tue 12/11/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Journey to the Beginning of Time

Graham Rickson

Karel Zeman’s Invention for Destruction and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen are dizzying romps, whereas his earlier Journey to the Beginning of Time, made in 1955, is disarmingly straightfor

Meeting Gorbachev review - Werner Herzog offers a swansong tribute

Tom Birchenough

You react differently to Meeting Gorbachev knowing that the film’s subject was on occasions brought to its interviews from hospital by ambulance; his interlocutor, Werner Herzog, doesn’t mention that fact, of course, anywhere in the three encounters on which this documentary is based,

The Good Liar review - the grey pound dipped in...

Nick Hasted

Ian McKellen, his Mr Holmes director Bill Condon and Helen Mirren play clever, nasty games with conman clichés and presumptions about the elderly in...

Midway review - gung-ho heroes battle moribund...

Adam Sweeting

Director Roland Emmerich has been trying to make this movie since the 1990s, and battled hard to raise its $100m budget from individual investors....

'I’m having too much fun writing novels...

Joseph Walsh

"Surreal" is how the man calling himself Nicholas Searle describes the last five years of his life. He began working on his debut novel The Good Liar...

The Irishman review - mobster masterclass

Demetrios Matheou

Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino are on top form in this sprawling gangster drama

The Aeronauts review - up, up and okay

Joseph Walsh

Thrilling action sequences are weighed down by uneven drama

Brittany Runs a Marathon review - believable body positive parable

Nick Hasted

Jogging redemption hits bumps in the road in a subtle semi-romcom

After the Wedding review - a high-tension gut punch

Owen Richards

Starry cast bring gravitas to knotty drama remake

Sorry We Missed You review – Ken Loach's unapologetic assault on the gig economy

Demetrios Matheou

A Newcastle couple struggles to cope with precarious employment

Doctor Sleep review - heartfelt return to the Overlook Hotel

Nick Hasted

More King than Kubrick, in effective if muted sequel to 'The Shining'

Blu-ray: Fuller at Fox

Mark Kidel

Pulp movies with class

The Last Black Man in San Francisco review - gentle gentrification blues

Nick Hasted

A conflicted love letter to San Francisco, as it prices out its citizens and soul

By the Grace of God review - a dark, meticulous drama from François Ozon

Tom Birchenough

Documentary-influenced investigation of paedophilia in the French Church is resonant and true

The Addams Family review - more treat than trick

Joseph Walsh

Animated reboot works best when sticking to the source material

Monos review - teenage guerrillas raising havoc

Markie Robson-Scott

Visually stunning and a brilliant soundtrack - but there's a lack of heart to Alejandro Landes's darkness

Terminator: Dark Fate review – look who's back

Demetrios Matheou

Linda Hamilton returns to the sci-fi franchise that just isn't the same without her

Black and Blue review - police thriller aims high and misses

Adam Sweeting

Big issues blot out character and plot in lacklustre bad-cop drama

DVD/Blu-ray: Legend of the Witches & Secret Rites

Graham Fuller

Modish early '70s documentaries about Wicca were aimed at the dirty mac brigade

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review - fantasy follow-up falls flat

Joseph Walsh

Angelina Jolie's charms aren't enough to carry Disney sequel

Non-Fiction - adultery spices up digitisation drama

Graham Fuller

Sexual fidelity is as believable as the digitally derived 'truth' in Olivier Assayas's latest

Zombieland: Double Tap review - dead dull redo

Tom Baily

Stunted sequel fails to add to the 2009 original

Official Secrets review – powerful political thriller

Demetrios Matheou

Keira Knightley excels as the real-life GCHQ whistleblower

The Peanut Butter Falcon review - sentimental comedy is so damn heartwarming

Saskia Baron

Heart-felt picaresque adventure about a young man with Down's Syndrome runs into clichés

LFF 2019: The Irishman review - masterful, unsentimental gangster epic

Nick Hasted

The whole story of a mobster's life in Scorsese and De Niro's autumnal reunion, plus 'A Hidden Life'

LFF 2019: Le Mans '66 review - Matt Damon, Christian Bale and the Ford Motor Company go to war

Adam Sweeting

Battle of the race aces, plus 'The Aeronauts', 'Greed' and 'The Exorcist' revisited

Gemini Man review - high-concept, high-tech Zen weirdness

Nick Hasted

Ang Lee's baffled action effort, with surplus Will Smiths

The Day Shall Come review – Homeland Security satire lacks bite

Demetrios Matheou

Chris Morris' new comedy highlights the absurdity of the War on Terror

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

Advertising feature


Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. 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 theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

latest in Today

'The Academy and I': composer and viola-player Sal...

I was thirteen. It was a Saturday, and Mum was working. On this occasion she asked if I’d like to come along and bring a book.  I was wearing...

Vampire Weekend, O2 Academy, Birmingham review – clean-cut A...

By the time Vampire Weekend reached Birmingham on their latest UK jaunt, they had unfortunately managed to mislay their support band, the...

Roméo et Juliette, LSO, Tilson Thomas, Barbican review - sur...

So much was fresh and exciting about Michael Tilson Thomas's years as the ...

World on Fire, BBC One, series finale review - may this fine...

A bit like all those people on the home front in 1940 (but only a little bit), we sit and nervously wait for news. Is World on Fire (...

Jack Dee, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage review - now he re...

Jack Dee has made a career out of being a grumpy old man, even though he started on the...

Book extract: Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

Between 1991 to 2012, Belorussian journalist and oral historian Svetlana Alexievich travelled the countries that constituted the former USSR...

CD: Aziza Brahim - Sahari

Last month this Western Saharan singer-songwriter...


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