fri 24/02/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Train to Busan

Kieron Tyler

With its familiar scenario of massed zombies on the offensive against the living, South Korean blockbuster Train to Busan stands or falls on the fresh twists in brings to the table. For director Yeon Sang-ho’s first feature with live actors – previous films The Fake, King of Pigs and Seoul Station were animated – he sets the action on a high-speed train hurtling towards a zombie-free zone on which hordes of zombies are sniffing out the unafflicted.

Patriots Day

Jasper Rees

Patriots Day is a patriots’ film. It dramatises the grievous day on which American values were threatened on American soil like no other time since 9/11. Two bombs were detonated at the Boston marathon in April 2013: two bystanders were killed, 16 lost limbs while two policemen would go on to lose their lives. The two terrorists of Chechen origin who planted the bombs were hunted down by Boston police and the FBI until the streets were once more safe.How to put a human face on a story with so...

Lost in France

Lisa-Marie Ferla

Pulling together a music documentary strikes me as a simple enough concept. Gather your talking heads in front of a nice enough backdrop, splice with...

DVD/Blu-ray: The Crying Game

Saskia Baron

Does a review of a 25-year-old film need a spoiler alert? Much of the success of The Crying Game – its 1992 release earned both six Oscar...

DVD: The Spring River Flows East

Tom Birchenough

There’s rich irony in the timelining of 1940s Chinese blockbuster The Spring River Flows East. Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s melodrama dates its 14-...

Hidden Figures

Matt Wolf

Oscar contender is buoyed aloft by its irresistible brio


Tom Birchenough

Barry Jenkins' brilliant film has a difficult journey of self-realisation at its rich heart

The Great Wall

Jasper Rees

Matt Damon and Zhang Yimou buddy up in wooden Sino-Hollywood 3D CGI assault on the senses

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top films out now

The Founder

Adam Sweeting

How travelling salesman Ray Kroc built a fast-food nation

Listed: How I Do Love Thee


Let theartsdesk count the ways with our romantic favourites from all over the arts


Graham Fuller

The masterpiece that fused romantic melodrama with film noir to fight isolationism

DVD: Marc Isaacs - Two Films

Tom Birchenough

Subtle British documentaries catch the nuance of behaviour

10 Minutes with Director Paolo Sorrentino

Nick Hasted

A rapid visit with the Youth and The Young Pope maestro in Rome


David Kettle

Hallucinatory imagery doesn't make up for a lack of empathy in a frustrating doc

20th Century Women

Saskia Baron

Coming of age in California with Annette Bening as every boy's dream mom

DVD/Blu-ray: Black Society Trilogy

Tom Birchenough

Lacerating violence, provocative sexuality - but there's more to Japanese director Takashi Miike


Adam Sweeting

Acclaimed stage play makes awkward transition to film

Taxi Driver

Graham Fuller

Talking to me? Robert De Niro blazes again in Scorsese's re-released classic

theartsdesk Q&A: Actress Emily Watson

Jasper Rees

From 'Breaking the Waves' to 'Apple Tree Yard', the actress discusses her remarkable career

DVD/Blu-ray: Cover Girl

Graham Rickson

Dazzling visuals but baggy pacing in an iconic wartime musical

Toni Erdmann

Matt Wolf

Germany's Oscar-contender is lengthy and rewarding

DVD: The Wailing

Kieron Tyler

Ambitious South Korean horror smash bites off more than it can chew


Markie Robson-Scott

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in a quiet true-life drama about mixed-race marriage


Adam Sweeting

Matthew McConaughey's fable of untold riches is harder work than it ought to be

DVD/Blu-ray: Raising Cain

Nick Hasted

De Palma's forgotten nightmare returns in two versions

10 Questions for Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight

Jasper Rees

'Moonlight' is second only to 'La La Land' among this year's Oscars nominations. Meet its maker


Tom Birchenough

Forcing an end: Rebecca Hall searing as TV presenter caught by mental health issues

John Hurt: 'If I’ve been anything I’ve been adventurous'

Jasper Rees

Remembering the magical actor who was most comfortable playing enigmatic outsiders

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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