fri 17/09/2021

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Starling, Netflix review - a slender idea unsatisfyingly executed

Adam Sweeting

Despite an alluring cast which includes Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and Kevin Kline, The Starling is doomed to be remembered, if at all, as a slender idea unsatisfyingly executed.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain review - visually arresting biopic

Joseph Walsh

On its surface, a biopic of a late-Victorian artist starring big British talents including Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrea Riseborough and Claire Foy, sounds like typical awards fare for this time of year.

The Lost Leonardo review - an incredible tale as...

Sarah Kent

It’s been described as “the most improbable story that has ever happened in the art market”, and The Lost Leonardo reveals every twist and turn of...

DVD/Blu-ray: Mr Klein

Mark Kidel

Joseph Losey’s career covered a great deal of ground, and several continents. From The Boy with the Green Hair, a noirish sci-fi film from 1948,...

Schumacher, Netflix review - authorised version...

Adam Sweeting

Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in December 2013, which left the seven-times Formula One world champion with a severe brain injury, added a...

DVD/Blu-ray: All About Eve

Saskia Baron

They don't write scripts like that anymore: Joseph L Mankiewicz's theatrical masterpiece

Shorta review - Danish police drama

Saskia Baron

First-time film-makers' ambitious tale of police trapped in the ghetto

The Collini Case review - it might be legal, but that doesn't mean it's justice

Adam Sweeting

Tense courtroom drama probes Germany's Nazi legacy

The Champion of Auschwitz review - Polish movie based on a boxer's memoir

Saskia Baron

Classically filmed feature focuses on the experience of non-Jewish prisoners

DVD/Blu-ray: The Fifth Horseman is Fear

Graham Rickson

Gruelling, gripping Czech thriller set in Nazi-occupied Prague

Second Spring review - intriguing film about a woman with an unusual form of dementia

Markie Robson-Scott

Andy Kelleher's luminous debut feature is shot on the last of Fuji film stock

theartsdesk Q&A: filmmaker Marco Kreuzpaintner

Adam Sweeting

What his new film 'The Collini Case' says about Germany, the Nazis, justice and the law

Misha and the Wolves review - tricksy documentary about a child survivor

Saskia Baron

Holocaust film plays fast and loose in its story-telling

Blu-ray: The River

Sebastian Scotney

When Technicolour really was glorious: Jean Renoir in India

Blu-ray: Deep Cover

Saskia Baron

Early '90s American action movie takes on the drug trade and racism within the police

Candyman review - Nia DaCosta's clever sequel to the 1992 slasher movie

Markie Robson-Scott

The horror of the art world: urban legends, racial politics and gentrification in Chicago

The Toll review - once upon a time in west Wales

Owen Richards

Brassy indie flick provides a fun slice of pulp cinema

Our Ladies review - five go wild in Edinburgh

Graham Fuller

Roll over Renton, tell Begbie the news...

The Nest review – intriguing, off-kilter family drama

Demetrios Matheou

Jude Law and Carrie Coon are a couple in meltdown in Eighties London

Reminiscence review - looks great but doesn't deliver

Adam Sweeting

Lisa Joy's sci-fi blockbuster undone by cliches and feeble characterisation

Blu-ray: The Pawnbroker

Mark Kidel

Much more than a Holocaust movie, this is Rod Steiger's best film

The Courier review - lacklustre spy movie

Saskia Baron

True tale of Cold War espionage fails to throw out much heat despite stellar cast

CODA review - warm-hearted comedy about growing up in a Deaf family

Saskia Baron

Sundance audience pleaser with a new twist on the high school coming-of-age drama

Blu-ray: Running Against the Wind

Graham Rickson

Overlong but emotionally affecting coming-of-age drama from Ethiopia

Blu-ray: Blow Out

Saskia Baron

Brian De Palma's glossy homage to Hitchcock is showing its age

El Father Plays Himself review – a roller coaster ride of mixed emotions

Sarah Kent

Making a movie in the Amazon with a drunkard

Zola review - high-energy comic thriller tackles sex work

Saskia Baron

Fasten your seat belt: is this the best road movie since Thelma and Louise?

Blu-ray: Beauty and the Beast

Graham Rickson

Dark retelling of a familiar tale from 1970s Prague

The Sparks Brothers review - giddy celebration of the Mael brothers

Saskia Baron

Edgar Wright takes a break from directing actors to craft a love letter to pop

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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