Published: Mon, 24 Oct 2016 23:56:30 GMT2016-10-24T23:56:30ZCopyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 17:10:22 GMT2016-10-24T17:10:22Z
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami set out to make a film about an Afghan refugee performer – and ended up helping her escape
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami does not look like a woman with a saviour complex. Blunt, self-aware and quick to mock her own heroics, she just seems a little too sceptical for a fairy godmother. Yet, during the three years she spent directing her latest documentary, the Iranian film-maker ended up paying $2,000 to “buy” her teenage protagonist’s freedom.
Sonita follows the life of an Afghan refugee in Tehran. She dreams of becoming a famous rapper, but her mother and brother have other plans – to sell her into marriage in Afghanistan. So the 40-year-old director steps in, giving the family cash to delay the marriage. At first reluctantly and then with single-minded determination, Ghaem Maghami directs her subject to safety. By the end, Sonita Alizadeh has travelled to Afghanistan and on to the US to take up a scholarship, without her family’s permission. A glance at her Twitter account shows she has surpassed her own ambitions – performing in front of everyone from Chelsea Clinton to Laura Bush.Continue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:35:05 GMT2016-10-24T16:35:05Z
The Doctor Strange and Sherlock star joined us to answer questions on everything from flat whites to Sherlock, Mads Mikkelsen and Doctor Strange – read them here
I’ve got to rush off to the premiere now, but thanks for your questions and sorry for not being able to answer more of them! Also, sorry for not dealing with the more political ones – it’s hard to do them justice in such a short time.
Scott McLennan asks:
A hypothetical for you, Benedict: after witnessing your polished performance of Comfortably Numb with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour last month, your all-time favourite act comes to you asking you to perform with them the song you’ve always dreamed of singing live in front of a massive audience. What song do you choose?Continue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:54:53 GMT2016-10-24T11:54:53Z
The second Jack Reacher movie is directed by Ed Zwick and features Tom Cruise as the roving baddie-thumper, this time helping out a US army major (played by Cobie Smulders) who has been wrongly charged with spying. Lee Child, author of the original series of novels, talks about how the format allows him to address social issues by stealth, and why it’s never a good idea for authors to adapt their own booksContinue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:49:50 GMT2016-10-24T09:49:50Z
Ninth instalment of Perry’s franchise tops second adaptation of Lee Child novel in battle of the sequels
Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film topped the US box office over the weekend, knocking Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher sequel into second place.Continue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:17:32 GMT2016-10-24T08:17:32Z
Former visual effects expert Tim Miller will not return for follow-up to surprise hit, but studio says departure was amicable
Deadpool director Tim Miller has left the planned sequel due to “creative differences” with the film’s star, Ryan Reynolds.Continue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 07:59:09 GMT2016-10-24T07:59:09Z
The Bavarian director considers creation and destruction in two absorbing new documentaries about very different subjects
As he releases two documentaries in one week, Werner Herzog, aged 74, remains as fascinated as ever by both creation and destruction. In Lo And Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World he takes flight across the digital cosmos of the internet; in Into The Inferno, he explores his enduring obsession with volcanoes.Continue reading...
Sun, 23 Oct 2016 16:31:26 GMT2016-10-23T16:31:26Z
Deal to ban Pakistani actors from Indian films in future leads Hindu nationalist party to call off threat to cinemas
A top Bollywood film mired in controversy for featuring a Pakistani actor will open as scheduled in India during the festival of Diwali, after an industry body agreed to ban actors from across the border in future.
A hardline Hindu-nationalist party had threatened to attack cinemas that showed prominent Indian director Karan Johar’s film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, as tensions run high between New Delhi and Islamabad.Continue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:24:44 GMT2016-10-24T15:24:44Z
The photographer and cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky shot some 50 short films, most of them documentaries. A classic among these is the railway film Snow (1963), employing monochrome and colour, and directed by Geoffrey Jones for British Transport Films. Just eight minutes long, it is indeed short, and stunning, and marked a high point for the organisation, whose work continued until the 1980s.Continue reading...
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 16:09:52 GMT2016-10-22T16:09:52Z
Hundreds of London protesters, including actress Carey Mulligan, leave teddy bears outside the prime minister’s office as they demanded a larger British role in ending attacks on civilians in Syria’s Aleppo on Saturday. They said the teddy bears represented thousands of children trapped in rebel-held areas of Aleppo targeted by Syrian government forces and their Russian alliesContinue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 22:10:11 GMT2016-10-21T22:10:11Z
Glover will join Alden Ehrenreich, playing Solo, in the still untitled Star Wars spinoff depicting the space smuggler’s ‘formative years as a scoundrel on the rise’
Donald Glover will play Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars spinoff about the young Han Solo, Lucasfilm announced on Friday.
In a statement, the studio said the film would show Calrissian long before he became the baron of a floating city in the clouds, and then the patsy of Darth Vader and a general in the Rebel Alliance.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:36:30 GMT2016-10-21T20:36:30Z
Ron Howard is considering directing the drama about her tumultous relationship to author F Scott Fitzgerald, inspired by Nancy Milford’s bestselling biography
Jennifer Lawrence is set to play Zelda Fitzgerald in a biopic of the jazz age icon, socialite and novelist. Ron Howard is eyeing a deal to direct, according to the Hollywood Reporter.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:29:52 GMT2016-10-21T18:29:52Z
The Oscar winner is also set to produce the adaptation of Peter Guralnick’s book Sam Phillips: the Man Who Invented Rock’n’Roll
Leonardo DiCaprio is to produce and star in a film about Sam Phillips, the Memphis music producer famous for launching the careers of Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Paramount Pictures has acquired rights to adapt Peter Guralnick’s book Sam Phillips: the Man Who Invented Rock’n’Roll, and has enlisted DiCaprio to co-develop it as a star vehicle for himself, according to Deadline.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:41:39 GMT2016-10-21T15:41:39Z
The BBC’s long-running movie discussion show decides not to find permanent replacement for Claudia Winkleman, who announced departure in September
The BBC’s Film 2016 show will no longer have a permanent host, but a series of guest hosts, beginning with Zoe Ball.
The move was announced on the show’s Twitter account. Critics Danny Leigh and Ellen E Jones remain on the show, which will return to a live format after being recorded last year, the Radio Times reported.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:42:16 GMT2016-10-21T11:42:16Z
Indie features lead early awards charge, with Casey Affleck drama and study of black gay man growing up in Miami receiving multiple nods
Much-admired indie dramas Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight have made an early mark in this year’s awards season, emerging as the nominations leaders in the Gotham film awards, the first significant moment for the new awards cycle.
Manchester by the Sea, directed by Kenneth Lonergan and starring Casey Affleck as a man returning to his hometown after the sudden death of his brother, received four nods, including best feature, best actor for Affleck and best screenplay for Lonergan.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:41:31 GMT2016-10-21T10:41:31Z
Actor arrested after protesting against construction of $3.7bn oil pipeline says the work risks contaminating Native American sacred sites
Shailene Woodley has given her side of the story following her recent arrest for protesting against an oil pipeline being built in North Dakota, and urged fans to join her in fighting its construction.Continue reading...
Sat, 03 Sep 2016 15:29:19 GMT2016-09-03T15:29:19Z
Writer/director Barry Jenkins’ bold and uniquely told film about the struggle to accept one’s own sexuality is both heartbreaking and deeply relevant
It’s been a particularly horrifying year for minority groups in America. The increasingly documented inhumanity towards African American men by police and the brutal act of homophobia that took mostly Hispanic lives at a gay club in Orlando have awakened many to the bleak knowledge that progress is stalling and instead, regressive views on race and sexuality are still dangerously pervasive.Continue reading...
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 13:00:08 GMT2016-10-19T13:00:08Z
Tom Cruise rattles through every trope in the book as the vigilante ex-soldier, this time fleeing corrupt bosses in a high-octane sequel that revels in its absurdity
Tom Cruise is back in the role of Jack Reacher, badass military cop turned maverick civilian engaged in freelance pro bono asskicking. He is suffused with pimpernel mystery. At the end of an adventure, Reacher will stick his thumb out and hitchhike his way into the night. (At the end of Pulp Fiction, John Travolta is derisive about Samuel L Jackson’s ambition to “walk the earth” like Caine from the TV show Kung Fu on the grounds that he would just be a bum. But maybe he would be like Jack Reacher.)
This is the second in Tom Cruise’s silly, entertaining Reacher franchise, and I was hoping he would marry a woman called Round and go for the double-barrelled surname. Instead, he monkishly refrains from sex but does pull a classic Cruise/Reacher move: semi-undressing in a motel room after a punchup, disclosing pecs which fall impressively on the right side of the moob borderline. An attractive woman also partially disrobes, flaunting a workaday bra strap.Continue reading...
Sat, 14 May 2016 13:25:04 GMT2016-05-14T13:25:04Z
The acclaimed Korean film-maker’s latest is an erotic thriller that prioritises female sexuality, and exquisite set design, to intoxicating effect
It was inaccurately thought by some, who had clearly never read a single sentence of the source novel, that Sam Taylor Johnson’s glossy adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey would be a seminal Hollywood moment for female sexuality. Hopes that it would be “bravely” thrusted to the forefront were quickly dashed, whipped and spanked once it was predictably revealed to be a film about, duh, male control.Continue reading...
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:12:31 GMT2016-10-18T09:12:31Z
Mike Flanagan’s film is essentially a branding exercise and its setup formulaic, but the director injects plenty of fun into this story of supernatural possession
Ouija, 2014’s rapidly forgotten exercise in crash-bang-wallop horror, was chiefly notable as a business proposition, born of a deal struck between Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes outfit and boardgame nabobs Hasbro to convert the latter’s products into movies. Still, it was cheap enough to turn a profit on wide release – $103m (£84m) on a $5m budget – and so, this Halloween, we’re offered a prequel that claims to fill in some of the devil board’s backstory. “The spirit world is unpredictable,” its phoney occultist heroine Madame Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) informs us. The movie business, as we know very well, is not.
For all that, Origin of Evil – directed by Mike Flanagan, the emergent talent behind 2011’s unsettling Absentia – does just enough to climb over the low bar of expectation. Granted, there’s nothing new about its premise – fake psychic learns a lesson about messing with the dark side – and Flanagan has to resort to a 1960s milieu, all kinky boots and intermittent “groovy”s, to distinguish his film from the 1970s-set Conjuring series.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 14:13:23 GMT2016-10-21T14:13:23Z
The return of Perry’s phenomenally successful character has funny moments but shoddy direction and gay panic jokes make it scary in the wrong way
Halloween 2016 is the scariest it’s been since we thought there were real witches up in Salem. We are weeks away from an election that could give us a president as orange as a Jack-o-Lantern that wouldn’t just decompose after a few weeks. It’s terrifying and we could all use some catharsis, no matter the source. It may just be the bad vibes talking, but the image of Tyler Perry’s Madea racing down a street screaming “Help me, Jesus!” with zombies hot on her trail seems slightly … profound? It’s an unexpected reaction to one of Perry’s low-budget comedies that mostly trades in pratfalls and bawdy invective before slamming into a wall of treacly pop-psychology. But it’s a very strange time in America right now.Continue reading...
Sun, 13 Mar 2016 12:22:09 GMT2016-03-13T12:22:09Z
Indie horror auteur Ti West takes a stab at the western genre in his most high-profile project to date with strong results
Since gaining recognition for 2009’s The House of the Devil, an effortlessly cool horror that harked back to the best genre efforts of the 80s, film-maker Ti West has stuck to his calling card.Continue reading...
Fri, 22 Apr 2016 18:22:00 GMT2016-04-22T18:22:00Z
The actor gives his most unhinged performance since Spring Breakers in Justin Kelly’s compelling film detailing the rise of porn star Brent Corrigan
As an actor, James Franco has two modes: committed and can’t-be-bothered. His bold work in Spring Breakers, 127 Hours and Pineapple Express falls into the first category; Oz the Great and Powerful and Werner Herzog’s misbegotten Queen of the Desert meanwhile feature Franco at his most lifeless. Luckily for film-maker Justin Kelly, Franco is at his brazen best in the dark gay porn saga King Cobra.
The film reunites the star with the director of I Am Michael for another gay-themed narrative based on real events. That, however, is where the similarities end.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:03:41 GMT2016-10-21T15:03:41Z
The company who brought us God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2 returns with a Christian drama centered on the 1999 school shooting with queasy results
To use the senseless death of a school shooting victim to promote one’s warped political agenda is, to use a trendy term, deplorable. One should expect nothing less from the odious low-budget film company Pure Flix, whose work includes God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2 and the forthcoming God’s Not Dead 3. (Yes, God’s Not Dead 2 ended with a Marvel Studios-like stinger.)Continue reading...
Wed, 12 Oct 2016 13:00:13 GMT2016-10-12T13:00:13Z
The actor plays a man who uses his disorder to balance books for criminals in a film that struggles to balance derivative action and underwritten romance
“Sooner or later, difference scares people.” The Accountant puts that sentiment in the mouth of a military man (Robert C Treveiler) explaining the tough ways of the world to his autistic, bullied son. But it could as easily be said by the director Gavin O’Connor, who has put together a drama so familiar and formulaic that even the most timid viewer will be comforted. Or, more likely, anesthetized.Continue reading...
Sun, 24 Jan 2016 19:57:04 GMT2016-01-24T19:57:04Z
Actor gives the performance of her career in Antonio Campos’s eerie study of a news anchor who achieved notoriety in the 70s for killing herself on live TV
Hollywood has never seemed to know quite what to do with Rebecca Hall. The stunning British actor came to the industry’s attention with a scene-stealing turn in Christopher Nolan’s magician thriller The Prestige, shortly followed by a juicy role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But since her arrival, Hall has largely languished with supporting roles in films that in no way prepare you for the breadth she displays in director Antonio Campos’s tragic character study, Christine.
Hall completely immerses herself in the role of Christine Chubbuck in Campos’s stark retelling of the story that led to the television news reporter’s suicide live on air, aged 29, in 1974. It’s one of two films on the subject at Sundance this year – the other is the documentary Kate Plays Christine.Continue reading...
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 18:17:49 GMT2016-01-25T18:17:49Z
The indie auteur reunites with Meek’s Cutoff star Michelle Williams for a deeply-involving slow-burner also featuring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern
Kelly Reichardt had proven herself a master at slow-burning, melancholic dramas with Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff. She switched gears with the eco-themed thriller Night Moves: a relatively mainstream feature that moved at a faster pace than her preceding work. Her latest, Certain Women, an adaptation of short stories by Maile Meloy, sees Reichardt tackle a contemplative ensemble drama that recalls the solemn tone set by her earlier work.Continue reading...
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:34:29 GMT2016-01-26T14:34:29Z
With a provocative title and a timely focus on America’s history of slavery, this is Sundance’s most talked-about film. If only it were less heavy-handed
The story of Nat Turner had profound consequences for America. The slave who became a preacher and then, in 1831, the leader of a revolt is said to have triggered a chain of events that included the civil war and the abolition of slavery less than 35 years later. For Nate Parker – writer, director and star of The Birth of a Nation – it’s been a seven-year journey to get his film made, and with a title provocatively taken from DW Griffith’s famously racist 1915 film about the foundations of America and the current furore around diversity in Hollywood, the timing of its premiere couldn’t have been any better. This is an alternative history of America’s roots which spits in the face of Griffith’s account.Continue reading...
Mon, 03 Oct 2016 16:00:35 GMT2016-10-03T16:00:35Z
Emily Blunt doesn’t have nearly as much fun as she ought to in Tate Taylor’s adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s bestseller – and nor do the commuters who studiously ignore the hot couple having sex in full view of their carriage
The practice of referring to grown women as girls continues; here is the one on the train, as opposed to the gone one, or the one with the dragon tattoo. Last year’s mega-bestselling thriller from Paula Hawkins has been adapted for the cinema pronto.Continue reading...
Tue, 06 Sep 2016 21:00:02 GMT2016-09-06T21:00:02Z
The feature length version of Malick’s long-gestating chronicle of all things great and small is a visual feast – even if it doesn’t explain much along the way
The arrival of a new Terrence Malick film is always something of an event, even if the great man’s lustre is beginning to wear off under the weight of his gigantic reputation: even the most diehard Malick obsessives would surely admit that the fey, whispery To the Wonder and the self-indulgent Knight of Cups were not really up to scratch. Compared to how he used to, Malick works at a virtual sprint these days, and now his long-awaited documentary Voyage of Time has been unveiled at the Venice film festival.Continue reading...
Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:39:43 GMT2016-02-05T16:39:43Z
With a Netflix deal in place, Babak Anvari’s terrifying debut might be the first Farsi-language film to truly cross over to the mainstream
For years, the Sundance film festival has served as a launchpad for films that end up garlanded with awards: Oscar winners first screened at the event include Precious and Boyhood. But as genre fans are well aware, it’s also long been a haven for the best horror films the industry has to offer.Continue reading...
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 21:30:55 GMT2016-10-06T21:30:55Z
Jim Hosking’s US-set feature debut, about a serial killer who smears his naked body in cooking fat before committing murders, is revolting and funny
Bad taste is extruded from this outrageously revolting movie like poisoned mince from a rusty meat grinder. And, despite having neglected to smoke the hundredweight of weed I really needed to appreciate it properly … I did laugh. There’s actually a touch of real inspiration in the final few minutes. It’s the US-set feature debut from British director Jim Hosking, with Ben Wheatley serving as an executive producer: a macabre display of grossout-grotesque, with a touch of John Waters, Harmony Korine, David Walliams and Matt Lucas. (Little America could almost be an alternative title.) Brayden (Sky Elobar) is a sad, overweight, middle-aged guy who lives with his revolting father Ronnie (Michael St Michaels), a retired disco manager whom Brayden suspects – correctly – of being the notorious Greasy Strangler, a serial killer who smears cooking fat all over his naked body before wandering the streets killing people. By day, the pair of them dress in matching pink gear to run a highly unreliable walking guide to their hometown and its associations with disco legends. Father and son fall in love with the same female tourist who takes the tour. It doesn’t look like it’s going to end well. Nor does it. Pure uncompromising yuckiness is what this comedy delivers. A grossout smack in the face. Deplorable. Unspeakable. Often funny.Continue reading...
Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:05:12 GMT2015-04-17T11:05:12Z
Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s profile of controversial school head Maulana Abdul Aziz, which has premiered at the Tribeca film festival, reflects the religious changes – and stasis – in Pakistan
Fifteen minutes into your first film theory class, and you’ll learn how no documentary can ever be objective. There’s point of view in every cut. What I like about Among the Believers, a portrait of radical Islam in Pakistan, is how the first two-thirds of the movie strives to remain as balanced as possible.
Directors Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi profileMaulana Abdul Aziz, the controversial head of the chain of madrassas led by Islamabad’s Red Mosque, and do their best to counter accusations of brainwashing and implicit support of violent criminal acts. The Red Mosque takes in an orphaned child. Their coffers aid a sick, elderly man. This is the evidence that is often presented by groups accused of terrorism. Then, as he organisation’s rhetoric becomes unbearable, the movie delivers a full-throated condemnation.Continue reading...Maulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric of the Red Mosque. Photograph: T Mughal/EPAMaulana Abdul Aziz, chief cleric of the Red Mosque. Photograph: T Mughal/EPA
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:13:09 GMT2016-09-29T11:13:09Z
Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis cannot redeem this asinine heist caper that trades wit, style and excitement for wacky outfits and crazy hair
When I got up this morning I didn’t think I’d go to bed with a vision of Zach Galifianakis sharting in a swimming pool. There’s nothing in my medicine cabinet or on my liquor shelf that can help me right now.
In December 2015, I reviewed Jared Hess’s Don Verdean and, after suffering through it and his previous catastrophe, Gentlemen Broncos, I vowed I would never see one of Hess’s movies again. Had I known Hess was the director of Masterminds when my editor gave me this assignment, I would have fibbed and said I had an evening dental appointment. Frankly, a tooth extraction without painkillers would have been far more enjoyable.Continue reading...
Mon, 12 Sep 2016 17:42:08 GMT2016-09-12T17:42:08Z
Despite its pedigree – with a top-notch cast and a script by David Hare – this drama about the real-life libel case involving disgraced historian David Irving never comes to life
Denial is textbook Oscar bait: an autumn release recounting an inspiring real story about fighting prejudice, led by a showy performance from an Oscar winner, written by an award-winning playwright, and buffeted by a swelling, emotional score. However, patches of it are so ludicrously hammy it plays like one of those unbearably corny fake films teased at the beginning of Tropic Thunder.
Sat, 14 May 2016 21:38:57 GMT2016-05-14T21:38:57Z
A firmer hand with the plot – and with Shia LaBeouf – might have benefitted this admirably loose-limbed and atmospheric immersion into a little-seen world
Andrea Arnold is the brilliant British film-maker who created two modern gems in the social-realist tradition in the form of Red Road and Fish Tank, and in my view a near-masterpiece in the form of her much-misunderstood Wuthering Heights, a work of such radical simplicity and raw experience it actually seemed to predate the literary work.
Now in American Honey she has created a long, often intriguing and humidly atmospheric film which sometimes dwindles into listlessness. It’s a road movie in the un-accented style of Gus Van Sant – particularly his Elephant and Paranoid Park. The drifting camera shots directed straight up into a blue sky, bisected occasionally with telegraph poles, are very similar to Van Sant’s Elephant. There’s something of Larry Clark or Harmony Korine in the featureless, affectless approach to sexuality.Continue reading...
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:15:15 GMT2016-09-26T00:15:15Z
That this adaptation is highly stylish is hardly surprising; that it’s quite so charming and funny is. Plus, Samuel L Jackson eats a whole bowl of children’s eyeballs
Film-goers have endured such a punishing onslaught of young adult adaptations, it’s enough to make you want to sulk and dream of escaping into some sort of fantasy realm. Think back, if you can, to recent duds like The Mortal Instruments: City of Bone, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials or, Rowling help us, that second Twilight film, before they wised-up and added a bit of intentional camp. Survivors of this cinematic drudgery (and there ought to be support groups) have been wondering just what would happen if you took one of these wholly by-the-numbers affairs and hired a director who at least had a little bit of style. With Tim Burton behind the camera, and the always-sharp screenwriter Jane Goldman keeping him on course, we have our answer in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.
The source material is a whopper of an elevator pitch: X-Men done up all British and gloomy and gothic. (If Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice read comics when she was 13, they’d have been something like this.) To add additional spin, our young English mutants are caught up in a Groundhog Day of their own creation, so we get the playfulness of seeing quirky magic powers mixed with the familiarity of how a time loop plays out. Add in Burton’s authorial visual stamp and what we’ve got is an extremely pleasing formula. It gels as Tim Burton’s best (non-musical) live-action movie for 20 years.Continue reading...
Wed, 14 Sep 2016 00:30:00 GMT2016-09-14T00:30:00Z
The actor is a believable everyman engineer in a harrowing, courageous account of the 2010 oil rig tragedy – and the corporate greed that caused it
In the safe, sanitised world of the multiplex, where product placement and brand partnerships reign supreme, it’s rare to see a mainstream film with the guts to double as a takedown of a multi-billion dollar company. But, after watching Peter Berg’s surprisingly yet deservedly angry restaging of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused 11 deaths and the biggest oil spill in history, it’ll take a minor PR miracle to restore the average moviegoer’s faith in BP.
On paper, Berg is a poor choice for the material. His last film at sea was Battleship, a soulless, swaggering Transformers knock-off based on a board game, and his last with star Mark Wahlberg was the viscerally effective but heavy-handed Navy Seals drama Lone Survivor. He also tried and failed to make something resembling an issues movie with the forgettable Saudi-set actioner The Kingdom. But for the most part in this effective disaster thriller, he keeps the flag-waving jingoism to a minimum, to focus on the devastating tragedy at hand.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:10:10 GMT2016-10-20T19:10:10Z
Raoul Peck’s stunning look at the civil rights era ends up as the writer’s presumptive autobiography, but it gets there via an unexpected route
Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro has a “written by James Baldwin” credit in its opening sequence. At first this seems like a polite tip of the hat to the author, essayist and public intellectual who died nearly 30 years ago. Soon we realize this is an accurate statement of fact. Each line of the narration that permeates the film is taken directly from one of Baldwin’s texts or letters. His words dominate the archival clips as well.Continue reading...
Sat, 15 Oct 2016 21:42:03 GMT2016-10-15T21:42:03Z
The film escapes the net of the evil European/noble savage dialectic by focusing on a driven lead character played by Charlie Hunnam
How does one make an a strapping adventure about colonial pursuits without either coming across as an imperialist or going overboard with “virtue signaling”?
Earlier this year Colombian director Ciro Guerra released one of the best films of the year, Embrace of the Serpent, which told a tale of early 20th century European explorers in the Amazon, from their guide’s point of view. James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, which shares a similar setting, isn’t quite so revolutionary, but escapes the net of the evil European/noble savage dialectic by focusing on a driven lead character drawn to a higher, nobler purpose than fame and fortune.
Sat, 15 Oct 2016 15:36:24 GMT2016-10-15T15:36:24Z
A rare misstep for the Oscar-winning director is an adaptation of Ben Fountain’s acclaimed novel flattened by ill-fitting experimentation with new technology
There’s a lot going on in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, an alternately somber and boisterous film about the effect of combat on America. But despite the great wealth of compelling psychological, interpersonal and social drama that this promises, the complexities are left to those behind the camera to unravel. For director Ang Lee, he sees his latest project as a way to revolutionize how we experience cinema.
It’s a lofty goal but Lee’s coming off the back of his Oscar win for the visually stunning adaptation of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, a film that dazzled us with 3D wonders, arguably placed ahead of emotional engagement. But that was a project that demanded a skilled special effects team, a story too extraordinary to be told without. His follow-up is another adaptation, this time of Ben Fountain’s satirical award-winning novel about veterans and Lee’s keen to use it as a guinea pig for a new format.Continue reading...
Fri, 07 Oct 2016 19:41:54 GMT2016-10-07T19:41:54Z
A film about nothing specific boasts rush of gorgeous moments, a standout performance from Annette Bening and profound thoughts on family and identity
There is a third rail for many film-makers, the alluring danger of quirk. Quirk is a somewhat indefinable thing but, to paraphrase supreme court justice Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it. There are some, however, who know how to harness its powers, and six years after the festival debut of Beginners, designer, music video director and guy-with-cool-associates Mike Mills has stepped back behind the camera to one-up himself. 20th Century Women is a rushing river of gorgeous moments, a full-frontal assault of poetic observation and craftily constructed vignettes. By being about nothing specific (is there even an elevator pitch here?) it manages to be about everything, a coming-of-age tale about a kid that’s “different” but not too different. Moreover, it proves that Mills is no dilettante, he has developed a very specific style that is, above all the poignancy, deliciously watchable.Continue reading...
Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:03:13 GMT2016-09-30T13:03:13Z
Another lo-fi attempt to sway the election crashes into select cinemas with a set of vicious attacks and a lack of anything resembling a revelation
Please sit down, I have something shocking to tell you. In fact, best make sure you have a glass of water nearby. Okay, here goes. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage may be some sort of … arrangement.Continue reading...
Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:53:50 GMT2016-09-16T14:53:50Z
This sugary comedy drama sees the actor in unusually light territory and while it’s ultimately little more than a soufflé, her presence makes it rise
Anyone deluded enough to claim that the film industry isn’t both ageist and sexist need only to try explaining just where so many talented female actors over the age of 50 have gone. It’s this forced disappearing act that makes it so pleasurable when there’s a rare exception to the rule. As a sort of French Meryl Streep (in her ability to maintain a steady list of credits, not her acting style), Isabelle Huppert remains at the top of her game at the age of 63.Continue reading...
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:28:04 GMT2016-09-15T16:28:04Z
Harrelson might not look like Lyndon B Johnson – even with the benefit of heavy prosthetics – but he gives a convincing performance of a troubled leader in Rob Reiner’s conventional presidential drama
It’s inevitable that an election year would have an effect on Hollywood, but 2016 has seen an unusually high number of films centred on, or at least relating to, US political history. There’s been Elvis & Nixon, the two Obama dramas, Southside with You and the Toronto-premiering Barry and even a Purge sequel subtitled Election Year. But even within this subgenre, Lyndon B Johnson has been a surprisingly recurrent character.Continue reading...
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 13:04:42 GMT2016-09-15T13:04:42Z
The megastar proves himself to be a fabulous entertainer in film following the final few nights of his 20/20 Experience tour in Las Vegas – there’s no resisting
In recent years, Justin Timberlake’s been forcefully trying to sell to the world that he can act. For a superstar of his stature, he’s done just fine at picking the right roles to showcase his good looks and undeniable charisma, most notably putting both to good use as Sean Parker in The Social Network. But as Jonathan Demme’s concert documentary Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids indisputably shows, Timberlake is only truly in his element when on stage being a showman.Continue reading...
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 11:17:19 GMT2016-09-15T11:17:19Z
Netflix’s sharp look at the murder of Meredith Kercher has no big revelations, but is an expansive and detailed account
Thanks to her extreme representation within the media, Amanda Knox – the former US student twice convicted and twice acquitted for the murder of British roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy – has sometimes seemed like a villain invented by a screenwriter. The sexually deviant femme fatale with an appetite for blood.
Knox has even been the subject of a Lifetime movie, with Hayden Panettiere in the lead role. But in this sharply directed Netflix documentary, one of the key aims is exploring behind the headlines, the accusations and the slut-shaming.Continue reading...
Thu, 15 Sep 2016 09:00:43 GMT2016-09-15T09:00:43Z
The true story of a journalist’s struggle with a rare brain disease has initial promise but soon descends into well-worn soap
There’s a great difficulty in bringing a true story about a character struggling with disease to the big screen. Thanks to hundreds of overly sentimental Lifetime movies, a set formula has meant that, as an audience, we’re so familiar with the beats, we need something radical or at least expertly played to make it seem worth telling. Yet for an actor, illness offers them the chance to rotate through a variety of Oscar-friendly situations, showing off how brilliantly they can play pained.Continue reading...
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:47:14 GMT2016-09-13T17:47:14Z
An Education director Lone Scherfig goes period again with this account of British women on the home front during the Blitz – but it’s all a bit predictable
Their Finest, the latest serviceable period jaunt from An Education director Lone Scherfig, masquerades as an ode to how women played a major role in boosting national morale during the Blitz of London in the second world war. At its core, it’s really just a workplace love story that grows increasingly uninterested in its plucky heroine’s journey in favour of hitting familiar rom-com notes – and to give audiences another reason to love Bill Nighy.Continue reading...
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:43:57 GMT2016-09-13T15:43:57Z
Anne Heche and Sandra Oh are old enemies who meet years later and become locked in a bitter and violent rivalry in this female spin on Trading Places
Post-Bridesmaids Hollywood was supposed to be filled with female-fronted comedies that didn’t have the word “romantic” placed in front of them. But progress has been painfully slow and it’s been left up to Melissa McCarthy and some Bad Moms to continue the important work.Continue reading...
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 10:57:44 GMT2016-09-13T10:57:44Z
Hotel Rwanda director Terry George takes on a largely uncovered part of history in this often soapy but well-intentioned and extravagantly mounted epic
There are many reasons to criticise James Cameron’s record-breaking weepie Titanic but one of the most frustrating reminders of its success lies in Hollywood’s repetitive treatment of historical tragedies ever since. Not that the director invented the formula of placing a love triangle in the middle of adversity, but he showed that it could be extraordinarily profitable – and movies from Pearl Harbor to Pompeii have tried desperately to replicate the package.Continue reading...
Tue, 13 Sep 2016 09:23:39 GMT2016-09-13T09:23:39Z
This visually unique comedy of teens trying to survive a Poseidon Adventure-style castastrophe is also an acutely observed look at school structure
Given that the majority of us have experienced the scattered highs and crushing lows of school life, it’s always easy to spot an on-screen representation that doesn’t feel authentic. With the boom in teen movies during the late 90s, too many felt as if they represented a narrative that was impossible to relate to and existed purely in the foggy mind of a 40-year-old ex-jock screenwriter.Continue reading...
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 17:41:34 GMT2016-09-11T17:41:34Z
The true story of a man using Google Earth to track down his childhood home is often slight but accomplished direction and interesting themes of racial identity keeps it on track
It’s been a rough few years for the Weinstein Company, both critically and commercially with Harvey Weinstein’s intimate relationship with the Oscars turning into more of a casual association. The giddy years that saw vanilla mum films like Chocolat and The Cider House Rules score with Academy voters came to an end and recent attempts to sneak in (with Southpaw, Big Eyes and Mandela) have left the brothers empty-handed.Continue reading...
Sun, 11 Sep 2016 12:36:22 GMT2016-09-11T12:36:22Z
Marc Forster’s latest packs a visual punch and a terrific lead performance from Lively as a blind young woman who regains her sight. It’s unfortunate the film doesn’t seem to know where to go from there
Marc Forster is a wildly unreliable film-maker: the devastatingly effective drama Monster’s Ball remains his all-time high; Machine Gun Preacher his indisputable low. Still, there’s no denying he’s an incredibly talented visual stylist. For the opening sequence of All I See Is You, Forster stuns with a total banger of a scene that boldly attempts to pit you inside the head of a blind person. It’s a sensorial overload.Continue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:16:20 GMT2016-10-21T11:16:20Z
Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film I, Daniel Blake, depicts the cruelty of the benefit system through the eyes of an older man who’s been found fit for work. In Ashton, Greater Manchester, we look into the lives of the real Daniel Blakes and those who, as in Loach’s film, have began to fight backContinue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 13:13:22 GMT2016-10-20T13:13:22Z
Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film I, Daniel Blake tells the story of a man who is denied disability benefit after a heart attack and who is then subsequently caught in a bureaucratic nightmare – along with Katie, a young woman with two children to protect. Loach, scriptwriter Paul Laverty and the Newcastle-set film’s two lead actors, Dave Johns and Hayley Squires, talk about the iniquities of the system
•I, Daniel Blake is released on 21 October in the UK, 17 November in Australia, and 23 December in the USContinue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:16:38 GMT2016-10-17T09:16:38Z
The New Man follows a married couple (academic Devorah Baum and Josh Appignanesi, director of The Infidel) who turn the camera on themselves as they become parents in the era of IVF, late reproduction, and the crisis of masculinity. The New Man premieres at the UK Jewish film festival on 9 November and goes on general release on 18 NovemberContinue reading...
Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:02:20 GMT2016-10-13T18:02:20Z
Watch the second trailer for Lucasfilm’s latest Star Wars episode Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which made it debut online on Thursday. This standalone entry in the Star Wars timeline follows a group of people who try to steal the plans to the Death Star
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is out in December 2016Continue reading...
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:03:17 GMT2016-10-10T11:03:17Z
Kenneth Lonergan’s Oscar-tipped drama Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck as a janitor who returns to his hometown following the death of his brother, where he confronts past ghosts as he faces up to new responsibilities. In this scene, he is told that he’s been made the legal guardian of his nephew
• Manchester by the Sea opens in the US on 18 November and in the UK on 13 January 2017Continue reading...
Sun, 09 Oct 2016 09:36:48 GMT2016-10-09T09:36:48Z
Matt Damon stars the English-language debut from House of the Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou. The film, whose production has attracted some controversy, is a fantasy adventure set more than 1,000 years ago and featuring Damon as a warrior. The largest-ever film made in China, it co-stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Andy Lau and Willem Dafoe. The Great Wall is released in China on 16 December, in the US on 16 February 2017 and the UK on 24 February 2017Continue reading...
Fri, 07 Oct 2016 09:44:39 GMT2016-10-07T09:44:39Z
Michael Winterbottom’s documentary On the Road chronicles life with rising British band Wolf Alice. Echoing some of Winterbottom’s previous work, including 9 Songs and 24 Hour Party People, the film unfolds over 16 dates and shows goings-on backstage from the perspective of a new crew member. Its world premiere is at the London film festival on SundayContinue reading...
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 20:48:22 GMT2016-10-06T20:48:22Z
David Oyelowo speaks at the BFI London film festival’s Black Star symposium on Thursday as a study has found six in 10 British films have no named black characters. To mark the festival’s launch, the actor said people of colour had been ‘expunged from Britain’s history’ because their stories were not represented on screenContinue reading...
Wed, 05 Oct 2016 17:43:03 GMT2016-10-05T17:43:03Z
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play wartime spies in Casablanca and London who have to act as husband and wife as they embark on a deadly mission behind enemy lines; as they work together, their relationship becomes intimate for real. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight, Allied is released on 23 November in the US, 24 November in the UK, and 26 December in Australia.Continue reading...
Mon, 03 Oct 2016 16:02:33 GMT2016-10-03T16:02:33Z
The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean series tells the story of Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and his struggle with the terrifying “ghost pirate” Salazar (played by Javier Bardem) as he hunts for the Trident of Poseidon. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (previously responsible for seafaring drama Kon Tiki), Dead Men Tell No Tales also stars Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom.
• Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is released on 26 May 2017 in the US, UK and Australia.Continue reading...
Mon, 03 Oct 2016 15:59:46 GMT2016-10-03T15:59:46Z
Premiering on Sunday at the Hot Springs festival, Crossing the Line is the story of the Olympic athlete Danny Harris, a track-and-field prodigy whose meteroric rise preceded a steep fall into drug addiction. Featuring Carl Lewis, Roger Black, Kriss Akabusi, Edwin Moses and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the film chronicles the physical and emotional fallout of a sportsman pushing their body to the limitContinue reading...
Mon, 03 Oct 2016 11:43:07 GMT2016-10-03T11:43:07Z
Monty Python star Terry Jones collects his award for outstanding contribution to television and film at the Bafta Cymru awards on Sunday. Jones announced last month he has a severe type of dementia which affects his speech. He was accompanied on stage by his son Bill who told the audience it was a “great honour”Continue reading...
Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:07:22 GMT2016-09-30T15:07:22Z
Louis Theroux enters the secretive world of Scientology in his new documentary, My Scientology Movie. After Theroux’s attempts to approach the group are rebuffed, he attempts to replicate the practices of the church with the help of a former memberContinue reading...
Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:10:18 GMT2016-09-29T11:10:18Z
Emily Blunt talks about the forthcoming film adaptation of The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins’ bestseller about an unemployed alcoholic who witnesses a disturbing event from a train window. Blunt discusses simulated sick and the differences in drinking culture between the US and UK. Co-stars Luke Evans and Haley Bennett also discuss voyeurism
• The Girl on the Train is released in the UK on 5 OctoberContinue reading...
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:17:30 GMT2016-10-21T18:17:30Z
King Cobra director Justin Kelly talks about his film based on Brent Corrigan’s career and how far Franco, who plays a porn producer, was willing to go on screen
“I like to think that I’m gay in my art and straight in my life,” James Franco said to himself in an article for FourTwoNine magazine he wrote titled, The Straight James Franco Talks to the Gay James Franco. “Although, I’m also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse, and then you could say I’m straight.”
Franco toying with the public’s perception of his sexuality is nothing new. He’s made his fascination with gay culture known not just in interviews (in April, he told New York Magazine that he considers himself “a little gay” – even if he doesn’t sleep with other men), but also in his work. His directorial debut, The Broken Tower, explored the life of famous gay American poet who took his own life in 1932, while in the documentary Interior. Leather Bar., Franco partook in an explicit recreation of 40 minutes of deleted footage from 80s thriller Cruising, set in a gay sex club.Continue reading...
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 17:18:10 GMT2016-10-20T17:18:10Z
Hollywood has discovered a new trend beyond the sequel: ‘cinematic universe’ world-building. Exhibit A: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Earlier this week, China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, handed an assembled Hollywood audience the equivalent of a “must do better” note during a speech in Los Angeles. Wang, the chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, which is slowly buying up large portions of the US film industry, praised studios for their history of storytelling but warned them audiences in his homeland were no longer interested in endless sequels and remakes.Continue reading...
Tue, 18 Oct 2016 09:00:34 GMT2016-10-18T09:00:34Z
We like to believe that great artists follow their muse, not the crowd – but far more radical and original work is produced when they listen and collaborate
Great artists, everyone agrees, listen to their own idiosyncratic muses. They don’t trim their art to please either elitist snobs or the ignorant masses.
When critics suggested recently that Tim Burton should consider casting more black people in his films, defenders were quick to rally to him. They muttered darkly about the PC police and the threat to individual genius which might result from kowtowing to the diversity zeitgeist.Continue reading...
Mon, 17 Oct 2016 16:37:52 GMT2016-10-17T16:37:52ZProducer and director contest complaints that their drama sidelines Lee in favour of an invented white character, and other cultural insensitivities As arguments continue to rage over diversity issues in cinema, repeated complaints over Hollywood’s insensitivity towards Asian themes and actors have begun to make an impact, joining a long-running crisis over the participation and portrayal of African Americans in the film industry. Adverse comment appears to have coalesced around two films in particular: a live-action remake of the Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell, which has cast Scarlett Johannson in the lead role; and a film called Birth of the Dragon, which aims to tell the story of Bruce Lee’s celebrated and formative real-life contest with martial arts grandmaster Wong Jack Man in 1964.The film-making team behind Birth of the Dragon say they have found it “painful” to be included in controversy, which has involved wider arguments about “yellowface” and the “white saviour narrative”. The particular issue surrounding Birth of the Dragon, which stems from the online release of a promo reel to accompany the film’s premiere at the Toronto film festival, concerns the inclusion of a fictional Caucasian character, a young martial arts student, alongside Lee and Wong. Online complaints – including from IMDb users who have seen the finished film – accuse the film-makers of turning “Bruce Lee into a caricature” and reducing “Lee to a side character in his own story … White people, would it kill you to stop inserting yourselves into everything?” Continue reading...[...]
Fri, 14 Oct 2016 14:11:29 GMT2016-10-14T14:11:29Z
JK Rowling joined Eddie Redmayne and the cast in London as hordes of wand-waving fans looked forward to the Harry Potter spin-off
You can just imagine the looks on Warner Bros executives’ faces when JK Rowling presented them with the curate’s egg that is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yes, she would deliver more stories set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter for a new trilogy of movies. No, there would be no more adventures for Harry himself, nor Ron, nor Hermione (at least on the big screen). Indeed, the new stories would not even be set in the UK, a location that always seemed perfect for Rowling’s very British blend of Blytonesque boarding school whimsy and darkling magical intrigue.
The biggest takeaway from last night’s global Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fan event – more than a dozen cities around the world vying to outscream each other in a satellite-linked outpouring of devotion to a movie no one has seen yet – might just be that the Boy Who Lived was not, after all, the star of the show. Looking around in the auditorium of the plush Cineworld Empire Imax in Leicester Square, it’s apparent that pretty much nobody is dressed up as Potter. But there are witchy flappers – in tribute to the new film’s setting 1920s New York – zillions of Newt Scamanders (Eddie Redmayne’s nerdy, bright-eyed oddball hero and owner of the titular monsters) and even a few dressed up as Jacob Kowalski, the portly “No-Maj” (the American version of the Muggle) played by Dan Fogler.Continue reading...
Thu, 13 Oct 2016 17:11:18 GMT2016-10-13T17:11:18Z
The latest trailer does nothing to lessen fears that the forthcoming standalone will be humourless, cluttered with minor characters, and lacking in the Force
Remember the first time you watched Star Wars, before you knew that Luke Skywalker was definitely going to blow up the Death Star? When there was still a hint of a sniff of a chance that the Rebels might lose the battle, that Luke might never develop his full range of Force powers, or that Darth Vader might pick him off like any one of the dozens of other X-Wing pilots who went spinning off to a fiery death?
That’s how I feel about Rogue One right now. The trailers so far have shown us plenty of shiny stuff, from Darth Vader’s return to new versions of classic Star Wars staples such as stormtroopers and At-At walkers. But we’re still in that final run with Luke, wondering if he’s going to make it to the end of the canyon and save the galaxy from the world-killing Imperial menace. We want to believe everything’s going to be OK, but we’re just not sure.Continue reading...
Tue, 11 Oct 2016 09:50:03 GMT2016-10-11T09:50:03Z
Statistically, it’s more dangerous being a binman but that doesn’t stop our luxuriantly bearded hero delivering one of his most electric performances
Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Lineman is one of the greatest songs ever written. Spare and sparse and loaded with longing, to quote Billy Joel, it’s a simple song about an ordinary man having extraordinary thoughts. And now there’s a film of it. Sort of.
Life on the Line is a film about linemen. If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, it’s a film about linemen that’s directed by the man who made Saw V. Still not enough? It’s a film about linemen that’s directed by the man who made Saw V and stars John Travolta. Now you’re interested. Here’s the trailer breakdown.Continue reading...
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 17:32:56 GMT2016-10-10T17:32:56Z
Stopped trains, tepid white wine, sighing commuters … Paula Hawkins’s bestseller captured a very British world. As the film moves to New York, we look at the dos and don’ts of relocation
‘The 8.04 slow train from Ashbury to Euston,” says the narrator in The Girl on the Train as the service trundles to a stop, “can test the patience of the most seasoned commuter. The journey is supposed to take 54 minutes, but it rarely does: this section of the track is ancient, decrepit, beset with signal problems and never-ending engineering works.”
It’s details like this – and the carriage full of sighing passengers – that made Paula Hawkins’ bestseller so appealing: the evocation of an all too familiar world of British disappointment and frustration. In this glum milieu, divorced alcoholic Rachel Watson gets a bottle of chenin blanc from a Whistlestop to take the edge off her return journey – and the bundle of rags she glimpses from the window takes on an aura of sinister abjection and threat (actually, a not unfamiliar feeling to anyone who’s ever rolled on tracks that fall under Network Rail’s cheerless ambit).Continue reading...
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:10:20 GMT2016-10-10T14:10:20Z
The much-hyped slavery drama, steeped in controversy, has underperformed at the box office – but where did it go wrong?
In July of this year, a 25-year-old black army veteran, Micah Johnson, drove to a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, got out of his car with an AK-47 and started shooting at white police officers as retribution for the police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. It’s the kind of retaliatory violence that white Americans have feared for centuries. The kind that the writer and author Ta-Nehisi Coates said we should have seen coming. The kind that is depicted in The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker’s much anticipated and equally maligned slave rebellion film that opened over the weekend. And the kind that, frankly, I’m somewhat astonished we don’t see more often.Continue reading...
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 11:02:51 GMT2016-10-10T11:02:51Z
Wajda fought communist censorship and truth-denying propaganda to produce formidable, patriotic films that illuminated Poland’s troubled past – and helped steer its history
Andrzej Wajda had a viable claim to be Poland’s great national artist of modern times, a virtual cinematic folk memory, a man who sought to intervene in Poland’s history with his movies, converting the ashes of bitterness and historical agony into diamonds of film. He was a director with Poland written on his heart.
Related: Andrzej Wajda: Ashes and DiamondsContinue reading...
Thu, 06 Oct 2016 17:28:04 GMT2016-10-06T17:28:04Z
The first trailer for Jordan Peele’s directorial debut about a murderous white community is a refreshing vision in a genre that often sidelines people of color
Just in time for Halloween and after a notably devastating year for race relations in the US, the first trailer for Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out has hit, causing an understandable stir. Given Peele’s Emmy-winning Comedy Central show Key & Peele, it’s perhaps no surprise that his first film as director would involve racial commentary (one of his most famous skits revolves around the fear a black man has walking through a white neighborhood), but what’s interesting is that he would insert this within the horror genre.Continue reading...
Wed, 05 Oct 2016 18:24:48 GMT2016-10-05T18:24:48Z
Studios no longer give us squinting, stereotyped ‘Asians’, but they’re still finding new ways to shoehorn white faces into stories where they don’t belong
When the late Mickey Rooney was asked in 2008 about his objectionable turn as Holly Golightly’s perverted Japanese neighbour IY Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, his response was to affect mild embarrassment that a role he had had “fun” doing had become known as an obnoxious symbol of ingrained racism in 1960s Hollywood.
Wed, 05 Oct 2016 15:00:01 GMT2016-10-05T15:00:01Z
The eagerly anticipated adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s bestseller is now in cinemas – here’s your chance to talk about every aspect without worrying about ruining it for others
• This article contains spoilers
Much of the advance press has focused on the move from the suburbs of London to the rather ritzier Westchester district outside New York. How much difference did this really make? Is The Girl on the Train a quintessentially British story, or did Tate Taylor convincingly globalise it? The class level appears to have gone up a notch, too: despite proximity to the train lines, those are some properly pricey properties.Continue reading...
Tue, 04 Oct 2016 12:21:14 GMT2016-10-04T12:21:14Z
Someone killed Jim Belushi, Keanu Reeves is the dubious defence lawyer, and now anxious mom Renée Zellweger is sending smoke signals
It’s hard to know what to think about The Whole Truth. On one hand, it’s a terse legal thriller directed by an Oscar-nominated writer and featuring a clutch of household names.Continue reading...
Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:00:42 GMT2016-09-30T19:00:42Z
With the premiere of HBO’s much-hyped take on the Michael Crichton classic, what about the original, its sequel and the little-seen small screen spinoff?
HBO’s newest drama series, Westworld, premieres this Sunday. No, I have not seen it yet. You might think I’m some highfalutin media hotshot with connections exploding out of all of my orifices, but I’m not. I’m watching the premiere with the rest of you. Like a pleb.Continue reading...
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:15:43 GMT2016-09-27T19:15:43Z
Is it any wonder Rogue One lacks The Force Awakens hype when Abrams recently confirmed franchise isn’t the same without Skywalker and Solo clans?
You might think the worst Star Wars movie of all time has to be The Phantom Menace, the film that introduced Jar Jar Binks, midichloreans and the tedious galactic senate. But you’d be wrong, for there are far worse episodes of the long-running space saga lurking in the more fetid corners of a galaxy far, far away.
First up is the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, featuring an obviously wasted Carrie Fisher, what seems like hours of wookie grunting, and a deeply weird segue in which Chewbacca’s freaky-looking dad, Lumpy, has a private sexual moment with his brand-new virtual reality machine. But rivalling it for sheer, brazen awfulness, if only because the holiday special has something of that “so bad it’s good” vibe, is the little-remembered 1984 TV movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.Continue reading...
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:05:51 GMT2016-09-27T19:05:51Z
In gunning for gold, many countries have opted to elect bold auteurs like Paul Verhoeven and Pedro Almodóvar as their mascots. Will the tactic pay off?
This year’s Academy award for best foreign language film went to Hungary’s daring Holocaust drama Son of Saul, the universally lauded yet undeniably difficult to watch debut from director László Nemes. Next year, it’s doubtful a newcomer will once again take gold.Continue reading...
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:05:22 GMT2016-09-27T16:05:22Z
A new California law allows actors to remove their age from the Internet Movie Database to stop discrimination. Will it be enough to stop ludicrous roles such as these?
How to combat the age-old problem of ageism in Hollywood? More female directors? Less of a gender pay gap? A special taskforce led by Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Lawrence to persuade the industry that there is more to womanhood after 40 than being a grandmother or a witch?
It appears the answer is a landmark law, effective from next year in California only, that permits actors to request the removal of their age from professional entertainment sites such as IMDb. Which, you might say, compounds rather than solves the problem by encouraging actors to hide their age if they want more work. But never mind.Continue reading...
Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:00:13 GMT2016-09-26T18:00:13Z
Lewis was the master of bargain-basement splatter without whom we would not have the likes of Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino
One of the most extraordinary figures in the history of popular American moviegoing has departed the stage: film director Herschell Gordon Lewis was the “godfather of gore” and the “sultan of splatter” who in the 1960s energetically pushed the envelope of bad taste with low-cost, low-brow schlock-horror exploitation pictures. Lots of blood, lots of screaming, lots of nudity – and lots of money.Continue reading...
Sun, 25 Sep 2016 07:00:28 GMT2016-09-25T07:00:28ZWith the work of black artists at the heart of this year’s London film festival, the organisers are celebrating a success that’s long overdue
First came promises of a fairer deal for black talent; now comes a call for action. The London film festival is to put black film-makers and actors centre screen on the largest scale yet, and then come up with a plan to promote their profile in national cinema.
The Black Star symposium, together with a Black Star season of films that will follow the festival, mark an unprecedented push from the British Film Institute to promote black artists and acknowledge their historical exclusion from the higher-profile side of the industry.Continue reading...
Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:51:50 GMT2016-09-23T18:51:50Z
Two recent films – the Chris Pine western and home invasion thriller Don’t Breathe – demonstrate the virtues of calm, old-fashioned film-making
The acclaimed modern-day western Hell or High Water may pivot on a conflict between disenfranchised brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster), Texas law men (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham) and the corporate Man-at-large. However, it’s driven less by traditional action theatrics than by people sitting, surveying their space, drinking in their perverted, disappointing patch of Americana. The film is self-consciously mythic, and that’s why it’s poignant: it wants to be a great and timely western. Watching Hell or High Water, it’s hard not to think of The Last Picture Show, which featured a younger Bridges on the other side of his career, and which was similarly eager to conjure the iconography of an America thought to be long gone – a so-called “purer” America, perhaps.Continue reading...
Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:43:06 GMT2016-09-23T12:43:06ZThe baby-boomers who once too busy raising families to go to the cinema are now turning up in increasing numbersThe post-second world war baby boomers, we know, are the most fortunate of generations: young people struggle to get on the housing ladder while the newly retired are the wealthiest they have ever been. So it should perhaps be no surprise that in cinemas too, this generation is now making its presence felt, but after some neglect. When the UK film industry almost went under in the 70s, it was partly because baby boomers had less time to go the movies when they had babies of their own to look after. And when it was defibrillated in the following decade by the arrival of multiplexes, the same generation, now thirty-somethings, were not the reason for cinemas’ return to life.Yet members of this generation are now turning out in large numbers. In America and Canada, 15% of over-60s were defined as “frequent moviegoers” in 2015, up from 14% the year before and 10% the year before that. It is a similar story in the UK, where between 2008 and 2015 the share of over-55s in the audience increased every year (apart from 2011), hitting a peak of 12.5% last year. As Crispin Lilly, CEO of Everyman Cinemas, says: “There is a whole generation of people who grew up with good quality cinemas before the 1980s that are now returning in droves.” Continue reading...[...]
Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:00:02 GMT2016-09-23T10:00:02ZThe hijinks celebrated in Animal House are depicted as more sinister in Goat – but in other movies there’s recognition than fratboys have evolved, tooThe frathouse comedy is almost as much of an all-American institution as fraternities themselves. In 1978, National Lampoon’s Animal House became one of the most profitable movies of all time and Hollywood realised that there was gold in them there locker rooms. Animal House’s uproariously wacky tone, however, couldn’t have been further removed from Goat, the dark drama starring Nick Jonas about a fraternity’s brutal hazing ritual. Out in the US this Friday, it’s an indication of how America’s attitude has changed towards fraternities, from harmless hijinks to something much more sinister. After Animal House grossed $141m, having been made on a $3m budget, cinemagoers couldn’t move for snobs and slobs battling in subgenres from sports comedies (Caddyshack, Ski School) and high school raunchfests (Porky’s, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). The venues may have varied, but the central elements remained the same: a group of lovable, sex-crazed guys doing battle with cruel authority figures or talented rivals – and somewhere along the way, of course, they score with some chicks. Continue reading...[...]
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:05:14 GMT2016-09-22T15:05:14ZSouthside With You is the latest in a long line of presidential biopics. But since it is simply an account of the Obamas’ first date, with little reference to their illustrious future, how will it rate alongside the likes of Young Mr Lincoln and PT 109?If Hollywood is to be believed, the most fascinating parts of a life are the rise and the fall — the ascent up the mountain and the inevitable tumble back to sea level. The middle bit — all the stuff about how one copes with the mundane reality of one’s fate — is less travelled territory. Look no further than the superhero origin story. Despite how often moviegoers have seen Batman’s parents gunned down in an alley, no shortage of films and TV shows choose to dramatise it yet again. But long before capes and masks were dominating cinemas, the film industry was giving audiences another kind of myth: the presidential origin story, of which Barack Obama films Southside With You and Barry are the latest entries in the genre.Americans love a good presidential biopic, even ones for those commanders-in-chief who might not immediately jump to mind as worthy of the treatment. In 1944, 20th Century Fox released Wilson, a film depicting the 28th president Woodrow Wilson, who shepherded the country through the previous war. The Gorgeous Hussy, a 1936 film about Andrew Jackson, was a fictionalised account of the Petticoat affair, a scandal involving the wife of a cabinet member. Continue reading...[...]
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:02:14 GMT2016-09-21T14:02:14Z
Hanson got Meryl Streep whitewater rafting, Eminem to act and brought James Ellroy’s cult novel LA Confidential brilliantly to life on film
Success came relatively late for Curtis Hanson: he had been working as a director in Hollywood for more than two decades before he hit a commercial home run with The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, released in 1992 and one of the creepiest of the late-80s/early-90s wave of domestic-peril thrillers that included Fatal Attraction and Single White Female. It starred Rebecca DeMornay as a nanny who torments a family while exacting a complicated revenge, and proved Hanson’s chops as an effective exponent of mainstream Hollywood style: meaty, thrilling and unashamedly populist.
Related: Curtis Hanson: six key filmsContinue reading...
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 09:00:22 GMT2016-09-21T09:00:22ZStarring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as star-crossed lovers in space, there’s a lot riding on Passengers. Will it ascend to the box-office heavens?Some might say that the era of the big budget romance died when Pearl Harbor took a critical drubbing in 2001. And yet James Cameron’s Avatar proved beyond doubt seven years ago that audiences will still sign up for a good old-fashioned love story, provided there’s plenty of spectacle among the lingering glances. By somehow managing to bring together the kind of filmgoer who will pay to see an alien movie with those who would rather spend their last dollar on a late-night screening of The Notebook (as well as looping in some brilliantly synapse-boggling 3D), Cameron briefly appeared to have single-handedly rescued Hollywood from certain doom.But while Pearl Harbor would never have existed without the success of Cameron’s Titanic four years previously, Avatar’s imitators have largely chosen to focus on the movie’s groundbreaking stereoscopic effects rather than copy its preposterous blend of sci-fi and romance. And who can blame them, given that Hollywood and space have a troubled history stretching all the way back to studios’ clunky attempts to mimic the extraordinary success of Star Wars in 1977? The fact that Disney came a cropper far more recently with the similarly pitched John Carter will not have inspired confidence. Continue reading...[...]
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 09:18:45 GMT2016-09-21T09:18:45Z
With the news Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are filing for divorce, the internet has revived an early 2000s rivalry – but 11 years later, it’s looking tired and sexist
It’s Tuesday afternoon and the current status of the internet is “hyperventilating”. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are filing for divorce. Yep, Brangelina is over and people are going brananas – but the spotlight isn’t Brad or Angie or even Shiloh. No, it’s on Jennifer Aniston. Again.
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 06:14:18 GMT2016-09-21T06:14:18ZThe impending divorce of Hollywood’s golden couple 12 years after their first film together comes just two years after By the Sea, a strange melodrama about a couple in meltdown that is hard not to now read as autobiographyThe death of Edward Albee this week was an excuse to revisit one of the greatest semi-factual toxic marriages of cinema: the film version of his Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were in a state of boozy, agonised meltdown, and those performances may well have been a catharsis for personal issues. Perhaps our generation has its own Woolf-anxiety couple in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who today filed for divorce after being an item since 2005. They have only been married since 2014, which will give pause to all those who fear that getting legally hitched amplifies the existing problems in any long-term relationship. For outsiders to speculate about their private pain would be impertinent, especially considering the courage with which Jolie has faced her own health issues. But the fact is that the Jolie-Pitt alliance began with a film about marriage – and now appears to have ended with one. Continue reading...[...]
Mon, 19 Sep 2016 10:45:51 GMT2016-09-19T10:45:51Z
La La Land is still the one to beat, Emma Stone and Natalie Portman will go head-to-head and Birth of a Nation remains on shaky ground
Since it world-premiered as the opening night film of the Venice film festival, Damien Chazelle’s big hearted love letter to Los Angeles has continued to buzz as a major awards contender. Reviews were largely glowing out of the gate (in Venice, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw declared it a “sun-drenched musical masterpiece”). Even Tom Hanks, an Academy member, is a fan: while attending the Telluride film festival, he acted as La La Land’s unofficial mascot, when he was supposed to be touting his performance in Clint Eastwood’s Sully.Continue reading...
Sat, 17 Sep 2016 08:00:43 GMT2016-09-17T08:00:43Z
She was the adorable little girl in Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire… then the phone stopped ringing. The former child star lifts the lid on hitting puberty in the public eye
When I was seven, my family spent a week in Japan to promote the remake of Miracle On 34th Street. Within three days, I was ready to become an expatriate.
“This is so much better than the United States!” I told my mother as we walked back to the hotel with brand new kimonos. I bowed my head to the people we passed. A Japanese businessman smiled at me and bowed back.Continue reading...
Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:52:57 GMT2016-09-16T15:52:57ZWoe betide the Hollywood studio that revisits a classic film without the blessing of its original creative team. Because things can get ugly ...Dante’s Inferno makes little mention of those who profit from the work of others, but cult indie director Abel Ferrara once predicted a special place in the pit of suffering for anyone who dared to remake his classic films. Upon learning that Werner Herzog, the famed German champion of bonkers romanticism, was making a new version of Bad Lieutenant, his scuzzy 1992 tale of a lost soul on the streets of New York, Ferrara seethed: “I wish these people die in hell. I hope they’re all in the same streetcar and it blows up.”At least Herzog’s version, which he cheekily claimed to have made without any knowledge of Ferrara’s existence, turned out to be rather good – at least if you’re fond of peak-crazy Nicolas Cage and phantasmagorical segues starring imaginary iguanas. Dutch film-maker Paul Verhoeven has had to sit tight as two of his best films, RoboCop (1987) and Total Recall (1990), were remade by lesser mortals with all the verve of a Britpop covers band dashing out Wonderwall. Continue reading...[...]
Sun, 18 Sep 2016 19:14:26 GMT2016-09-18T19:14:26Z
Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s meta musical has won the Toronto film festival but its red carpet to the Academy Awards was already secure: Hollywood loves nothing more than a movie about how magical it is
After 2015 proved lackluster (Truth! Demolition! Our Brand is Crisis!), this year’s Toronto film festival arrived with its shoulders heavy. But a diverse and rewarding set of films have helped to make it a memorable 10 days, with Oscar contenders and offbeat discoveries combining to please both critics and audiences.Continue reading...
Fri, 16 Sep 2016 09:00:08 GMT2016-09-16T09:00:08Z
Justice League’s Zack Snyder has been showing off Ben Affleck’s new ‘tactical’ suit from the upcoming film. How does it compare to the caped crusader’s top outfits from the past?
Batman has always been defined by his Batwear. Tim Burton ushered in a new era for Gotham’s dark knight by jettisoning the familiar colour scheme sported by Adam West in the much-loved 1960s show in favour of typically gothic black and an armored, musclebound look. George Clooney’s awful Batnipples, intended as a paean to classical visions of the gods, came to define the floundering Joel Schumacher years. With Ben Affleck sporting a new goggled look in the upcoming Justice League, we look back at Batman’s classiest capes and darkest sartorial disasters.Continue reading...