sat 20/04/2019

Film reviews, news & interviews

Red Joan review - Judi Dench can't lift lumbering espionage drama

Matt Wolf

The decades-long stage relationship between Judi Dench and Trevor Nunn translates to surprisingly little with Red Joan. This is veteran theatre director Nunn's first film since Twelfth Night in 1996.

Loro review – hedonism must have an end

David Nice

"Them" - the "loro" of the title (with a further play on “l’oro”, gold) - denotes the mostly sleazy opportunists willing to use and be used by "him" ("lui"), "Presidente" Silvio Berlusconi in his septuagenarian bid for an extended sexual and political life.

Dragged Across Concrete review - Mel Gibson'...

Nick Hasted

Mel Gibson’s vile drunken rants a decade ago, his 63 years and the price of both inform his role as cop Brett Ridgeman. Writer-director S. Craig...

Greta review – Isabelle Huppert goes full psycho...

Demetrios Matheou

Isabelle Huppert is famed for the chilly intensity of many of her performances, and a willingness to mine all manner of darkness and perversity – her...

Blu-ray: One, Two, Three

Mark Kidel

Billy Wilder’s co-writing collaboration with IAL Diamond encompassed comedy masterpieces such as Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, Irma La Douce, The...

DVD: Mifune - The Last Samurai

Tom Birchenough

The life and times of the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune

Hellboy review - vivid monster mash

Nick Hasted

Very English, very pulpy reboot for a super-demon

Wild Rose review - how country music can set you free

Adam Sweeting

Jessie Buckley's starring performance is one from the heart

Mid90s review – rise of a skate gang tyro

Graham Fuller

Boys will be boys in Jonah Hill's sharp and likeable debut as writer-director

Pet Sematary review - spine-jolting shocks, but a disappointing ending

Adam Sweeting

Stephen King adaptation leaves you pondering what might have been

Happy as Lazzaro review - magical realism from Italy

Mark Kidel

Subtle layers of story-telling blur the boundary between reality and dream

DVD/Blu-ray: The White Reindeer

Graham Rickson

Ethnographic insight in striking 1953 Finnish horror curio

Director Jason Barker: ‘Trans lives are often portrayed so bleakly’

Owen Richards

A Deal with the Universe filmmaker shares the story behind his pregnancy

Shazam! review - refreshing super-goofiness

Nick Hasted

DC's overblown superhero franchise lightens up

The Sisters Brothers review – wonderfully off-the-wall western

Demetrios Matheou

Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly star as sibling gunmen on a dangerous trek West

Blu-ray: Detour

Graham Fuller

Edgar G Ulmer's film noir road movie is a thing of sordid beauty

At Eternity's Gate review - Willem Dafoe excels in hyperactive biopic

Matt Wolf

Willem Dafoe's Oscar nod as Vincent Van Gogh was well-deserved

Out of Blue review - noir and cosmology collide

Tom Baily

Carol Morley adapts Martin Amis' detective novel into a moody, overblown enigma

Interview with director Agnès Varda, who has died at 90

Demetrios Matheou

The French/Belgian filmmaking legend talked with Demetrios Matheou about her career

Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story review - inside Sidebottom's head

Nick Hasted

The inspiring saga of an artist hidden behind a mask

DVD/Blu-ray: The Wild Pear Tree

Tom Birchenough

Melancholy restraint from Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan resounds

Dumbo review - does Tim Burton’s new adaption take flight?

Joseph Walsh

There’s a great deal to love, but it's over-packed with unnecessary try-hard plot details

Us review - can Jordan Peele deliver the thrills again?

Saskia Baron

No shortage of cinematic fireworks in this follow up to Get Out

The Best Films Out Now


theartsdesk recommends the top movies of the moment

Minding the Gap review – profound musings on life

Owen Richards

Don’t be deceived, this skateboarding documentary is a heartbreaking classic

DVD/Blu-Ray: La Vérité

Saskia Baron

Henri-Georges Clouzot's powerful 1960 courtroom drama attacks French bourgeois morality

Q&A special: The making of Local Hero

Jasper Rees

As it becomes a stage musical, the film's writer-director and stars recall the birth of a masterpiece

The White Crow review - gripping depiction of the brilliance of Nureyev

Adam Sweeting

A portrait of the artist as an arrogant, ruthlessly ambitious young genius

DVD/Blu-ray: Bergman - A Year in a Life

Mark Kidel

Master and monster: the Swedish cinema maestro dissected

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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