sun 28/05/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Red Turtle review - Studio Ghibli loses its magic touch

Saskia Baron

A man is caught up in a storm at sea; giant waves like Hokusai crests throw him onto a deserted tropical island. Over the next 80 minutes, his struggle to survive occupies the screen. Curious crabs provide a little company, but not enough to stop him trying to make a raft only to have his attempts at escape thwarted. While he is eventually blessed with some human companionship, there is no dialogue throughout the film, just music and sound effects.The Red Turtle features many beautiful...

The Other Side of Hope review - Aki Kaurismäki at his tragicomic best

Saskia Baron

It takes real skill to make a film about a desperate Syrian refugee and a dour middle-aged Finn reinventing himself and turn it into the warmest, most life-enhancing film I’ve seen this year. But Aki Kaurismäki has form, he’s been making movies which defy genres – are they absurdist or social realist, tragic or comic? – for 30 years now. His films do well at festivals – The Other Side of Hope won Berlinale's Silver Bear for best director this year – and regularly find their way onto the indie...

Sachin: A Billion Dreams review - the incredible...

Adam Sweeting

There are great sportsmen, and on top of those there’s a handful of phenomena. Sachin Tendulkar is one of the latter, a cricketer of seemingly...

DVD/Blu-ray: Lino Brocka - Two Films

Tom Birchenough

With some re-releases, the fascination is not only discovering the work of a director, but also the environment and context in which he or she worked...

McLaren review - illuminating portrait of New...

Adam Sweeting

We’ve recently seen how Formula One heroes Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and James Hunt can become box office gold, in the form of Senna and Rush. Roger...

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! review - without a little help from their friends

James Woodall

Absence of original music undermines Sgt. Pepper and Beyond documentary

10 Questions for film director Roger Donaldson – 'motor racing in the 1960s was incredibly dangerous'

Adam Sweeting

The story of his new documentary about racing driver Bruce McLaren, who was killed 47 years ago

DVD/Blu-ray: Madame de…

Kieron Tyler

Unexpected passions win out in Max Ophüls’ landmark drama of the heart

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Inversion review - acutely observed drama of Tehran family strife

Tom Birchenough

Iranian independent film about the complications of a woman's independence

Blu-ray: My Life as a Dog

Saskia Baron

The much loved Swedish coming-of-age drama: Lasse Hallström's better canine experience

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword review - Guy Ritchie's deadly weapon

Jasper Rees

Mockney auteur takes a mallet to English myth with misbegotten action comedy

The Secret Scripture review - Jim Sheridan's turgid homecoming

Matt Wolf

Rooney Mara and Vanessa Redgrave can't rescue a stillborn adaptation of Sebastian Barry's novel

DVD/Blu-ray: La La Land

Jasper Rees

Armed with six Oscars (if not the big one), Damien Chazelle's homage to Los Angeles embarks on a long afterlife

Frantz review - François Ozon in sombre mood: it works

Tom Birchenough

The French director catches the pity of war, in aftermath, in moving black and white

Miss Sloane review - Jessica Chastain lobbies hard for your vote

Jasper Rees

The gun lobby never loses. But it's never had an opponent like this

DVD/Blu-ray: Melody

Saskia Baron

Pre-teen romantic comedy set in late Sixties London gets a welcome restoration

Alien: Covenant review - we've seen most of this before

Adam Sweeting

Surely Sir Ridley Scott isn't winding us up?

Blu-ray: Tampopo

Saskia Baron

Delicious Japanese comedy about deadly rivalry between noodle chefs

Mindhorn review - Eighties detective spoof is a hoot

Jasper Rees

Julian Barratt dons blouson and eyepatch to bust crime and make fun of washed-up TV stars

Citizen Jane review - portrait of a New York toughie

Markie Robson-Scott

How the urban planners didn't take Manhattan, thanks to the remarkable Jane Jacobs

DVD/Blu-ray: Catfight

Nick Hasted

Anne Heche battles Sandra Oh in a bloody, singular satire

theartsdesk at The Hospital Club


Announcing a new partnership with the most creative club in London

DVD/Blu-ray: German Concentration Camps Factual Survey

Saskia Baron

Screening the Holocaust, Sidney Bernstein's devastating documentary completed and restored

DVD/Blu-ray: Letter to Brezhnev

Jasper Rees

Eighties low-budget classic set in Liverpool given a welcome re-release

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 review - complacent, tedious, cynical

Saskia Baron

Sequel to the smash hit of 2014 boasts star cameos but lacks some of the original sparkle

The Promise review - genocide reduced to melodrama

Adam Sweeting

Noble intentions don't do justice to historical horrors

Lady Macbeth review - 'memorably nasty'

Nick Hasted

Feminist psychosis in 19th-century Northumberland

Heal the Living review - 'lots of emotion, not enough life'

Markie Robson-Scott

A heart transplant goes horribly right in Katell Quillévéré’s third feature

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

Close Footnote


Win a Luxury Weekend for Two to Celebrate Brighton Festival!

Kate Tempest

Prize includes a boutique hotel stay, dinner for two and tickets to Brighton Festival’s hotly anticipated events!

Brighton Festival is a fantastic, exhilarating and leading annual celebration of the arts, with events taking place in venues both familiar and unusual across Brighton & Hove for three weeks every May. This year, the Festival an eclectic line-up spanning music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, comedy, debate and spoken word. With the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest serving as Guest Director.

Enter this competition for a chance to win a fantastic break for two over the opening weekend of Brighton Festival (Saturday 6 - Sunday 7 May).

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