sat 27/08/2016

Film reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Women in Love

Kieron Tyler

Women in Love was Ken Russell’s first cinema film to directly reflect his work in television. He had directed The Billion Dollar Brain (1967), but that was an adaptation of a Len Deighton book. French Dressing (1964) was a few steps removed from a Carry On film. As an adaptation of the DH Lawrence novel, Women in Love (1969) tapped into the ethos of his work for the BBC and featured Oliver Reed, with whom he had worked in television. While Reed’s naked wrestling scene with Alan Bates was a sure...

Six of the best: Film


 Almost Holy ★★★★ Charisma battles desolation in moving documentary of Ukraine's lower depthsThe Childhood of a Leader ★★★ Atmospheric debut film inspired by Sartre novella on the nurturing of a fascistDavid Brent: Life on the Road ★★★ Ricky Gervais's world-class gargoyle doesn't quite cut it as a tragic figureJulieta ★★★★ Almodóvar's moving portrait of a mother's grief, adapted from Alice MunroSwallows and Amazons ★★★ Reassuringly cosy adaptation of Arthur Ransome's 1930 children's...


Markie Robson-Scott

Red, the colour of blood, passion, love and hate, is Almodóvar’s trademark and in Julieta, his 20th film (and surely one of his most visually...

DVD/Blu-ray: Sid & Nancy

Kieron Tyler

As this year has been designated the 40th anniversary of punk rock hitting the UK, there’s no surprise that Alex Cox’s Sid & Nancy is up for...

Almost Holy

Tom Birchenough

Tough love doesn’t get much tougher. Ukrainian priest Gennadiy Mokhnenko has spent two decades trying to keep children off the streets, and away...

DVD: The Killing$ of Tony Blair

Nick Hasted

A reputation's tatters are shredded in convincing detail

The Childhood of a Leader

Markie Robson-Scott

Atmospheric debut film inspired by Sartre novella on the nurturing of a fascist

Lights Out

Nick Hasted

New horror franchise isn't scared enough of the dark

DVD/Blu-ray: A Kind of Loving

Graham Fuller

John Schlesinger's seminal British New Wave drama about a couple forced to marry

Swallows and Amazons

Saskia Baron

Reassuringly cosy adaptation of Arthur Ransome's 1930 children's novel

The Shallows

Matt Wolf

Trouble in paradise for Blake Lively courtesy of a hungry shark

DVD: The Shop on the High Street

Tom Birchenough

Peerless Slovak Holocaust drama brings comedy into tragic context

Valley of Love

Tom Birchenough

Huppert and Depardieu play an accomplished desert two-hander

David Brent: Life on the Road

Nick Hasted

Ricky Gervais's world-class gargoyle doesn't quite cut it as a tragic figure

10 Questions for Actor Don Cheadle

Jasper Rees

On making 'Miles Ahead', now out on DVD, and fighting Hollywood's glass ceiling

DVD/Blu-ray: Akenfield

Nick Hasted

Suffolk village life deeply evoked by Ronald Blythe and Peter Hall


Adam Sweeting

A fast ride through the dark side of the internet

DVD/Blu-ray: Dheepan

Graham Fuller

A Paris banlieu offers no respite for an ex-Tamil Tiger in 2015's Palme d'Or-winner

Almodóvar's Women

Jasper Rees

Ahead of his new film 'Julieta', a history of the Spanish director's obsession

Bobby Sands: 66 Days

Tom Birchenough

Packed documentary tells story of the IRA hunger striker as man and myth

theartsdesk in Odessa: Films and post-truth in the new Ukraine

Peter Culshaw

Strange truths at the 'Cannes of the East'

Sweet Bean

Saskia Baron

Elliptical Japanese art movie about perfecting pancakes and overcoming prejudice

DVD: The Girl King

Kieron Tyler

Mika Kaurismäki’s biopic of the mould-breaking Swedish Queen Christina is an offbeat misfire

Barry Lyndon

Graham Fuller

Back in cinemas: Stanley Kubrick's lush but soulless rendering of a rake's progress

DVD: Mapplethorpe - Look at the Pictures

Mark Kidel

Definitive account of America's most controversial photographer

The Commune

Nick Hasted

Thomas Vinterberg gently examines free love's cost in 1970s Copenhagen

Jason Bourne

Adam Sweeting

Bourne to run (and run and run)

Blu-ray: Absolute Beginners

Kieron Tyler

Julian Temple’s flawed Eighties bomb is finally revealed as film which can’t fail to dazzle

Marni Nixon: 'It ended up being totally my voice'

Jasper Rees

Heard but not seen: the Hollywood legend, who has died, tells the inside story of dubbing Natalie Wood in 'West Side Story'

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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