thu 14/11/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

Marriage Story review - superior weepie

Demetrios Matheou

Forty years after the classic, multi-Oscar winning Kramer v Kramer comes another divorce drama involving two young Americans and a son caught in the crossfire. And this one is even better. 

Last Christmas review - for the stocking, not the tree

Demetrios Matheou

Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke stars in this awkward but sweet Yuletide romcom as Kate, a chaotic, George Michael obsessed twenty-something in London who’s lost her way following a serious illness.

Le Mans '66 review - nicely revved up

Demetrios Matheou

For a sports movie to work for more than just the fans, it has to have drama off the pitch, track or field, with characters to root for, personal...

The Best Films Out Now


There are films to meet every taste in theartsdesk's guide to the best movies currently on release. In our considered opinion, any of the titles...

DVD/Blu-ray: Journey to the Beginning of Time

Graham Rickson

Karel Zeman’s Invention for Destruction and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen are dizzying romps, whereas his earlier Journey to the Beginning of Time,...

Meeting Gorbachev review - Werner Herzog offers a swansong tribute

Tom Birchenough

Engaging documentary portrait becomes a moving meditation on history

The Good Liar review - the grey pound dipped in acid

Nick Hasted

McKellen and Mirren play dark conman games in an uncompromising thriller

Midway review - gung-ho heroes battle moribund script

Adam Sweeting

Roland Emmerich spent decades getting this film made, but why?

'I’m having too much fun writing novels': author Nicolas Searle on The Good Liar

Joseph Walsh

Writer explains the journey from debut novel to prestige film

The Irishman review - mobster masterclass

Demetrios Matheou

Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino are on top form in this sprawling gangster drama

The Aeronauts review - up, up and okay

Joseph Walsh

Thrilling action sequences are weighed down by uneven drama

Brittany Runs a Marathon review - believable body positive parable

Nick Hasted

Jogging redemption hits bumps in the road in a subtle semi-romcom

After the Wedding review - a high-tension gut punch

Owen Richards

Starry cast bring gravitas to knotty drama remake

Sorry We Missed You review – Ken Loach's unapologetic assault on the gig economy

Demetrios Matheou

A Newcastle couple struggles to cope with precarious employment

Doctor Sleep review - heartfelt return to the Overlook Hotel

Nick Hasted

More King than Kubrick, in effective if muted sequel to 'The Shining'

Blu-ray: Fuller at Fox

Mark Kidel

Pulp movies with class

The Last Black Man in San Francisco review - gentle gentrification blues

Nick Hasted

A conflicted love letter to San Francisco, as it prices out its citizens and soul

By the Grace of God review - a dark, meticulous drama from François Ozon

Tom Birchenough

Documentary-influenced investigation of paedophilia in the French Church is resonant and true

The Addams Family review - more treat than trick

Joseph Walsh

Animated reboot works best when sticking to the source material

Monos review - teenage guerrillas raising havoc

Markie Robson-Scott

Visually stunning and a brilliant soundtrack - but there's a lack of heart to Alejandro Landes's darkness

Terminator: Dark Fate review – look who's back

Demetrios Matheou

Linda Hamilton returns to the sci-fi franchise that just isn't the same without her

Black and Blue review - police thriller aims high and misses

Adam Sweeting

Big issues blot out character and plot in lacklustre bad-cop drama

DVD/Blu-ray: Legend of the Witches & Secret Rites

Graham Fuller

Modish early '70s documentaries about Wicca were aimed at the dirty mac brigade

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil review - fantasy follow-up falls flat

Joseph Walsh

Angelina Jolie's charms aren't enough to carry Disney sequel

Non-Fiction - adultery spices up digitisation drama

Graham Fuller

Sexual fidelity is as believable as the digitally derived 'truth' in Olivier Assayas's latest

Zombieland: Double Tap review - dead dull redo

Tom Baily

Stunted sequel fails to add to the 2009 original

Official Secrets review – powerful political thriller

Demetrios Matheou

Keira Knightley excels as the real-life GCHQ whistleblower

The Peanut Butter Falcon review - sentimental comedy is so damn heartwarming

Saskia Baron

Heart-felt picaresque adventure about a young man with Down's Syndrome runs into clichés

LFF 2019: The Irishman review - masterful, unsentimental gangster epic

Nick Hasted

The whole story of a mobster's life in Scorsese and De Niro's autumnal reunion, plus 'A Hidden Life'

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

Advertising feature


Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?

latest in Today

Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, Episode Three, BBC Four review...

Once again the whodunit becomes the whoforgedit in the newest installment of the Britain’s Lost Masterpieces series. Host and...

Wegener, LPO, Jurowski, RFH review – on the revolutionary ro...

For better or worse, because of Visconti’s classic film the Adagietto of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony now inevitably means Venice in its gloomiest...

Marriage Story review - superior weepie

Forty years after the classic, multi-Oscar winning Kramer v Kramer comes another...

Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre review - a lavish but ol...

It’s been 15 years since Cameron Mackintosh’s stage musical...

Last Christmas review - for the stocking, not the tree

Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke stars in this awkward but sweet...

CD: Celine Dion - Courage

Of 2019’s pop culture phenomena, the critical reappraisal of Céline Dion as an international treasure is one of the...

theartsdesk on Vinyl 54: The Beatles, Prince, Kid Acne, Nirv...

Without further ado, slightly delayed by the sheer volume of releases at this year time of year, here is the latest edition of theartsdesk...

Gold Digger, BBC One review - Julia Ormond tackles those mid...

A tip of the hat to Julia Ormond for boldly going where many an actress might have chosen not to. In this new...

ECO, Zacharias, Fairfield Halls Croydon review - green-finge...

Switch off for a phrase or two and it’s easy to miss the point in a ...

Le Mans '66 review - nicely revved up

For a sports movie to work for more than just the fans, it has to have drama off the pitch, track or field, with characters to root for, personal...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters