sat 29/04/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 review - complacent, tedious, cynical

Saskia Baron

The original Guardians of the Galaxy from 2014 had a freshness to its humour and introduced audiences to a set of novel characters; unfortunately, the sequel is overstuffed with ageing movie stars trying to get a slice of the action. There’s always a camp knowingness about Marvel scripts, it's one of the studio's charms, but here the overt cynicism begins to drag with lines like "We’re really going to be able to jack up our price if we’re two-times galaxy saviours".Foul-tempered Rocket the...

The Promise review - genocide reduced to melodrama

Adam Sweeting

The Armenian genocide by the Ottomans during and after World War One killed 1.5 million people and is a wound that won’t heal for Armenians, though modern-day Turkey continues to insist that no genocide occurred.

Lady Macbeth review - 'memorably nasty'

Nick Hasted

The Scottish play’s traces are faint in this bloody, steamy tale of feminist psychosis. Based on Nikolai Leskov’s Dostoevsky-commissioned novel...

Heal the Living review - 'lots of emotion,...

Markie Robson-Scott

Three teenage boys meet at dawn. One of them, blonde and beautiful Simon (Gabin Verdet), jumps out of his girlfriend’s window and rides his bike...

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...

DVD: Martin Scorsese - Two Early Films

Nick Hasted

An Oscar-winning detour into feminism, and a first bulletin from Little Italy

Unforgettable review - forgettable film

Demetrios Matheou

Sadly only the women are to blame for a risible thriller

Clash review - 'a nation in crisis'

Adam Sweeting

Inside view of the aftermath of Egypt's Arab Spring

Their Finest review - undone by feeble female characterisation

Saskia Baron

Disappointing drama about the British cinema business during World War Two

DVD: Mario Lanza - The Best of Everything

Graham Rickson

Serviceable documentary about the pioneering crossover singer

theartsdesk in Panama: Latin heat

Demetrios Matheou

The Panama film festival showcases a new wave of filmmakers across Central America

The Handmaiden review - 'opulently lurid'

Nick Hasted

Park Chan-wook's sensual reimagining of Sarah Waters' intricate lesbian thriller

DVD: Crimson

Kieron Tyler

Nasty and brutish grade-Z Eurotrash marriage of crime drama and horror

The Sense of an Ending review – an enigmatic journey through the past

Adam Sweeting

Jim Broadbent shines in adaptation of Julian Barnes novel

Charlotte Rampling: 'I had to survive!' - interview

Liz Thomson

While she's never been hotter as an actress, her new memoir Who I Am bares all about grief and depression

The Hatton Garden Job review - 'extraordinarily dull'

Jasper Rees

Derivative account of the most outrageous burglary in history is neck-deep in cliché

DVD: Slaughterhouse-Five

Kieron Tyler

Deft and faithful film adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s bold novel

Aftermath, review - 'Schwarzenegger acts!'

Nick Hasted

Arnie acts his age in a quiet, convincing tragedy

I Am Not Your Negro, review - 'powerful portrait of James Baldwin'

Saskia Baron

Oscar-nominated documentary about the pioneering writer and Civil Rights activist James Baldwin

A Quiet Passion, review - 'Cynthia Nixon is an indrawn Emily Dickinson'

Matt Wolf

English director Terence Davies turns his austere eye on a great American poet

Neruda, review - 'poetry and politics'

Tom Birchenough

Flights of fantasy as the great Chilean writer goes on the run

DVD/Blu-ray: One More Time with Feeling

Nick Hasted

Grief and art mix in a subtly intimate Nick Cave documentary

Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

Thomas H Green

Brighton Festival CEO Andrew Comben's guide to this year's best free stuff

DVD/Blu-ray: Ludwig

David Nice

Visconti and Helmut Berger give beauty depth in the tragedy of the Bavarian king

City of Tiny Lights, review - 'Riz Ahmed sleuths in self-aware London noir'

David Kettle

Absorbing crime drama that's big on atmosphere if low on suspense

Mad To Be Normal, review - 'David Tennant is electric as RD Laing'

Markie Robson-Scott

Care and the community: Robert Mullan confronts Sixties anti-psychiatrist RD Laing

DVD: Revolution - New Art for a New World

Sarah Kent

Margy Kinmonth goes in search of the art that launched the Russian Revolution

Free Fire review - 'entertaining massacre with superb cast'

Nick Hasted

Brie Larson helps Ben Wheatley go back to brilliant, bloody basics

DVD/Blu-ray: Bleed For This

Jasper Rees

Miles Teller stars in the true story of Vinny Pazienza, the boxer who didn't know he was beaten

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


Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!

Kate Tempest

Prize includes a boutique hotel stay, dinner for two and tickets to Brighton Festival’s hotly anticipated events!

Brighton Festival is a fantastic, exhilarating and leading annual celebration of the arts, with events taking place in venues both familiar and unusual across Brighton & Hove for three weeks every May. This year, the Festival an eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, debate and spoken word. With the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest serving as Guest Director.

Enter this competition for a chance to win a fantastic break for two over the opening weekend of Brighton Festival (Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 May).

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