tue 07/07/2020

Film reviews, news & interviews

Homemade review - laughs, loss and madness in lockdown

Demetrios Matheou

If COVID-19 isn’t the only topic being tackled by creative folk at the moment, it certainly feels like it. That’s perfectly understandable, when the practical and emotional conditions of doing anything at the moment – in lockdown – invariably become, in some way, the subject.

theartsdesk Q&A: filmmaker Mike Hodges

David Thompson

Mike Hodges arrived in cinema through television, including a stint on the rightly revered Granada Television current affairs series World in Action.

Back Roads review - nice cheekbones, not much...

Matt Wolf

Back Roads has languished largely unseen since its completion in 2017, and one can see why: lurid to the point of absurdity, this adaptation of...

Family Romance, LLC review - the chameleon blues

Nick Hasted

Werner Herzog’s appearance in The Mandalorian paid for this deadpan, documentary-like slice of extreme Japanese life, suggesting how the director’s...

Lynn + Lucy review - a bruising tale of female...

Joseph Walsh

British director Fyzal Boulifa makes his feature film debut with a bruising account of female-friendship torn apart by personal tragedies and...

Blu-ray: Criss Cross

Mark Kidel

Robert Siodmak's masterpiece of film noir - a story of passion and betrayal

Blu-Ray: Laughter in Paradise, The Green Man

Graham Rickson

Alastair Sim redeems a pair of patchy non-Ealing comedies

A White, White Day review - white heat

Nick Hasted

Gripping Icelandic portrait of grief, love and vengeance

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

On the Record review - #MeToo turns its lens to the music industry, gives the mic to women of colour

Jill Chuah Masters

An unflinching look at #MeToo, misogyny in hip hop, and the burdens of black women

The Dead and the Others review – dreamlike journey set in indigenous Brazilian community

Tom Baily

Cannes-winning docudrama observes the clash between ancient tradition and modern life

Fanny Lye Deliver’d review - blistering English civil war western

Joseph Walsh

Thomas Clay delivers a potent pastoral drama by way of a house-invasion horror

The Booksellers review – a deep dive into the eccentric world of bookselling

Joseph Walsh

Brimming with charm, this documentary is a rare treat

DVD/Blu-ray: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Mark Kidel

Slow-burning passion packs a strong erotic punch in Céline Sciamma's film

Blu-Ray: A Foreign Affair

Saskia Baron

Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich weave that old black magic in their black market tale

Joan of Arc review – tough little number

Graham Fuller

Part Two of Bruno Dumont's musical biopic ranges from scathing to compassionate

Ian Holm, British film's best supporting actor

Jasper Rees

From King Lear to Bilbo Baggins - remembering the great film actor who vanquished stage fright

Wasp Network review – Cuban but no cigar

Demetrios Matheou

Édgar Ramírez and Penelope Cruz are a couple whose marriage is sacrificed to a Cold War spy game

7500 review - a turbulent ride

Owen Richards

Debut thriller will have you avoiding airports for good

The Day After I'm Gone review - a subtle portrayal of a grieving father and his teenage daughter

Markie Robson-Scott

An impressive debut feature from Israeli director Nimrod Eldar

Blu-ray/DVD: It Couldn't Happen Here

India Lewis

One long, indulgent music video

Artemis Fowl review - flash bang nothing

Owen Richards

A poor adaptation of a magical world

Echo in the Canyon review – California droopin'

Graham Fuller

Disappointing tribute to the 1965-67 Laurel Canyon folk-rock scene

Da 5 Bloods review - Spike Lee takes on the black GIs' experience in Vietnam

Saskia Baron

Timing is everything; Spike Lee misses out on a cinema release but hits Netflix as Black Lives Matter dominates the news

The King of Staten Island review - Apatow's best work in a decade

Joseph Walsh

Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson are a winning combination

Banana Split review - likable if essentially timid romcom

Matt Wolf

On-the-shelf romcom deserves both a proper airing - and an epilogue

Blu-ray: Hagazussa

Graham Fuller

A woman dubbed a witch yields to psychosis in a superior folk horror movie

Days of the Bagnold Summer review - wry suburban drama

Veronica Lee

Simon Bird's feature film debut as director

Guest of Honour review – the grip of guilt

Graham Fuller

David Thewlis rescues a mazy father-daughter melodrama

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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