sun 03/03/2024

Film reviews, news & interviews

Dune: Part 2 review - sombre space opera

Nick Hasted

Dennis Villeneuve’s Dune sequel is a sombre science-fiction spectacle that insists on the scale of cinema: erupting sandworms are Cecil B. DeMille colossal, the sound design centred on Hans Zimmer’s score thunderously enveloping. In a genre once jokingly called space opera, its grand aristocratic dynasties and passions justify the term.

Lisa Frankenstein review - a bitchy trawl through the high-school horror movie back catalogue

Helen Hawkins

Diablo Cody’s biggest screenwriting hit was 2007’s Juno, a larky but tender story of teenage pregnancy. She’s gone back to high school for her latest, Lisa Frankenstein, which focuses on another troubled teen. This one has goth looks accessorised with an axe.

Red Island review - Madagascar miniatures

James Saynor

The French military outpost on Madagascar is a “family cocoon, full of love and benevolence”, according to a character in this fictional portrait of...

Driving Mum review - a dark comedy that has you...

Sarah Kent

Hilmar Oddsson’s award-winning film Driving Mum is pitch-perfect. Jon has spent the last 30 years looking after his domineering mother. There they...

Wicked Little Letters review - sweary, starry...

Matt Wolf

A splendid cast struggle to make something coherent out of Wicked Little Letters, the latest film from Thea Sharrock who not that long ago was one of...

Memory review - love, dementia and truth

Markie Robson-Scott

Michel Franco directs Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard in a complex, painful love story

theartsdesk Q&A: Wim Wenders on 'Perfect Days'

Graham Fuller

The German director explains why he made a drama about a Tokyo toilet cleaner

Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery review - a disorientating mix of fact and fiction

Sarah Kent

An exhibition that begs the question 'What and where is home?'

Blu-ray: Jerzy Skolimowski - Walkower, Bariera, Dialóg 20-40-60

Graham Rickson

Visually striking early works from an iconoclastic Polish director

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind, Tate Modern review - a fitting celebration of the early years

Sarah Kent

Acknowledgement as a major avant garde artist comes at 90

Eureka review - not enough to shout about

Demetrios Matheou

Lisandro Alonso’s latest foray into slow cinema may test even his fanbase

Bob Marley: One Love review - sanitised official version of the Jamaican icon's story

Adam Sweeting

The real Bob fails to get up, stand up

The Promised Land review - gripping Danish Western

Graham Fuller

A pioneering potato farmer and a sadistic aristocrat fight for Jutland's heath

The Taste of Things review - a gentle love letter to haute cuisine

Helen Hawkins

Anh Hung Tran's Cannes winner delicately crafts the contours of passion

Occupied City review - unquiet Nazi crimes

Nick Hasted

Steve McQueen’s cool double-portrait of Amsterdam trauma

Blu-ray: Werner Herzog - Radical Dreamer

Nick Hasted

Conventional doc brings Herzog back home to his roots, hinting at myth and magic

The Iron Claw review - pancakes and beefcakes

James Saynor

A wrestling saga that keeps things too tight to the chest

The Settlers review - a western populated only by anti-heroes

Sarah Kent

No-one comes out well in this film based on Chile’s bloody past

10 Questions for 'The Settlers' film director Felipe Gálvez Haberle

Graham Fuller

Why he made a Western to condemn the Chileans responsible for the Selk'nam genocide

The Zone of Interest review - garden gates of death

James Saynor

A filmmaker’s struggle with how to handle the Holocaust

Argylle review - Matthew Vaughn's secret agent fantasy dares you to deny it

Adam Sweeting

The greater the spy, the bigger the lie

Blu-ray: The Frightened Woman

Nick Hasted

An Italian proto-Incel meets his match in a pop art sadomasochist Sixties comedy

This Blessed Plot review - a right old English carry on

Graham Fuller

Thaxted's past haunts its present in Mark Isaacs' pointed docufiction

Blu-ray: The Eternal Daughter

Markie Robson-Scott

Joanna Hogg directs Tilda Swinton in a virtuoso double role

The Color Purple review - sensational second time round for Alice Walker's novel on screen

Matt Wolf

Broadway musical offers a major bump to further screen re-telling of the popular novel

All of Us Strangers review - a haunting story about the power of love, masterfully told

Helen Hawkins

Andrew Haigh and a cast of four conjure up an intense emotional epic

Blu-ray: Life on the Line

Graham Rickson

More British Transport shorts from the BFI, handsomely remastered

The End We Start From review - watery apocalyptic drama with star turn

Saskia Baron

Low-budget British feature film gives Comer a chance to shine amid the rising water

The Holdovers review - a perfectly formed comedy that wears its perfection lightly

Helen Hawkins

Director Alexander Payne gives Paul Giamatti another plum part

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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