wed 23/05/2018

Film reviews, news & interviews

Edie review - Sheila Hancock gets summit fever

Jasper Rees

There have been plenty of films about mountains, and they are mainly about men. The plot tends not to vary: man clambers up peak because, as Mallory famously reasoned, it is there. Whether factual or scripted, often they are disaster movies too: Everest, Touching the Void, the astonishing German film about the race to conquer the vertical wall of the Eiger, North Face.

The Best Films Out Now


There are films to meet every taste in theartsdesk's guide to the best movies currently on release. In our considered opinion, any of the titles below is well worth your attention.A Fantastic Woman ★★★★★ From Chile with heat, a powerful romance about a young trans woman and her doomed lover

DVD/Blu-ray: Coco

Graham Rickson

The brightness and colour are deceptive; at its heart, Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina’s Coco is an affecting reflection on death, remembrance and the...

On Chesil Beach review - perfect playing in a...

Tom Birchenough

Ian McEwan has said that he decided to adapt his 2007 novel On Chesil Beach for the screen himself at least partly because he did not want anyone...

The Rosenkavalier film, OAE, Paterson, QEH review...

David Nice

Let's face it, Robert "Cabinet of Dr Caligari" Wiene's 1926 film loosely based on Strauss and Hofmannsthal's 1911 "comedy for music" is a mostly...

Filmworker review - a life dedicated to Stanley Kubrick

Saskia Baron

Totally devoted to the master; a fascinating documentary about Kubrick's righthand man Leon Vitali

DVD/Blu-ray: The Post

Nick Hasted

Streep, Hanks and Spielberg back the press at their best

DVD: All the Money in the World

Jasper Rees

All in the family: Christopher Plummer refuses to pay Charlie Plummer's kidnap ransom in Ridley Scott's Getty drama

Blu-ray/DVD: Neon Bull

Tom Birchenough

Rough but sensual, an enthralling immersion in Brazil's rodeo world

Cuckmere: A Portrait/Environment 2.0, Brighton Festival review - landscape, politics and art collide

Nick Hasted

Brighton's rustic hinterland gets audiovisual accompaniment, plus Green debate

Michel Hazanavicius: 'Losing himself is how he found himself'

Demetrios Matheou

The Oscar-winning director's new film, 'Redoubtable', charts the turning point in the life and career of the legendary Jean-Luc Godard

Anon review - adventures in cyber-noir

Adam Sweeting

Old-school detective hunts the ghost in the machine

Revenge - a blood-soaked joy

Owen Richards

Never have desert landscapes and graphic self-surgery looked so good

Entebbe review – Seventies hijack drama remains grounded

Adam Sweeting

Gripping real-life story becomes mediocre movie

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DVD: The Ice King

Tom Birchenough

The pioneering talent and complicated life of skater John Curry

Lean on Pete review - a different kind of road trip

Owen Richards

British-made, American-told film on loss and abandonment

Tully review - Charlize Theron plumps for sentiment

Markie Robson-Scott

Fiery motherhood movie from Jason Reitman ends up opting for fantasy

Nothing Like a Dame review - actresses undimmed by time

Matt Wolf

Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins reflect with passion and poignancy on their remarkable careers

DVD: 50 Years Legal

Tom Birchenough

Simon Napier-Bell's moving survey of a gay half-century, presented with rapid-fire acuity

Andrew Haigh: 'In the end you have to be able to make the decisions' - interview

Adam Sweeting

The Yorkshire-born director on his new film 'Lean on Pete'

Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank review - the artist puts himself in the frame

Sarah Kent

The reluctant subject who reveals his soul

Beast review - mesmerising and murky in equal measure

Matt Wolf

Two compelling leads navigate a labyrinthine plot

The Wound review - gay love hurts in strong South African drama

Tom Birchenough

Sexual difference confronts social tradition in story set around Xhosa coming-of-age ritual

DVD/Blu-ray: They Came to a City

Graham Rickson

A Priestley experience - stagey but fascinating wartime social fantasy

The Deminer review - life on the edge in Iraq

Owen Richards

One man risks literal life and limb in this fascinating war documentary

DVD/Blu-ray: The Touch

David Nice

Bergman's typically individual take on a difficult affair has flashes of vintage brilliance

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society review - artery-furring whimsy

Jasper Rees

Lily James seeks postwar secrets in a Channel Islands weepie

DVD/Blu-ray: Bergman's The Magic Flute

David Nice

Pretty start, heart of darkness: the greatest of all opera films now available to UK viewers

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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