mon 26/09/2016

Film reviews, news & interviews

First Person: The Juilliard Experiment

Mark Kidel

When the French painter Fabienne Verdier told me she’d been invited to explore the relationship between painting and music at the world-famous Juilliard School in New York, I knew straight away that this unusual residency should be documented.Fabienne is an adventurer. In her early 20s, she had courageously embarked on a journey of discovery. She was one of the very first French art students to go on an exchange programme to China, only a few years after the end of the Cultural Revolution. She...

The Magnificent Seven

Adam Sweeting

As we know, Hollywood loves a remake, and John Sturges's original Magnificent Seven from 1960 is now venerable enough to be a complete blank to contemporary yoof. But while Sturges's tale of mercenaries defending a Mexican village from bandits had itself been adapted from Kurosawa's classic tale of 16th century Japan, Seven Samurai, this new Magnificent Seven merely moves the action north of the border to the badlands of the Old West.It's 1879, and we find ourselves in the isolated town of Rose...

Blu-ray: The Glass Key/The Blue Dahlia

Graham Fuller

In popular accounts of Hollywood history, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, the insolent real-life first couple of Warner Bros film noirs, have...

Six of the best: Film


 The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years ★★★★★ Is there anything new to say about the Beatles? Amazingly, yes. Plus there's...

Little Men

Tom Birchenough

American director Ira Sachs is becoming a master at telling the small stories of life, giving them a resonance that speaks beyond the immediate...

The Girl with All the Gifts

Adam Sweeting

Bestselling book reborn as underpowered movie

Blu-ray: Early Murnau

Kieron Tyler

Five films from the great German director offer insights into his inconsistency

Scottish Mussel

David Kettle

Inept, patronising Highland romcom from debut writer/director Talulah Riley

The Clan

Tom Birchenough

Unforgiving dissection of the consequences of Argentina's dictatorship chills

Blair Witch

Nick Hasted

A frustratingly timid return to the found-footage woods

DVD: Ingrid Bergman - In Her Own Words

Jasper Rees

Intimate portrait of a Hollywood diva fills in the darkest shadows

Bridget Jones's Baby

Veronica Lee

Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth star in a sparkling return to form for the franchise

Two Women

Matt Wolf

Ralph Fiennes lends lustre to soupy screen version of Turgenev

DVD: The Measure of a Man

Nick Hasted

Inhuman employment's human cost is weighed in a French prize-winner

Captain Fantastic

Tom Birchenough

Viggo Mortensen stands out in unusual family comedy-drama of colliding worlds


Jasper Rees

Chariots misfire in disastrous reboot starring almost nobody

DVD/Blu-ray: Psychomania

Kieron Tyler

Undead bikers wreak havoc in a one-off British Seventies classic

Hell or High Water

Adam Sweeting

How the West was lost

DVD/Blu-ray: On the Black Hill

Nick Hasted

Evocative film of Bruce Chatwin's Welsh hill farm saga

The Blue Room

Markie Robson-Scott

Mathieu Amalric stars and directs in a taut adaptation of a Simenon novel

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

James Woodall

Is there anything new to say about the Beatles? Amazingly, yes. Plus there's ravishingly restored footage from Shea Stadium

DVD/Blu-ray: Embrace of the Serpent

Mark Kidel

Magical evocation of Amazonian wisdom impresses

Café Society

Matt Wolf

Woody Allen's latest ravishes the eye and, at times, the heart

Things to Come

Tom Birchenough

Isabelle Huppert superb in Mia Hansen-Løve's film of melancholy maturity

DVD/Blu-ray: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Seven Minutes

Kieron Tyler

An ace and a joker from Russ Meyer’s short liaison with 20th Century Fox

DVD/Blu-ray: Conversation Piece

David Nice

Burt Lancaster is a model of subtlety in Visconti's most candid self-portrait

Blu-ray: Women in Love

Kieron Tyler

Exemplary package celebrating Ken Russell’s compelling DH Lawrence adaptation


Markie Robson-Scott

Almodóvar's moving portrait of a mother's grief, adapted from Alice Munro

DVD/Blu-ray: Sid & Nancy

Kieron Tyler

Alex Cox’s account of punk rock’s ill-fated duo takes a ride to the heart of darkness

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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