thu 30/06/2016

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Colony

Ed Owen

The last film to feature the Chilean coup was No from 2012, which explored the referendum that finally rid the country of General Pinochet and returned the country to democracy. There a genius adman plotted a brilliant campaign to get the right answer. Perhaps worthwhile viewing for those planning referendums?In The Colony Daniel (Daniel Brühl) is an activist graphic designer and photographer based in Chile, making posters and flyers backing socialist president Salvador Allende immediately...

DVD: A Bigger Splash

Nick Hasted

Luca Guadagnino’s previous film, I Am Love, confirmed the Italian renaissance begun by Matteo Garrone and Paolo Sorrentino. Star Tilda Swinton, ripe sensuality, rich landscapes and sometimes operatic emotion all return for A Bigger Splash. Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson complete its quartet, lounging and sparring on Pantalleria, the Italian island where Swinton’s Bowiesque rock star, Marianne Lane, is hiding out after a vocal chord op. Harry (Fiennes), with his apparent...

theartsdesk at the Edinburgh International Film...

David Kettle

Even without any particular pomp or focus for celebration, the 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival has felt like a particularly strong and...

Adult Life Skills

Katie Colombus

There are often times as adults, that we feel ill-prepared for dealing with situations that arise. There is no equivalent of a Brownie’s badge for “...

DVD/Blu-ray: Wim Wenders - The Road Trilogy

Graham Fuller

In the mid 1970s, the German director Wim Wenders quickly and cheaply made three road movies that, taken together, can be considered the apogee of...

Elvis & Nixon

Adam Sweeting

Tricky Dicky meets the Pelvis in smart satirical fantasy

Edinburgh celebrates British films

Demetrios Matheou

Timothy Spall is amongst a host of talent lining up in two very different British films

DVD: Iona

Kieron Tyler

An on-the-run mother and son seek sanctuary in a knotty allegorical drama

The Meddler

Matt Wolf

Susan Sarandon shines as a meddlesome saint of a mum


David Kettle

Brutal crime thriller on corruption among Roman politicians, church and mafia

Tale of Tales

Jasper Rees

Ravishing feast for the senses in Italian fables starring Salma Hayek and Toby Jones

The Edinburgh International Film Festival tees off with golfing drama

Demetrios Matheou

Film festival celebrates its 70th anniversary and Trainspotting's 20th

Six of the best: Film


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now

DVD: That Cold Day in the Park

Mark Kidel

Robert Altman period weirdness sizzles with suppressed violence and sexuality

Cemetery of Splendour

Nick Hasted

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cannes winner is an unsettling yet restful tale of sleeping Thai soldiers

The Violators

Ed Owen

Ballsy, bruising, brilliant directorial debut feature from novelist Helen Walsh

DVD: Born to Boogie

Kieron Tyler

Marc Bolan and T. Rextasy caught at their peak in the first film directed by Ringo Starr

Where You're Meant to Be

David Kettle

Sly, witty questioning of Scottish identity from indie rocker Aidan Moffat

10 Questions for Actor Toby Jones

Jasper Rees

The English everyman is now the king of a make-believe Italian castle in 'Tale of Tales'

DVD: Heart of a Dog

Mark Kidel

The heart of Laurie Anderson's much-loved rat terrier takes us on a magical journey

Where to Invade Next

Matt Wolf

Michael Moore turns his back on the US in search of superior societies abroad

DVD: The Revenant

Jasper Rees

Still epic: Leonardo Di Caprio is pursued by a bear on a smaller screen

When Marnie Was There

Ed Owen

Emotive tale from Studio Ghibli about a young girl’s search for identity

DVD: Concussion

Adam Sweeting

Powerful lead performance from Will Smith drives footballing whistleblower drama


Adam Sweeting

Titanic struggle between orcs and humans teeters on the brink of farce

DVD: Victoria

Graham Fuller

Failed pianist turns getaway driver in a propulsive, one-take heist thriller

Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach

Graham Fuller

An intimate documentary about the unstoppable veteran director

Me Before You

Matt Wolf

Screen adaptation of best-selling novel offends on almost every level

The Nice Guys

Jasper Rees

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling buddy up to crack jokes, bones and crime in 70s LA

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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