fri 23/02/2024

Film reviews, news & interviews

Memory review - love, dementia and truth

Markie Robson-Scott

Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is given a new lease on life in Mexican director Michel Franco’s moving, complex film, full of fine performances.

theartsdesk Q&A: Wim Wenders on 'Perfect Days'

Graham Fuller

Wim Wenders’ latest narrative film Perfect Days might seem an uncommonly mellow work by the maker of Alice in the Cities (1974), The American Friend (1977), Paris, Texas (1984), and Wings of Desire (1987), but it still finds the 78-year-old German director in existentially questing mode.

Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel...

Sarah Kent

The downstairs of the Whitechapel Gallery has been converted into a ballroom or, rather, a film set of a ballroom. From time to time, a couple glides...

Blu-ray: Jerzy Skolimowski - Walkower, Bariera,...

Graham Rickson

Diving into this three-disc set of early films by maverick Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski leaves one reeling, an arresting reminder of the...

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review...

Sarah Kent

At last Yoko Ono is being acknowledged in Britain as a major avant garde artist in her own right. It has been a long wait; last year was her 90th...

Eureka review - not enough to shout about

Demetrios Matheou

Lisandro Alonso’s latest foray into slow cinema may test even his fanbase

Bob Marley: One Love review - sanitised official version of the Jamaican icon's story

Adam Sweeting

The real Bob fails to get up, stand up

The Promised Land review - gripping Danish Western

Graham Fuller

A pioneering potato farmer and a sadistic aristocrat fight for Jutland's heath

The Taste of Things review - a gentle love letter to haute cuisine

Helen Hawkins

Anh Hung Tran's Cannes winner delicately crafts the contours of passion

Occupied City review - unquiet Nazi crimes

Nick Hasted

Steve McQueen’s cool double-portrait of Amsterdam trauma

Blu-ray: Werner Herzog - Radical Dreamer

Nick Hasted

Conventional doc brings Herzog back home to his roots, hinting at myth and magic

The Iron Claw review - pancakes and beefcakes

James Saynor

A wrestling saga that keeps things too tight to the chest

The Settlers review - a western populated only by anti-heroes

Sarah Kent

No-one comes out well in this film based on Chile’s bloody past

10 Questions for 'The Settlers' film director Felipe Gálvez Haberle

Graham Fuller

Why he made a Western to condemn the Chileans responsible for the Selk'nam genocide

The Zone of Interest review - garden gates of death

James Saynor

A filmmaker’s struggle with how to handle the Holocaust

Argylle review - Matthew Vaughn's secret agent fantasy dares you to deny it

Adam Sweeting

The greater the spy, the bigger the lie

Blu-ray: The Frightened Woman

Nick Hasted

An Italian proto-Incel meets his match in a pop art sadomasochist Sixties comedy

This Blessed Plot review - a right old English carry on

Graham Fuller

Thaxted's past haunts its present in Mark Isaacs' pointed docufiction

Blu-ray: The Eternal Daughter

Markie Robson-Scott

Joanna Hogg directs Tilda Swinton in a virtuoso double role

The Color Purple review - sensational second time round for Alice Walker's novel on screen

Matt Wolf

Broadway musical offers a major bump to further screen re-telling of the popular novel

All of Us Strangers review - a haunting story about the power of love, masterfully told

Helen Hawkins

Andrew Haigh and a cast of four conjure up an intense emotional epic

Blu-ray: Life on the Line

Graham Rickson

More British Transport shorts from the BFI, handsomely remastered

The End We Start From review - watery apocalyptic drama with star turn

Saskia Baron

Low-budget British feature film gives Comer a chance to shine amid the rising water

The Holdovers review - a perfectly formed comedy that wears its perfection lightly

Helen Hawkins

Director Alexander Payne gives Paul Giamatti another plum part

Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer review - the visionary director's extraordinary career

Markie Robson-Scott

Exhilarating documentary by Thomas von Steinaeker takes on a legend

The Disappearance of Shere Hite review - the rise and fall of a woman who dared to explore female sexuality

Sarah Kent

Watching a brave soul challenge the status quo makes for compelling viewing

The Boys in the Boat review - a Boy’s Own true story told in formulaic style

Helen Hawkins

George Clooney’s latest is a highly predictable shoutout for the underdog

Poor Things review - other-worldly adaptation of Alasdair Gray's novel

Adam Sweeting

A triumphant reunion for Emma Stone and Yorgos Lanthimos

DVD/Blu-ray: The Old Oak

Graham Rickson

Ken Loach's angry, emotive swansong packs a real punch

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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