tue 13/04/2021

Film reviews, news & interviews

Night in Paradise review - lukewarm bloodbath

Tom Baily

Since launching his directing career in 2011 with The Showdown, Park Hoon-jung has established himself as a promising devotee of the bloody gangster genre. The pandemic may have slowed the South Korean director’s momentum, as the producers were forced to release the film belatedly on Netflix.

DVD/Blu-ray: Catch Us If You Can

Graham Fuller

Catch Us If You Can, the 1965 road movie starring Barbara Ferris and the eponymous drummer and guiding force of the Dave Clark Five, proved a more trenchant satire of capitalism in the embryonic Swinging ‘60s than did the box-office smash it was piggybacking, the previous year’s A Hard Day’s Night.

Sequin in a Blue Room review - soullessness and...

Matt Wolf

Sequin is the screen name for the questing 16-year-old at the slowly awakening heart of Sequin in a Blue Room, a 2019 Australian film only now...

Sound of Metal review - hidden depths behind the...

Adam Sweeting

I once went to see Motorhead, back in the days when real men didn’t wear earplugs, and afterwards it was if somebody had completely sawn off the top...

Undine review - respecting the nymph

Graham Fuller

Illogical in its twists and turns, elusive as a fading dream but not stylistically dreamy – Christian Petzold’s optimistic romantic tragedy Undine is...

Blu-ray: Beginning

Tom Birchenough

A masterpiece of 'slow cinema' from a hugely promising new festival talent

Wilderness review – 'what comes after besotted?'

Sebastian Scotney

Improvisatory filmmaking underpinned by a magical jazz soundtrack

Blu-ray: I Start Counting

Graham Rickson

Arresting late '60s thriller, superbly acted and directed

Filmmaker Darius Marder: 'Deafness is a culture. That's not being PC'

Owen Richards

Writer and director on Sound of Metal's long journey from concept to award nominations

Godzilla vs. Kong review - let battle commence (again)

Saskia Baron

CGI monsters have more character development than the humans who share the screen

The Drifters review - lovers-on-the-run with little moral depth

Tom Baily

Sloppy mash up of New Wave, Tarantino and post-Brexit issues

The Mauritanian review – moving 9/11 drama

Demetrios Matheou

Lawyers for Guantanamo detainee find that justice and the War on Terror don't mix

Blu-ray: Silent Action

Graham Rickson

Violent 1970s thriller from Italy, very much of its time

Blu-ray: Romeo is Bleeding

Mark Kidel

Peter Medak's neo-noir is let down by genre clichés

Memories of My Father review - the richness of childhood, the cruelty of history

Tom Birchenough

A moving father-son bond resonates in adaptation of Colombian family memoir

Stray review - a delightful portrait of a dog named Zeytin

Sarah Kent

A glimpse of life in Turkey through the eyes of an independent spirit

Six Minutes to Midnight review - Judi Dench retains her dignity

Matt Wolf

Confused portrait of a country on the cusp of war

DVD/Blu-ray: Mädchen in Uniform

Graham Fuller

Striking early-1930s Weimar study of female sexuality in social rebellion

Blu-ray: Restless Natives

Graham Rickson

Ramshackle but endearing Scottish comedy

Amber and Me review - sensitive documentary about twin girls, one with Down Syndrome

Saskia Baron

Heartwarming and intelligent portrait of sisters growing up together

Minari review - a Korean family searches for the American dream

Markie Robson-Scott

Lee Isaac Chung's uplifting, autobiographical fourth feature is a winner

Blu-ray: Charade

Nick Hasted

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn breeze through a Hitchcockian confection

Blu-ray: Viy

Graham Rickson

Disquieting folk-horror from the USSR

Verdict review - social realism and court procedural combine in powerful Manila drama

Tom Birchenough

Domestic abuse and legal turmoil in Raymund Ribay Gutierrez’s Venice prize-winning debut

Wander Darkly review - bold psychodrama falls short

Tom Baily

Sienna Miller gives a strong performance but it’s a weak story and the tension is forced

The Columnist review - taking out the trolls

Graham Fuller

Sly horror comedy about a woman who's as mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore

Mouthpiece review - double entendre in Toronto

Markie Robson-Scott

Two women play one conflicted character in Patricia Rozema's adaptation of stage play

Blu-ray: Link

Nick Hasted

Stamp and Shue confront a cult horror's eerie mansion of the apes

Blu-ray: Marlene Dietrich at Universal 1940-1942

Graham Fuller

Four films that tested the star's durability with the American public

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

Close Footnote

Advertising feature

Dance meets film in a unique digital season from English National Ballet


Brilliant new works from leading choreographers created in collaboration with exciting filmmakers. Watch world class ballet from home when you rent these original titles, released as world premieres via the brand new Ballet on Demand service from ENB.


latest in Today

Album: Imelda May - 11 Past the Hour

11 Past the Hour opens with its title song, a delicious, twangy, string-laden Nancy Sinatra Bond theme that never was. The album closes...

Singer-songwriter Peggy Seeger: still in the vanguard of her...

If American music has a royal family, it’s surely the Seeger clan. Charles, the patriarch, the composer, musicologist and teacher who could be...

Album: Lady Dan - I Am the Prophet

There’s a line in “No Home”, the staggering centrepiece of Lady Dan’s debut album, that perhaps sums up the project. “Wolves will never...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wes Montgomery - The NDR Hamburg Studio...

Speaking to America’s Hit Parader magazine in August 1967...

Night in Paradise review - lukewarm bloodbath

Since launching his directing career in 2011 with The Showdown, Park Hoon-jung has established himself as a promising devotee of the...

DVD/Blu-ray: Catch Us If You Can

Catch Us If You Can, the 1965 road movie starring Barbara Ferris and the eponymous drummer and guiding force of the Dave Clark Five,...

The Seven Deadly Sins / Mahagonny Songspiel, Royal Opera onl...

There are so many good ideas, so much talented hard work from the singers of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and two dancers, such a...

Album: Alan Vega - Mutator

If there’s someone who could claim to have proved Arnold Schoenberg’s pithy phrase “If it is art, it is not for all” it was Alan Vega. His and...


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters