thu 24/09/2020

Film reviews, news & interviews

Monsoon review - like something almost being said

Tom Birchenough

Building very promisingly on the achievement of his debut feature Lilting from six years ago, in Monsoon Hong Khaou has crafted a delicate study of displacement and loss, one that’s all the more memorable for being understated.

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

Joseph Walsh

It’s no secret that Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation lays claim to more appearances on screen than any other fictional character. Over the past several decades, we’ve seen Sherlock as a pugilist action-hero, a modern-day sleuth, and in a painfully unfunny slapstick guise.

DVD/Blu-ray: Mademoiselle

Mark Kidel

Mademoiselle is Jeanne Moreau, in smouldering femme fatale mode: a school-teacher and town hall secretary in a small French village, she wreaks havoc...

White Riot review - energetic documentary races...

Saskia Baron

This documentary about the 1970s activist movement Rock Against Racism comes with festival prizes and much acclaim. It’s certainly a nostalgic feast...

Blu-ray: This Gun for Hire

Graham Fuller

The 1942 thriller This Gun for Hire, which opened five months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, was closely adapted from Graham...

Bill & Ted Face the Music review - modestly delightful

Nick Hasted

The slacker time-travel double-act's cheerfully cheap return

Hendrix and the Spook review - a search for clarity in murky waters

Sarah Kent

A detailed account of events surrounding a famous death that leaves you none the wiser

Nocturnal review - an impossible love

Graham Fuller

A schoolgirl and a painter-decorator rush headlong into harm

Rocks review - impressively well-crafted neo-realist drama

Saskia Baron

Sarah Gavron and Theresa Ikoko’s collaboration pays off in this lovingly observed tale

The Devil All The Time review – a test of faith in a Southern Gothic tradition

Joseph Walsh

Anthony’s Campos’ blood-drenched period tale based on Donald Ray Pollak’s novel

DVD/Blu-ray: Where Does a Body End?

Guy Oddy

Post-punk giants Swans’ documentary is a fascinating trawl through the band’s first 35 years

Blu-ray: Beanpole

Tom Birchenough

Bleakness of story mediated by fragile visual beauty in outstanding Russian arthouse period offering

Max Richter's Sleep review - refreshing as a good night's rest

Joseph Walsh

Meditative new documentary perfectly captures the composer’s boldest experiment

Broken Hearts Gallery review - effortfully entertaining

Matt Wolf

Natalie Krinsky romcom tries hard and tugs us along

Savage review - an immersive look at gang culture in Wellington, New Zealand

Markie Robson-Scott

Sam Kelly's debut feature sets out to examine the links between borstal and gangland

'I loved being a dresser': Sir Ronald Harwood, Oscar-winning writer, dies at 85

Jasper Rees

A memorial interview with the playwright and scriptwriter who enjoyed a remarkable Indian summer

The Painted Bird review - bestial horror conveyed with beauty

Mark Kidel

A young boy's odyssey through wartime hell

Sócrates review - pain and grief on the Brazilian coast

David Nice

A remarkable performance from Christian Malheiros elevates this short slice-of-life study

Les Misérables review - exhilarating French policier

Saskia Baron

An immersive, morally complex thriller set in the troubled suburbs of present day Paris

Blu-ray: Walkabout

Saskia Baron

Fifty years on from its original release, Nicolas Roeg's solo debut gets a stunning restoration

Mulan review - Niki Caro's live action take on the '98 classic underwhelms

Joseph Walsh

Disney's latest live-action classic works out some kinks but loses the magic

I'm Thinking of Ending Things review - only disconnect

Nick Hasted

Charlie Kaufman's eerie road trip through love and loss

New Mutants review - superheroes and the supernatural collide

Joseph Walsh

The much delayed X-Men spin-off from Josh Boone finally hits cinemas with lacklustre results

Blu-ray: Show Boat (1936)

Graham Fuller

Paul Robeson's few scenes dominate James Whale's great backstage musical

Blu-ray: Safety Last!

Graham Rickson

Terrifying and exhilarating - one of the greatest silent comedies returns

Hope Gap review - memories of a marriage

Nick Hasted

Nighy and Bening animate a marital autopsy

She Dies Tomorrow review - intimations of mortality

Graham Fuller

Kate Lyn Sheil excels in Amy Seimetz's apocalyptic gloom fest

Get Duked! review - briefly endearing, then a chore

Matt Wolf

A likable cast goes down for the count in coming-of-age misfire

Matthias & Maxime review - psychology and romance make for cinematic gold

Mark Kidel

Quebec boy-wonder Xavier Dolan comes of age

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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