sun 23/07/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

Coming soon: trailers to the next big films


Summer's here, which can only mean Hollywood blockbusters. But it's not all Spider-Man, talking apes and World War Two with platoons of thespians fighting on the beaches. There's comedy, a saucy menage-à-trois, a film about golf and even a ghost story. It's called A Ghost Story. We hereby bring you sneak peeks of the season's finest and more titles anticipated in the autumn (and hey, the trailer might even be the best part).  JULY

DVD/Blu-ray: The Fabulous Baron Munchausen

Graham Rickson

Baron Munchausen’s exploits have been filmed before. Terry Gilliam’s star-studded 1988 version floundered thanks to a sub-par script, and there’s an infamous 1943 German adaptation, commissioned by Goebbels. This one, Karel Zeman’s The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, is far better than both. Completed in 1961, it’s technically stunning.

Dunkirk review - old-fashioned filmmaking on the...

Jasper Rees

What is the Dunkirk spirit? It has been so thoroughly internalised by the national psyche that, 77 years on, it’s as much a brand, a meme or a slogan...

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...

City of Ghosts review - chilling but inspiring...

David Kettle

Raqqa was once a prosperous if little-known town in northern Syria. Since 2014, however, it has served as the de facto capital of ISIS’s self-styled...

theartsdesk at Bergman Week - finding the spirit of the great Swedish filmmaker

Demetrios Matheou

Every summer on the tiny island of Fårö, holidaymakers and film buffs are jointly cast in a celebration of one of cinema’s master directors

DVD/Blu-ray: Lola

Nick Hasted

In Fassbinder's 'The Blue Angel' remake, West German corruption equals Weimar's

David Lynch: The Art Life review - authentic and revealing

David Kettle

Candid doc charts Lynch's early years, and how his visual art morphed into film

Enter theartsdesk's Young Reviewer of the Year Award


In association with The Hospital Club's h.Club 100 Awards, we're launching a new competition to find a brilliant young critic

10 Questions for Adeel Akhtar: 'The first form of defiance is to laugh'

Jasper Rees

Brilliant in Four Lions and Murdered By My Father, now the BAFTA winner is in a delightful American romcom

The Beguiled review - silly but seriously well-made

Matt Wolf

Colin Farrell puts the, um, cat amongst the pigeons in Sofia Coppola's Cannes prize-winner

DVD: Cézanne et moi

Tom Birchenough

From Provence to Paris, a lavish double biopic about a cultural friendship

War for the Planet of the Apes review – long on budget, short on ideas

Adam Sweeting

'Apocalypse Now' goes to Stalag Luft III

theartsdesk in Karlovy Vary: Warm thermals at the International Film Festival

Ronald Bergan

There's a low star count, but the Czech spa town is the best place to catch new cinema from Eastern Europe

The Last Word film review - Shirley MacLaine's spit and vinegar remain intact

Matt Wolf

Veteran pro in prime form lends seasoning to treacly fare

DVD/Blu-ray: Stormy Monday

Graham Rickson

Mike Figgis's feature debut: visually arresting Geordie noir in a superb new print

Spider-Man: Homecoming review - fresh, funny version of the arachnid avenger

Adam Sweeting

Tom Holland brings us super-powers with a human face

DVD/Blu-ray: Daughters of the Dust

Mark Kidel

African roots shimmer in resurrected black American masterpiece

DVD/Blu-ray: Long Shot

Tom Birchenough

The challenges of independent filmmaking beautifully satirised in a rediscovered treat

Baby Driver review - thrill-ride runs out of road

Nick Hasted

Edgar Wright's rock'n'roll car-chase is a classic till it crashes

Risk review - Assange unravels

Nick Hasted

Fantastic access, fumbled story in the latest Assange doc

Okja, Netflix review - joyous assault on the meat industry

Jasper Rees

Tilda Swinton is the villain in a glorious South Korean fable about a big pig

DVD/Blu-ray: The Sorrow and the Pity

Saskia Baron

The greatest documentary ever made about France during the Second World War

Souvenir review – Huppert does deadpan like Buster Keaton

Nick Hasted

Isabelle Huppert gives her tragicomic all to a Eurovision comeback

The Book of Henry review - staggeringly awful

Saskia Baron

Dazzlingly inept movie starring Naomi Watts that doesn't know what genre it belongs in

DVD/Blu-ray: Minute Bodies - The Intimate World of F Percy Smith

Graham Rickson

Offbeat BFI celebration of a pioneering cinematic miniaturist

Hampstead review - Diane Keaton deserves better and so does London

Matt Wolf

Wince-making romcom is pretty but preposterous

The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger review - voyages round a giant

Sarah Kent

Four very different films create an intimate portrait of an influential man

DVD/Blu-ray: The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

Kieron Tyler

Definitive restoration of horror auteur Dario Argento’s landmark directorial debut

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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