sun 26/05/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

Cannes 2019: Matthias & Maxime review - a gently charming new drama

Joseph Walsh

It has been ten years since Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan first debuted I Killed My Mother at the Cannes Film Festival.

Too Late To Die Young review - an absorbing, Chilean coming-of-age

Demetrios Matheou

Chilean Dominga Sotomayor’s third feature is a beautifully crafted example of the kind of Latin drama that is slow-burn and sensorial, conveying emotion through gestures and looks rather than dialogue or action. Nothing much seems to be happening, but before you know it you’ve been completed sucked in.  

Rocketman review - fabulous musically but a tad...

Saskia Baron

Rocketman opens with its hero in flamboyant stage costume stomping into a drab group therapy session. Pulling the sparkling horns off his magnificent...

Cannes 2019: Parasite review - hilarious and...

Joseph Walsh

Like Snowpiercer before it, Bong Joon-ho’s rage-fuelled satire Parasite puts class inequality squarely in its sights. This time however, the story is...

Blu-ray: The Night of the Generals

Mark Kidel

Anatole Litvak’s The Night of the Generals (1967), beautifully restored here to 4K, is a tortuous and at times entertaining mash-up of the July 1944...

Cannes 2019: Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood review - sun-soaked black comedy

Joseph Walsh

25 years after Pulp Fiction's Cannes premiere, Tarantino wrestles with one of Hollywood's most notorious moments

Aladdin review - live-action remake in classic Disney mould

Tom Baily

Will Smith has the only magic in update of 1992 animation

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection review - a fascinating oddity

Veronica Lee

Love movies, love tennis, love this

Cannes 2019: Diego Maradona review - entertaining but skin-deep

Joseph Walsh

Asif Kapadia concludes his trilogy of tragic idols with mixed results

Blu-ray: The Woman in the Window

Graham Fuller

Fritz Lang conjures a homicide that enmeshes a timid professor with another man's slinky mistress

Cannes 2019: Too Old to Die Young - nightmarish LA noir

Joseph Walsh

'Neon Demon' director Nicolas Winding Refn turns to TV with Miles Teller

Last Stop Coney Island review - the life and photography of Harold Feinstein

Saskia Baron

Affectionate documentary portrait of a neglected American pioneer of street photography

Cannes 2019: Week One - a genre-heavy opening

Joseph Walsh

The 72nd film festival showcases ghouls, the gig economy, and gun-wielding avengers

Cannes 2019: Pain and Glory review - a dour, semi-autobiographical portrait

Joseph Walsh

Pedro Almodóvar bares all with middling results in his twenty-first feature

Tucked review - dispiriting British drag queen drama

Saskia Baron

Danny la Rue's ghost returns to haunt Brighton's piers

Cannes 2019: Sorry We Missed You review - essential Loach drama

Joseph Walsh

New film shows the real cost of zero-hour contracts and fear-inducing big data

Birds of Passage review - mesmerising Colombian family saga

Markie Robson-Scott

The marijuana boom of the Seventies from the standpoint of the Wayuu

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum review - mayhem in Manhattan

Adam Sweeting

Latest instalment of Keanu's hitman saga sustains a ferocious pace

DVD/Blu-ray: Maurice

Tom Birchenough

Merchant Ivory's celebrated EM Forster adaptation hits home with new maturity

Beats review - Scottish boys seek rave

Graham Fuller

Comedy-drama comes with a social theme and a spellbinding techno set-piece

Cannes 2019: The Dead Don't Die review - festival opens with rich zombie satire

Joseph Walsh

Jim Jarmusch gathers an A-list cast for this undead romp

DVD/Blu-ray: November

Graham Rickson

Dark Estonian fairy tale, visually delightful but short on scares

Diamantino review - loopy satire slaps Brexit

Graham Fuller

How a childlike Portuguese football superstar turns refugee-saviour

The Hustle review - rotten scoundrels

Nick Hasted

Lamentable Riviera con-artist remake wastes Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson

Destination Wedding review - a misanthropic modern-day romance

Joseph Walsh

Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder reunite in the sunny climes of Southern California

Pokémon Detective Pikachu review - a cute commercial

Nick Hasted

Pokémon meets the relatively real world, and hits its limits

Madeline's Madeline review – American indie heralds an astonishing new star

Demetrios Matheou

Art and life become dangerously entangled in auspicious debut for Helena Howard

High Life review - Claire Denis boldly goes where she hasn't gone before

Saskia Baron

Lust in space: the veteran French director takes on existential science fiction

Arctic review - The Martian on ice

Adam Sweeting

Mads Mikkelsen on peerless form as a deep-frozen plane crash survivor

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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