mon 19/08/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

Transit review - existential nightmares for a German refugee

Saskia Baron

If you’re looking for escapism from anxieties about Brexit, the worldwide refugee crisis and rising authoritarianism, Christian Petzold’s Transit is not going to provide comfort.

Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood review – Tarantino’s mellowest film yet

Demetrios Matheou

Quentin Tarantino’s made a big deal of this being his ninth film, while heralding his retirement after number 10 with the sort of nostalgic fandom he’s always ladled over his favourite directors and stars.

JT Leroy review - pseudonym, avatar, literary hoax

Markie Robson-Scott

Based on Savannah Knoop’s memoir Girl Boy Girl: How I became JT LeRoy, Justin Kelly’s film skims the surface of the sensational literary hoax of the...

DVD: Are You Proud?

Tom Birchenough

Ashley Joiner’s expansive documentary Are You Proud? opens with the testament of a redoubtable nonagenarian remembering his experiences as a gay man...

Playmobil The Movie review - resolutely kids...

Nick Hasted

Modern children’s films wink knowingly over kids’ heads at their paying parents, as with the Lego movies’ rapid-fire pop-culture salvos. Lino DiSalvo...

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Blinded by the Light review – flawed but feelgood

Demetrios Matheou

Bruce Springsteen's blue collar anthems fuel a novel addition to the music biopic

Gaza review - portraits of love and futility

Tom Baily

Sundance-screened doc shows locals' lives in close and troubling detail

DVD/Blu-ray: Don't Look Now

Graham Fuller

Nicolas Roeg's melancholy masterpiece confronts grief and its ghosts

Holiday review - harrowing Danish drama about misogyny

Graham Fuller

A drug lord's new girlfriend makes the mistake of befriending another man

Animals review - who decides when the party's over?

Adam Sweeting

Emma Jane Unsworth's novel becomes a riotous and unruly film

Photograph review - a fresh take on old love stories

Joseph Walsh

Ritesh Batra presents his charming romantic drama set on the streets of Mumbai

Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw review – falls flat fast

Demetrios Matheou

Vanessa Kirby steals but can't save F&F spin-off starring The Rock and Jason Statham

The Edge review - mind games

Nick Hasted

Winning's cost considered in a revelatory cricket documentary

10th Odessa International Film Festival review - exquisite gay love stories and visionary new music

Peter Culshaw

Not so far from the war zone, the 'Cannes of the East' keeps the film flag flying

theartsdesk Q&A: documentary maker Karen Stokkendal Poulsen

Demetrios Matheou

The Danish director discusses her film ‘On the Inside of a Military Dictatorship’

Marianne and Leonard review - the artist, his muse and collateral damage

Markie Robson-Scott

Laughing Len's relationship with Marianne Ihlen gets the Nick Broomfield treatment

The Current War review – lacks the spark of invention

Demetrios Matheou

Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon in the battle to light up America

DVD/Blu-ray: Ash Is Purest White

Tom Birchenough

Love in a gangster milieu, set against the changes of the Chinese century

Lights, Camera, Malta!, BBC Concert Orchestra, Malta review – a spectacular celebration of film history

Owen Richards

Radio 2 brings Friday Night is Music Night to the Maltese capital

Tell It to the Bees review - taboo love in 1950s Scotland

Graham Fuller

A woman doctor changes the lives of a struggling factory worker and her young son

Pavarotti review - enjoyable but superficial survey of a superstar

Adam Sweeting

Ron Howard's portrait of the fabled tenor leaves his inner life unexamined

Varda by Agnès review - a richly moving film farewell

Tom Birchenough

Her wonderful personality to the fore, Agnès Varda shares her life and work

The Lion King review - a dazzling photocopy

Nick Hasted

A technological triumph doesn't touch the heart

Gwen review - gothic horror set in north Wales

Saskia Baron

Period film underuses Maxine Peake and gives starring role to rainy Welsh hills instead

Blu-ray: Lords of Chaos

Thomas H Green

Jonas Åkerlund's bloody, unpleasant, yet sometimes humorous account of heavy metal's darkest true story

Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek: 'Is our film porny?'

Ewa Banaszkiewicz And Mateusz Dymek

Directors of My Friend the Polish Girl respond to claims they've set the female cause back two decades

The Brink review – behind the scenes with Steve Bannon

Demetrios Matheou

Funny and frightening fly-on-the-wall documentary

Armstrong review - the man behind the leap

Owen Richards

Documentary offers a sombre but interesting look at the first man

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

Prom 41: Ghindin, LPO, Jurowski review - perfect sound in a...

It was a Disney theme-park of Russian music, and in an entirely good way: none of the usual rides, but plenty of heroes and villains, sad spirits...

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: MacMillan birthday co...

To celebrate the 60th birthday of Sir James MacMillan, the...

Niall Griffiths: Broken Ghost review - Welsh visions of hope...

The trend-hopping taste-makers who run British literary publishing have lately decided that “working-class” writing merits a small dole of their...

Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Eugene Onegin, Komisc...

Returning to Edinburgh International Festival, Berlin's Komische Oper brought Barrie Kosky’s sumptuous production of Eugene Onegin to the...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Phil Manzanera - Diamond Head

Diamond Head was Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera’s first solo album. Released in May...

theartsdesk at Bard Summerscape Festival 2019: unknown treas...

There could be no greater gift to any festival director...

Foo Fighters, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow - communal singalon...

Foo Fighters are an unlikely candidate for one of the biggest bands in the world. There’s nothing workmanlike about...

Prom 40: Hough, OAE, Fischer review - pretty royal things

There it gleamed, the pearl in the massive oyster of...

Pram, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - a fine hometown...

While Pram could hardly be described as representative of the UK...

Transit review - existential nightmares for a German refugee

If you’re looking for escapism from anxieties about Brexit, the worldwide refugee crisis and rising authoritarianism,...


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