thu 22/03/2018

Film reviews, news & interviews

Unsane review - Claire Foy in bonkers horror satire

Jasper Rees

Steven Soderbergh has always been capable of a big Hollywood moment – Magic Mike, Oceans etc. But much of his filmography consists of curious sideways glances. He’s particularly drawn to the shifting distribution of power between the genders. From sex, lies and videotape to Haywire, by way of Erin Brockovich and Out of Sight, he has rifled through the genres to find fresh and intriguing stories about men and women. It comes up again in Unsane, a sort of horror comedy satire that makes great use...

DVD: Glory

Tom Birchenough

The Bulgarian co-directing duo of Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov proved their skill with the scalpel in slicing through the unforgiving world depicted in their first film, The Lesson, from 2014. Their follow-up in a loosely planned trilogy, Glory continues that dissection of Bulgarian society, one now depicted on a broader canvas and with an element of pitch-black comedy that is new.It’s a darkly entertaining watch, which involves direct comparison between two very different worlds – one...

Mary Magdalene review - potent, feminist...

Nick Hasted

Mary Magdalene’s story hasn’t suddenly become the second greatest ever told, despite its radical expansion here. Garth Davis’s follow-up to Lion is,...

The Square review - stylish, brilliantly acted...

Saskia Baron

One of the oldest pleasures of cinema is the opportunity it gives us to look at beautiful people in beautiful places, possibly having beautiful sex....

Blu-ray: Henri-Georges Clouzot - Le Corbeau, Quai...

Mark Kidel

Henri-Georges Clouzot is one of the giants of French cinema history, such a versatile master of entertainment that his qualities as an auteur and art...

Annihilation, Netflix review - not quite a sci-fi masterpiece

Adam Sweeting

Girl-power cast can't send Alex Garland's Earth-in-peril saga into orbit

My Golden Days review - a mesmerising tale of heartbreak

Owen Richards

French independent feature shines through honest, raw lead performances

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

DVD/Blu-ray: Shiraz

Tom Birchenough

Glorious Indian silent film restored, with sublime sitar score from Anoushka Shankar

My Generation review - Michael Caine presents the Sixties

Markie Robson-Scott

Don't try to dig what we all say: total immersion in swinging London

Wonder Wheel review - Woody Allen and Kate Winslet channel O'Neill

Jasper Rees

A romantic melodrama in Fifties Coney Island also stars a prattling Justin Timberlake

You Were Never Really Here review - a wild ride to the dark side

Adam Sweeting

An intimidating performance by Joaquin Phoenix as a remorseless lone avenger

DVD: Jupiter's Moons

Tom Birchenough

Hungarian sci-fi, philosophical medley proves a rough, rewarding ride

Scott and Sid review - self-absorbed vanity project

David Kettle

Two first-time writer/producer/directors make a movie about - well, themselves

Oscars 2018: The shape of a snoozefest

Matt Wolf

Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman and 'The Shape of Water' triumph at a very serious ceremony

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story review - Hollywood's brainiest beauty

Jasper Rees

Belated homage to the Austrian film star with a scientific hinterland

A Fantastic Woman review - from Chile with heat

Saskia Baron

Powerful romance about a young trans woman and her doomed lover

Red Sparrow review - from Russia with lust

Adam Sweeting

Jennifer Lawrence hots up the Cold War in uneven spy thriller

DVD: Boy

David Kettle

Taika Waititi's second feature, a big-hearted coming-of-age comedy

Game Night review - Rachel McAdams is bliss in bonkers comedy thriller

Matt Wolf

Genre mash-up is kept aloft by its winning leads

The Light of the Moon, Amazon Prime review - coping with the unthinkable

Adam Sweeting

Jessica M Thompson's debut feature is a skilful study of the aftermath of rape

Mom and Dad review - daft and dark zombie thriller

Veronica Lee

Nicolas Cage goes crazy at the kids

Blu-ray: Orchestra Rehearsal

Graham Rickson

Bum notes: the final Fellini-Rota collaboration hasn't aged well

Dark River review - haunted rural realism

Nick Hasted

Family secrets are dredged up in the Yorkshire moors

DVD/Blu-ray: The Party

Owen Richards

Sally Potter’s deliciously dark comedy provides an hour of brilliance in 70 minutes

I, Tonya review - Margot Robbie shines in over-complicated oddity

Markie Robson-Scott

Craig Gillespie's one-note take on Tonya Harding's fascinating true story

DVD: Beach Rats

Tom Birchenough

Limbo over an uneasy Brooklyn summer, from an American indie director to watch

Clio Barnard: 'We need to talk about sexual abuse' - interview

Owen Richards

The director of 'Dark River' discusses tackling sexual trauma and why she’s drawn to Yorkshire

Lady Bird review - Greta Gerwig's luminous coming-of-age movie

Markie Robson-Scott

An uncynical and beautifully observed directorial debut

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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