thu 17/06/2021

Film reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Lake Mungo

Graham Fuller

Lake Mungo (2008) is a dread-laden Australian Gothic thriller that masquerades as a straight-faced documentary.

Blu-ray: The Hands of Orlac (Orlacs Hände)

Mark Kidel

The German director Robert Wiene is best known for The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), perhaps the most influential piece of expressionist cinema. He's not as well known as F. W.

The Father review - gripping dementia drama

Tom Baily

Florian Zeller: the name might not be familiar in the world of cinema. But watch this space. His stage play Le Père was widely praised, made its way...

Nobody review - Bob Odenkirk reinvents himself as...

Adam Sweeting

Fans of Bob Odenkirk’s work in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul will be delighted to see him taking centre stage in Ilya Naishuller’s thriller, but...

Shiva Baby review - sex, lies and rugelach

Markie Robson-Scott

Comedian Rachel Sennott stars as Danielle, a conflicted, bisexual twenty-something college student who's taking money she doesn't really need from a...

Bank Job review - an inspirational look at finance

Sarah Kent

How to beat the system and laugh all the way to the bank

Dark Days, Luminous Nights, Manchester Collective, The White Hotel, Salford review - a sense of Hades

Robert Beale

Musicians and artists find out where the bodies are buried

Blu-ray: The World of Wong Kar Wai

Daniel Baksi

A set of seven magical films from Hong Kong's master auteur

A Quiet Place Part II review - noise abatement sequel

Graham Fuller

Family vs alien monsters franchise sustains suspense

Blu-ray: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Saskia Baron

The cult high-school comedy that broke the mould

Blu-ray: Jungle Fever

Saskia Baron

Spike Lee's provocative portrait of love across the racial divide

Surge review - jittery and joyless

Matt Wolf

Ben Whishaw compels in largely wordless study in mental collapse

First Cow review - beautifully realised frontier drama

Demetrios Matheou

A baker, a grifter and a cow form the heart of Kelly Reichardt’s revisionist western

Frankie review - dying for nuance

Graham Fuller

Isabelle Huppert stars in Ira Sachs's disappointingly wan homage to Eric Rohmer

Cruella review - fabulous fashions, creaky narrative

Adam Sweeting

Craig Gillespie's film is a tale of two Emmas and only three Dalmatians

Blu-ray: Masculin Féminin

Mark Kidel

Godard's playful and philosophical cinema

My New York Year review - lacklustre portrait of an ingenue

Saskia Baron

Old-fashioned romcom aimed at a young female audience misses its mark

Those Who Wish Me Dead review - Angelina Jolie battles baddies and blazes in Montana

Adam Sweeting

Taylor Sheridan's rugged thriller is effective but unmemorable

Nomadland review - on the road in the American West

Markie Robson-Scott

Frances McDormand shines in Chloé Zhao's Oscar-scooping third feature

Rare Beasts review - Billie Piper as triple threat

Matt Wolf

Self-described "anti-romcom" is nervy and edgy

Army of the Dead review - triumphant return to zombieland by director Zack Snyder

Adam Sweeting

Who knew battling the undead could be this much fun?

The Human Voice review - an intense half-hour that pulls no punches

Sarah Kent

A jilted woman turns her back on misery

Blu-ray: Radio On

Graham Fuller

British cinema's finest road movie is anti-British cinema

Ferry review - the making of a Dutch gangster

Tom Baily

Netflix capitalises on trend of 'origin stories' to promote one of its own TV series

Blu-ray: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Mark Kidel

Superb Cold War spy thriller looks as good as ever

The Woman in the Window review - hitching a ride with Hitch

Adam Sweeting

Joe Wright's derivative thriller squanders its impressive cast

End of Sentence review - an American father and his estranged son reconcile in Ireland

Markie Robson-Scott

An exploration of masculinity: John Hawkes stars in an unassuming road movie

Some Kind of Heaven review - a Florida retirement community yields its secrets

Veronica Lee

Quietly poetic documentary about 'Disneyland for retirees'

Blu-ray: Columbia Noir #3

Nick Hasted

Paranoia and betrayal drawn from life in post-war Hollywood crime spree

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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