sun 04/12/2016

Film reviews, news & interviews

Sully: Miracle on the Hudson

Nick Hasted

The pilot and the sniper have a lot in common for Clint Eastwood. In his previous US blockbuster, American Sniper, Chris Kyle’s cool shooting under pressure helped extract his comrades from overwhelming assault in Iraq, as part of at least 160 kills confirmed by him there.

The Unknown Girl

Saskia Baron

The Dardennes brothers' latest tale from the grim streets of the industrial suburb of Liège in Belgium is another quietly powerful masterpiece; it’s perhaps their best film since The Child. Re-edited since it debuted at Cannes to mixed reviews, it fuses elements from social realist cinema, morality play and a whodunit murder mystery. The result is a wholly gripping narrative told with understated eloquence.The film opens with no introductions: a young woman, stethoscope in ears, is listening to...

DVD: Tickled

Nick Hasted

This story drops down the rabbit-hole so fast, you doubt it’ll ever hit bottom. Kiwi TV presenter David Farrier’s human interest items of the That’s...


Markie Robsonscott

“This is an emergency. Homicides in Chicago, Illinois have surpassed the death toll of American special forces in Iraq.” This news bulletin forms the...

DVD: The Music of Strangers

Tom Birchenough

A welcome antidote to the mood of a time which seems hell-bent on closing borders and building walls, The Music of Strangers is about a unique...


Adam Sweeting

Patriot, spy, hero or traitor? Oliver Stone directs Joseph Gordon-Levitt

DVD/Blu-ray: Odds Against Tomorrow

Graham Fuller

How Harry Belafonte and Robert Ryan teamed for a timely anti-racist film noir


Saskia Baron

Jim Jarmusch aims to find the beauty in the everyday with the help of Adam Driver


Adam Sweeting

Doomed but entertaining attempt to revive 1940s Hollywood

The Incident

Markie Robsonscott

Pictures of Lily: Jane Linfoot brings the metropolitan discourse to west Yorkshire

A United Kingdom

Adam Sweeting

Love, race and power politics under African skies

DVD: The Lovers & the Despot

Graham Rickson

An everyday story of abduction, imprisonment and film production

The New Man

Mark Kidel

Surprising and engaging tale of IVF pregnancy

DVD/Blu-ray: Napoléon

David Nice

Abel Gance's sprawling fragment of a mighty life is flawed but breathtaking

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Jasper Rees

JK Rowling casts a new spell starring Eddie Redmayne as a wand-wielding zookeeper

Gimme Danger

Nick Hasted

Jarmusch comes to praise the Stooges, Iggy's ultimate punks

'It’s a much more freeing experience than Harry Potter'

Jasper Rees

David Yates, director of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', on moving on from Hogwarts

Dog Eat Dog

Saskia Baron

Nicolas Cage and Willen Dafoe compete as grotesque gangsters in Paul Schrader's latest schlock-noir

DVD: Ma Ma

Nick Hasted

Penélope Cruz controls a cancer melodrama

Six of the best: Film


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top films out now

theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Robert Vaughn

Adam Sweeting

An encounter with the former Napoleon Solo, who has died aged 83

American Pastoral

Nick Hasted

Ewan McGregor finds the light in Philip Roth's heart of darkness


Tom Birchenough

Profound insights: the Louvre opens its doors to Russian director Alexander Sokurov

DVD/Blu-Ray: The Small World of Sammy Lee

Saskia Baron

Lost gem of London film noir restored in all its sleazy glory


Saskia Baron

Philosophical science fiction with a pivotal role for Amy Adams

DVD/Blu-ray: The Neon Demon

Kieron Tyler

Home cinema edition of Nicolas Winding Refn’s gripping fantasia confirms it as one of 2016’s best films

DVD: Stella Cadente

Nick Hasted

An absurdly decadent Spanish curio about an impotent king

Nocturnal Animals

Matt Wolf

Tom Ford's film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams is deeply disquieting

Blu-ray: Kes

Graham Rickson

Ken Loach's late Sixties classic, handsomely refurbished and alarmingly relevant

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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