tue 12/12/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Prince of Nothingwood review - come for the man, stay for the country

Owen Richards

In the most unlikely of places, there is one of the world’s most prolific directors.

DVD: A Journey Through French Cinema

Mark Kidel

Bertrand Tavernier’s trip through French cinema is shot through with the love of someone who has grown up with cinema and knows how to communicate his passion in a way that is totally engaging. The three hours-plus that he delivers make you want to plunge back into the classics, as well as start discovering many underrated or forgotten directors, actors, DoP’s or film score composers.What makes the documentary so good is his 100% personal approach – although he is touchingly modest and includes...

Stronger review - Oscar-worthy straight talk and...

Nick Hasted

There are many obvious Hollywood responses to someone losing their legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. Director David Gordon Green waits his whole...

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...

Brigsby Bear review - the healing power of fantasy

Adam Sweeting

Like a bizarro-world echo of Lenny Abrahamson’s Academy-titillating Room, Dave McCary’s endearing indie feature takes a potentially hideous tale of...

DVD/Blu-ray: The L-Shaped Room

Saskia Baron

A dour slice of London realism with luminous Leslie Caron as a pregnant French miss

Menashe review - Yiddish-language film with a heart of gold

Saskia Baron

Warm and vivid family drama set within the reclusive Orthodox Jewish community

Human Flow review - two hours of human misery

Sarah Kent

A film that needed to be made, but do we want to heed its message?

DVD/Blu-ray: Terminator 2 - Judgment Day

Jasper Rees

Super-sequel from Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron stands the test of time

DVD: The Work

Tom Birchenough

Visceral prison documentary explores issues of masculinity, father-and-son relations

Happy End review - grimly compelling but to what end?

Matt Wolf

Isabelle Huppert is in feral form but Michael Haneke's latest risks self-parody

Love, Cecil review - poignant, inspiring, and very sad

David Kettle

Deft biopic of photographer and designer Cecil Beaton reveals the melancholy behind his exquisite creations

Wonder review - sweet and smart but sometimes also schmaltzy

Matt Wolf

Jacob Tremblay is on form once again in a film at odds with itself

Blu-ray: Jabberwocky

Graham Rickson

Terry Gilliam's rough-edged romp through blood and excrement, freshly restored

DVD/Blu-ray: Montparnasse 19

Florence Hallett

The most mythologised of modern artists inspired a film as ill-fated as Modigliani himself

Suburbicon review - George Clooney's jarring pastiche of the American dream

Markie Robson-Scott

Promising cast and an original Coen brothers' script fails to deliver

Battle of the Sexes review - Emma Stone aces it as Billie Jean King

Jasper Rees

Champ's face-off with chauvinist challenger Bobby Riggs is only part of this Hollywoodised story

Brakes review - dysfunctional relationships laid bare

Veronica Lee

Stellar cast in film about break-ups

DVD: The Death of Louis XIV

Tom Birchenough

Incredible wigs aside, Jean-Pierre Léaud is the reason to watch this arthouse labour

Heartstone review - huge visuals, close-up performances

Tom Birchenough

Sensitive coming-of-age, coming out story set in spectacular Icelandic landscapes

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool review - Annette Bening mesmerises

Saskia Baron

The story of faded femme fatale Gloria Grahame is coy about her past

DVD: Dispossession - The Great Social Housing Swindle

Thomas H Green

Polemic documentary about the systematic dismantlement of council-subsidised accommodation

Good Time review - heist movie with stand-out performance by Robert Pattinson

Saskia Baron

The Safdie brothers pay homage to the mean streets of New York

Blu-ray: The Incredible Shrinking Man

Graham Rickson

Surreal sci-fi: Jack Arnold’s 1957 B-movie takes its diminishing subject a long way

The Florida Project - bright indie flick packs a punch

Owen Richards

Standout performances and heartfelt storytelling make this one of the films of the year

Professor Marston and the Wonderwomen review - Rebecca Hall to the rescue

Saskia Baron

In the wake of 'Wonder Woman', can Angela Robinson's true-life origin tale strike gold too?

DVD/Blu-ray: Lubitsch in Berlin

Graham Fuller

Six gems from the wily young master’s silent period

Paddington 2 review - Hugh Grant’s superior baddie boosts sequel

Saskia Baron

Peruvian immigrant ensures work for British thespians

theartsdesk at the Viennale: shunning the 'illusion machine'

Demetrios Matheou

The Vienna film festival overcame tragedy to present a typically provocative programme

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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