Curzon’s New British Cinema Review

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By Will Barber – Taylor

Over the past few years the success of British films at international film festivals -as well as the numerous awards bestowed on 12 Years a Slave – have demonstrated that British cinema has undergone a genuine renaissance that has caused new voices to emerge. At the same time, directors whose work has enthralled over the past five years have also continued to develop and expand their vision.

I am a big fan of British cinema. Over the past few years, I’ve seen films that have astounded me from British directors. Films such as Paddington, Mr Turner, What We Did on Our Holiday, The Riot Club. The list goes on and on. However, this book is more about the lesser known of British cinema, directors who have generally only appeared in the last five years (with the exception of directors such as Steve McQueen).

Don’t expect to see a section on Mike Leigh for instance. The central issue that some may find, though not myself, with the book is that it is a collection of interviews rather than an analytical look at each director’s film and their effects. However, they would be wrong as this is in fact the book’s strength – it lets the directors speak in their own words about their creative process and how they create such great films. It also offers an interesting look into the director’s psyche; how they can go from creating an idea to talking through that idea and then projecting it onto the screen. Directors such as Lenny Abrahamson and Yann Demange provide particularly deep analyses of their work; Abrahamson talks about how he likes to have fluidity in his work and how the process of making a film is back and forth and how it isn’t just the director’s vision but also that of the actors.

This is the real heart and soul of the book; it is about how films are made which astound and thrill us. By giving us a deep and reflective look at British cinema, it makes us appreciate the films that are talked about more. We can really understand how, when making 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen felt about bringing such a powerful story to the screen and how it affected him. This book, more so than any other written recently on the subject gives a clear and truthful account of the modern British film industry. It makes us look at the soul of the industry and see how great pieces of film are made.

I’d highly recommend this book if you want to take a deep look at the modern British film industry and to hear esteemed directors talk about what it means to them in their own words. It gives clarity, meaning and truthfulness to the art of directing.

With thanks to Faber and Faber. You can buy Curzon’s New British Cinema here and on the Faber and Faber website

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