The Arts Desk

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
2/5 Blithe Spirit (2020) Matt Wolf A muted Arcati only serves to expose the gathering hysteria around her, as ramped up in a final reel in which Elvira devolves into a simpering psychotic and Charles gets sectioned. EDIT
Posted Jan 15, 2021
4/5 Dear Comrades! (2020) Tom Birchenough The effort is as intriguing as the drama is absorbing. EDIT
Posted Jan 15, 2021
4/5 One Night in Miami (2020) Joseph Walsh The rage, passion and eloquence with which Cooke and Malcolm spar is gripping. EDIT
Posted Jan 15, 2021
3/5 Sing Me a Song (2019) Sarah Kent Peyangki is a natural; no actor could deliver such a direct and honest performance. EDIT
Posted Jan 11, 2021
4/5 Pieces of a Woman (2020) Markie Robson-Scott The authenticity of Vanessa Kirby's remarkable performance shines through. EDIT
Posted Jan 11, 2021
5/5 Steve McQueen: The Lost Movie (2021) Adam Sweeting Director Alex Rodger has assembled a fascinating and frequently thrilling documentary, bristling with treasurable archive footage and resonant with famous names. EDIT
Posted Jan 8, 2021
4/5 The Woman Who Ran (2020) Graham Fuller The Woman Who Ran is perceptive filmmaking about the gulf between men and women in contemporary Korea, though it's universally applicable. EDIT
Posted Dec 22, 2020
3/5 Soul (2020) Saskia Baron Soul will doubtless keep its audience occupied for 100 minutes over this locked-down Christmas, but whether it'll win repeat viewers is another question. EDIT
Posted Dec 21, 2020
4/5 Let Him Go (2020) Adam Sweeting It's a dynastic Western, with strongly-drawn characters sharply etched against the widescreen backdrop. EDIT
Posted Dec 20, 2020
4/5 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) Joseph Walsh Wolfe has crafted an impressive film. EDIT
Posted Dec 18, 2020
3/5 Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Adam Sweeting Not so delightful was the realisation that Wonder Woman 1984 is crying out for some editing shears (151 minutes! Are they serious?), while the uninspired climax that Gal Gadot's title character spends so long labouring towards really isn't worth the wait. EDIT
Posted Dec 15, 2020
5/5 Natalie Palamides: Nate - A One Man Show (2020) Veronica Lee Mixed signals are the whole point of this show, in which broad laughs are followed by gasps of realisation as Palamides takes a deep dive into issues of consent. EDIT
Posted Dec 15, 2020
2/5 I'm Your Woman (2020) Matt Wolf The long-delayed ending settles for the preposterously sentimental, even as the movie as a whole rewrites a time-honored dictum whereby ignorance turns out to be tedium, not bliss. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2020
4/5 Mosul (2019) Adam Sweeting Writer/director Matthew Michael Carnahan has crafted a spare and purposeful narrative in which character and incident are allowed to tell their own story without heavy-handed editorialising. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2020
4/5 David Byrne's American Utopia (2020) Tom Baily Byrne hasn't lost anything of what he always had, and Spike Lee does interesting things with the camera, but it's hard to avoid envying the real audience we see singing and dancing in the grand Hudson Theatre. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2020
3/5 The Midnight Sky (2020) Demetrios Matheou When the astronauts break into 'Sweet Caroline' they deserve to be lost in space. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2020
4/5 Falling (2020) Markie Robson-Scott The film revolves around Henriksen's extraordinarily energetic, powerful performance. He's a demented dad from hell. EDIT
Posted Dec 8, 2020
4/5 Host (2020) Adam Sweeting Director Rob Savage pumps up the terror using the most minimal of means. EDIT
Posted Dec 8, 2020
5/5 Mank (2020) Demetrios Matheou Oldman is in every scene, skilfully delineating a fascinating, complicated, extremely appealing mess of a man. EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2020
5/5 Collective (2019) Graham Fuller Collective is purely observational, requiring neither a narrator nor talking heads. EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2020
4/5 County Lines (2019) Adam Sweeting This movie should be a launch-pad for more than one career. EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2020
3/5 Another Round (2020) Joseph Walsh Mikkelsen proves that even when soused in booze, his acting skills remain top-notch. EDIT
Posted Nov 29, 2020
2/5 Uncle Frank (2020) Matt Wolf The film hits every emotional cue with a ponderousness only partially alleviated by a mighty cast. EDIT
Posted Nov 29, 2020
3/5 Zanka Contact (2020) Adam Sweeting At two hours, the director has given himself plenty of room to romp around in, which is a shame because brisk deployment of the editing shears could have produced a far punchier result. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 200 Meters (2020) Adam Sweeting Nayfeh's film mixes thriller-like tension with deeply-felt sympathy for his characters, with Suliman delivering a finely-nuanced performance. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Wildfire (2020) Adam Sweeting Wildfire occasionally threatens to veer off the track entirely, but its twin leads just about keep it together, with McGuigan startlingly good as the disturbed Kelly. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Never Gonna Snow Again (2020) Adam Sweeting Szumowska has a gift for the telling metaphor which makes this film echo in your mind. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 The Other Lamb (2019) Markie Robson-Scott If this is a parable about masculinity and power, it doesn't come off. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Ronnie's (2020) Sebastian Scotney Oliver Murray's documentary film Ronnie's is an affectionate and portrait of him and of the jazz club he founded. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Wolfwalkers (2020) Joseph Walsh It's a spellbinding tale that shows that Cartoon Saloon are one of the best working in animation today, rivalling anything the House of Mouse puts out. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 Ammonite (2020) Joseph Walsh Lee's film is exceptionally crafted, and, like the windswept moors of Yorkshire, he instils a harsh beauty into the Dorset coastline, a refreshing departure from the typical rolling green hills and sunny beaches. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
5/5 Nomadland (2020) Joseph Walsh Zhao has created such a powerfully intimate film, made with rare empathy and beauty, one that invites you to sit by the campfire and listen to the stories of these quiet heroes. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
2/5 Rebecca (2020) Graham Fuller 'Rebecca' doesn't alter perceptions of du Maurier's protagonist beyond making her less neurotic. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 Shirley (2020) Saskia Baron It's worth seeing for their craft and the cast's uniformly excellent performances, but if you're after a movie about Shirley Jackson's life, or a filmic taste of her style, or preoccupations as a writer, you'll have to go back to the books. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Mogul Mowgli (2020) Owen Richards It's not afraid to take risks with presentation and narrative, subverting viewer expectations and risking alienation. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 Roald Dahl's The Witches (2020) Joseph Walsh The magic of Dahl's material is lost, creating a generic Sunday afternoon family flick that children are unlikely to remember in the same way as the Nineties classic, and which parents are likely to doze off to. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Relic (2020) Graham Fuller Few horror films have so effectively harnessed genre tropes to address a clinical illness directly. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Luxor (2020) Joseph Walsh Durra worries little about fancy film work, and instead proves to be a master at creating atmosphere. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Queen of Hearts (2019) Markie Robson-Scott This gripping erotic drama, directed by May el-Toukhy with wonderful performances from all, is sometimes in danger of slipping over into posh soap, or soft-core porn, territory EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 The Three Kings (2020) Graham Fuller Karen Gill, Shankly's granddaughter, offers poignant insight into how his premature resignation robbed his life of meaning. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 Words on Bathroom Walls (2020) Matt Wolf The film wends a too-convenient path towards its hug-filled ending. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Billie (2019) Joseph Walsh [Erskine] reverently takes Holiday down from the pedestal that recent culture has placed her on, to remind us what a rebel she was. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 No Hard Feelings (2020) Matt Wolf Love triangles rarely feel more truthful or more tender than in No Hard Feelings, a beautiful film that announces debut director Faraz Shariat as a filmmaker worth reckoning with. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist (2019) Joseph Walsh What makes Philippe's documentary captivating is hearing about the film straight from the source. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 Hillbilly Elegy (2020) Graham Fuller The socio-political context is submerged so deeply it's all but invisible. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Possessor: Uncut (2020) Adam Sweeting This is the work of a cool, meticulous imagination equipped with a formidable technical skill-set. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat (2020) Tim Cumming The soundtrack is electrifying, and the intimate footage of the performances at the Shrine, and of his dancers painting their faces for performance, is a vivid peek into an extraordinary and singular moment in African and 20th-century culture. EDIT
Posted Nov 24, 2020
3/5 Offended by Irvine Welsh (2020) Adam Sweeting Welsh ought to have been the perfect investigator for this Sky Arts inquiry into the creeping threat of cultural policing, but he seemed slightly uncertain... Be that as it may, he had tracked down some bracingly opinionated interviewees. EDIT
Posted Nov 18, 2020
5/5 David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) Liz Thomson An unflinching close-up, utterly absorbing and all the more affecting for its searing honesty in showing a man who's gone through the fire and is willing to show the burns. EDIT
Posted Nov 16, 2020
5/5 A Special School (2020) Saskia Baron There'll be a lot of parents of disabled children and people working in special needs education who will be watching this series and contemplating moving to Penarth. The rest of us can just enjoy some wonderfully life-enhancing television. EDIT
Posted Nov 4, 2020