wed 20/06/2018

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Best Films Out Now


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.City of Ghosts ★★★★ Chilling but inspiring report on Syria's citizen journalists

Enter theartsdesk / h Club Young Influencer of the Year award


Are you a young blogger, vlogger or writer in the field of the arts, books and culture? If so, we've a competition for you to enter.

Blu-ray: Force of Evil

Mark Kidel

Force of Evil is much more than a stunning film noir classic: it’s first and foremost a film about money and power and their tragic power of...

Ocean's 8 review – half-cocked caper

Adam Sweeting

Perfectly timed, in theory, for the advent of #MeToo and Hollywood’s post-Weinstein era, this girl-power redesign of the Ocean franchise has lined up...

The Happy Prince review - Wilde at heart

Jasper Rees

Oscar Wilde did not have a dignified departure. As soon as he died, his body began to emit a river of fluids from various orifices. At the graveside...

The Ciambra review - supremely effective storytelling

Owen Richards

'This Is England' meets 'Gomorrah' in one boy’s passage into manhood

City of Ghosts review - chilling but inspiring report on Syria's citizen journalists

David Kettle

Quietly masterful and harrowing documentary on undercover reportage in Raqqa

DVD/Blu-ray: The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick

Tom Birchenough

No particular place to go: refreshed soundtrack revives Wim Wenders's debut feature

Studio 54 review - boogie wonderland

Jasper Rees

Documentary revisits the most celebrated discotheque of them all

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review - dinosaurs in peril

Adam Sweeting

Is it going to be extinction all over again for the prehistoric predators?

McQueen review - the dark brilliance of Alexander McQueen

Markie Robson-Scott

Moving documentary charts the anarchic fashion designer's life and career

My Friend Dahmer review - sympathy for the devil

Tom Birchenough

Backstory of a psychopath: Marc Meyers charts an inexorable path to darkness

DVD: Here to Be Heard - The Story of the Slits

Thomas H Green

Well-told documentary on Britain's groundbreaking female punk band

Ismael's Ghosts review - call me novelistic

Nick Hasted

A love triangle anchors a French director's rich, baggy, self-referential tale

Blu-ray: Intimate Lighting

Tom Birchenough

A very bearable slightness of being pervades Ivan Passer’s Czech feature debut

Solo: A Star Wars Story review - timid and torpid

Nick Hasted

A Star Wars too far

Edie review - Sheila Hancock gets summit fever

Jasper Rees

Octogenarian widow aims to conquer a Scottish mountain

DVD/Blu-ray: Coco

Graham Rickson

Big-hearted musings on death and memory, disguised as a family blockbuster

On Chesil Beach review - perfect playing in a poignant Ian McEwan adaptation

Tom Birchenough

Never such innocence again: Saoirse Ronan excels in a film of very British reserve

The Rosenkavalier film, OAE, Paterson, QEH review - silent-era muddle expertly accompanied

David Nice

Superb salon-orchestra playing redeems Strauss's lazy work on a meandering silent film

Filmworker review - a life dedicated to Stanley Kubrick

Saskia Baron

Totally devoted to the master; a fascinating documentary about Kubrick's righthand man Leon Vitali

DVD/Blu-ray: The Post

Nick Hasted

Streep, Hanks and Spielberg back the press at their best

DVD: All the Money in the World

Jasper Rees

All in the family: Christopher Plummer refuses to pay Charlie Plummer's kidnap ransom in Ridley Scott's Getty drama

Blu-ray/DVD: Neon Bull

Tom Birchenough

Rough but sensual, an enthralling immersion in Brazil's rodeo world

Cuckmere: A Portrait/Environment 2.0, Brighton Festival review - landscape, politics and art collide

Nick Hasted

Brighton's rustic hinterland gets audiovisual accompaniment, plus Green debate

Michel Hazanavicius: 'Losing himself is how he found himself'

Demetrios Matheou

The Oscar-winning director's new film, 'Redoubtable', charts the turning point in the life and career of the legendary Jean-Luc Godard

Anon review - adventures in cyber-noir

Adam Sweeting

Old-school detective hunts the ghost in the machine

Revenge - a blood-soaked joy

Owen Richards

Never have desert landscapes and graphic self-surgery looked so good

Entebbe review – Seventies hijack drama remains grounded

Adam Sweeting

Gripping real-life story becomes mediocre movie

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

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?

latest in Today

The Rolling Stones, Twickenham Stadium review - until the ne...

Eel Pie, the tiny eyot in the Thames, is not too a long walk from Twickenham stadium – within hollering distance, almost, if you had that kind of...

theartsdesk at Leipzig's Blüthner Piano Factory - a per...

Have you ever wondered why the Steinway grand piano is invariably...

Natural World: The Super Squirrels, BBC Two review - silline...

Squirrels are a breed as diverse as they are ubiquitous: they inhabit environments as extreme as desert and tundra, and all the lush greenery,...

The Courtesan’s Gaze, Fieri Consort, Handel House review – h...

From an early age, Barbara Strozzi would have entertained the guests of her father’s Venetian academy with songs, including her own works. A...

The Best Films Out Now

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...

The Best Plays in London

London is the theatre capital of the world, with more than 50 playhouses offering theatrical entertainment. From the mighty National Theatre to...

CD: Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth

It would always be difficult to follow The Epic, the 2015 release which turned LA saxophonist Kamasi Washington from leader of...

Enter theartsdesk / h Club Young Influencer of the Year awar...

Are you a young blogger, vlogger or writer in the field of the arts, books and culture? If so, we've a competition for you to enter.


Ismaili a Go-Go: How the Aga Khan funded a music renaissance

Many of us recognise that rather striking modernist building in Cromwell Gardens near South Kensington tube, having seen it on the way to the V...

Bach Weekend, Barbican review - vivid and vibrant celebratio...

John Eliot Gardiner was 75 in April, and to celebrate, the...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters