sat 24/06/2017

Film reviews, news & interviews

Souvenir review – Huppert does deadpan like Buster Keaton

Nick Hasted

Isabelle Huppert isn’t just here for the nasty things in life. Her rape non-victim in Elle was one of the most iconoclastic performances even she’s given, enigmatic yet emotionally rich, rooted and moving.

The Book of Henry review - staggeringly awful

Saskia Baron

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a movie as staggeringly awful as The Book of Henry. If it was just a touch more shrill it could have qualified as a so-bad-it’s-good camp classic, but unfortunately it teeters this side of tasteful in order to keep its 12 rating. How any studio executive ever read Gregg Hurwitz’s script and thought this was a viable scenario is truly baffling. What terrible atonement for sins in a past life led Naomi Watts to take the lead is another mystery, as is the...

DVD/Blu-ray: Minute Bodies - The Intimate World...

Graham Rickson

F Percy Smith was a maverick film-maker whose most important work was created in a house in suburban Southgate, North London. Born in Islington in...

Hampstead review - Diane Keaton deserves better...

Matt Wolf

Do the makers of the essentially unnecessary Hampstead have a secret vendetta against north London and its citizenry? The thought occurred to me...

Coming soon: trailers to the next big films


Summer's here, which can only mean Hollywood blockbusters. But it's not all Spider-Man, talking apes and World War Two with platoons of thespians...

The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger review - voyages round a giant

Sarah Kent

Four very different films create an intimate portrait of an influential man

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

DVD/Blu-ray: The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

Kieron Tyler

Definitive restoration of horror auteur Dario Argento’s landmark directorial debut

Gifted review - genius in the family genes

Demetrios Matheou

'Captain America' Chris Evans flexes some different muscles in an atypical family drama

Churchill review - Winston has smallness thrust upon him

Jasper Rees

Brian Cox is the latest to play the Great Briton in a chamber piece set in the days before D-Day

DVD/Blu-ray: Rita, Sue and Bob Too

Graham Rickson

Social commentary and sex comedy, darker than ever despite a shiny new print

Destination Unknown review - Holocaust survivors go back

Saskia Baron

Emotional documentary is sensitive, without shedding further light on the chaos of liberation

Whitney: Can I Be Me review - tragic account of superstar who fell to earth

Adam Sweeting

How did it go so wrong for pop's most glamorous diva? Nick Broomfield investigates

Michelangelo: Love and Death review - how to diminish a colossus

Alison Cole

Earnest and worthy cinematic documentary fails to bring the glorious artist to life

DVD/Blu-ray: One-Eyed Jacks

Mark Kidel

Marlon Brando's outstanding 1961 western returns in an immaculate 4K restoration

The Mummy review – please don't let them make a sequel

Adam Sweeting

Horror remake scuppered by absence of oomph

DVD/Blu-ray: The Naked Civil Servant

Saskia Baron

John Hurt astounding as Quentin Crisp: welcome restoration of Jack Gold's classic television drama

DVD/Blu-ray: Prevenge

Graham Rickson

Tremendous: Alice Lowe's directing debut is a (bloody) good film

My Cousin Rachel review - du Maurier remake too florid by half

Matt Wolf

Rachel Weisz star vehicle needs to take a deep breath

Norman review - revelatory Richard Gere in mesmerising New York tale

Markie Robson-Scott

Absorbing parable about the pitfalls of making connections in high places

DVD/Blu-ray: My 20th Century

Tom Birchenough

Mesmerisingly imaginative 1989 Hungarian film restored in luminous black and white

theartsdesk Q&A: Claude Barras and Céline Sciamma on My Life as a Courgette

Demetrios Matheou

The director and writer of the acclaimed animation discuss social realism for kids

The Shepherd review - quiet but stirring David v Goliath fable

Jasper Rees

Low-budget Raindance winner pits the little man against corporate greed

After the Storm review - quietly nuanced and moving Japanese family drama impresses

Tom Birchenough

New elements of comedy in Hirokazu Kore-eda's latest film, alongside familiar domestic tribulations

Dough review - well-intentioned bread-based comedy doesn't rise

Saskia Baron

Disappointing comedy-thriller about marijuana-laced baked goods

DVD/Blu-ray: Spotlight On a Murderer

Nick Hasted

Jean-Louis Trintignant broods through Eyes Without a Face's forgotten, larky follow-up

Wonder Woman review - Gal Gadot shines in uneven superhero yarn

Adam Sweeting

Timeless warrior queen goes to the Western Front

DVD/Blu-ray: Mulholland Drive

Nick Hasted

Restoration of Lynch's Hollywood enigma retains its haunting depths

The Red Turtle review - Studio Ghibli loses its magic touch

Saskia Baron

Japanese-European co-production feels slow and ponderous

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

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