thu 18/01/2018

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Commuter review - trouble on the main line

Adam Sweeting

Nobody is more sensitive about the notion of becoming a geriatric action hero than Liam Neeson (“guys, I’m sixty-fucking-five,” as he points out), but he can still punch bad guys and leap off moving trains with the best of ‘em.

The Best Films Out Now


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 below is well worth your attention.

Downsizing review - little things please little

Jasper Rees

Alexander Payne’s best-loved film is Sideways but that title may as well work for everything and anything in his oeuvre. In Election, About Schmidt,...

DVD/Blu-ray: Hounds of Love

Owen Richards

Hounds of Love is the latest in a long line of small-budget Australian horrors “based on true events” – it must be something about the heat. However...

DVD/Blu-ray: The Cat o' Nine Tails/Phenomena

Nick Hasted

Dario Argento’s Suspiria was confirmed as one of horror’s great fever dreams on its 40th anniversary re-release last year. The Cat o’ Nine Tails (...

A Woman's Life review - simple but affecting

Owen Richards

Mesmeric French drama offers love and heartbreak in 19th-century Normandy

Darkest Hour review - Winston airbrushed for the 21st century

Nick Hasted

Gary Oldman tilts for an Oscar as a panicky, powerhouse Churchill

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review - Frances McDormand is on fire

Jasper Rees

Martin McDonagh's third film is an unmissable tragicomedy

DVD/Blu-ray: Alice in the Cities

Tom Birchenough

The film in which WIm Wenders found his filmmaking style

Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars review - Slowhand, the movie

Adam Sweeting

Interminable documentary fails to capture the inner Eric

DVD/Blu-ray: Detroit

Nick Hasted

Kathryn Bigelow's remembrance of riot and racism keeps a claustrophobic grip

Hostiles review – powerful but preachy Frontier fable

Adam Sweeting

Scott Cooper's long, hard ride through the last days of the Indian Wars

Best of 2017: Film


Favourite films from the past 12 months, plus some stinkers, from theartsdesk's film writers

Molly's Game review - Jessica Chastain gets her poker face on

Adam Sweeting

Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut is a high-octane gambling thriller

Blu-ray: Melville - The Essential Collection

Mark Kidel

Jean-Pierre Melville, French master of the 'policier', and more

Blu-ray: The Complete Monterey Pop Festival

Thomas H Green

The film that defined pop festivals evermore

DVD/Blu-ray: Pulp

Nick Hasted

A year after 'Get Carter', Mikes Hodges and Caine reunite in an absolute one-off

The Greatest Showman review - the great huckster as song and dance man

Adam Sweeting

Lavish production offers spectacle but no depth

Blu-ray: Carrie

Owen Richards

De Palma’s classic horror still shines strongly, despite mediocre re-release

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - a bold new chapter

Owen Richards

Visually stunning and narratively shocking, Rian Johnson challenges expectations in the latest instalment

The Prince of Nothingwood review - come for the man, stay for the country

Owen Richards

Documentary on Afghanistan’s leading film director is an interesting but frustrating affair

DVD: A Journey Through French Cinema

Mark Kidel

A film-lover's hymn to French movies: Bertrand Tavernier’s 'Voyage à travers le cinéma français'

Stronger review - Oscar-worthy straight talk and tough love

Nick Hasted

Jake Gyllenhaal as a Boston Marathon bomb non-victim, in superb romance

Brigsby Bear review - the healing power of fantasy

Adam Sweeting

Tale of boy and imaginary bear is unexpectedly upbeat

DVD/Blu-ray: The L-Shaped Room

Saskia Baron

A dour slice of London realism with luminous Leslie Caron as a pregnant French miss

Menashe review - Yiddish-language film with a heart of gold

Saskia Baron

Warm and vivid family drama set within the reclusive Orthodox Jewish community

Human Flow review - two hours of human misery

Sarah Kent

A film that needed to be made, but do we want to heed its message?

DVD/Blu-ray: Terminator 2 - Judgment Day

Jasper Rees

Super-sequel from Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron stands the test of time

DVD: The Work

Tom Birchenough

Visceral prison documentary explores issues of masculinity, father-and-son relations

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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