fri 15/10/2021

Film reviews, news & interviews

The Velvet Underground review - Todd Haynes tunnels through band history

Saskia Baron

Todd Haynes’ documentary about the Velvet Underground has to be one of the better uses of time by a film-maker during the Covid pandemic. He spent lockdown putting the film together with a team of archivists and editors working remotely. It’s a beautifully shot and ingeniously collaged portrait of the decadent New York band which weaves together an extraordinary wealth of archive footage and some choice and apposite interviews. 

Blu-ray: The Lighthouse (Mayak)

Graham Rickson

Mariya Saakyan’s 2006 debut feature is bookended by grainy footage of what looks like a fire-ravaged diary, the distressed, crumbling scraps of paper torn and charred. The missing pages and unfinished sentences spill over into what follows, Saakyan inviting viewers to fill in the gaps in this haunting, elegiac film.

Gabriela Montero, Kings Place review -...

David Nice

As the Statue of Liberty appears in Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant, our improvising pianist proclaims “The Star-Spangled Banner”, only for it to...

DVD/Blu-ray: Another Round

Saskia Baron

Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen left me dumbstruck in the cinema in 1998 with its brilliant depiction of an incestuous, viciously glamorous family...

DVD/Blu-ray: Maigret - The Complete Series

Graham Rickson

This weighty box set contains all 52 episodes of the BBC’s take on George Simenon's Maigret, four seasons of which were made and broadcast between...

No Time to Die review - Daniel Craig’s bold, bountiful Bond farewell

Demetrios Matheou

Craig’s fifth and final outing as 007 is a genuine gamechanger

Blu-ray: Johnny Guitar

Saskia Baron

Nicholas Ray's operatic Western gets the revival treatment

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life review - a complex portrait of a complex man

Saskia Baron

Occasionally reverential documentary about the British neurologist

Gagarine review - hazy cosmic jive in a Paris banlieue

Markie Robson-Scott

Cité of dreams: Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh's glowing debut feature

The Ballad of Billy McCrae review - beware the quarryman's beautiful daughter

Graham Fuller

Welsh neo-noir packs a nasty punch but falls short

DVD/Blu-ray: The Servant

Nick Hasted

Downton Abbey goes to hell: Dirk Bogarde captures the first of the three Losey-Pinter collaborations

The Story of Looking review – bedside musings on how and what we see

Sarah Kent

A lifetime of looking recalled in words and pictures

Rose Plays Julie review - a sombre story of rape, adoption and a search for identity

Markie Robson-Scott

In Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor's third feature, revenge is served very cold

The Starling, Netflix review - a slender idea unsatisfyingly executed

Adam Sweeting

Alluring cast can't save Theodore Melfi's trite melodrama

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain review - visually arresting biopic

Joseph Walsh

Will Sharpe’s portrayal of the fin-de-siècle cat painter, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, offers a visual spectacle

The Lost Leonardo review - an incredible tale as gripping as any thriller

Sarah Kent

The machinations of the art market laid bare

DVD/Blu-ray: Mr Klein

Mark Kidel

Alain Delon shines in flawed Losey take on the hunted man

Schumacher, Netflix review - authorised version of the life of an F1 legend

Adam Sweeting

Portrait of German race ace doesn't dig deep enough

DVD/Blu-ray: All About Eve

Saskia Baron

They don't write scripts like that anymore: Joseph L Mankiewicz's theatrical masterpiece

Shorta review - Danish police drama

Saskia Baron

First-time film-makers' ambitious tale of police trapped in the ghetto

The Collini Case review - it might be legal, but that doesn't mean it's justice

Adam Sweeting

Tense courtroom drama probes Germany's Nazi legacy

The Champion of Auschwitz review - Polish movie based on a boxer's memoir

Saskia Baron

Classically filmed feature focuses on the experience of non-Jewish prisoners

DVD/Blu-ray: The Fifth Horseman is Fear

Graham Rickson

Gruelling, gripping Czech thriller set in Nazi-occupied Prague

Second Spring review - intriguing film about a woman with an unusual form of dementia

Markie Robson-Scott

Andy Kelleher's luminous debut feature is shot on the last of Fuji film stock

theartsdesk Q&A: filmmaker Marco Kreuzpaintner

Adam Sweeting

What his new film 'The Collini Case' says about Germany, the Nazis, justice and the law

Misha and the Wolves review - tricksy documentary about a child survivor

Saskia Baron

Holocaust film plays fast and loose in its story-telling

Blu-ray: The River

Sebastian Scotney

When Technicolour really was glorious: Jean Renoir in India

Blu-ray: Deep Cover

Saskia Baron

Early '90s American action movie takes on the drug trade and racism within the police

Candyman review - Nia DaCosta's clever sequel to the 1992 slasher movie

Markie Robson-Scott

The horror of the art world: urban legends, racial politics and gentrification in Chicago

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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