sat 23/02/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Guilty

Saskia Baron

It’s another night in an emergency services dispatch room in Copenhagen. Policeman Asger Holm has been taken off active patrol pending a conduct investigation and is stuck on the phones. Drunks, druggies, posh blokes complaining of being mugged in the red light district, he’s pretty brutal with these time-wasters.

Capernaum review - sorrow, pity and shame in the Beirut slums

Markie Robson-Scott

An angry little boy, in jail after stabbing someone, stands in a Beirut courtroom and tells the judge that he wants to sue his parents. Why? For giving birth to him when they’re too poor and feckless to care for him. And he wants them to stop having children.

DVD/Blu-ray: Dawson City - Frozen Time

Tom Birchenough

Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time is an intoxicating cinematic collage-compilation that embraces social history – in microcosm, via its story...

Director Toby Macdonald: 'Comedy is...

Owen Richards

A British boys boarding school in the 1980s. Not the most obvious setting for a romantic comedy, especially one based on the most famous romcom of...

On the Basis of Sex review – real-life legal drama

Demetrios Matheou

When the world is as crazy as it is right now, its political life dominated by dolts and villains, it needs a new kind of hero. That’s why Americans...

69th Berlin Film Festival round-up - what a banal Berlinale

Joseph Walsh

Usually thoughtful festival has a distinctly off year with a programme of shoulder-shrugging cinema

Q&A Special: Actor Bruno Ganz on playing Hitler

Jasper Rees

The Swiss actor, who has died aged 77, was the first to play the Führer in a lead role in German

A Private War review - Rosamund Pike burns with passion in well-meaning biopic

Matt Wolf

A risk-loving journalist is remembered via a safe-seeming film

Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno review - cold carnal overdose from Kechiche

Mark Kidel

Eroticism does best when less is more

The Kid Who Would Be King review - a timeless charmer

Nick Hasted

Old-fashioned values animate Joe Cornish's yearning Arthurian parable

DVD: Tides

Graham Fuller

This beautifully shot boating-trip film needs bailing out with a bit of drama

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Brighton Festival 2019 launches with Guest Director Rokia Traoré

Thomas H Green

The south-coast's arts extravaganza reveals its 2019 line-up

Jellyfish review - life on the edge in Margate

Owen Richards

Powerful character work makes this British indie worth watching

DVD/Blu-ray: Human Desire

Saskia Baron

Fritz Lang catches the noir train, a little late behind Zola and Renoir

If Beale Street Could Talk review - love defies racism in James Baldwin adaptation

Graham Fuller

Barry Jenkins fulfils the promise of Moonlight with another searing and poetic drama

All Is True review - all's well doesn't end well in limp Shakespeare biopic

Matt Wolf

Kenneth Branagh leads a celluloid lesson in hagiography

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part review - everything's still awesome

Saskia Baron

Clever scriptwriting, jam-packed gags and top-notch animation wins the day one more time

América review - a joyous portrait of young men caring for their aged grandmother

Sarah Kent

A heart-warming document of love across the generations

Boy Erased review - gay vs God drama treated with empathy

Tom Birchenough

Solid studio film tackles gay conversion therapy from a mainstream perspective

Blu-ray: Diamonds of the Night

Graham Rickson

Jan Němec’s existential Czech New Wave thriller is visceral viewing

theartsdesk Q&A: Matthew Heineman on directing 'A Private War'

Adam Sweeting

Getting inside the mind of Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin

Can You Ever Forgive Me? review - no page unturned in a comedy about literary forgery

Saskia Baron

Fake it 'til you make it: Oscar-tempting tour de force by Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant

Burning review - an explosive psychological thriller

Graham Fuller

Director Lee Chang-dong returns with a haunting study on millennial loss

Crucible of the Vampire review - Neil Morrissey meets lesbian vampires, subtly

Nick Hasted

British country house erotic horror shakily intrigues

Green Book review - is this Oscar hopeful too good to be true?

Adam Sweeting

Two fine performances, but Peter Farrelly's movie sugar-coats the hard questions

Velvet Buzzsaw review - an acerbic takedown of the LA art scene

Joseph Walsh

A satirical horror from Netflix and 'Nightcrawler' director Dan Gilroy

DVD/Blu-ray: Rosa Luxemburg

Tom Birchenough

Personal and political worlds fuse in Margarethe von Trotta's heady revolutionary biopic

Blu-ray: De Niro & De Palma - The Early Films

Thomas H Green

Sometimes intriguing pre-fame 1960s work of two Hollywood giants

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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