thu 27/06/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

Yesterday review - Beatlemania in a parallel universe

Adam Sweeting

The price of fame and the value of artistic truth are among the topics probed in Danny Boyle’s irresistible comedy, a beguiling magical mystery tour of an upside-down world where The Beatles suddenly never existed.

Apollo 11 review - an awe-inspiring leap

Tom Baily

How could this story be told again? Director Todd Douglas Miller has found a way: strip away narrative and give the audience the purity of original record. The result is a gripping non-fiction experience that sits in a unique space between documentary, art, drama and dream.

Mari review - bittersweet drama with flair

Owen Richards

Mari is one part kitchen sink drama, one part dance performance, bringing a refreshing take on bereavement and family. Dancer Charlotte joins her...

Blu-ray: For All Mankind

Graham Rickson

Al Reinert's For All Mankind isn't quite what it seems. In a famous 1962 speech, President Kennedy spoke of the knowledge to be gained and the new...

DVD/Blu-ray: Sauvage

Tom Birchenough

Anyone who saw Félix Maritaud playing the angry activist Max in Robin Campillo’s Paris ACT UP drama 120 BPM will certainly remember him (main picture...

Toy Story 4 review - fabulous return to the big screen

Saskia Baron

To infinity and a blonde...reappearance of Woody's sweetheart takes story in a different direction

The Captor review - Stockholm syndrome silliness

Nick Hasted

Farcical hostage crisis rescued by Rapace

Blu-ray: Dazed and Confused

Saskia Baron

Richard Linklater's loose-limbed portrait of American teenagers in 1976 gets a deserved re-release

Franco Zeffirelli: 'I had this feeling that I was special'

Jasper Rees

Recalling a two-day audience at the home of the great maestro, who has died aged 96

Diego Maradona review - entertaining but skin-deep

Joseph Walsh

Asif Kapadia concludes his trilogy of tragic idols with mixed results

Men in Black: International review - lacklustre sequel missing original stars

Saskia Baron

One reboot too many as a new generation of alien exterminators fail to ignite

Sometimes Always Never review - small but perfectly crafted

Adam Sweeting

Bill Nighy leads an excellent cast in a tale of loss and lovely words

We the Animals review - lyrical story of brotherly love and family trauma

Markie Robson-Scott

In his first feature film, Jeremiah Zagar adapts - and waters down - Justin Torres's autobiographical coming-out novel

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Bob Dylan Special - Rolling Thunder Revue, Netflix

Tim Cumming

Martin Scorsese reexamines the legendary 1975 tour

Blu-ray: My Brilliant Career

Saskia Baron

Classic Australian coming-of-age drama revels in Victoriana with a twist of feminism

Dirty God review - an important piece of filmmaking

Owen Richards

British indie follows the emotional recovery of an acid attack victim

Eating Animals review - a compelling tale of imminent disaster

Sarah Kent

The nastiness of the meat industry laid bare

DVD: Sink

Tom Birchenough

Stark social drama about struggling to survive in a new East London world

X-Men: Dark Phoenix review - a grand finale

Nick Hasted

A superior remake ends the X-Universe, for now

Late Night review - Emma Thompson star vehicle needs a serious rewrite

Matt Wolf

The double Oscar-winner should have held out for a tighter, tougher script

Gloria Bell review - dancing away the heartache

Adam Sweeting

Julianne Moore brings a fresh perspective to remake of 'Gloria'

Blu-ray: Track 29

Graham Fuller

The Dennis Potter-Nicolas Roeg collaboration that tapped Gary Oldman's early genius

Sundance London 2019 review - psychotic maniacs and old-fashioned weepies

Adam Sweeting

Latest genre-leaping raid by the flourishing Utah-based film festival

Godzilla: King of the Monsters review – spectacular stupidity

Nick Hasted

Eco-conspiracies and atom bombs keep a dumb monster franchise ticking

Freedom Fields review - Libya’s next freedom fighters

Owen Richards

Insightful documentary shows how women use football to break boundaries

Thunder Road review - potent and poignant debut feature

Adam Sweeting

A triumph for Jim Cummings as writer, director and lead actor

Booksmart review - teen sex comedy with shallow feminist credentials

Saskia Baron

Olivia Wilde makes her directing debut with this buddy movie set during the last 24 hours of high school

Blu-ray: The Best of British Transport Films

Graham Rickson

Improbably enjoyable celebration of UK transport infrastructure

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

The Hunt, Almeida Theatre review - tense Scandinoirland dram...

For a while, child abuse has been banished from our stages. After all, there is a limit, surely, to how much pain audiences can be put through....

Yesterday review - Beatlemania in a parallel universe

The price of fame and the value of artistic truth are among the topics probed in...

CD: Mark Mulcahy – The Gus

On his last album, 2017’s acclaimed The Possum in the Driveway,...

Present Laughter, Old Vic review - Andrew Scott continues hi...

"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" can be heard pulsating through the...

Apollo 11 review - an awe-inspiring leap

How could this story be told again? Director Todd Douglas Miller has found a way: strip away narrative and give the audience the purity of...

theartsdesk on Vinyl 50: Depeche Mode, Black Midi, Primal Sc...

So theartsdesk on Vinyl reaches its 50th edition. That’s at least a novels’ worth of words. Maybe two! But we’re not stopping yet...

Ax, Keenlyside, Dover Quartet, Wigmore Hall review – celebra...

Emanuel Ax here celebrated his 70th birthday with an all-...

The Planets, Series Finale, BBC Two review - ice cold on Nep...

As an aid to meditation, Professor Brian Cox’s latest series The Planets (...

Drag SOS, Channel 4 review - absolutely fabulous

According to the Manchester drag collective the Family Gorgeous, “drag should be for everyone.” And on the evidence of Drag SOS (...

CD: Ingrid Michaelson - Stranger Songs

Eight albums in, you can imagine why a...


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