sat 28/05/2022

Film reviews, news & interviews

Between Two Worlds review - Juliette Binoche, maid in France

Sebastian Scotney

For die-hard Juliette Binoche fans – don’t cross us, we get angry – Between Two Worlds is heaven. The French star hardly ever leaves the screen during the film’s 106 minutes. It was her unwavering detemination that ensured the film came to be made in the first place. 

Luzzu review - a Maltese fisherman struggles with modernity

Markie Robson-Scott

In Maltese-American Alex Camilleri’s debut feature, it’s a case of follow the swordfish. This terrifically atmospheric, almost documentary-like film – Camilleri cites Italian neo-realism, including Visconti’s La Terra Trema, as an influence – tells the story of Jesmark, a real-life Maltese fisherman (Jesmark Scicluna). It also encapsulates a dying culture.

Blu-ray: Twisting the Knife - Four Films by...

Nick Hasted

Nouvelle Vague directors have grown to seem more diverse than bonded, a golden generation linked by extreme cinephilia and the mutually...

DVD/Blu-ray: Parallel Mothers

Graham Rickson

Parallel Mothers unfolds at a daringly slow pace, and there are moments in the first half of Pedro Almodóvar’s 2021 drama when you wish that things...

The Deathless Woman review - the overlooked...

Saskia Baron

One of the more heartwarming images in the news recently has been seeing Ukrainian refugees being welcomed by their eastern European neighbours. But...

Benediction review - the world's worst wounds

Graham Fuller

Terence Davies leavens his sombre biopic of Siegfried Sassoon with Wildean badinage

Top Gun: Maverick review - Tom Cruise defies age and gravity

Adam Sweeting

Make sure you see it at an IMAX

I Get Knocked Down, Brighton Festival review - Chumbawamba singer's film is lively, funny and thought-provoking

Thomas H Green

Nineties anarcho-pop star ruminates entertainingly on what it all meant

The Innocents review - they're just playing

Harry Thorfinn-George

A Norwegian tale of kids doing what kids do, sinisterly

Blu-ray: I Am a Camera

Graham Fuller

Toothless British adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories

Vortex review – an old couple's road to nowhere

Graham Fuller

Gaspar Noé's unflinching depiction of dementia's merciless grip

Blu-ray: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Nick Hasted

Viscerally uncomfortable genre landmark shows a mundane murderer's daily rounds

Everything Everywhere All at Once review - brace yourself

Saskia Baron

Pick 'n' mix assortment of martial arts, sci fi, family drama, and existential angst

The Quiet Girl review - finding a home away from home

Markie Robson-Scott

Colm Bairéad's beautiful, understated film is faithfully adapted from Claire Keegan's novella

This Much I Know to Be True review - Nick Cave’s redemption songs

Nick Hasted

Gripping performance and divine grace in Cave's latest forensic doc

Blu-ray: Round Midnight

Sebastian Scotney

The greatest movie about jazz ever? Bertrand Tavernier's collaboration with Dexter Gordon makes its case

Eleven Days in May review – children pay the price of war

Nick Hasted

Palestinian child victims fondly remembered in an understated anti-war documentary

Doctor Strange in The Multiverse Of Madness – not strange, not mad

Nick Hasted

Freakery falls flat as Marvel mislays its heart

Wild Men review - Danish-Norwegian black comedy

Saskia Baron

Slabs of Danish ham festoon the fjords of Norway

Barry & Joan review - quirky documentary about two vaudevillians

Veronica Lee

Masterclass in variety performance

Blu-ray: Escape from LA

Saskia Baron

John Carpenter's overblown sequel to his cult classic gets a sparkling re-release

Downton Abbey: A New Era review - will we ever see its like again?

Adam Sweeting

Julian Fellowes goes transcontinental with this valedictory visit to the Crawley family

Blu-ray: Jules et Jim

Mark Kidel

Jeanne Moreau at her most sublime in Truffaut's 1962 masterpiece

The Tale of King Crab review - an unholy fool's phantasmagoric progress

Nick Hasted

Tuscan rustic myths recast into a mildly magic realist, ruggedly shot odyssey

Happening review - searingly intimate, furious abortion drama

Nick Hasted

Pregnancy as warfare, as a young woman searches for a future in 1960s France

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review - a very funny meta-comedy

Sebastian Scotney

Nicolas Cage is delightful in self-ironicising mode

Ennio review - sprawling biog of the maestro of movie music

Adam Sweeting

Giuseppe Tornatore's Morricone documentary is almost too much of a good thing

The Wall of Shadows review - a holy Himalayan mountain and a Sherpa family's dilemma

Markie Robson-Scott

Spectacular documentary explores Sherpa porters' real feelings about their foreign clients

Playground review - bleak but brilliant schoolyard drama

Saskia Baron

Belgian director Laura Wandel hits all the right notes in her debut film

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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