mon 05/12/2022

Film reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: The Cat and the Canary (1939) / The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Graham Fuller

Paramount added a late “old dark house” mystery comedy to Hollywood’s annus mirabilis of 1939 by teaming Bob Hope with Paulette Goddard in The Cat and the Canary, skilfully directed by Elliott Nugent. The death-trap mansion in the Louisiana bayous where family members gather to hear the reading of the deceased owner’s will – his niece Goddard inherits it – proved the perfect venue for Hope’s hilariously pusillanimous shtick.

Three Minutes: A Lengthening review - superb portrait of a vanished world

Saskia Baron

We hear the projector whirr as the mute 16mm film flows through the sprockets and on to the screen. For three minutes and a little longer we watch children and adults spilling out of buildings, intrigued by the novelty of a camera on their streets.

Directors the Dardenne brothers: 'To be...

Nick Hasted

Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have made their home region of Liège the site of excruciating moral crises and crushing injustice....

Tori and Lokita review - a masterpiece of...

Saskia Baron

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes are Belgium’s national conscience. The brothers, who have been sharing the roles of writer-director-producer since...

Neil Young: Harvest Time review - a thrillingly...

Barney Harsent

“You’re filmin’ a movie or something – can you explain this?” the radio DJ turns to Neil Young, a laugh underpinning his question and setting the...

Blu-ray: Son of the White Mare

Graham Rickson

Eye-popping Hungarian animated epic is a treat for the senses

Matilda the Musical review - a dizzying, smartly subversive delight

Matt Wolf

Matthew Warchus's glorious stage show sparkles anew onscreen

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery review - grand, class-conscious escapism

Nick Hasted

Daniel Craig’s detective Benoit Blanc returns for more fizzing, elite-skewering fun

Bones and All review - eat, don't heat

Matt Wolf

'Call Me By Your Name' star and director reunite to unsavoury effect

Nanny review - no spoonfuls of sugar in this spooky tale

Saskia Baron

Intriguing and ambitious psychological drama addresses race and class

Wilko Johnson (1947-2022): The Bard of Canvey Island

Nick Hasted

Snug-bar confessions in an epic Canvey Island encounter with the late Essex great

She Said review - a necessary newsroom thriller

Graham Fuller

Galvanising account of how reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey toppled Harvey Weinstein

Utama review - incandescent portrait of a dying way of life in Bolivia

Saskia Baron

Anthropological film-making meets luscious imagery in this moving drama

Blu-ray: Dragon's Return

Graham Rickson

Taut Slovak fable about prejudice, superstition and mob rule

Armageddon Time review - James Gray goes back to skool

Saskia Baron

The director's wistful memoir of his New York City boyhood

Aftersun review - the last good time

Graham Fuller

An indelible drama about a daughter-father holiday recalled

The Menu review - Ralph Fiennes stars in culinary black comedy

Markie Robson-Scott

Deranged chef wreaks revenge: a promising idea that lacks flavour

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever review - expanded Afro-dreams survive a star's death

Nick Hasted

Ryan Coogler honours Chadwick Boseman with a new Black Panther and renewed, radical brief

Blu-ray: The Trial

Nick Hasted

Sixtieth-anniversary, 4K restoration of Orson Welles' visually exhilarating take on Kafka

'We needed to find the perfect sound of vibranium, an alien metal specific to the Marvel Universe': Foley artist Shelley Roden on creating audible movie miracles

Shelley Roden

The fine art of naturalising sound on 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

Q&A: Bianca Stigler, director of 'Three Minutes: A Lengthening'

Graham Fuller

The historian and filmmaker discusses her haunting documentary about a Polish shtetl filmed on the brink of the abyss in 1938

Living review - Bill Nighy's masterpiece

Nick Hasted

Quiet desperation and second chances in an exquisitely sentimentalised Fifties England

Leslie Phillips: 'I can be recognised by my voice alone'

Jasper Rees

Saying goodbye to the actor famous for saying hello

My Neighbour Adolf review - this queasy comedy is not what the world needs just now

Saskia Baron

A light-hearted romp about a curmudgeonly Holocaust survivor and the mystery man next door

Blu-ray: The Strange Door

Graham Fuller

Charles Laughton is a spectacularly fruity villain in this swashbuckling Gothic romp

Call Jane review - well-crafted pro-choice drama

Saskia Baron

A forgotten moment in American feminist history is brought to the screen

Causeway review - megastar Jennifer Lawrence's passion project

Saskia Baron

Beautifully calibrated American indie portrait of the long-term effects of trauma

Blu-ray: The Count Yorga Collection

Nick Hasted

Hip, vicious Seventies vampire update sees a Gothic count stalk LA

Triangle of Sadness review - ship of fools

Nick Hasted

Palme d’Or-winning super-rich satire is spectacular before it subsides

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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