fri 23/10/2020

Film reviews, news & interviews

Bruce Springsteen's Letter to You, Apple TV+ review - his new album is a matter of life and death

Adam Sweeting

Towards the end of this new documentary, an account of how he recorded his new album Letter to You at his home studio in New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen delivers a eulogy to the E Street Band.

LFF 2020: Nomadland review - Francis McDormand gives a career-defining performance

Joseph Walsh

Chloé Zhao’s The Rider was a film of rare honesty and beauty. Who would have thought she’d be able to top the power of that majestic docudrama? But with Nomadland she has.

Blu-ray: Eraserhead

Daniel Baksi

Shot across a period of five years, David Lynch’s creepy debut feature Eraserhead (1977) follows the story of Henry Spencer, played by Jack...

Ronnie's review – fascinating story of the...

Sebastian Scotney

Ronnie Scott was a remarkable man: “Jazz Musician, Club Proprietor, Raconteur and Wit, he was the leader of our generation,” reads the memorial to...

Blu-ray: Yield to the Night

Graham Rickson

Released in 1956, J. Lee Thompson’s Yield to the Night is remembered by many for what it isn’t, namely a fictional retelling of the events leading to...

The Other Lamb review - a surreal portrait of an abusive cult

Markie Robson-Scott

Beautiful but dull: Malgorzata Szumowska's English-language debut lacks substance

LFF 2020: Never Gonna Snow Again review - mystic masseur with God-like gifts

Adam Sweeting

A Polish parable, plus 'Wildfire', '200 Meters' and 'Zanka Contact'

LFF 2020: Another Round review – a glass half empty

Demetrios Matheou

Mads Mikkelsen excels as a teacher seeking salvation in the bottom of a glass. Plus first looks at David Byrne’s American Utopia and A Common Crime

Being A Human Person review - enter the surreal world of Roy Andersson

Joseph Walsh

A captivating documentary examining the Swedish auteur on the advent of his final film

LFF 2020: Supernova review – Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth shine as couple on the road

Joseph Walsh

Harry Macqueen’s tale of love and loss, plus first looks at ‘The Painter and the Thief’, ‘Rose: A Love Story’

Time review - a stunning portait of enduring love

Owen Richards

The US prison system exposed through one family's long fight

Blu-ray: Ivansxtc

Tom Birchenough

From Tolstoy to Tinseltown, flavoured with 'Tristan' - Bernard Rose's satire of Hollywood is as sharp as ever

LFF 2020: One Night in Miami review - Kemp Powers's play makes the leap to the big screen

Adam Sweeting

Regina King's directing debut, plus 'Relic' and 'Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets'

The Lie review - icily intriguing until it isn't

Matt Wolf

Largely compelling study of a family in moral freefall

LFF 2020: Mangrove review – rousing, resonant blast from the past

Demetrios Matheou

Steve McQueen recreates the Mangrove Nine trial, plus first looks at 'Shirley' and 'Undine'

Kajillionaire review - quirks, strangeness and charm from Miranda July

Markie Robson-Scott

Every family is its own cult: small-time LA scam artists and their daughter's struggle for autonomy

Saint Maud review - creepy and strangely topical psychological horror

Demetrios Matheou

Morfydd Clark is the troubled nurse with dangerously novel ideas about palliative care

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet review - is the end nigh?

Joseph Walsh

A powerful fear and tear-inducing documentary from the legendary naturalist and broadcaster

On the Rocks review - an unlikely detective duo

Graham Fuller

Suspect your husband of cheating? Who you gonna call?

DVD/Blu-ray: Vitalina Varela

Graham Rickson

Austere, moving meditation on exile, memory and regret

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Rialto review - beautifully acted but relentless

Matt Wolf

Irish tale of self-reckoning is rigorous to a fault

Eternal Beauty review - imagination in every frame

Owen Richards

Craig Roberts's fantasy conjurs surreal images and magnetic performances

The Trial Of The Chicago 7 review – blistering docudrama that speaks to our times

Joseph Walsh

Aaron Sorkin’s powerhouse film takes us back in time for a political drama that speaks to today’s politically turbulent world

Blu-ray: Beau Travail

Tom Birchenough

Claire Denis' 1999 Foreign Legion film retains its thrilling elemental mystery

Miss Juneteenth review - a ray of Texan sunshine

Owen Richards

Debuting director Channing Godfrey Peoples brings some heart to pageantry

Monsoon review - like something almost being said

Tom Birchenough

Developing the subtle palette of his debut 'Lilting', Hong Khaou's second feature broadens its horizons

Enola Holmes review – a new Sherlock-related franchise is afoot

Joseph Walsh

Millie Bobby Brown gives the patriarchy what-for in a charming young adult adventure

DVD/Blu-ray: Mademoiselle

Mark Kidel

Jeanne Moreau's star quality fails to save movie from cliché

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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