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Film | The Guardian

Latest Film news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Sat, 20 Jan 2018 21:10:57 GMT2018-01-20T21:10:57Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

The Kindergarten Teacher review - brilliantly observed ethical pretzel about a poetically gifted kid

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 15:00:01 GMT2018-01-20T15:00:01Z

A precociously five-year-old is discovered by pre-school teacher Maggie Gyllenhaal in a wonderfully sensitive American remake of an Israeli original

Nadiv Lapid’s Hebrew-language The Kindergarten Teacher was one of the more unshakable films of 2015, with its wonderfully inscrutable nature,. One of the most important things that writer-director Sara Colangelo has done in her American remake is keep the central mystery intact. There is a list of small changes, some tweaks to the characters, a few added jokes, but this is very much the same movie told a second time. Is that necessary? Sure, why the hell not, especially when either version is so great. Moreover, it’s a chance to see Maggie Gyllenhaal give one of the best performances of her career.

When we first meet Lisa Spinelli she’s a caring, patient kindergarten teacher in Staten Island who takes a weekly poetry class in Manhattan. (If you are fuzzy on your geography, this means crossing the mighty New York harbor in a huge and highly photogenic orange ferry.) By the end she’s a, well … I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just call her a social vigilante. One of her young students, Jimmy (Parker Sevak) behaves like a regular five year-old most of the time, but now and again he goes into something of a trance-like state and starts reciting poetry. His syntax and vocabulary are clearly coming from “somewhere else,” and while a lesser film would go down some sort of supernatural possession route, what drives Lisa more than anything else is her desire to archive his work.

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Marion Cotillard on Woody Allen: 'The experience we had together was very odd'

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 19:20:27 GMT2018-01-19T19:20:27Z

The Midnight in Paris star said she was ‘ignorant’ of stories of alleged sexual abuse and would ‘dig more’ if he asked her to work with him again

Oscar-winning actor Marion Cotillard has spoken about her experience of working with Woody Allen on the set of Midnight in Paris.

The star, who won best actress for La Vie En Rose in 2008, was asked to give her thoughts on Allen after his estranged daughter Dylan Farrow reiterated, in a televised interview, her claim that he sexually abused her.

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Step Sisters review – hits and misses in Netflix's cultural appropriation comedy

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:57:16 GMT2018-01-19T16:57:16Z

A feelgood narrative sits somewhat awkwardly alongside a topical yet disappointingly tepid story of race on campus

Before it was even released, there was swift pushback to the Netflix acquisition Step Sisters. Despite a formidable production team behind it that includes Dear White People writer Chuck Hayward and Master of None’s Lena Waithe, the premise struck the Twitter commentariat as trite and conservative: Jamilah, a college senior hoping to gain admission to Harvard Law School, is asked by a professor to rehabilitate a group of disgraced white sorority sisters by teaching them how to step, a style of percussive dance that has its roots in African foot dancing and black sorority life. If she can pull it off, and impart upon them lessons of unity and sisterhood, the sorority will be readmitted to campus (they were punished because a sister was caught having sex on school grounds) and Jamilah will get a coveted recommendation letter to Harvard.

Related: Master of None's Lena Waithe: 'If you come from a poor background, TV becomes what you dream about'

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Paddington 2 becomes best reviewed film ever

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:30:20 GMT2018-01-19T16:30:20Z

Bear gets his sticky paws on Rotten Tomatoes record for longest run of positive reviews

In the lineup of the most critically acclaimed films, Citizen Kane and The Godfather have been bested by a bear from “darkest” Peru. The aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes has declared Paddington 2 to be the best reviewed film in the site’s history.

The comedy – which is directed by the British film-maker Paul King and stars Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville, – has received 164 consecutive positive reviews from critics.

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Steven Spielberg: ‘The urgency to make The Post was because of Trump's administration’

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:29:09 GMT2018-01-19T11:29:09Z

The director dropped everything – including new blockbuster Ready Player One – to tell the story of the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. He talks about parallels between Nixon and Trump and why Oprah Winfrey would be a ‘brilliant’ president

Shortly after The Sixth Sense became a global sensation, its director, M Night Shyamalan – hailed on the cover of Newsweek in 2002 as “the next Spielberg” – told an interviewer that, years earlier, he had realised the one ingenious trick that made Steven Spielberg movies so spectacularly successful. Like a soft-drink manufacturer who had stumbled on the secret recipe for Coca-Cola, Shyamalan could not believe his luck. What was Spielberg’s killer formula, Shyamalan was asked. He would not say. Merely by understanding it, he had struck commercial gold and he did not plan to share it.

It didn’t quite work out that way for Shyamalan, who has never matched the heights of that first hit. But I thought of his imagined revelation as I watched Spielberg’s latest film. The Post stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post, the duo who took on the Nixon White House in 1971 to publish the Pentagon Papers, the US Department of Defense’s own secret history of the Vietnam war that laid bare decades of government dishonesty.

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Every Pixar film ever made - Ranked!

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:00:15 GMT2018-01-19T06:00:15Z

It’s the studio that rewrote the rules of animation, and it hasn’t let up since. So which is the best – and worst – of Pixar’s 19 movies? We find out in Ranked, our new weekly series

The jewel in the Pixar crown, the masterpiece of the noughties golden age of digital animation and a great family movie that actually asks what a “family” should be. Just before the Marvel franchise boom and the Nolan Batman phenomenon, Brad Bird gave us this glorious superhero movie, with a wonderfully sophisticated, funny and literate script and compelling characters. And in 2004, we were still all capable of being gobsmacked by the delirious technological achievements in perspective, light and colour. Holly Hunter had a genuine career highlight voicing Elastigirl, the “super” who with her super-children Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack in tow, has to rescue her husband Mr Incredible from his island imprisonment at the hands of supervillain Syndrome, Mr Incredible’s former teen fan whose spurned adoration has curdled into rage. The downing of Elastigirl’s jet is an authentically exciting action sequence, and their battle with Syndrome is gripping on every level – as is the family’s internal debate about whether their super-fast son Dash should compete in track events or submit to the mediocrity of the age. The comedy insights into superheroism are superb: the dangers of capes and everyone’s propensity to monologuing. And the superhero costume designer Edna Mode is a joy with her wonderful and appropriate maxim: “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.” The now is what The Incredibles gave us.

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Colin Firth says he will never work with Woody Allen again

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 07:32:53 GMT2018-01-19T07:32:53Z

Actor provides statement to Guardian on same day Dylan Farrow gives first televised interview accusing her adoptive father of sexual assault

Colin Firth is the latest actor to publicly rebuke Woody Allen, telling the Guardian he won’t do any projects with the director in the future.

“I wouldn’t work with him again,” Firth said in response to the Guardian’s inquiry on Thursday, the same day Dylan Farrow gave her first televised interview accusing her adopted father of sexually assaulting her when she was seven years old.

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Michael Douglas accuser on alleged sexual harassment: 'I was humiliated'

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:05:28 GMT2018-01-18T22:05:28Z

After the star pre-emptively denied the claim of wrongdoing, journalist and author Susan Braudy has spoken out about alleged misconduct

Earlier this month, Michael Douglas pre-emptively denied a claim of sexual harassment. Now his accuser has shared her story that the actor allegedly masturbated in front of her in 1989.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, journalist and author Susan Braudy claims that during her time working for Douglas, when she ran the New York office of his production company, his behavior started with inappropriate sexual conversation.

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Dylan Farrow denies being brainwashed in first TV interview about Woody Allen allegations

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:36:51 GMT2018-01-18T14:36:51Z

Farrow repeats claim that her father sexually assaulted her as a child in interview with CBS This Morning

Dylan Farrow has denied that she was “brainwashed” or “coached” into accusing her adoptive father Woody Allen of sexual assault, in her first televised interview about the allegations.

In the interview on CBS This Morning, Farrow detailed her version of the events of 4 August 1992, when she alleges Allen assaulted her as a 7-year-old, and denied that her mother had influenced her. “What I don’t understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?” she said.

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Brigitte Bardot: sexual harassment protesters are 'hypocritical' and 'ridiculous'

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 13:32:13 GMT2018-01-18T13:32:13Z

Bardot is second French film star after Catherine Deneuve to lambast women involved in campaigns such as #MeToo and its French equivalent

French former actor Brigitte Bardot has joined Catherine Deneuve in expressing distaste for women in the film industry who complain of sexual harassment, saying “in the vast majority of cases” it is “hypocritical, ridiculous and uninteresting”.

In an interview with Paris Match, Bardot said: “Many actresses flirt with producers to get a role. Then when they tell the story afterwards, they say they have been harassed … in actual fact, rather than benefit them, it only harms them.”

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Insidious: The Last Key review – horror prequel fails to unlock scares

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 20:51:15 GMT2018-01-05T20:51:15Z

The latest entry in the wearying supernatural series squanders its intriguing protagonist (a 74-year-old woman) and instead, regurgitates familiar tropes

All horror films, whether their creators or fans wish to admit it, trade a little bit in cruelty. At some point we’ll watch, from the safety of our voyeur’s perch, someone writhe in agony as they are stabbed or bludgeoned or strangled. Yet the cruelest thing in Insidious: The Last Key doesn’t happen to anyone on screen. After a reasonably well-executed prologue, one with good acting, dramatic moments, a genuine eerie tone and a visual landscape crafted with care, the rug is pulled from us. We move from the 1950s to “now”, and with that we exit a warm bath of sincere film-making to an icy tub of cliche. You can scream, but no one will save you.

Related: Slender Man trailer: a mythical monster worth the wait? Fat chance

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The Post review – Streep and Hanks scoop the honours in Spielberg's big-hearted story

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 14:00:18 GMT2017-12-06T14:00:18Z

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep impress as Washington Post bigwigs fighting to expose government lies about the Vietnam war in the director’s timely drama

Steven Spielberg’s handsome new picture has a big, beating heart on its classically tailored sleeve. It’s a rousingly watchable film from first-time screenwriter Liz Hannah about the Washington Post, its editor Ben Bradlee, proprietor Kay Graham and what is supposedly their platonic office romance while publishing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. In the face of legal threats and boardroom fainthearts, their mission was to disclose the truth about how the US government deceived America about the unwinnability of the Vietnam war. It was the scoop that paved the way for the Watergate investigation.

The film is a pointed celebration of liberal decency in the past and implied present. Its stars’ unadorned surnames have been put up on the poster over the title with granite simplicity: “Streep Hanks The Post”. These are naturally intended as Lincoln-Memorial-level rebukes to today’s various squalid declines in Washington and Hollywood.

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The Greatest Showman review – Hugh Jackman puts on a show in cheesy, charming musical

Wed, 20 Dec 2017 08:00:09 GMT2017-12-20T08:00:09Z

Jackman plays 19th century PT Barnum in a crowd-pleasing if middle-of-the-road film that paints the circus impresario as a body-positive evangelist for diversity

Hugh Jackman is at his most relatable here in this cheerful fantasy musical, so mainstream it is at the exact centre of the road as if placed there by some impossibly sophisticated scientific implement. The film succeeds in being cheesy and sugary at the same time, and is very loosely based on the life of the legendary showman and inveterate crowd-pleaser Phineas T Barnum, the man who in the 19th century possibly invented entertainment as we know it today.

Another type of movie might seek to draw parallels between the cheeky impresario Barnum – frantically promoting fake or at any rate unreliable news about giants, bearded ladies etc – and another questionable American celebrity of the present day. But this is a Barnum we can all get behind. He’s an entrepreneur, a dreamer, a family man, an idealist, an underdog, a proto-modern evangelist for diversity (he has circus turns of all shapes and sizes) and he’s someone for whom the template for conventional white body image is not the be-all and end-all.

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Molly's Game review – Jessica Chastain ups the ante in Aaron Sorkin poker drama

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 15:30:04 GMT2017-12-28T15:30:04Z

With its propulsive, savvy dialogue, Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut about a poker host who called rich men’s bluff has addictive and amoral snap

She certainly is. America’s so-called Poker Princess, Molly Bloom, is the enigmatically glamorous woman in this very enjoyable true-life story who ran the hottest private card game in LA and then New York, before finally being led away in handcuffs in 2013 on illegal gambling charges. Luxurious hotel suites had been turned by Molly into macho gladiatorial arenas in which movie actors, sports stars, hedge fund managers and other wealthy poker addicts did battle under her gaze. There were no women players – a fact on which the film passes no comment.

Models were hired to serve drinks. Scented candles masked the reek of testosterone and rage. And Molly presided over it all, monitoring the bets on her laptop in the corner, wryly commenting on the Joycean echoes in her name (she repeatedly had to say no to these men) and accepting huge tips at the end of the night. She is played with exotic queenliness by Jessica Chastain, with something of the impassive hauteur and mute vulnerability that Elizabeth Taylor brought to Cleopatra. But who is Molly’s Antony? Does she even need an Antony? Of this, more in a moment.

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Phantom Thread review – Daniel Day-Lewis bows out in style with drama of delicious pleasure

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:00:16 GMT2017-12-07T17:00:16Z

In his final film, Day-Lewis reunites with Paul Thomas Anderson to deliver a masterful performance as a society dressmaker beguiled by a young waitress

A brilliant English couturier of the postwar age: fastidious and cantankerous, humourless and preposterous – and heterosexual, in that pre-Chatterley era when being a bachelor and fashion designer wasn’t automatically associated in the public mind with anything else. Daniel Day-Lewis gives us his cinema swansong in this new film from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson. He is Reynolds Jeremiah Woodcock, celebrated dressmaker to the debutantes of Britain, but now under pressure from the New Look and influences from across the Channel. He treats us to a fine display of temper on the subject of that unforgivably meretricious word: chic.

Just when he is at his lowest, Woodcock falls in love with a shy, maladroit German waitress at the country hotel where he happens to be staying. This is Alma, played by Vicky Krieps. With his connoisseur’s eye, Woodcock sees in her a grace and beauty that no one else had noticed, certainly not Alma herself. Dazzled, she comes to live with him as his assistant and model in the central London fashion house over which Woodcock rules with his sister and confidante Cyril, played with enigmatic reserve by Lesley Manville. But, as Woodcock becomes ever more impossible and controlling, submissive Alma must find new, more dysfunctional ways to re-establish her emotional mastery over him.

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All the Money in the World review – raucous crime thriller banishes ghost of Kevin Spacey

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 17:00:22 GMT2017-12-19T17:00:22Z

Ridley Scott’s drama about the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III looked sunk after allegations were made against the actor, but Christopher Plummer excels as his last-minute replacement

‘The rich are different from you and me,” said F Scott Fitzgerald, to which Ernest Hemingway is famously alleged to have replied: “Yes, they have more money.” This film suggests they also have more fear of their own children – fear that they will parasitically suck away energy that should be devoted to building up riches and status; that they will fail to be worthy inheritors of it, or waste it, or cause it to be catastrophically mortgaged to their own pampered weakness. This fear is the driving force of Ridley Scott’s raucous pedal-to-the-metal thriller about the ageing and super-rich oil tycoon J Paul Getty, freely adapted by screenwriter David Scarpa from the 1995 page-turner Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J Paul Getty by veteran true-crime author John Pearson. It is directed by the 80-year-old Ridley Scott with gleeful energy and riotous attack. The old guy is always the most interesting character on screen, and that can hardly be an accident.

In 1973, cantankerous Getty refused to pay the kidnap ransom demanded after his 16-year-old grandson John Paul Getty III was snatched by Calabrian mobsters from the streets of Rome. And why? Because he didn’t want to set a precedent and reward crime? Because he suspected this wastrel boy had cooked up a scheme to scam him? Or because, in his wizened and ornery old apology for a heart, he just didn’t feel like parting with a single dime? Only when a severed ear arrives through the post does the old boy feel like getting out his chequebook.

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I, Tonya review – scattershot skating biopic offers flawed, foul-mouthed fun

Sat, 09 Sep 2017 19:04:46 GMT2017-09-09T19:04:46Z

Margot Robbie transforms into disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in an uneven but often hilarious retelling of her controversial career

At the beginning of I, Tonya, we’re informed that what we’re about to see is based on a set of “irony-free, wildly contradictory and totally true” interviews with disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding and ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. It’s a necessary, playful reminder that despite the far-fetched nature of the events in the film, there’s at least a kernel of truth here. Even star Margot Robbie assumed the script was fictitious on first read, unaware of how Harding’s lurid story gripped most of the western world back in the early 90s.

Related: Molly's Game review – Aaron Sorkin's poker drama is a bet that fails to pay off

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Hostiles review – Christian Bale soldiers on in brutal, beautiful and flawed western

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 06:51:41 GMT2017-09-12T06:51:41Z

Bale stars as an oppressive army officer seeking redemption in the Old West in Scott Cooper’s striking, if somewhat glib, take on the genre

Related: Loving Pablo review – Javier Bardem's Escobar flick fails to sniff out new lines

The sight of a baby being shot is something which sets the tone, the feel, and the body language of this brutal and self-regarding Western from writer-director Scott Cooper, based on an unproduced screenplay by the late Donald Stewart, who scripted the The Hunt For Red October.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle review – fantasy romp likably upgraded for gamer generation

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 02:00:11 GMT2017-12-09T02:00:11Z

Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Kevin Hart have fun in a video-game world in an amiable sequel-by-numbers with a body-swap twist

The 90s family adventure Jumanji was a fantasy romp about children being whooshed into the universe of a magical board game, where a former kid player played by Robin Williams had grown to adulthood, having been marooned there. The film seemed to be using the grammar and rhetoric of video-gaming, which is about getting from one level to another by not getting killed.

Now it has been upgraded for 2017 in a way that makes the gaming idea explicit, and yet also as quaint and antique as board games might have looked in 1995. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a big, brash, amiable entertainment with something of Indiana Jones, plus the body-swap comedy of Freaky Friday, or F Anstey’s Victorian classic Vice Versa. It features an endearing performance from Dwayne Johnson who, as a teen wimp magicked into a giant Herculean body, has to look nervy and nerdy and say things like “Oi vey”.

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Pitch Perfect 3 review – Rebel Wilson and co hit the top notes in subversive sequel

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 08:00:21 GMT2017-12-19T08:00:21Z

Throwing all plausibility in the bin, the Bellas take on a whistlestop European tour of military bases in their third outing, which somehow stays in tune

Few viewers came out of Pitch Perfect 2 thinking, “this franchise will run and run”. Second time around, the premise of competitive a capella already seemed to have exhausted its possibilities. How many more “riff-offs” did we need to see? How many more big competitions were left to enter? How many more slightly over-extended Rebel Wilson one-liners could we take? But this third – and surely final – outing basically explodes its own formula. It’s like a good Christmas pantomime. It assumes we all know the drill, then has a whale of a time subverting it. In the process it throws out all semblance of plausibility, but by this stage, who really cares?

The opening set-up is literally explosive: the Bellas are on a luxury yacht, performing another of their choreographed, beatbox-backed cover versions for the delectation of three unknown men. Suddenly Fat Amy (Wilson) comes crashing through the skylight, hoses the men with a fire extinguisher, and they all jump overboard before the yacht explodes.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi review – an explosive thrill-ride of galactic proportions

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:34:04 GMT2017-12-13T10:34:04Z

Director Rian Johnson delivers a tidal wave of energy and emotion in the eighth episode of the saga, as Luke, Leia, Finn and Rey step up to meet their destiny

An old hope. A new realism. An old anxiety. A new feeling that the Force might be used to channel erotic telepathy, and long-distance evil seduction. The excitingly and gigantically proportioned eighth film in the great Star Wars saga offers all of these, as well as colossal confrontations, towering indecisions and teetering temptations, spectacular immolations, huge military engagements, and very small disappointments.

The character-driven face-offs are wonderful and the messianic succession crisis about the last Jedi of the title is gripping. But there is a convoluted and slightly unsatisfying parallel plot strand about the Resistance’s strategic military moves as the evil First Order closes in, and an underwritten, under-imagined and eccentrically dressed new character – Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, played by Laura Dern.

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James Franco discusses recent sexual misconduct allegations – video

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:18:39 GMT2018-01-10T12:18:39Z

James Franco has said the sexual misconduct allegations made against him are 'not accurate'. Speaking on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the actor commented on the criticism he received after wearing a Time's Up pin at the Golden Globes awards. He told Colbert: 'I can’t live if there’s restitution to be made. I will make it. So if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it.'

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Run the code: is algorave the future of dance music? – video

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 10:05:10 GMT2017-11-30T10:05:10Z

By building up tracks through the manipulation of programming code – and pairing them with visuals also made on the fly – algorave producers are among the underground's most dextrous and daring work. Iman Amrani heads to Sheffield to meet those at the heart of the scene

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Watch the trailer for The Florida Project – video

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 18:47:57 GMT2017-11-09T18:47:57Z

The Florida Project is the latest film from director Sean Baker, written by Baker and Chris Bergoch, starring Willem Dafoe. Set in a motel in Kissimmee, Florida, the story follows the lives of deprived children living near Walt Disney World 

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Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce reunite in Swinging Safari – trailer

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 00:34:32 GMT2017-11-06T00:34:32Z

Formerly titled Flammable Children, the upcoming comedy from writer/director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Welcome to Woop Woop) reunites Minogue with her former Neighbours co-star and takes a sepia-tinted look at 1970s Australia: the sun, the surf, the swimmers ... and the swinging. Filmed on the Gold Coast, and with more than a few traces of Puberty Blues, the coming-of-age film follows what happens to three neighbouring families on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac when an extraordinary event shakes up their lives. Swinging Safari's cast includes Asher Keddie, Julian McMahon, Radha Mitchell and Jeremy Sims, and will be released on 18 January 2018

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Rose McGowan: 'I have been silenced for 20 years' – video

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 19:16:37 GMT2017-10-27T19:16:37Z

Rose McGowan, the actor who has accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, makes her first public comments since the allegations. McGowan, who was speaking at the Women’s Convention in Detroit, thanked the audience ‘for giving me wings during this very difficult time’

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Harvey Weinstein accused of rape by actor Natassia Malthe – video

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 03:01:47 GMT2017-10-26T03:01:47Z

Actor Natassia Malthe tells reporters Weinstein barged into her London hotel room late at night in 2008, removed his pants, began masturbating and then forced himself on her. Malthe says: ‘It was not consensual’

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George Clooney calls out 'the other people' involved in Weinstein scandal – video

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 07:01:59 GMT2017-10-24T07:01:59Z

While promoting his new film Suburbicon, director George Clooney challenged the practices and the other people involved in the Harvey Weinstein allegations: 'I have questions about the other people involved … I want to know who is taking these actresses up to his room.'  Actors Matt Damon and Julianne Moore also comment on the 'revolutionary' events of the past fortnight

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Oscars 2018: the four big problems the Academy needs to fix

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 19:06:10 GMT2018-01-11T19:06:10Z

From Casey Affleck and James Franco, to how to top the Golden Globes show of solidarity, this year’s awards ceremony has a number of difficulties to address

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony has, as I see it, four main problems, though in the manner of large organisations with four problems you can see from space, these will probably multiply wildly between now and 4 March as they scramble to solve them.

The first is that the Golden Globes has now started a solidarity arms race, or it will be taken that way by the Oscars, the organising principle of which is to be bigger and better. It wasn’t just that everybody wore black as a statement of sisterhood, right down to the child cast of Stranger Things, who looked like #MeToo retold a la Bugsy Malone. There were plenty of naysayers to the principle of sartorial protest – it wasn’t a huge sacrifice colour (that would have been peach), and you could use a black frock to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with victims of sexual abuse, then wear it again to almost anything. But the red-carpet ritual was potent nevertheless, just as visible protests against racism are powerful in sport; it’s a world where usually only mavericks make statements and everyone else is carefully viewless.

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Death wears Mickey Mouse ears: how Disney is doing parents a favour

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 06:00:05 GMT2018-01-05T06:00:05Z

Ever since Bambi’s mother was shot, cinema has been teaching young audiences about mortality. Pixar’s new blockbuster, Coco, is the most sobering yet

Walt Disney could not deal with funerals. Where possible, he avoided attending them – if they proved inescapable, his mood would darken for hours afterwards. The whole subject of mortality appalled him. Before he died in 1966, he would tell his daughter Diane he wanted no funeral at all. He should, he insisted, be remembered only as he had been in life, a wish that takes on a certain poignancy given the world then spent half a century speculating about his place in a cryogenic freezer.

Strange, too, that so many of the films he made said so much about death. For generations, children’s movies – and Disney movies most of all – have been breaking the very worst of bad news to the young, arriving under cover of a U certificate to reveal the random cruelty and finality of it all. The hunter’s gunshot that left Bambi motherless rings out into the present day. Just a few recent additions to the Disney graveyard would include the noble Mufasa, slain during The Lion King, poor Ellie Fredriksen passing on in the opening sequence of Up, and the royal couple whose drowning kickstarts Frozen. Peer beneath the cowl of the Grim Reaper and you will surely find a pair of mouse ears.

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Wonder women: how female action heroes will blast cinema screens in 2018

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 17:10:35 GMT2018-01-04T17:10:35Z

This year’s movie slate suggests a sudden industry interest in female-driven blockbusters. But is this a response to the Weinstein revelations? Or does it boil down to hard cash?

After #MeToo and allegations of predatory behaviour by powerful men in Hollywood, it feels good for the soul that the year in film kicked off with news that women rule the box office. Last year, the three most popular films in the US had female leads, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi at No 1, followed by Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman in third place. And there’s plenty more where they came from. Hollywood is still waking up to its masculinity problem, but 2018 looks as if it could be the year powerful women roar on screen in female-driven sci-fi, action blockbusters and super-sleuth thrillers.

First up, in February, Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s eco-sci-fi, Annihilation, looks like Ghostbusters with a degree in biology; Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh star as scientists in boiler suits leading an all-woman expedition to the site of an alien invasion. In March, Jennifer Lawrence finds her inner Jason Bourne in the cold war thriller Red Sparrow, playing a Russian ballerina turned spy, while Alicia Vikander will shoot her way to international superstardom as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot.

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Moon Nazis and sex in space: what can we learn from movies set in 2018?

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 16:27:58 GMT2018-01-03T16:27:58Z

Looking back through Hollywood’s sci-fi vaults, films from Rollerball to Terminator: Salvation offer a bleak view of the year ahead

While the specific reasons remain a topic of heated debate, everyone seems to be in agreement that things are, in the most general sense, quite bad. Whether you’re concerned about encroaching fascist powers or a restriction of free speech, the planet’s eventual heat-death or vanishing industries and the jobs that go with them, everyone can find something to lose a little sleep over in 2018. Credit the movies, then, with giving us fair warning. Cinematic visions of the future have always favored the dystopian over the utopian, preferring to nail-chew over our shared anxieties rather than build upon hopeful fantasy.

Related: Future shock: unearthing the most cutting-edge sci-fi movies of 2018

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How Phantom Thread undresses our ideas about toxic masculinity

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 11:30:26 GMT2018-01-02T11:30:26Z

Paul Thomas Anderson’s sly and subversive romance presents us with a tortured male creative genius but surprises us with what’s in store for him

“For the hungry boy,” scribbles a boarding-house waitress on a note of paper, before handing it back to her bewitched customer, after he orders an over-full English breakfast that could feed several men. So begins Paul Thomas Anderson’s glistening, magnificent Phantom Thread, and it’s a moment of rare, blithe sexiness in his oeuvre: a light little flirt-note – were the film set half a century later, it might be signed off with a smiley face – that sets in motion a far darker, more perverse and conflict-riven romance than most would expect from such breezy beginnings.

Related: Phantom Thread review – Daniel Day-Lewis bows out in style with drama of delicious pleasure

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Prowling panthers, paranormal spies and vengeful ice-skaters: must-see movies of 2018

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 07:00:21 GMT2018-01-02T07:00:21Z

The Black Panther roars, Matt Damon shrinks, Aardman go stone age and Jennifer Lawrence takes spying into a new dimension – we preview the best cinema of the new year

Dir. Ridley Scott
Veteran Ridley Scott took his place in the history of #MeToo by firing Kevin Spacey from this film and replacing him with Christopher Plummer, who plays ageing oil tycoon J Paul Getty in this true story from the 70s. Getty refused to pay a kidnappers’ ransom for his abducted grandson and instead hired a former CIA tough guy (played here by Mark Wahlberg) to get him free. Read the full review.
• Released on 5 January in the UK; out in US.

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'Blade Runner 2049 is a roaring achievement': readers on the best films of 2017

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 14:30:40 GMT2017-12-28T14:30:40Z

We asked for your opinions on the Guardian critics’ choices for the most outstanding films of the year. Here’s what some of you said

After announcing Call Me By Your Name as best film of 2017, we asked you if you agreed with our critics. Many of those who replied suggested the same film but, in no particular order, here are 10 other films you thought worthy of the top spot.

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The 50 top films of 2017 in the UK: the full list

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 09:00:12 GMT2017-12-05T09:00:12Z

A heartrending love story tops our list of the year’s best films, which also features a kids’-eye view of Florida, political horror, erotic thrills, sci-fi noir, ghosts, grief and communism


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Yippee ki-yay, turkey plucker … how Die Hard became a classic Christmas movie

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 10:00:03 GMT2017-12-21T10:00:03Z

It’s not about Christmas, seldom shown at Christmas, and Bruce Willis’s vest isn’t red with fur trim – but this action blast is as essential as tinsel and telly

Related: The key to a great Christmas film: misery and mayhem | Jack Bernhardt

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Nakatomi Plaza, not a creature was stirring – well, except for those crazed Euroterrorists led by Alan Rickman and the loose-cannon New York cop played by Bruce Willis. There is nothing terribly seasonal about Die Hard, despite its Christmas Eve setting. It takes places in Los Angeles, so there’s no snow. There’s a tree in the building, and a few items of Christmas clothing – allowing McClane, when he knocks off his first terrorist, to put him in a Santa hat, write the words “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho” on his top and send him in the lift to Rickman.

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Bollywood sexual harassment: actors speak out on Indian cinema's open secret

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 01:02:50 GMT2017-12-13T01:02:50Z

Women tell the Guardian that unmasking of abusive men is overdue in industry that shames and undermines victims

The casting director had one hand pressed to the phone at his ear; the other, according to a police complaint, he rested on Reena Saini’s thigh.

“He was casting for TV serials,” Saini, 26, recalls. “One day he called me for an audition. And when I reached the place he said, come into my car and talk, I’m in a hurry.”

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How I, Tonya betrays its tragicomic ice-skating protagonist

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:35:54 GMT2017-12-11T17:35:54Z

Tonya Harding’s difficult life, filled with domestic violence and struggle, is played for laughs in an uneven biopic that never really scratches the surface

Long before Frozen, those of us who were American girls in the mid-90s lived and breathed a different icebound battle of good and evil. Every morning in the winter of seventh grade, I was hungry to read the newspaper for more details in the war between Nancy Kerrigan, America’s smooth-haired brunette sweetheart and her frizzier blonde nemesis, Tonya Harding.

Related: I, Tonya review – scattershot skating biopic offers flawed, foul-mouthed fun

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'Ordeal arthouse': why do auteurs want to make audiences suffer?

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 07:00:36 GMT2017-12-08T07:00:36Z

Caniba, a hard-going film about a cannibal, has prompted walkouts – but highbrow film-makers who indulge in ultraviolence are often given more leeway by critics

Even hardcore cinephiles inured to navel-gazing noodlings can sometimes find them difficult to sit through. But, if hours of action-free footage weren’t punishing enough, auteurs have figured out a surefire way of making their films even more of an ordeal: the insertion of gruelling violence, taboo-busting perversion and ridiculously pessimistic worldviews.

Caniba, the latest documentary from Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, combines the best of both worlds. Or worst, depending on your point of view. There are no establishing shots, only extended out-of-focus closeups of Issei Sagawa as he obliquely reflects on his 1981 murder of Renée Hartevelt, a fellow student at the Sorbonne who had rejected his advances and whose corpse he partly devoured.

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Ben Rhodes: ‘Obama has a serenity that I don't. I get more exercised’

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 09:00:01 GMT2018-01-13T09:00:01Z

He spent 10 years as Barack Obama’s right-hand man. As a new film puts him in the spotlight, he talks high-stakes diplomacy and the chaos of Trump’s White House

In his final foreign speech as president, Barack Obama spoke to a crowd in Athens. “As you may have noticed,” he said, “the next American president and I could not be more different. But American democracy is bigger than any one person.” More than a year on, with that proposition tested daily, Obama’s decision to make his last trip abroad to the birthplace of western democracy looks prescient.

The person Obama turned to just before taking the stage was a trim man with thin, close-cropped hair and a furrowed brow who had been at his side on almost every foreign trip he made, and who helped write this and just about every other foreign policy speech the president delivered. Ben Rhodes, the longest-serving member of Obama’s foreign policy team, at the age of 40, has been a permanent fixture in his close orbit; inside the Obama camp, Rhodes was routinely said to be so close to the president that their minds had melded.

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Julie Delpy: ‘Women were bred to be directors’

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 06:00:21 GMT2018-01-12T06:00:21Z

Declining the sexual advances of a Hollywood director early in her career earned Delpy an enduring reputation for being ‘difficult’. She talks about how, despite her successes, she is still battling misogyny in the film industry today

Julie Delpy is angry. Right now, the French actor and director should be up to her neck in spreadsheets. For three years, she has worked night and day “fighting, fighting, fighting” to get her sixth film as a writer-director, My Zoe, financed. The script is the best thing she has ever written, she says, a mother-daughter drama “with a crazy third act”. The plan was to shoot this spring, but in November, the night before Thanksgiving, a financier pulled out at the 11th hour, spooked she believes, by a “sexist” American lawyer advising him. “My God, the guy was like a poison.”

So here we are, drinking tea in a fancy Paris hotel a few days before Christmas. (Delpy lives in LA but is home for the holidays.) In theory, we are meant to be talking about one of the few acting roles she has taken on while concentrating on her film, playing a love-interest French teacher in The Bachelors, a sweet, emotionally grown-up US indie about a grieving father and son. But her blood is boiling and her brain is in overdrive.

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Three Billboards director Martin McDonagh: 'Little girls don’t have a James Dean to emulate’

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 12:55:48 GMT2018-01-11T12:55:48Z

Oscars frontrunner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stars Frances McDormand as a mother seeking violent justice for the murder of her daughter. Its writer-director explains why McDormand’s character is the foul-mouthed heroine we need, and addresses the controversy of the film’s portrayal of race relations

There’s no stopping Mildred Hayes, the mighty heroine of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. She’s out on a mission to find her daughter’s killer, swinging down Main Street like a pint-sized wrecking ball. She’s upending social niceties, trampling taboos and liable to flatten anyone in her path. As embodied by Frances McDormand, Mildred is the perfect emblem for the age of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo – a hard-bitten, fiery angel of vengeance. Yet, tellingly, this virago is also the creation of a male writer-director. And just maybe he sees something of himself in her, too.

Like Mildred, Martin McDonagh can be a provocative, polarising figure. An upstart playwright turned film-maker, his work rides roughshod over Ireland, the US and the historic city of Bruges, exploding in a splash of bloody violence and plumes of pungent dialogue. One suspects that if he can’t be adored, he’d just as soon be loathed. “I’m coming from a punk-rock background,” he says by way of introduction. “The Clash and the Pogues. It’s all about trying to shake things up.”

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Ridley Scott on erasing Kevin Spacey from his new film: 'He's a very good actor. It's a pity'

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 18:24:46 GMT2018-01-05T18:24:46Z

All the Money in the World was in the can and ‘kind of perfect’ when its star became toxic. The director wasted no time recasting the role, but not necessarily for moral reasons ...

Ridley Scott makes a long, pained sound when I ask how he received the news four months ago that Kevin Spacey had become radioactive just as their film, All the Money in the World, was gearing up for release. “Eeeeeeeh,” the director sighs at the memory. “You get that nasty, deep, gut feeling: oh shit.”

It was late October when allegations of sexual misconduct started flying around, sending the Oscar-winning actor into disgrace and planting a big question mark over Scott’s $40m thriller about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. Spacey, wearing facial prosthetic makeup, played Grandpa Getty, the octogenarian tycoon who refused to pay a ransom for his grandson.

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Tracy Letts: ‘Freedom of speech is under attack’

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 18:00:00 GMT2018-01-06T18:00:00Z

Pulitzer prize-winning playwright and actor Tracy Letts talks about his childhood, his addictions, and appearing with Meryl Streep in Steven Spielberg’s new political thriller The Post, which raises vital issues in Trump’s US

Tracy Letts is an American playwright and actor. His play August: Osage County won him a Pulitzer prize and a Tony award in 2008, and his performance as George, in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, earned him another Tony in 2013. He played the duplicitous head of the CIA in Homeland, and is now in Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Post, alongside Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Letts plays business manager to Streep’s Katharine Graham, first female publisher of the Washington Post, and to Hanks’s Ben Bradlee, the paper’s renowned editor. The film, set in the 1970s, is about the leak to the press of US government secrets about the Vietnam war. When the New York Times was silenced by a court ruling, the Washington Post risked its existence in order to publish the story.

Does The Post serve as a modern parable?
The reason for the movie is where the US is right now as a country. The story it tells is about the importance of the first amendment [prohibiting any abridgement of freedom of speech]. This defines us as a country. It’s a shame that we have to keep reminding ourselves of its importance, that we have to stay so vigilant. But it cannot be taken for granted. Everybody who made the film felt an urgent need to get it out there now.

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Caleb Landry Jones: ‘Working with Frances McDormand terrified me’

Sun, 31 Dec 2017 08:00:24 GMT2017-12-31T08:00:24Z

Hollywood’s ‘go-to oddball’ on his new movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, his intense acting style and why Syd Barrett is his guy

Texas-born actor Caleb Landry Jones, 28, has been called Hollywood’s “go-to oddball”. After making his screen debut in 2007 in the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men, he appeared in the TV series Friday Night Lights, played Banshee in X-Men: First Class and was the lead in Antiviral, by Brandon (son of David) Cronenberg, playing a man who traffics in “celebrity viruses”. In 2017, he appeared in the hit horror comedy Get Out as well as The Florida Project and Twin Peaks: The Return. Now he stars alongside Frances McDormand in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Red, a small-town advertising man caught up in a woman’s quest for justice.

You’re calling from LA right now, but you’re originally from Garland, Texas, is that right?
No, from Richardson, Texas, but born in the Garland hospital. My mom’s always going [puts on a “shrieky mom” voice]: “Why do they say Garland, Caleb?” – “I don’t know, Mom, I think I must have said it once.”

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Christian Bale: 'I was asked to do a romantic comedy. I thought they’d lost their minds'

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:00:33 GMT2018-01-04T14:00:33Z

The actor, famous for playing brooding, damaged men, is back playing, well, a brooding, damaged man in the gritty western Hostiles. He talks about why the film industry has to change, balding up to play Dick Cheney – and why he will never, ever, do a romcom

The interview’s first surprise is that a chubby, grungy figure is occupying the Beverly Hills hotel sofa reserved for Christian Bale. The impostor sports a shaved head, heavy paunch, worn black T-shirt and khaki camouflage trousers. He looks like a bouncer, maybe, or a resting football hooligan, but certainly not the man who pops up on lists of the sexiest stars alive. But Bale it is, sunk into the seat, inhabiting his latest physical transformation. “I ate a lot of pies,” he says.

The actor is well known for going to extremes – gorging, starving, bodybuilding – which reshape his physique from Olympian to emaciated to portly and back. He has just done it again, packing on the pounds and going near-bald to play Dick Cheney. At the age of 43, these transformations are not getting easier. “I’ve got to stop doing it. I suspect it’s going to take longer to get this off,” he says, indicating the belly.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review – a search for justice writ large

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 09:00:22 GMT2018-01-14T09:00:22Z

Frances McDormand excels as a mother taunting the police to uncover the truth about her daughter’s death

Life and death, heaven and hell, damnation and redemption collide in this blisteringly foul-mouthed, yet surprisingly tender, tragicomedy from British-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh. Lacing a western-tinged tale of outlaw justice with Jacobean themes of rape, murder and revenge, McDonagh’s second American-set feature finds a grieving mother naming and shaming the lawmen who have failed to catch her daughter’s killer.

The subject is no laughing matter, but as with his 2008 debut feature, In Bruges, McDonagh’s Chaucerian ear for obscenity provokes giggles, guffaws and gasps in the most inappropriate circumstances. More importantly, he underpins the anarchic nihilism of his narrative with a heartbreaking meditation upon the toxic power of rage. When characters, struggling to make sense of all this chaos, utter platitudes such as “anger just begets greater anger” and “through love comes calm”, it seems less like a killing joke than a weirdly sincere mission statement.

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DVD and download reviews: A Ghost Story; I Am Not a Witch; It; Dina; The Rehearsal

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 07:00:20 GMT2018-01-14T07:00:20Z

A man in a white sheet goes cosmic, a Welsh-Zambian newcomer blazes a witchy trail, and a Stephen King adaptation provides scary comforts

When any film names itself plainly after a particular genre, chances are it’s not going to do exactly what it says on the tin. So it proves with A Ghost Story (Lionsgate, 12), David Lowery’s beautiful, confounding, time and space-bending tale of romantic devotion and longing – a casually inventive American indie that gradually belies its humble mumblecore beginnings. On the one hand, it delivers on the promise of its title to almost goofily literal effect: not only does leading man Casey Affleck play an actual ghost for the bulk of its running time, but one clad in the old-school white sheet of a million last-minute Halloween getups.

It’s a nod to tradition that only underlines how far the film spirals from expectations in all other senses. After outlining a brittle living-world romance between Affleck and Rooney Mara’s midwestern hipsters, the film first jolts us with the former’s sudden death, before springing into an aching study of mutual mourning and loneliness in the dead and living parties alike. (Aptly, it all looks like a forgotten, sun-faded family album: the corners of the frame bevelled throughout, the colours restfully muted.) Lest you start expecting Whoopi Goldberg and Unchained Melody from this setup, all that is a mere prelude to something more elastic and cosmic in scope: a visual and sonic ode to the relentless passage of time. If that sounds affectedly fey, trust in the clear, clean, transporting nature of Lowery’s film-making.

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With Scarlett Johansson front and centre, finally it's Black Widow's time to shine

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:00:46 GMT2018-01-17T06:00:46Z

Long-delayed plans for a female-led Marvel superhero movie following Wonder Woman’s triumph should deliver one of the studio’s biggest hitters

It’s not difficult to follow Hollywood’s logic in avoiding female-led superhero movies for most of the past 20 years. Whenever studios have taken risks on characters such as Catwoman (in 2004, with Halle Berry in the leathers) and Elektra (2005, with Jennifer Garner as the famed assassin), the box-office results have been paltry and the critical brickbats relentless.

Of course, when I say it is possible to follow the logic, this is not the same thing as saying such blinkered thinking is logical, which led us to a point where there were no major female-led comic-book flicks released in cinemas between 2005 and the debut of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman last year. For, by the same rationale, Hollywood ought to have banned all male-led sci-fi romps following the failure of Cowboys and Aliens to light up multiplexes in 2011. It did not, of course. When a female-led movie fails, the gender of the lead protagonist is immediately flagged up. When a male-led film heads straight for the DVD bargain bin, other aspects are highlighted.

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Coco: the Pixar film that defies Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 09:59:00 GMT2018-01-15T09:59:00Z

This latest animation finally ends cinema’s run of lazy south-of-the-border stereotypes

Related: Coco review – Pixar's vibrant, melancholic adventure is a refreshing return to form

In the movies, Mexico is a place where bad things happen. From the car bomb in Touch of Evil to the drug gangs with their scary dogs in No Country for Old Men, it’s where outlaws go to lie low and bozos go to party with impunity. It’s the place of Donald Trump’s “bad hombres” nightmares.

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‘Is whistleblowing worth prison or a life in exile?’: Edward Snowden talks to Daniel Ellsberg

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:34:16 GMT2018-01-16T12:34:16Z

The two most famous whistleblowers in modern history discuss Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Post, about Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers, the personal cost of what they did – and if they’d advise anybody to follow in their footsteps. Introduced by Ewen MacAskill

Daniel Ellsberg, the US whistleblower celebrated in Steven Spielberg’s new film, The Post, was called “the most dangerous man in America” by the Nixon administration in the 70s. More than 40 years later, the man he helped inspire, Edward Snowden, was called “the terrible traitor” by Donald Trump, as he called for Snowden’s execution.

The Guardian has brought the two together – the most famous whistleblower of the 20th century and the most famous of the 21st so far – to discuss leaks, press freedom and other issues raised in Spielberg’s film.

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I watched the crowdfunded Harry Potter spinoff. It was ... good?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 05:58:14 GMT2018-01-17T05:58:14Z

Fans raised €15,000 for the film, which has already been watched 7m times. Guardian Australia’s resident Harry Potter nerd gives her verdict

The Harry Potter fan community is a wonderful, slightly terrifying thing. It has devoted hundreds of thousands of words to fanfiction to fill in the gaps of the world JK Rowling created, in some cases doing a better job than official spinoffs like The Cursed Child (notoriously terrible exceptions notwithstanding).

Potter fans care deeply about their world. So it’s perhaps not surprising that a group of devoted Italian fans crowdfunded €15,000 to make a 52 minute-long film on Voldemort’s origin story.

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Gary Oldman and the decline of the working-class British actor

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 06:00:48 GMT2018-01-15T06:00:48Z

Oldman, who is tipped for Oscar glory for playing Churchill in Darkest Hour, is an exceptional product of a golden era of social mobility, and may be the last of his kind

There is no blue plaque on Hatcham Park Road, London SE14. The fact that Gary Oldman grew up on this tight run of what were once two-up-two-downs behind New Cross Gate station is officially unrecognised. The closest thing to a tribute around his former patch of south-east London is the continued presence of the Five Bells at the top of the road, the pub where his alcoholic father used to drink.

Maybe an Oscar will change that. Thirty-five years into his strange, lurching career, Oldman is now the star of Darkest Hour, in which he plays Winston Churchill, facing down Hitler and appeasers alike in the grim pinch of 1940. Under much latex, it is at once a performance of breathtaking subtlety and huge, juicy GIFs in waiting. In other words, it is very Gary Oldman. And it has made him favourite at miserly odds to win an Oscar for best actor.

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Meet Tommy Maitland, the legendary English TV host (AKA Mike Myers)

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:48:50 GMT2018-01-10T15:48:50Z

The actor has been wearing heavy prosthetics to front ABC’s The Gong Show since last June, but his name has never appeared in the credits – until now

Name: Tommy Maitland.

Age: 72.

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Slender Man trailer: a mythical monster worth the wait? Fat chance

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:35:20 GMT2018-01-04T12:35:20Z

Maggots, creaking doors, lots of head-jerking … Looks like all the scariest bits have been crammed into this taster for a dubious take on the urban legend

The rise of the Slender Man was an unfortunate period. An urban legend that rapidly spiralled out of control thanks to his supposed ability to prey on children and make them insane, the Slender Man ended up being cited as the motivating factor in any number of grisly, real events. He allegedly inspired stabbings, arson and an epidemic of suicide attempts on a South Dakota reservation. Most notoriously of all, two 12-year-old Wisconsin schoolgirls stabbed a classmate 19 times because they apparently wanted to become proxies for the Slender Man.

Thankfully, the Slender Man was merely a blip, a weird instance of transient digital folklore that caused plenty of damage and then vanished. Except now it’s back, because Sony Pictures has made a film about the spooky old Slender Man! That’s fun, right? Not inappropriate or exploitative or irresponsible or anything like that.

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From Alden Ehrenreich to Zazie Beetz: the 40 rising film stars of 2018

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 12:00:16 GMT2017-12-28T12:00:16Z

From the first black woman to win a comedy Emmy to the trans actor tipped for Oscars glory, here are the 40 names virtually assured of success in the coming 12 months

In September, Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, for the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, based on her own coming-out story. Her upbringing on the southside of Chicago also informs new TV drama The Chi, which she wrote, produced and stars in. Look out for her, too, in dystopian sci-fi Ready Player One.

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Mark Kermode’s best films of 2017

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 07:00:29 GMT2017-12-10T07:00:29Z

Cannibalism in France, a latterday Our Gang in Florida, three women in Tel Aviv, and – at last! – a Blade Runner sequel are among the year’s must-sees• Observer critics’ reviews of the year in fullTo get a sense of how many great movies played UK cinemas in 2017, just look at some of the outstanding titles that didn’t make my top 10 list. From Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (brilliantly adapted from Sarah Waters’s novel Fingersmith) to Anocha Suwichakornpong’s dazzling By the Time It Gets Dark, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (featuring an Oscar-nominated Isabelle Huppert) and Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius (with Sônia Braga in breathtaking form), there was a dizzying array of delights on offer. Even so-called mainstream cinema seemed particularly adventurous this year, ranging from Patty Jenkins’s rip-roaring Wonder Woman to Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming Dunkirk, Kathryn Bigelow’s gripping Detroit, Edgar Wright’s pulse-racing Baby Driver and Darren Aronofsky’s bewildering Mother!.Home-grown triumphs included William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth (which made a star of Florence Pugh) and Francis Lee’s passionate God’s Own Country, while Zambian-born, Welsh-raised Rungano Nyoni emerged as a major new talent with the uncategorisable I Am Not a Witch. My favourite Bollywood film of 2017 was Advait Chandan’s Secret Superstar, which cleverly interwove dark themes of domestic abuse into its musical fantasy narrative. There were also several Netflix-backed movies that cried out to be seen on the big screen, most notably Bong Joon-ho’s creature-feature Okja. Continue reading...[...]

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Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind review – loving documentary misses bigger picture

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 18:37:11 GMT2018-01-20T18:37:11Z

Marina Zenovich’s look at the late comedy legend is filled with genuine affection and remarkable archive footage, but there’s a frustrating hesitance to go deeper

Marina Zenovich has become a specialist in biographical documentaries, following her excellent films on Roman Polanski and Richard Pryor with this new film on the much-missed Robin Williams. The difference this time is that whereas her previous work allowed for significant critique of their subject, Zenovich appears to be coming only from a place of deep love and respect for Williams. This desire to pull punches in presenting his darker side beyond occasional lip service makes for a viewing experience where we often feel we aren’t getting the whole picture for fear of offending the recently deceased.

Related: Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot review – Van Sant's disability drama misses the mark

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Why Kelly + Victor is the one film you should watch this week - video review

Thu, 16 Jan 2014 07:00:00 GMT2014-01-16T07:00:00Z

Andrew Pulver recommends the haunting British romantic drama Kelly + Victor. The film, from first-time feature director Kieran Evans, follows the eponymous leads as they meet, become romantically involved and find darkness lurking in the bedroom. Pulver says the film is directed with real visual flair and played with 'unforced naturalness' by its two rising stars

Novelist Niall Griffiths meets the characters he created on set
• Kelly + Victor is out on DVD now Continue reading...Kelly + Victor Photograph: Hot Property FIlmsKelly + Victor Photograph: Hot Property FIlms

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The Broken Circle Breakdown: watch the trailer for Belgium's foreign language Oscar entry - video

Fri, 18 Oct 2013 10:07:00 GMT2013-10-18T10:07:00Z

Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) falls madly in love with Elise (Veerle Baetens) even though the two are polar opposites. The couple's love blossoms, but is challenged when their daughter falls critically ill. The Broken Circle Breakdown is selected as the Belgian entry for the best foreign language film at the Oscars 2014. The film will be released in the UK on 18 October Continue reading...The Broken Circle Breakdown chronicles the love of two opposites and the trials they are put through when their daughter falls seriously ill Photograph: Menuet Producties/ Topkapi FilmsThe Broken Circle Breakdown chronicles the love of two opposites and the trials they are put through when their daughter falls seriously ill Photograph: Menuet Producties/ Topkapi Films

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'Time is up for Woody Allen': are Dylan Farrow's allegations finally sticking?

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:15:15 GMT2018-01-19T06:15:15Z

The film-maker has been labeled ‘toxic’ as actors vow never to work with him again – but some diehard fans pledge to continue their support

When Dylan Farrow first shared her public account of sexual assault at the hands of her father Woody Allen, actors ignored her personal pleas for support. It was 2014, and celebrities brushed aside the child molestation allegations as unproven or a private family matter, often deeming it too risky to comment further.

In 2018, it appears the biggest risk is staying silent.

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Sundance 2018: Keira Knightley and the new wave of progressive costume drama

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 06:00:44 GMT2018-01-20T06:00:44Z

With Knightley starring as Colette – alongside Rupert Everett’s Oscar Wilde biopic and Daisy Ridley as Hamlet’s Ophelia – the period drama has never looked so interestingThe Sundance film festival has sold itself for 40 years as the champion of cutting-edge, radical independent cinema; not a natural habitat for the stiffly costumed and perfectly spoken habits of the literary-inflected costume drama. But this year a choice selection of such films have found their way to Sundance, at a time when the period film has gained considerable currency as an illuminator of contemporary social issues. The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett’s Oscar Wilde biopic about the writer’s final years will be joined at the festival by Ophelia, a reworking of the Hamlet story starring Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley, and Colette, a biopic of the transgressive French literary icon that stars costume-pic veteran Keira Knightley.All three can claim to be part of a new wave of socially conscious period films: The Happy Prince examines Wilde’s years in exile after his release from jail in 1897, as he struggled with impoverishment and social disgrace, before dying in 1900. Everett, who directs as well as stars as Wilde, said the writer was his “patron saint” and that Wilde “is a kind of Christ figure in a way for every LGBT person now on their journey”. An adaptation of the young-adult novel by American writer Lisa Klein, Ophelia puts the celebrated “mad” Shakespeare character centre stage, in a reimagining that will clearly strike a chord with the #MeToo generation. And Colette, which emerges from the same production stable as the groundbreaking lesbian romance Carol, focusses on the French author and sexual boundary-pusher, best known for the boarding school Claudine series as well as Gigi, the 1944 novel about a convention-defying young woman who is trained to be a “courtesan”. Continue reading...[...]

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Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot review – Van Sant's disability drama misses the mark

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 10:15:08 GMT2018-01-20T10:15:08Z

Joaquin Phoenix excels as paralysed cartoonist John Callaghan in Gus Van Sant’s biopic, which otherwise proves to be a patchy work by a major director

When Joaquin Phoenix starts collecting lifetime achievement awards at the end of his career, the image of him as John Callahan zooming down sidewalks in a motorized wheelchair with a Nicholson-esque smirk will surely make the highlight reel. It’s a great visual, one that director Gus Van Sant leans on it so many times that you wonder what he’s patching over.

This is indicative of the central problem with Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. There are plenty of great moments, but they jump out amid a jumble of strangely flat scenes. This doesn’t feel like the work of a great master; it’s a discordant brew that just doesn’t blend right.

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Juliet, Naked review - Rose Byrne's superb turn can't stop Nick Hornby tale falling flat

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 13:00:52 GMT2018-01-20T13:00:52Z

Byrne is tremendous as the bored woman who connects with Ethan Hawke’s forgotten indie rocker, but is marooned in a poorly-conceived film

It takes a lot of effort to take a film which stars Rose Byrne and still make it mediocre, but, by God, director Jesse Peretz is up to the challenge.

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The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: the full list

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:12:42 GMT2016-11-29T12:12:42Z

Our countdown of the Guardian film team’s favourite movies released in the UK is complete, topped by a strange and wonderful encounter

See the US cut of this list
More on the best culture of 2016


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Fast & Furious Live review – a stinker in both senses

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 23:57:00 GMT2018-01-19T23:57:00Z

With vehicles belching fumes at 7mph, car chase franchise fails to translate to stage

Outside of Jaws, it would be tough to think of a movie idea less suited to the theatrical treatment than the rubber-burning, tarmac-eating 2001 car chase spectacular The Fast and the Furious and its seven sequels. But the F&F franchise has overcome terrible dialogue, the loss in 2013 of one of its lead actors (Paul Walker, who died in a car crash) and the recent criticisms of another regular, Michelle Rodriguez, who promised to “say goodbye” to the franchise if it didn’t become more female-friendly. The challenge of reproducing white-knuckle driving stunts in a confined space must have seemed like small beer.

On the evidence of Fast & Furious Live, a £25m arena show featuring 11 stunt performers and around 20 vehicles, Universal Studios has overestimated the goodwill toward its hit franchise. Large sections of seating in the O2 were closed off; entire rows in the rest of it were empty. And no wonder. It would be nice to say the worst thing about the show was the exhaust fumes that fill the venue shortly after Vin Diesel has walked off stage following his introductory speech. But the show stinks in both senses.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review – darkly hilarious portrait of disenfranchised USA

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 06:00:21 GMT2018-01-12T06:00:21Z

Frances McDormand gives her best performance since Fargo as a plucky vigilante who confronts both the police and the tragedy of her daughter’s death by erecting roadside monuments to her grief and rage

Martin McDonagh’s fiercely written, stabbingly pleasurable tragicomedy stars a magnificent Frances McDormand; watching it is like having your funny bone struck repeatedly, expertly and very much too hard by a karate super-black-belt capable of bringing a rhino to its knees with a single punch behind the ear.

Related: Three Billboards director Martin McDonagh: 'Little girls don’t have a James Dean to emulate’

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Fuck For Forest - video review

Mon, 22 Apr 2013 11:19:00 GMT2013-04-22T11:19:00Z

In an excerpt from this week's Guardian Film Show Henry Barnes, Peter Bradshaw and Catherine Shoard review Michal Marczak's documentary about a gang of eco-activists who raise money to help conserve the rainforests by charging people to watch them have sex Continue reading...Still from Fuck for Forest Photograph: DogwoofStill from Fuck for Forest Photograph: Dogwoof

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