mon 25/03/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Best Films Out Now

Theartsdesk

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 below is well worth your attention.América ★★★★ A heart-warming document of love across the generations

Minding the Gap review – profound musings on life

Owen Richards

Where would you go for a devastating study on the human condition? The home movies of teenage skaters would be very low down on that list. But most of those movies aren’t filmed, compiled and analysed by Bing Liu, the director of Minding the Gap.

DVD/Blu-Ray: La Vérité

Saskia Baron

For admirers of Henri-Georges Clouzot or Brigitte Bardot, this Criterion restoration of their rarely seen 1960 collaboration is a must have. La...

Q&A special: The making of Local Hero

Jasper Rees

Local Hero, released in 1983, has been adapted into a musical, with a book by playwright David Greig and more songs from the soundtrack's original...

The White Crow review - gripping depiction of the...

Adam Sweeting

Genius is as genius does, and Rudolf Nureyev made sure nobody was left in any doubt about the scale of either his talents or his ambitions. Based on...

DVD/Blu-ray: Bergman - A Year in a Life

Mark Kidel

Master and monster: the Swedish cinema maestro dissected

Girl review - Belgian art-house portrait of a teenage ballerina

Saskia Baron

Danse macabre? Cannes festival favourite runs into flak on its wider release

Triple Frontier, Netflix review - war-on-drugs thriller suffers identity crisis

Adam Sweeting

Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck can't say no to one last big score

Under the Silver Lake review - fascinating LA noir folly

Nick Hasted

An indulged director shoots for the moon in a seriously shallow conspiracy thriller

Benjamin review - awkward romcom meets cultural analysis

Tom Baily

Simon Amstell explores the social dilemmas of yearning creatives

DVD: An Elephant Sitting Still

Tom Birchenough

Desolate Chinese masterpiece catches melancholic anomie over 230 mins

Border review - genre-defying Oscar-nominated Swedish film

Saskia Baron

A quasi-Gothic fairytale which delivers many dark surprises

The Kindergarten Teacher review - obsession, talent and the power of poetry

Markie Robson-Scott

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in a cautionary tale of going beyond the call of duty

Everybody Knows review - so-so Spanish kidnap drama

Demetrios Matheou

Cruz and Bardem excel as ex-lovers whose past comes back to haunt them

DVD/Blu-ray: Freak Show

Tom Birchenough

Overplaying gay, Alex Lawther surprises in Trudie Styler’s high school teen com

Captain Marvel review – Brie Larson is the Avenger we’ve always been waiting for

Demetrios Matheou

A superhero movie that’s galactic in scale yet refreshingly down to earth

Ray & Liz review - beautifully shot portrait of poverty

Sarah Kent

Personal memories of a dysfunctional family captured in Richard Billingham's debut

DVD/Blu-ray: Stranger in the House

Graham Rickson

Parodic but compelling 1960s curio, with some superb BFI period extras

The Hole in the Ground review - parental horror stays on the surface

Nick Hasted

An atmospheric Irish horror debut of fumbled subtlety

Serenity review - a game of two ill-fitting halves

Adam Sweeting

Steven Knight's fishy tale goes to a watery grave

Hannah review - Rampling's restrained passion burns bright

Mark Kidel

Slow-burning minimalism with an emotional punch

The Aftermath review - it looks great but it lacks bite

Adam Sweeting

Lush post-wartime weepie set in the ruins of Hamburg

Foxtrot review – controversial movie dances to an ugly tune

Graham Fuller

Both a bleak drama and a mordant black comedy showing the ruinous effects of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory

Blu-ray: Derek Jarman Collection, Vol Two 1987-1994

Mark Kidel

A very English saint canonised by the BFI

Oscars 2019: Olivia Colman crowned queen of Hollywood

Matt Wolf

Green Book and Rami Malek also rise in a hostless, diverse and shorter ceremony

Old Boys review - short but not especially sweet

Matt Wolf

Cyrano de Bergerac is only faintly detectable in this protracted and tiresome comic adaptation

DVD: The Guilty

Saskia Baron

Thrillingly tense police procedural that never leaves its one location

Capernaum review - sorrow, pity and shame in the Beirut slums

Markie Robson-Scott

Reality and fiction collide in Nadine Labaki's powerful exposé of Lebanese street children

DVD/Blu-ray: Dawson City - Frozen Time

Tom Birchenough

Gold Rush social history seen through revelatory silent cinema documentary

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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