thu 18/07/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Lion King review - a dazzling photocopy

Nick Hasted

The cynicism of this film’s existence squeezes all the feeling from it. It approaches cherished childhood memories of the original The Lion King (1994) with a view to remonetising them. Technological advances apart, there’s no reason at all for this Lion King.

Gwen review - gothic horror set in north Wales

Saskia Baron

This gothic yarn set in 1850s Snowdonia stars Maxine Peake as Elen. She’s left alone with two young daughters to manage an isolated farm when her husband goes off to war.

Blu-Ray: Lords of Chaos

Thomas H Green

“All this evil and dark crap was supposed to be fun,” complains exasperated Norwegian black metal overlord Euronymous, played by Rory Culkin, as his...

Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek: 'Is our...

Ewa Banaszkiewicz And Mateusz Dymek

Spoiler alert: About sixty-four minutes into our debut feature film, one of the main female characters undresses for the camera. Alicja is being...

The Brink review – behind the scenes with Steve...

Demetrios Matheou

Donald Trump’s former strategist, alt-right propagandist and all-round provocateur Steve Bannon comes under the spotlight of a smart, dynamic, behind...

Armstrong review - the man behind the leap

Owen Richards

Documentary offers a sombre but interesting look at the first man

The Dead Don't Die review - return of the zom-com

Tom Baily

Indie hero Jim Jarmusch brings signature touch to living-dead genre

Annabelle Comes Home review - devil doll plays nice

Nick Hasted

The Conjuring franchise in innocent vein, despite the demons

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

DVD/Blu-ray: A Case for a Rookie Hangman

Tom Birchenough

Satire with a Swiftian slant in late Czech New Wave exploration

Vita and Virginia review - more Gloomsbury than Bloomsbury

Markie Robson-Scott

A new treatment of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West's 1920s love affair misses the mark

Midsommar review - hell is other people

Joseph Walsh

Sun-bleached horror proves night isn't the only time things go bump

Never Look Away review - the healing potential of art

Mark Kidel

The life of artist Gerhard Richter as the basis for a riveting take on recent German history

Spiderman: Far from Home review - a pleasant, if clichéd, tour

Saskia Baron

Assorted European capitals are blessed with a visitation from the Marvel juggernaut

DVD/Blu-ray: Mirai

Saskia Baron

Artful Japanese portrait of a little boy coming to terms with his new baby sister

Support the Girls review - working class dramedy misses edge

Saskia Baron

Great performances from an ensemble cast can't quite save this low-key sports bar drama

Blu-ray: People on Sunday

Mark Kidel

Groundbreaking 1929 Berlin film by Hollywood's future talent

In Fabric review - hell is a demonic dress

Graham Fuller

A vengeful red frock takes no prisoners in Peter Strickland's sublime horror comedy

Yesterday review - Beatlemania in a parallel universe

Adam Sweeting

Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis deliver an irresistible magical mystery tour

Apollo 11 review - an awe-inspiring leap

Tom Baily

Todd Douglas Miller pieces together archival footage for documentary of first lunar mission

Mari review - bittersweet drama with flair

Owen Richards

Unusual mash-up of styles creates a strangely compelling film

Blu-ray: For All Mankind

Graham Rickson

Breathtaking, heartstopping celebration of Project Apollo

DVD/Blu-ray: Sauvage

Tom Birchenough

Raw authenticity and a visceral performance from Félix Maritaud give this French debut indelible power

Toy Story 4 review - fabulous return to the big screen

Saskia Baron

To infinity and a blonde...reappearance of Woody's sweetheart takes story in a different direction

The Captor review - Stockholm syndrome silliness

Nick Hasted

Farcical hostage crisis rescued by Rapace

Blu-ray: Dazed and Confused

Saskia Baron

Richard Linklater's loose-limbed portrait of American teenagers in 1976 gets a deserved re-release

Franco Zeffirelli: 'I had this feeling that I was special'

Jasper Rees

Recalling a two-day audience at the home of the great maestro, who has died aged 96

Diego Maradona review - entertaining but skin-deep

Joseph Walsh

Asif Kapadia concludes his trilogy of tragic idols with mixed results

Men in Black: International review - lacklustre sequel missing original stars

Saskia Baron

One reboot too many as a new generation of alien exterminators fail to ignite

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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