrios Matheou

Richard Linklater and top-notch cast go on the road

DVD/Blu-ray: Belle de Jour

Graham Fuller

Catherine Deneuve's daydreaming privileged wife unleashes her inner slut in Luis Buñuel’s classic

LFF 2017: Good Time review - heist movie with standout performance by Robert Pattinson

Saskia Baron

The Safdie brothers pay homage to the mean streets of New York

LFF 2017: Journey's End review - classic play becomes cracking film

Adam Sweeting

Saul Dibb and a terrific cast bring RC Sherriff's play to the big screen

DVD: Centre of My World

Tom Birchenough

Overdone and somewhat saccharine, German teen gay first love story smoulders sensitively nonetheless

On the Road review - engrossing music documentary with a sly B-side

Demetrios Matheou

Maverick director Michael Winterbottom and indie darlings Wolf Alice prove a good match

The Glass Castle review - Woody steals the film by a wide margin

Matt Wolf

Acclaimed Jeannette Walls memoir makes an uneasy transition to the screen

LFF 2017: Breathe review - overdosing on good intentions

Adam Sweeting

Andy Serkis's directorial debut opens 61st London Film Festival

Blade Runner 2049 review - powerful but needs more soul

Adam Sweeting

Sci-fi sequel is a masterpiece of design and cinematography

h.Club 100 Awards 2017: The Winners

Theartsdesk

News from The Hospital Club's annual awards for the creative industries, plus theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year

DVD/Blu-ray: Berlin Syndrome

Tom Birchenough

Genre meets arthouse in Australian director Cate Shortland’s third feature

The Reagan Show review - engaging but frustrating

David Kettle

What starts as a compelling exploration of image politics quickly loses its way

Young Reviewer of the Year Award: the four finalists are...

Theartsdesk

Announcing the shortlist of our critics' competition, with extracts from each entry

Goodbye Christopher Robin review - no escape for a boy and his bear

Markie Robson-Scott

Director Simon Curtis explores the unhappy origins of Winnie-the-Pooh

Home Again review - Reese Witherspoon romcom is divorced from reality

Matt Wolf

Fantasy-land Hollywood frolic is largely DOA

DVD/Blu-ray: Life Is Sweet

Graham Rickson

One of Mike Leigh’s funniest, most quotable features looks and sounds superb in BFI restoration

Footnote: a brief history of British film

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

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