fri 22/09/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Saskia Baron

Oh dear. I thought that this was going to be one of those exciting fantasy films that livened up TV on weekend afternoons in my childhood, and that there would be kitschy special effects and ludicrous dialogue. But no, it's not 20,00 Leagues under the Sea, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad or even Dr Doolittle.

Borg/McEnroe review - Wimbledon face-off is entertaining if incomplete

Matt Wolf

A spate of tennis-themed films gets off to a vivid if incomplete start with Borg/McEnroe, which recreates the run-up to the Wimbledon Men's Final in 1980 with often-thrilling clarity and (as much as is possible for those who will of course recall the outcome) suspense.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle review - too much of...

Adam Sweeting

Take one off-the-wall spoof spy thriller that becomes an unexpected hit. Add a bunch of gratuitous guest stars (mostly American). Stretch formula to...

DVD/Blu-ray: The Legend of the Holy Drinker

Tom Birchenough

A decade after his masterpiece, The Tree of Wooden Clogs, won the 1978 Palme d’Or at Cannes, Italian director Ermanno Olmi took Venice’s 1988 Golden...

mother! review - Darren Aronofsky dares,...

Nick Hasted

Breathing through an oxygen mask with a busted diaphragm and rib after shooting a single scene in mother!, Jennifer Lawrence had rarely suffered more...

Victoria and Abdul review - Judi Dench's Queen Victoria retread battles creaky script

Matt Wolf

Little-known slice of history is briefly charming and then a chore

DVD/Blu-ray: My Life as a Courgette

Graham Rickson

Heartbreaking, funny Swiss stop-motion animation

DVD/Blu-ray: The Big Knife

Saskia Baron

Stagey film noir revealing the dark heart of '50s Hollywood wins welcome re-issue

Insyriated review - claustrophobic terror in a Damascus war zone

Tom Birchenough

Urgent tension brings home the desperate human consequences of conflict

DVD: Every Picture Tells a Story

Marina Vaizey

The art films of James Scott: a very mixed anthology, dating from 1966 to 1983

IT review - killer clown is kids' stuff

Nick Hasted

Stephen King classic revisited, more faithful than frightening

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Blu-ray: Lord of the Flies

Saskia Baron

Excellent restoration of Peter Brook's classic tale of schoolboys stranded on a desert island

God's Own Country review - a raw, rural masterpiece

Tom Birchenough

A new master of British cinema, Francis Lee's debut is starkly stunning

Una review - 'Blackbird' adaptation loses its stage intensity

Matt Wolf

Benedict Andrews directs Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn in David Harrower’s screen transfer of his stage hit

DVD/Blu-ray: The Love of a Woman

Graham Fuller

A revelatory French feminist melodrama about a doctor forced to choose between her man and her vocation

DVD/Blu-ray: My Beautiful Laundrette

Tom Birchenough

Stephen Frears’ unexpected 1985 hit is as fresh and relevant as ever

The Limehouse Golem review - horrible history with a twist

Jasper Rees

Bill Nighy steps into Alan Rickman's shoes to solve yet more murders in Victorian London

Patti Cake$ review - endearing tale of a big girl with big dreams

Saskia Baron

Rappers delight: Geremy Jasper's indie debut is sure to win audience hearts

DVD/Blu-ray: Touchez Pas au Grisbi

Nick Hasted

Jean Gabin is majestic in Jacques Becker's French gangster classic

Moon Dogs review - gritty, refreshing and very funny

David Kettle

Road movie meets teen romcom in a likeable all-Celtic comedy

Hotel Salvation review - a moving meditation on the end

Tom Birchenough

A tale of father and son told in impressive Indian cinema debut

DVD/Blu-ray: J'Accuse

Graham Fuller

Though marred by technical limitations, Abel Gance’s anti-war film was still a titanic achievement

American Made review - Tom Cruise flies again

Jasper Rees

Doug Liman's bouncy action caper revisits the slimy underbelly of Eighties American realpolitik

h.Club 100 Awards: Film - in a blockbuster world, originality thrives

Tom Birchenough And Nick Hasted

Best of British: this year's shortlist salutes a new generation of independent film-makers

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power review - Al Gore's urgent update

Demetrios Matheou

Back on the road with his stirring environmental road show, Gore doesn't expect Donald Trump to gatecrash his party

Blu-ray: Ronin

Jasper Rees

Robert De Niro leads a classy cast through French car chases in thrilling pursuit of a MacGuffin

The Hitman's Bodyguard - potty-mouthed, turgid waste of talents

Saskia Baron

Formulaic high-end action movie fails to challenge Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds

Quest review - intimate documentary about a north Philly community

Markie Robson-Scott

Jonathan Olshefski's film takes us into the heart of an African-American family

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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