wed 29/03/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

Ghost in the Shell review - 'a mind-bending futuristic dystopia'

Adam Sweeting

The Japanese Ghost in the Shell phenomenon is celebrating its 25th birthday, and already has a long history in manga cartoons and animated movies.

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.Aquarius ★★★★ Brazilian star Sonia Braga shines in unsettling portrayal of her country today

DVD/Blu-ray: Two Rode Together

Graham Fuller

Two Rode Together (1961) depicts the humanising of Guthrie McCabe (James Stewart), a corrupt, mercenary border town marshal, as it builds to a...

theartsdesk Q&A: Writer David Storey, pt 1

Jasper Rees

David Storey, who has died at the age of 83, was the last of the Angry Young Men who, in fiction and drama, made a hero of the working-class...

theartsdesk Q&A: Writer David Storey, pt 2

Jasper Rees

In Radcliffe, an early novel by David Storey, one character murders another with a telling blow from a hammer. The author was later advised that...

Aquarius review - 'the unease of contemporary Brazil'

Tom Birchenough

Brazilian star Sonia Braga shines in unsettling portrayal of her country today

DVD/Blu-ray: Property Is No Longer a Theft

Nick Hasted

Elio Petri's grotesque thriller dissects Seventies Italy's rotten heart

Life review - 'knuckle-gnawing moments of panic'

Adam Sweeting

Is there life on Mars? It would appear so

The Lost City of Z

Jasper Rees

Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson go rafting in Percy Fawcett's mystical Amazonian adventures

Blu-ray: Multiple Maniacs

Kieron Tyler

John Waters’ exercise in perversity has lost none of its power to offend

10 Questions for Director Olivier Assayas

Nick Hasted

The director of 'Personal Shopper' on Kristen Stewart, the supernatural and the secret meaning of texts

The Salesman

Matt Wolf

Iranian Oscar winner pays attention, and then some, to Arthur Miller

DVD/Blu-ray: Finding Forrester

Nick Hasted

Connery the actor gives his last hurrah for Gus Van Sant

Personal Shopper

Saskia Baron

Film noir? Ghost story? Olivier Assayas and Kristen Stewart flit compellingly between genres

DVD: Reset

Jenny Gilbert

Benjamin Millepied at the helm of the Paris Opera Ballet - what really happened?

Beauty and the Beast

Veronica Lee

Disney's lavish modern reboot still enchants

DVD/Blu-ray: The Creeping Garden

Graham Rickson

Bewitching documentary about an overlooked life form


Adam Sweeting

Isabelle Huppert dazzles in Paul Verhoeven's genre-defying drama

Blu-ray: Cul-de-Sac

Saskia Baron

Nasty, brutish and not short: Polanski's absurdist noir comedy set in Northumberland

Kong: Skull Island

Jasper Rees

Colossal digitised gorilla shares spoils with John C Reilly

Certain Women

Saskia Baron

Low-key but mesmerising American indie exploring the lives of four disparate women

DVD/Blu-ray: Endless Poetry

Nick Hasted

Tender self-portrait of the notorious Alejandro Jodorowsky as a young man

Viceroy's House

Jasper Rees

Gurinder Chadha's take on India's Partition should have been a 10-parter on Netflix

Trespass Against Us

Nick Hasted

Fassbender vs Gleeson in a Cotswolds crime family clash


Adam Sweeting

Heroic swansong for the battered but unbowed Wolverine

The Student

Tom Birchenough

Fundamentalism Russian-style: desperation and dark comedy

Blu-ray: Mildred Pierce

Kieron Tyler

A film-making masterclass from Joan Crawford and director Michael Curtiz

Oscars 2017: Moonlight and La La Land go toe to toe

Matt Wolf

Climactic cock-up caps most engaging Oscar ceremony in years

10 Questions for Director Gurinder Chadha

Jasper Rees

Her new film 'Viceroy's House' chronicles the partition of India. How did she get there from 'Bend It Like Beckham'?

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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