tue 22/07/2014

Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Too Late Blues

Kieron Tyler

Too Late Blues has many individual aspects which, on their own, would make it notable. Released in 1961, it was John Cassavetes’ second film as a director following the ground-breaking Shadows, one of America’s first full-length expressionist art films. As Shadows had, it centres on jazz and depicts a world which was then thriving, showing it from the inside. It stars Bobby Darin, one of America’s most important and multi-faceted musical figures. When taken together, with the added impact of...


Emma Simmonds

David Gordon Green is a director who's certainly not afraid to confound. His CV includes indie gems George Washington, All the Real Girls, comedy smash Pineapple Express and medieval misfire Your Highness. His previous feature Prince Avalanche was made in secret and starred Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as mismatched highway workers; it was sensitively shot, unpredictable and determinedly oddball. With Joe Green manages to harness Nicolas Cage's mad energy and channel it into something spectacular...

Some Like It Hot

David Benedict

In what is undoubtedly one of the earlier recorded examples of the single entendre, the original ad campaign for Some Like It Hot yelled “Marilyn...

I Am Divine

Karen Krizanovich

Divine is a lot more than dog poop. The minute you mention Divine – born Glenn Milstead in Baltimore, star of John Waters’ cult classics such as...

Six of the best: Film


Begin Again **** Keira Knightley stars in summertime feelgood flick about love, loss and pop songsBoyhood ***** Linklater unveils his labour of love...

Grand Central

Kieron Tyler

Doomed love story set in a nuclear plant stars Léa Seydoux and Tahar Rahim

DVD: Harold and Maude

Kieron Tyler

Early Seventies black comedy which demonstrates love recognises no boundaries

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Katherine McLaughlin

War, ooh ooh eee eee aah, what is it good for?

Norte, the End of History

Graham Fuller

Lav Diaz's four-hour masterpiece transposes 'Crime and Punishment' to the Philippines

DVD: Miss Violence

Katie Colombus

This disturbing depiction of patriarchal domination is difficult to watch

Finding Vivian Maier

Karen Krizanovich

A talented, mysterious street photographer emerges, posthumously, in this intriguing documentary

DVD: Under the Skin

Jasper Rees

Scarlett Johansson kills Glaswegian males

Mr Morgan's Last Love

Nick Hasted

Michael Caine is masterly in an old-age drama in romcom disguise


Emma Simmonds

Linklater unveils his labour of love, over a decade in the making, and it's a doozy

Goltzius and the Pelican Company

Emma Simmonds

Peter Greenaway is back and, yes, he's as wonderfully perverse as ever

Begin Again

Adam Sweeting

Summertime feelgood flick about love, loss and pop songs

DVD: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Kieron Tyler

A game of two halves in Wes Anderson’s hotel-set fantasia

theartsdesk in Moscow: Blood brothers on film

Tom Birchenough

No avoiding contemporary realities at the Moscow International Film Festival

DVD: Metro-Land

Nick Hasted

Betjeman takes the train into England's suburban oddness

Digital Revolution, The Curve, Barbican

Sarah Kent

A trip for techies down memory lane, plus a glimpse at the 'interactive' future

The Anomaly

Katherine McLaughlin

We don't need another hero


Emma Simmonds

Melissa McCarthy hits the road in a self-penned effort that fails to live up to its promise

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Kieron Tyler

Unfunny film adaptation of best-selling Swedish novel is for converts only


Matt Wolf

Sweet, slight film allows West End musicals star to shine

DVD: Boy Meets Girl; Mauvais Sang

Katie Colombus

These two beguiling French tragedies hold a timeless beauty


Karen Krizanovich

Don't stay hungry: Favreau's latest is fast, furious and fun – and it gets social media right

Mistaken for Strangers

Katherine McLaughlin

A candid rockumentary about indie band The National which tests the limits of brotherly love

The Golden Dream

Tom Birchenough

Welcome to America? Not exactly. Diego Quemada-Diez's debut tracks a tough journey

DVD: The Punk Singer

Katie Colombus

An intimate and inspiring look at the life of a feminist punk rock icon

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

Close Footnote

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in Today

Medea, National Theatre

An updating of Euripides which retains its mythical power

First World War Galleries, Imperial War Museum

An imaginative refit with 14 new galleries to tell the story of The Great W...

theartsdesk at Latitude: Lily Allen/Haim

This kid-friendly festival has an audience as eclectic as the line up

theartsdesk at Latitude: Damon Albarn/Booker T Jones

Booker T Jones' set of Sixties hits wows the crowd - but is Damon Alba...

DVD: Too Late Blues

Jazz-world rollercoaster ride from John Cassavetes

Man Overboard, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, LSO St Luke's

London's cross-collaborating ensemble wears its USP on its sleeve

Prom 4: World Orchestra for Peace, Gergiev

International orchestra brings the light of hope in a very dark week

CD: Fink - Hard Believer

Fink's latest is a mixed bag of the inspired and aerated


David Gordon Green's latest marks a return to form for the mighty Nico...

The Mill, Series 2, Channel 4 / The Lancaster: Britain'...

Return of 19th century industrial saga is dingy, drab and didactic


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters