sun 22/04/2018

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society review - artery-furring whimsy

Jasper Rees

There’s a serious film to be made about the German occupation of the Channel Islands. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is not that film. The absolute gobful of a title more than hints at artery-furring whimsy.

DVD/Blu-ray: Bergman's The Magic Flute

David Nice

Opera on film's most magical offering, better by some way than Joseph Losey's cinematically tricksy Don Giovanni, at last makes it to Region 2 in this BFI dual-format release.

Juliette Binoche: ‘Repetition feels like near...

Demetrios Matheou

It’s about time Juliette Binoche and Claire Denis teamed up: the legendary French actress, Gallic film royalty known by her countrymen and women as...

Funny Cow review - Maxine Peake is stellar

Veronica Lee

One of the joys of writing about comedy over the past few years is the decreasing frequency with which I am asked to comment on “women in comedy”, “...

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...

Milos Forman: 'The less you know about yourself, the happier you are'

Jasper Rees

An encounter with the Czech director who went into exile in 1968 but kept challenging authority

Blu-ray: Andrey Zvyagintsev - The Return / The Banishment

Mark Kidel

The first two films from the Russian master of the human abyss

DVD: Blood and Glory

Jasper Rees

Rare film in Afrikaans dramatises the birth of Springbok rugby in a brutal British internment camp

Custody review - unflinching and masterful

Owen Richards

Brilliant family drama heralds a new voice in French cinema

DVD/Download: Lies We Tell

Graham Rickson

Uneven but brave attempt at Yorkshire noir

DVD/Blu-ray: An Actor's Revenge

Tom Birchenough

Japanese fascination in stage story told with overlapping plot strands, distinctive doubling

120 BPM review - stirring portrait of French activism in the age of AIDS

Matt Wolf

Cannes prize-winner deftly mixes the personal and the political

Wonderstruck review - beautifully designed but emotionally unengaging

Saskia Baron

Todd Haynes's (double) period piece doesn't know if it's made for children or adults

Sweet Country review - hell in the Outback

Adam Sweeting

Director Warwick Thornton's stunning Australian Western

Isle of Dogs review - canine caper with a message

Veronica Lee

Wes Anderson's latest is as inventive as ever

Journeyman review - Paddy Considine wins on points

Jasper Rees

Fictional story of a brain-damaged boxer has a soft centre

Blu-ray: Derek Jarman Collection, Vol One 1972-1986

Mark Kidel

Voyage through an alchemical universe: the magical realm of a flawed English genius

Ready Player One review - Spielberg goes back to the future

Adam Sweeting

Thrilling cyber-universe puts drab real world in the shade

The Islands and the Whales review - masterful, sensitive eco-documentary

David Kettle

Why days might be numbered for the Faroes' most controversial tradition

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, BBC One review - emotional nomad with a fragile gift for joy

Jasper Rees

Imagine's intimate portrait of a Hollywood diva fills in the darkest shadows

DVD: Queerama

Owen Richards

A glorious film reclamation of Britain’s troubled gay past

I Got Life! review - fresh French comic realism

Saskia Baron

An enchanting portrait of middle-aged women refusing to grow old

Crowhurst review - plucky indie wins race with rival

Jasper Rees

The low-budget indie bests the recently released film about the same maritime disaster

The Third Murder review - unpacking a crime enigma

Tom Birchenough

Cryptic, elusive Japanese killing mystery offers no easy answers

Unsane review - Claire Foy in bonkers horror satire

Jasper Rees

Steven Soderbergh takes a wild pop at insurers and stalkers

DVD: Glory

Tom Birchenough

Second film from accomplished Bulgarian directing duo adds dark comedy to repertoire

Mary Magdalene review - potent, feminist revisionism

Nick Hasted

Stripped-back, rigorously human reimagining of Jesus and his female disciple

The Square review - stylish, brilliantly acted satire

Saskia Baron

Ruben Östlund's Oscar-nominated assault on polite Swedish society

Blu-ray: Henri-Georges Clouzot - Le Corbeau / Quai des Orfèvres / La Prisonnière

Mark Kidel

Striking trio from the French master of eroticism and violence

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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