mon 01/09/2014

Film reviews, news & interviews

Before I Go To Sleep

Karen Krizanovich

Everyone loves a homegrown hero – and they don’t get more homegrown than Before I Go to Sleep, the thriller written and directed by Rowan Joffe, son of Roland Joffe, director of The Killing Fields and The Mission. Before I Go To Sleep is, arguably, one of the most anticipated British films of 2014. The script is based on the Faber Academy sensation of 2011, ex-audiologist S.J. Watson’s novel of the same name. Taken on by Ridley Scott’s production company, the high-end cast stars Nicole Kidman...

DVD: When I Saw You

Katie Colombus

Like its title, this film is surprisingly open in its capacity for possibility. It's ironic that this blossoming branch – When I Saw You – is set in the stilted habitat of a refugee camp in Jordan. It’s a sweet film that gets to the heart of the Palestinian conflict, cinematically as well as through its characters.The year is 1967, the Six-day war has just happened and 11-year-old Tarek (Mahmoud Asfa, pictured below) is fast realising his stay in Harir with his mother Ghaydaa (Ruba Blal), as...

Obvious Child

Emma Dibdin

Opening as it does on a frank, witty and somewhat extended discussion of female discharge, Obvious Child lets you know from the outset that it is...

Million Dollar Arm

Emma Simmonds

Disney's latest is a film which must have itself represented a hell of a pitch. Based on a true story, it's basically Slumdog Millionaire meets Jerry...

The Grand Seduction

Katherine McLaughlin

 Taylor Kitsch’s doomed film career continues with this trite but good natured Canadian mash-up of Doc Hollywood and Waking Ned. Just like in...

Mystery Road

Kieron Tyler

A raw take on Australia in potent outback crime drama

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Katherine McLaughlin

Frank Miller's 3D return to the world of Basin City proves a grotty and flat experience

DVD: Frau im Mond

Graham Rickson

Fritz Lang's lunar epic shines in a gleaming new print

Richard Attenborough, 1923-2014

Nick Hasted

As filmmaker and man, Attenborough had a tireless energy for useful work

If I Stay

Matt Wolf

Film about a lovesick teenage musical prodigy has a decidedly tin ear


Jasper Rees

Scarlett Johansson as a kickass brainiac is Luc Besson's latest superheroine fantasy

DVD: Cycling with Moliere

Tom Birchenough

High theatricality and countyside capers in winning French comedy treat

Into the Storm

Matt Wolf

Weather-related disaster movie loses its script to the elements

What If

Matt Wolf

Pallid Daniel Radcliffe rom-com suggests the limits of self-effacement

Two Days, One Night

Emma Simmonds

The Dardennes triumph once again - this time by collaborating with Marion Cotillard


Tom Birchenough

Satyajit Ray's classic of Indian cinema is beautifully restored

DVD: We Are the Best!

David Nice

Love, life and the last days of punk embraced by three winning girls in 1980s Sweden

Six of the best: Film


theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now

Frightfest 2014: Preview

Katherine McLaughlin

Werewolves, psychopaths and bloody murders deliver disturbing delights

The Rover

Nick Hasted

Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson battle across a grimly convincing Outback dystopia

Lauren Bacall: 'Just put your lips together and blow'

Matt Wolf

The screen made her, but she would become a stage tigress, not least when she sang

The Congress

Ellin Stein

Ari Folman takes a swipe at Hollywood in a sci-fi combining animation and live action

Listed: The laughter and tears of Robin Williams

Jasper Rees

From Mork to mawkish, the clips that define a brilliant career

DVD: Starred Up

Graham Rickson

Explosive, claustrophobic prison drama punches above its weight

Expendables III

Adam Sweeting

Stallone's gang of geriatric mercenaries still haven't lost their stomach for the fight

We Gotta Get Out of This Place

Emma Simmonds

Striking debut from the Hawkins brothers finds a trio of teens in way over their heads

DVD: The Unknown Known

Nick Hasted

A fog of words from an unrepentant Donald Rumsfeld, in Errol Morris's doc

Opinion: The Tricycle were right over the UK Jewish Film Festival

Fisun Güner

An arts organisation for once takes an ethical stand and are unjustly pilloried for it

The Inbetweeners 2

Katherine McLaughlin

Poo jokes floweth over in this record-breaking comedy sequel from Damon Beesley and Iain Morris

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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