thu 06/10/2022

Film reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Nitram

Saskia Baron

Nitram is an object lesson in how to make a responsible film about a mass shooting, right down to not using the fame-seeking perpetrator’s real name as the title but the mocking ananym given to him by bullies at school.

Girl Picture review - Finnish coming-of-age drama offers nothing new

Saskia Baron

What is it with pushy Finnish mums and their acrobatic teenage daughters? Just weeks after the release of the Gothic fantasy Hatching, which focused on a gymnast having a Cronenbergian breakdown under pressure from her influencer mother, comes Girl Picture. This time the camera is on an ice-skating prodigy torn between pleasing her mother or revelling in her new romance with the coolest lesbian in school. 

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris review - Lesley Manville...

Markie Robson-Scott

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, based on Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel, is preposterous.  But it’s as pretty as a pink cloud. The director, Anthony Fabian...

Remote review - an irredeemably silly first...

Sarah Kent

Remote is Mika Rottenberg’s first feature film. The New York-based artist was commissioned by Artangel, an organisation renowned for its promotion of...

Blonde review - Marilyn Monroe thrown to the...

Graham Fuller

Andrew Dominik’s Blonde is an atrocity – a ghoulish biopic of Marilyn Monroe that luxuriates in her maltreatment and misery, culminating in...

In Front of Your Face review - a day in the life

Nick Hasted

An ex-actress's return to Seoul is beatific and drunkenly raw, in Hong Sangsoo's latest

Blu-ray: Love (Szerelem)

Graham Rickson

Love in a totalitarian regime: Károly Makk’s masterpiece returns

Juniper review - a classic role for Charlotte Rampling

Sebastian Scotney

A grandmother in New Zealand faces up to death, a grandson to life

Don’t Worry Darling review - dystopian thriller dries up in the desert

Demetrios Matheou

The fabulous Florence Pugh can't rescue Olivia Wilde's disappointing sophomore effort

Sidney review - documentary portrait of Hollywood's first black superstar

Saskia Baron

Oprah Winfrey's production company crafts a loving homage to Sidney Poitier

Silent Land review - an inconvenient death mars their holiday

Graham Fuller

Tense drama about Polish vacationers who forgot to pack moral responsibility

Blu-ray: Kuhle Wampe

Graham Rickson

A classic of Weimar-era cinema, both polemical and poetic

Bloody Oranges review - a gruesome and gruelling French social satire

Sebastian Scotney

Jean-Christophe Meurisse's grisly comedy overplays its hand

Funny Pages review - comic-book confidential

Nick Hasted

Safdies associate's queasily comic study of a teenage cartoonist

Moonage Daydream review - sensory bombardment and secrets

Nick Hasted

Overwhelmingly immersive Bowie doc finds the boy behind Ziggy

Jean-Luc Godard (1930-2022)

Nick Hasted

Remembering cinema's eternal, loving revolutionary

Crimes of the Future review - Cronenberg looks back

Nick Hasted

A return to body horror basics gives grisly déjà-vu, but few shocks

Blu-ray: Identification of a Woman

Nick Hasted

Late Antonioni offers faded, formal beauty and a flare of eerie genius

See How They Run review - a whodunit pastiche set in Fifties London

Markie Robson-Scott

Tom George's glossy film debut starring Saoirse Ronan is ingenious but lacks bite

Blu-ray/4K Ultra HD: The Piano

Markie Robson-Scott

Jane Campion's colonial New Zealand masterpiece re-mastered

Three Thousand Years of Longing review - be careful what you wish for

Saskia Baron

George Miller lets the Genie out of the bottle in modern-day fantasy romance

The Forgiven review - the shelterless sky

Nick Hasted

Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain seek salvation after a desert hit and run

Meeting Gorbachev review - Werner Herzog offers a swansong tribute

Tom Birchenough

Engaging documentary portrait becomes a moving meditation on history

Blu-ray: Desire / All My Good Countrymen - Two films by Vojtěch Jasný

Graham Rickson

A distinctive director’s take on post-war Czech life

DVD: Wayfinder

Nick Hasted

An Afrofuturist road movie through eerie, emptied English landscapes

Her Way review - turning tricks for her son's sake

Graham Fuller

Laure Calamy excels as a principled sex worker forced to compromise her independence

Queen of Glory review - carving an identity between two worlds

Saskia Baron

Endearing low key comedy that lets its audience into the lives of second generation immigrants in America

Official Competition review - satire served cold

Sebastian Scotney

Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas fail to engage the emotions in a film industry spoof

Anaïs in Love review - she wants what she wants

Graham Fuller

Anaïs Denoustier sparkles as a messy millennial who bulldozes lovers with her charm

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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