sun 26/05/2024

Film reviews, news & interviews

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga review - just as mad without Max

Demetrios Matheou

In the way of Batman being overshadowed by his villains, in his last outing, Mad Max: Fury Road, the erstwhile hero of George Miller’s dystopian action series had to take a back seat (literally and metaphorically) to the shaven haired, one-armed, kick-ass powerhouse that was Furiosa. 

The Beach Boys, Disney+ review - heroes and villains and good vibrations

Adam Sweeting

It was – let’s see – 63 years ago today that Brian Wilson taught the band to play. Fabled for their resplendent harmonies and ecstatic hymning of the sun-kissed California dream, the Beach Boys seemed to represent everything golden and glorious about the mythic American West Coast. If you lived in Detroit or Deptford, it looked like a wonderland indeed.

'I think of her as a proto-punk':...

Nick Hasted

Anita Pallenberg was a vital presence in the Stones’ most vital years. Her bright eyes and hungry mouth betrayed a ferocious appetite for pleasure...

theartsdesk Q&A: Eddie Marsan and the...

Adam Sweeting

He’s not the kind of actor who has paparazzi following him around Beverly Hills or staking out his yacht in St Barts, but Eddie Marsan, born into a...

DVD/Blu-ray: Billy Connolly - Big Banana Feet

Veronica Lee

The most striking thing about the 1976 documentary (restored and re-released by the BFI) is just how polite Billy Connolly comes across as. Not that...

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Bermondsey Tales: Fall of the Roman Empire review - dirty deeds done dirt cheap

Adam Sweeting

Michael Head's gangland drama is a bit of a dog's breakfast

Two Tickets to Greece review - the highs and lows of a holiday from hell

Markie Robson-Scott

Laure Calamy, Olivia Côte and Kristin Scott Thomas star in a silly French comedy

Hoard review - not any old rubbish

Graham Fuller

A star is born amid the muck and squalor of Luna Carmoon's ambitious directorial debut

Blu-ray: Chocolat

Nick Hasted

Claire Denis' African debut is a nostalgic yet unsparing look at colonial life

DVD/Blu-ray: The Holdovers

Graham Rickson

Bittersweet, beautifully observed seasonal comedy - not just for Christmas

Our Mothers review - revisiting the horrors of Guatemala's civil war

Adam Sweeting

Hard-hitting first feature from director Cesar Diaz

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes review - a post-human paradise

Nick Hasted

A richly suggestive new era for the franchise reconnects with its 1968 start

La Chimera review - magical realism with a touch of Fellini

Demetrios Matheou

Josh O’Connor excels as an archaeologist turned graverobber in the Italian countryside

Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger review - the Archers up close

Saskia Baron

Adoring tribute by Martin Scorsese to British filmmaking legends

Love Lies Bleeding review - a pumped-up neo-noir

Justine Elias

There's darkness on the edge of town in Rose Glass's sweaty, violent New Queer gem

Nezouh review - seeking magic in a war

James Saynor

A movie that looks on the dreamier side of Syrian strife

Blu-ray: The Dreamers

Nick Hasted

Bertolucci revisits May '68 via intoxicated, transgressive sex, lit up by the debuting Eva Green

theartsdesk Q&A: Marco Bellocchio - the last maestro

Nick Hasted

Italian cinema's vigorous grand old man discusses Kidnapped, conversion, anarchy and faith in cinema

I.S.S. review - sci-fi with a sting in the tail

Justine Elias

The imperilled space station isn't the worst place to be

That They May Face The Rising Sun review - lyrical adaptation of John McGahern's novel

Markie Robson-Scott

Pat Collins extracts the magic of country life in the west of Ireland in his third feature film

Stephen review - a breathtakingly good first feature by a multi-media artist

Sarah Kent

Melanie Manchot's debut is strikingly intelligent and compelling

DVD/Blu-Ray: Priscilla

Harry Thorfinn-George

The disc extras smartly contextualise Sofia Coppola's eighth feature

Fantastic Machine review - photography's story from one camera to 45 billion

Sarah Kent

Love it or hate it, the photographic image has ensnared us all

All You Need Is Death review - a future folk horror classic

Justine Elias

Irish folkies seek a cursed ancient song in Paul Duane's impressive fiction debut

If Only I Could Hibernate review - kids in grinding poverty in Ulaanbaatar

Markie Robson-Scott

Mongolian director Zoljargal Purevdash's compelling debut

The Book of Clarence review - larky jaunt through biblical epic territory

Helen Hawkins

LaKeith Stanfield is impressively watchable as the Messiah's near-neighbour

Back to Black review - rock biopic with a loving but soft touch

Helen Hawkins

Marisa Abela evokes the genius of Amy Winehouse, with a few warts minimised

Civil War review - God help America

Adam Sweeting

A horrifying State of the Union address from Alex Garland

The Teachers' Lounge - teacher-pupil relationships under the microscope

Graham Rickson

Thoughtful, painful meditation on status, crime, and power

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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