mon 15/10/2018

Film reviews, news & interviews

1945 review - Hungarian holocaust drama

Saskia Baron

Ferenc Török is firmly aiming at the festival and art house circuit with his slow-paced recreation of one summer day in rural Hungary.

LFF 2018: Colette review - zinging with zeitgeisty relevance

Adam Sweeting

The story of French author and transgressor of social mores Colette has been told before on screen and in song, but this new film version (shown at London Film Festival) from director Wash Westmoreland not only zings with zeitgeisty relevance, but gives each of its stars, Keira Knightley and Dominic West, one of the

DVD: A Moment in the Reeds

Tom Birchenough

Mikko Makela’s debut feature is as sheerly concentrated a piece of filmmaking as you can imagine. The Finnish director – previously better known as...

First Man - Neil Armstrong's giant leap

Adam Sweeting

Echoes of Phil Kaufman’s 1983 classic The Right Stuff resonate through Damien Chazelle’s new account of how Neil Armstrong became the first man to...

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...

Tehran Taboo review - transgressive animation

Tom Birchenough

Rotoscoping gives startling picture of life in the Iranian capital, not least its repressions

A Star is Born review - Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga make a compellingly combustible duo

Matt Wolf

Familiar story is revealed afresh in actor Cooper's directorial debut

DVD/Blu-ray: The Miraculous Virgin

Tom Birchenough

More than mystifying: Slovak Surrealism of totalitarian character

Kusama - Infinity review - amazing tale of survival against the odds

Sarah Kent

A journey from exotic outsider to world-famous artist

VOD: That Good Night

Tom Birchenough

John Hurt's screen swansong gives crusty weight to scrappy script

DVD/Blu-ray: Zama

Tom Birchenough

Argentinian auteur Lucrecia Martel mesmerises with depiction of the chaos of colonialism

The Wife review - Glenn Close deserves better from her latest Oscar bid

Matt Wolf

A strong cast flails in what amounts to a glorified TV movie

Black 47 review - a gripping and unusual drama

Veronica Lee

Revenge Western set in the Irish Famine

Skate Kitchen review - sisterhood in the skate park

Markie Robson-Scott

Following female skateboarders in NYC, Crystal Moselle's new film is almost a documentary

DVD/Blu-ray: Iceman

Graham Rickson

Prehistoric revenge thriller, with lots of hollering

The Little Stranger review - the wrong sort of chills

Jasper Rees

Sarah Waters' haunted-house yarn from the maker of Room will leave you cold

Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. review - not your average popstar

Owen Richards

From asylum-seeker to Grammy-winner, documentary reveals the activist behind the music

DVD/Blu-ray: The Breadwinner

Graham Rickson

Riveting animated tale of life under Taliban rule

Faces Places review - Agnès Varda's enchanted journey

Tom Birchenough

With photographer JR, the great French documentarist journeys through her homeland

James Graham: 'the country of Shakespeare no longer recognises arts as a core subject'

James Graham

Full transcript of the playwright's passionate speech about the importance of the arts at the Hospital Club's h100 Awards

Agnès Varda: 'You think I'm finished?!' - interview

Demetrios Matheou

Oscar-nominated at 89, the French filmmaking legend talks about her new film

Never Here review - conceptual art may damage your health

Adam Sweeting

Echoes of Hitchcock haunt debut feature about voyeurism and obsession

DVD: Mario

Tom Birchenough

Keeping the game straight: Swiss youth drama tells how football treats its gay players

Wajib review - poignant, profound humanism

Tom Birchenough

Annemarie Jacir’s father-and-son drama speaks widely of its Palestinian world

Lucky review - fabled character actor stars in his own obituary

Adam Sweeting

Harry Dean Stanton's valedictory performance isn't enough to save this movie

Blu-ray: My Man Godfrey

Thomas H Green

One of Hollywood's greatest screwball comedies is as lively and hilarious - and pertinent - as ever

'You won't be able to handle this lady': remembering Fenella Fielding

Jasper Rees

The vampish comic actress has died at 90 not long after receiving an OBE

DVD/Blu-ray: The Producers

Graham Rickson

Mel Brooks' breakthrough hits the half-century, still blissfully funny

'I saw that death is beautiful, unspeakable and strange': on filming 'Island'

Steven Eastwood

Filmmaker Steven Eastwood introduces his documentary about the last moments of life

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

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 Inheritance, Noël Coward Theatre review - tangled knot o...

Its roots are in an emotional truth: Matthew Lopez saw the film, then read the book, of Howards End when he was 15 and 11 years later...

Hallé, Gardner, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review – drama...

Edward Gardner was back amongst friends when he opened the Hallé’s Thursday series concerts. This was the place where he made his mark, as the...

CD: Karine Polwart – Laws of Motion

Karine Polwart has a stellar track record as a pop and folk...

Barbara Kingsolver: Unsheltered review - too many issues

“When men fear the loss of what they know, they will follow any tyrant who promises to restore the old order.” Mary Treat, the real-life 19th-...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Rockin' in the USA - Hot 100 Hits o...

One marker arrived on 1 August 1981, when MTV began...

Modern Couples, Barbican review - an absurdly ambitious surv...

What an ambitious project! Modern CouplesArt, Intimacy and the Avant-garde looks at over 40 couples or, in some cases,...

The Music of Harry Potter, CBSO, Seal, Symphony Hall, Birmin...

Imagine an orchestral concert made up exclusively of contemporary works by living composers: a programme in which every note was written within...

CD: Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics

Collaboration clearly suits Neneh Cherry. From co-writing with husband Cameron McVey, to projects with Youssou N’Dour, her band cirKus, The Thing...


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