tue 16/08/2022

Film reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: The Saphead

Graham Rickson

Buster Keaton made his name in a series of two-reel shorts made from 1917 onwards; The Saphead, from 1920, was his first starring role in a feature film.

Eiffel review - sensuous secret history

Nick Hasted

This is a romantic historical epic with elan, giving sensual immediacy to a fanciful secret history of the Eiffel Tower, here inspired by a forbidden, rekindled romance between Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris) and Arlette Bourgès (Sex Education’s Emma Mackey).

Nope review - more a nope than a yep

Demetrios Matheou

Writer/director Jordan Peele’s first two features were horror films with bells on, their genuinely creepy chills accompanied by sharp, satirical...

Nightclubbing: The Birth of Punk Rock in NYC...

Nick Hasted

Bankruptcy, rubble, rape and murder: Manhattan in the Seventies could be grim, as multiple New York punk memoirs make clear. The trade-off was the...

Give Them Wings review - down but not out in...

Graham Fuller

Give Them Wings is the biopic of Paul Hodgson, who seven months after he was born in 1965 was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis. If that wasn’t...

Our Eternal Summer review - tragedy taps authentic teenage emotions in Marseille

Sebastian Scotney

Innocence ends abruptly for a group of school leavers in Emilie Aussel's promising directorial debut

Bullet Train review - not really a first class ticket

Demetrios Matheou

Brad Pitt and some superlative set-pieces keep this action comedy on the tracks

Hit the Road review - leaving Tehran for truth and freedom

David Thompson

Panah Panahi’s accomplished, witty and humane debut is a road movie that speaks far beyond his native Iran

The Fire of Love review - awe-inspiring footage of volcanoes marred by sentimental narration

Sarah Kent

A love affair conducted in a volcanic cauldron

Bob Rafelson (1933-2022): New Hollywood's raging bull

Nick Hasted

A bruising encounter with the late director on inventing Jack Nicholson, and terminal films

Blu-ray: Get Carter

Mark Kidel

Super-cool Michael Caine is at his best in Mike Hodges's masterpiece of British cinema

Where the Crawdads Sing review - picturesque film glosses over its darker themes

Adam Sweeting

Delia Owens's bestseller gets a lightweight movie makeover

The Gray Man, Netflix review - the Russo brothers explore big-bang theory

Adam Sweeting

Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans enjoy themselves in cacophonous spy romp

The Good Boss review - Javier Bardem at his creepy best

Sebastian Scotney

A dark Spanish workplace satire with too many plotlines

Blu-ray: Larks on a String

Graham Rickson

Jiří Menzel's bittersweet Czech New Wave classic returns, with enticing extras

Blu-ray: The Men

Nick Hasted

Brando’s dangerous debut, as a rebel paraplegic veteran

The Railway Children Return review - honourable wartime sequel

Nick Hasted

A thoughtful update welcomes back Jenny Agutter, but misses the original's magic

McEnroe review - documentary about the original bad boy of tennis

Veronica Lee

Illuminating contributions from family and friends

Blu-ray: Pickpocket

Mark Kidel

Robert Bresson's 1959 classic is marred by excess of rigour

Thor: Love and Thunder review - more like it from Marvel

Nick Hasted

Taika Waititi's witty, wild sequel revives the MCU

Nitram review - chilling drama based on the Port Arthur gunman

Markie Robson-Scott

Caleb Landry Jones in an extraordinary performance as a man-child without empathy

Moon, 66 Questions review - captivating daughter-father drama

Graham Fuller

An outstanding debut by the Greek New Wave director Jacqueline Lentzou

We (Nous) review - a low-key look at life in the suburbs of Paris

Sarah Kent

Nothing much happens in Alice Diop's documentary portrait of the periphery

Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War review - a lovingly crafted documentary portrait

Saskia Baron

In love and war: one of England's great watercolourists reappraised

Elvis review - Austin Butler shines in patchy biopic

Adam Sweeting

Baz Luhrmann's portrait of the King doesn't cut below the surface

The Big Hit review - prisoners play 'Godot'

Sebastian Scotney

What can possibly go wrong?

Blu-ray: Double Indemnity

Nick Hasted

Billy Wilder's cold-blooded yet sultry classic defines film noir

Blu-ray: The Soft Skin

Mark Kidel

Truffaut's 1964 film tells the story of a slightly less than torrid affair

Pleasure review - that Eve Harrington syndrome again

Graham Fuller

The ruthless ambition of a would-be porn queen

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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