film reviews

   British film reviewing was bestowed an ethos of social and moral responsibility by documentary realism, which formed an important part of British public opinion and its critical attitudes towards films. It is perhaps the last major film formula to survive into the 1970s, with perspectives on art, censorship, technique and other film issues. The cinema advocated by reviewers emphasizes a serious purpose in film making in contrast to Hollywood dream movies, a quality cinema in contrast to mere entertainment, and an educated and independent attitude as opposed to either pure commercialism or art. Although the formula was damaged in the debates about 1960s progressive realism (for example, in the films of Peter Watkins and Ken Loach), its concerns about the social role of film were sustained in various ways by most of the established British reviewers.
   From the 1960s until the end of the 1980s there has been an established circle of British film reviewers acting as key figures in film festivals, broadcasting, publishing and journalism. It has included Penelope Houston (editor of Sight and Sound), C.A.Lejeune and Philip French (film reviewers at the Observer), Dilys Powell and David Robinson (the Sunday Times), Richard Roud and Derek Malcolm (the Guardian), David Robinson (The Times), Alexander Walker (Evening Standard), and Barry Norman (television). It was sometimes controversially engaged by leading film-makers such as Lindsay Anderson, Alex Cox, Alan Parker and Ken Loach.
   However, reviewers increasingly have to contend less with film making and cinema and more with new film cultures and film theories, new social movements and multicultural identities. Also, reviewing practices have begun to spread across a widening range of the film press, and increasingly in house commentary by the three hundred film societies listed under the British Federation of Film Societies. As an indicator of the changing scene, Time Out, a fortnightly broadsheet begun in 1968, grew rapidly in the 1980s to become the foremost weekly review of London film, theatre, music, clubs and dance. Many of its perspectives relate directly to the multicultural networks and culture industry circuits which connect cinema to new social identities and cultural interests groups.
   Further reading
    Pym, J. and Andrew, G. (1988) The Time Out Film Guide, London: Penguin (the first edition of an annual accumulated Time Out Film Guide, with an imposing array of British reviewers, and invaluable index of film subjects and categories).
   ARTHUR McCULLOUGH

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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