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Film | The Guardian



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



Published: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 13:12:05 GMT2017-12-18T13:12:05Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Hugh Jackman’s new film celebrates PT Barnum – but let’s not airbrush history

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 09:59:00 GMT2017-12-18T09:59:00Z

The actor has painted the protagonist of The Greatest Showman as a cheerleader for outsiders, but the 19th-century impresario found fame by exploiting circus ‘freaks’

Everyone loves a good circus movie, and everyone loves Hugh Jackman. His forthcoming PT Barnum musical, The Greatest Showman, looks to be a timely celebration of outsiderness and inclusivity, with its bearded women, tattooed men, little people and conjoined twins. “His belief was what makes you different makes you special,” Jackman has said of Barnum. “You can be discriminated for that but if you own up to it and we start to embrace everybody then it can be what makes life special and fantastic.”

Related: Hugh Jackman: five best moments

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The 50 top films of 2017 in the UK: No 5 Get Out

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 06:00:51 GMT2017-12-18T06:00:51Z

Jordan Peele’s sleeper hit was a note-perfect dismantling of white American liberalism – but it was also chilling, hilarious and relentlessly entertaining

  • See the US cut of this list
  • See the rest of the UK countdown
  • More on the best culture of 2017
  • It would be easy enough to make a case for Get Out’s place among the year’s best movies simply by reeling off a list of stats and facts. To date, Jordan Peele’s film has made over $175m at the US box office, a figure that puts it in the 15 highest-grossing films of 2017, ahead of the likes of Cars 3, War for the Planet of the Apes and the latest Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean films. Globally it has earned back around 56 times its production budget (as a point of comparison, Beauty and the Beast, the year’s runaway hit, has earned around 10 times its budget), and has become the highest-grossing film of all time made by a black director.

    Get Out currently holds a 99% rating on critical aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, making it the best reviewed film of the year. (Much has been made of Lady Bird’s 100% rating, but Get Out’s greater number of reviews means that it is still ahead in the end-of-year rankings.) To cap it all, the film looks likely to join a very select list of horror movies to earn a best picture nomination at the Oscars, with some predicting it could – nay, should – take home the top prize.

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    Minnie Driver: men like Matt Damon 'cannot understand what abuse is like'

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 20:04:17 GMT2017-12-17T20:04:17Z

    Actor calls former co-star’s remarks about ‘spectrum of behaviour’ in sexual misconduct ‘Orwellian’ and questions defence of disgraced comedian Louis CK

    The actor Minnie Driver has told the Guardian that men “simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level” and should not therefore attempt to differentiate or explain sexual misconduct against women.

    Related: Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill to spearhead fight against harassment in Hollywood

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    Edgar Wright: ‘With Baby Driver, my oldest idea became my biggest hit’

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 09:00:26 GMT2017-12-17T09:00:26Z

    The director on taking 22 years to make his passion project, Hollywood’s turbulent year, and finding Cornettos in far-off places

    Dorset-born director Edgar Wright, 43, made his name with cult Channel 4 sitcom Spaced before moving into film. He made the “Cornetto trilogy” with long-time collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, comprising Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. Since heading to Hollywood, Wright has directed Scott Pilgrim Vs the World and co-written The Adventures of Tintin. He scored his biggest box office hit so far with this year’s getaway car thriller Baby Driver, out now on DVD.

    Baby Driver was both a critical and commercial success, so I guess you’ve had a good year?
    I can’t complain. It was my passion project. It’s been a long and winding road to get here, but I’m extremely happy with how it came out. Funny how my oldest idea ended up being my biggest hit.

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    Star Wars: The Last Jedi review – may the eighth be with you

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 08:45:26 GMT2017-12-17T08:45:26Z

    Writer-director Rian Johnson delivers a fine mix of character, storytelling, explosions and something to think about on the bus home

    The core theme of the ongoing Star Wars narrative has always been one of balance – an equilibrium between light and dark, life and death. Balance is also the key to making a great Star Wars movie, with the directors of each new episode standing or falling on their ability to walk a tightrope between spectacle and substance, seriousness and absurdity – keeping both the fans and the first-timers happy.

    In this eighth episode in the official Star Wars saga, writer-director Rian Johnson (who made his name with such adventurous features as Brick and Looper) proves himself the master of the balancing act, keeping the warring forces of this intergalactic franchise in near-perfect harmony. Just as the film’s sound designers understand the tactical use of silence, so Johnson instinctively knows when to internalise or externalise the film’s multiple explosions – conjuring vast attack ships on fire and tiny individuals in torment with equal ease.

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    Peter Jackson: I blacklisted Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino under pressure from Weinstein

    Sat, 16 Dec 2017 14:05:45 GMT2017-12-16T14:05:45Z

    • Jackson said Miramax told him not to cast duo in Lord of the Rings series
    • Both actors refused Weinstein’s pressure to have physical relationships

    Film director Peter Jackson has admitted to blacklisting actors Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino in response to a “smear campaign” orchestrated by accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.

    Related: What Salma Hayek’s Weinstein story reveals about Hollywood power and pay

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    Star Wars: The Last Jedi scores second-biggest film opening ever

    Mon, 18 Dec 2017 11:52:53 GMT2017-12-18T11:52:53Z

    Rian Johnson’s sequel earns $450m in just three days, according to Disney, placing it behind predecessor The Force Awakens in the all-time charts

    The Last Jedi, the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise, rocketed to a debut of $220m at the North American box office, according to studio estimates on Sunday. That gives Rian Johnson’s film the second-best opening ever, slotting in behind only its predecessor, The Force Awakens.

    The Disney blockbuster became just the fourth film to open above $200m in the US. Aside from The Force Awakens ($248.8m), the others are The Avengers ($207.4m) and Jurassic World ($208.8m).

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    BBC to air 'definitive' Harvey Weinstein documentary

    Mon, 18 Dec 2017 11:48:06 GMT2017-12-18T11:48:06Z

    Documentary promises to reveal inside story of disgraced producer and origins of Hollywood’s ‘deep-rooted sexism’

    The BBC has commissioned a feature-length documentary about the disgraced Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein.

    The 90-minute film, which will be aired on BBC Two, promises fresh insights and revelations about the producer, who has been accused of sexual assault, rape, harassment and misconduct by dozens of women.

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    Dustin Hoffman denies fresh allegations of sexual misconduct

    Fri, 15 Dec 2017 02:04:49 GMT2017-12-15T02:04:49Z

    Two women accuse actor of sexual assault and a third alleges he exposed himself to her when she was a teenager

    New allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced against the actor Dustin Hoffman, with two women accusing him of sexual assault and a third alleging that he exposed himself to her in a hotel room when she was a teenager.

    The playwright Cori Thomas, a high school friend of Hoffman’s daughter Karina, claimed that Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room after a Sunday afternoon outing in Manhattan with the Hoffman family when she was 16 years old, according to an article published in Variety on Thursday.

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    The force is strong with British film industry as revenues soar

    Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:58:12 GMT2017-12-14T12:58:12Z

    Star Wars and James Bond franchise lead the charge out of the doldrums as film and TV pump £7.7bn into UK economy in 2016

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives in cinemas at a time when the British film industry is booming, according to official figures.

    Helped by generous tax reliefs, the film and TV industry contributed £7.7bn to the economy in 2016 – an 80% jump in five years.

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    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword review – Guy Ritchie's cheerful den of medieval dodginess

    Tue, 09 May 2017 18:03:54 GMT2017-05-09T18:03:54Z

    The Sherlock Holmes director has conjured up an entertaining rollercoaster that crashes through Arthurian legend, with only the occasional stall

    Guy Ritchie’s cheerfully ridiculous Arthur is a gonzo monarch, a death-metal warrior-king. Ritchie’s film is at all times over the top, crashing around its digital landscapes in all manner of beserkness, sometimes whooshing along, sometimes stuck in the odd narrative doldrum. But it is often surprisingly entertaining, and whatever clunkers he has delivered in the past, Ritchie again shows that a film-maker of his craft and energy commands attention, and part of his confidence in reviving King Arthur resides here in being so unselfconscious and unconcerned about the student canon that has gone before: Malory, Tennyson, Bresson, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle etc. Instead, Ritchie launches into an all-purpose tale of medieval brigands and scofflaws. It’s more of a laugh than Antoine Fuqua’s solemn take in 2004.

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    Absolutely Anything review - cheap and cheerless sci-fi comedy

    Thu, 13 Aug 2015 21:15:10 GMT2015-08-13T21:15:10Z

    Simon Pegg plays a teacher endowed with godlike powers and Robin Williams, in his final film role, supplies the voice of a dog. But it’s far from funny

    The second word of the title should be “appalling”. It sure isn’t the best way to mark the first anniversary of Robin Williams’s death: this was his very last screen credit, as the voice of an unfunny dog.

    There’s a blue-chip cast here, and it’s directed by Terry Jones; the Pythons have cameos, as creepy alien creatures. But this low-budget Brit film is just depressing, a sub-Douglas Adams sci-fi comedy which looks like mediocre kids’ TV with a dismal script and cheap’n’cheerless production values.

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    Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto review – 13 Cate Blanchetts in search of a meaning

    Tue, 08 Dec 2015 23:31:24 GMT2015-12-08T23:31:24Z

    Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
    The words of Futurists, Dadaists and Communists are stolen from the page and given new life by Blanchett playing a teacher, homeless man, mourner and mother in the Berlin-based artist’s latest multi-screen installation

    There’s a clinking of champagne glasses, and Cate Blanchett moves to address an affluent crowd. Reading from cue cards in her hand, she praises the great art vortex and describes the poor as detestable animals. “The past and future are the prostitutes nature has provided,” she adds. The crowd chuckles politely.

    The scene plays out on one of 13 screens dangling from the ceiling at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne for the world premiere of Julian Rosefeldt’s multi-channel video work Manifesto.

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    Whisky Galore! review – twee, comfy-cardigan film-making

    Sun, 26 Jun 2016 18:15:21 GMT2016-06-26T18:15:21Z

    Gillies MacKinnon’s remake of the classic postwar Ealing comedy is light on laughs and feels out of place in 2016

    The Edinburgh film festival kicked off with Tommy’s Honour, a gently old-fashioned yarn about a 19th-century Scottish golf champion that may have induced mild stirrings of patriotism. Now the festival is aiming to repeat the trick with a remake of Alexander Mackendrick’s fondly remembered 1949 Ealing comedy Whisky Galore!, an adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s novel that itself drew on real events.

    Like the original, it sets out to be a celebration of canny Scots outwitting humourless (and partly English) officialdom: a ship runs aground on a fictional Hebridean island during the second world war and the locals do their best to liberate some of the thousands of whisky bottles in its cargo. Cue cat-and-mouse shenanigans as the home guard try to reinforce wartime discipline and prevent imbibement above and beyond the quota level. Two weddings are simultaneously planned, involving the daughters of the leading whisky filcher.

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    The Fate of the Furious review - Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson ensure franchise still has va-va-vroom

    Mon, 10 Apr 2017 22:22:50 GMT2017-04-10T22:22:50Z

    The latest instalment of the car-based action thriller – also called Fast & Furious 8 – has lost none of its zip, and even gained Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and Helen Mirren

    The resurgence of Fast and the Furious from straight-to-DVD-destined three-wheeler to multiplex monolith has been one of the more unlikely cinematic successes of recent years. This was a franchise that, with 2006’s endlessly lampooned Tokyo Drift, looked less in need of a tune up than to be scavenged for parts and left up on bricks. Five instalments later and it’s as close to a bankable vehicle as it gets in Hollywood.

    Of course, cynical sorts might suggest that the untimely death of Paul Walker midway through filming of Fast and Furious 7 gave the series a sympathetic second-look from audiences that might have otherwise abandoned it. That though would underplay the strangely appealing alchemy of the franchise in the past several instalments, which has seen it evolve from a gruff drag race B-movie to something far more universal: a turbocharged mix of cars, quips and explosions, with just the merest hint of sentimentality to keep the date-movie crowd sweet.

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    A Quiet Passion review – Cynthia Nixon gives Emily Dickinson the soul of a poet

    Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:30:06 GMT2017-04-06T14:30:06Z

    Terence Davies’s elegant film benefits from a terrific performance by Nixon, who makes the reclusive 19th-century poet seem radiant with loneliness

    In this film, Cynthia Nixon has the face of someone with a secret. She plays the poet Emily Dickinson, and her face is fever-bright with irony and wit, then loneliness and fear. You can see how emotions are somehow stored in that face provisionally, being refined and saved for later – for the poetry she writes during the night. It is a face that changes as she grows older and moves along the spectrum of genius, publishing little or nothing, angry about the non-consolation of “posterity”. Terence Davies’s film and Nixon’s tremendous performance reminded me of WH Auden saying that Matthew Arnold “thrust his gift in prison till it died”. It isn’t Dickinson’s gift for poetry that gets thrust in prison but her gift for love, and not thrust by her, either. Her poems are periodically quoted by Nixon in voiceover and, with these shrewd selections, Davies may be playfully suggesting that their seductive rhythmic canter has a tiny technical echo with Longfellow, whom Emily professes to despise.

    Emma Bell plays the young Emily, who is agnostic and free-thinking, and bullied at a tyrannically puritan Christian school from which she is miraculously rescued by her warm and kindly family, to be welcomed into a protective and relatively liberal circle. She grows to adulthood – a process represented in a strangely eerie digital transformation of her photographic portrait – and is portrayed by Nixon from then on. Jennifer Ehle is excellent as her affectionate sister Vinnie; Duncan Duff is their adored brother Austin, a lawyer who marries Susan Gilbert (Jodhi May), a woman who confesses with sisterly intimacy to Emily how the conjugal duties are to be endured in exchange for the blessings of family. Austin grows to despise himself for shirking military service in the civil war, at the insistence of their kindly but stern father Edward, played by Keith Carradine.

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    The Lost City of Z review: Charlie Hunnam slow-burns down the Amazon, leaving Sienna Miller at home

    Mon, 13 Feb 2017 19:00:21 GMT2017-02-13T19:00:21Z

    James Gray’s introspective tale of adventurer Percival Fawcett’s obsession with a lost Amazonian city is a twist on the familiar Conrad jungle narrative

    James Gray brings a characteristically muted, slow-burn intensity of purpose to this odd, interesting period drama. It is based on the true story of Col Percival Fawcett, a British explorer and army officer of the last century who became obsessed with what he was convinced was a lost city he called “Z”, deep in the Amazon jungle: a vanished civilisation overlooked by the historical and archaeological establishment. For his screenplay, Gray has adapted the 2005 New Yorker article and subsequent book about Fawcett by David Grann. It’s a curious film in some ways, taking what could be an exciting epic adventure in the style of David Lean and turning it into something introspective, slightly morose and anti-climactic. Yet there is a persistent, beady-eyed intelligence at work.

    Gray’s film shows that Fawcett’s involvement in Amazon exploration has its origin in his being asked by the Royal Geographical Society to act as an honest broker in a border dispute between South American states about where national territories began and ended, which in turn arose from exploitation of local resources. But while there, Fawcett rises above commercial concerns and even the traditional thrill of imperial prestige. He finds fragments of pots and evidence of ruined sculpture, which triggers a lifetime’s obsession and a need to prove himself to the snobs and prigs who had looked down on him for being not quite top drawer. His Amazon journeys happen as storm clouds of war are gathering; the trips are in some ways driven by the same misplaced romantic need to prove masculinity and hardihood – but also a need to avoid and escape, to turn one’s back on the squalor of conflict.

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    Norman: the Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer review – Richard Gere ups his game in iffy film

    Mon, 05 Sep 2016 10:30:11 GMT2016-09-05T10:30:11Z

    The actor gives a strong performance as a desperate social climber in this fractured drama that works best as a flawed character study

    Quietly and usually without much of an audience, Richard Gere is having a bit of a moment. Unlike his similarly aged peers Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis, he’s rejected the senior stuntman route and instead made the decision to embrace his older self, taking on roles that are reliant on his age, often uncomfortably so. In Time Out of Mind, he played a homeless man struggling to reconnect with his estranged daughter, in The Benefactor he was an unhinged philanthropist making amends for his tortured past and, well, he even joined the cast of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

    Related: Wakefield review: two hours with Bryan Cranston in an attic is less fun than it sounds

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    Tommy's Honour review – well-pitched performances bring golf biopic up to par

    Fri, 24 Jun 2016 14:26:33 GMT2016-06-24T14:26:33Z

    This story of teenage golf sensation ‘Young’ Tom Morris is a decent rather than dazzling film to open the Edinburgh film festival, kept on course Peter Mullan and Jack Lowden as father and son

    Jason Connery – son of Sean – is still probably best known for his mid-1980s stint in the TV series Robin of Sherwood, but he’s been directing features for a few years now: mostly obscure sci-fi and thrillers, but this, his fifth, has got a modicum of wider interest to it. Tommy’s Honour is a conventional, old-fashioned, biopic of early golf champ “Young” Tom Morris, who remains the youngest ever winner of the British Open as a 17-year-old in 1868, and who succumbed to an appallingly early death just seven years later.

    Morris is portrayed with enthusiasm and no little charm by Jack Lowden, who channels a sort of bristling young lion challenge towards his father, “Old” Tom Morris, played with gravelly, bearded dignity by Peter Mullan. Old Tom is the deferential club professional, little more than a skilled servant to the top-hatted members, while Young Tom is a modern-style athlete who expects to be well rewarded for his accomplishments. Their combative relationship not only provides the meat of the film’s drama, but also allows the film-makers to get across some (fairly sledgehammer) points about the social mores of the time.

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    Life review – Jake Gyllenhaal hits the retro rockets for sub-Alien space horror

    Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:01:20 GMT2017-03-22T00:01:20Z

    Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds play members of a scientific team investigating material from Mars that turns out to contain a hostile life-form

    Like the anonymous phone call in a horror film that turns out to be coming from inside the house, Life is a sci-fi thriller about a contamination crisis: a crisis that goes on pretty much uninterruptedly for around an hour and three quarters. It’s a serviceable, watchable, determinedly unoriginal film starring Jake Gyllenhaal about a parasite-predator in a spaceship, a creature which can only survive by feeding off a pre-existing host. The expressions on the spacepersons’ faces here may give a guide to the feelings of Ridley Scott and everyone involved with the 1979 classic Alien when they see it. Life is indebted to Alien, to say the least, although its final, perfunctory hint of a conspiracy doesn’t approach Alien’s powerful satirical pessimism.

    Related: Jake Gyllenhaal to play anarchist joining the fight against Isis

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    Power Rangers review – colour-coded superpowers revealed in goofy origins story

    Tue, 21 Mar 2017 23:12:30 GMT2017-03-21T23:12:30Z

    It may be the most unlikely and least welcome superhero movie of the year – or even the decade – but this reboot actually benefits from lowered expectations

    You can rationalise and contextualise and say that the Marvel effect means any Lycra-clad saviour with an iota of brand recognition is now apt for revival in some format. Once the lights dim, however, nothing can prepare you for the ontological strangeness of watching a Power Rangers movie in 2017. Especially one that is – forgive me if my voice rises an octave here – not entirely terrible? That is, in fact, basically harmless, if you don’t object to feeding your kids pop-cultural leftovers, with odd flickers of charm besides? In an age of hype, some films are bound to benefit from massively reduced expectations; this would be one of them.

    Related: Power Rangers features first gay screen superhero

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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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    Armando Iannucci on The Death of Stalin, Donald Trump and disappearing democracy – video interview

    Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:39:06 GMT2017-10-19T10:39:06Z

    Backstabbing and deceit are the order of the day in the Veep creator’s historical satire, which stars Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Simon Russell Beale and Jason Isaacs as underlings vying for power in the wake of the Soviet dictator’s death. Its creator and cast explain why their film resonates in our current political climate and the parallels between Trump and Stalin

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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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    Size matters not: the plucky films going up against The Last Jedi

    Thu, 07 Dec 2017 12:34:56 GMT2017-12-07T12:34:56Z

    Eight other films are being released in the UK in the same week as the new Star Wars movie. Who thought that was a good idea?

    If you thought Luke Skywalker’s victory over the empire was the most thrilling tale of against-the-odds rebellion in the universe, then you haven’t been paying attention to the cinema listings for the weekend of 15 December. That’s when The Last Jedi, AKA Star Wars: Episode VIII, opens at UK cinemas, along with eight films you’ve probably never heard of. “When you’ve got a behemoth like that, a lot of films will run terrified,” says Andreas Wiseman, deputy editor of Screen International. “They did when The Force Awakens came out in 2015. But it’s interesting to see that this time they’re not quite as terrified.”

    Indeed, a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away etc), a film like the Chinese coming-of-age drama Youth or the meditative, Willem Dafoe-narrated documentary Mountain (both out on 15 December) would have been more or less assured a small but bankable audience on screens booked in the UK’s arthouse cinemas. “We never show the Star Wars or the Bond films because that’s not really what we’re about,” says Allison Gardner, programme director at Glasgow Film Theatre. “It’s nothing to do with whether I think these films are quality or not, but they’re on everywhere. Our job is to give people a wider choice.” They will instead be showing Song of Granite, an Irish folk-singer biopic, and Prince of Nothingwood, a documentary about Afghanistan’s most prolific film actor-producer, the swashbuckling Salim Shaheen. And they’ll have their annual festive classic screenings with mulled wine, mince pies and hankies: “We take probably as much on It’s a Wonderful Life as some of the smaller commercial cinemas do on Star Wars.”

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    50 Shades of Grey to Brokeback Mountain: are these really the most boring films ever?

    Thu, 07 Dec 2017 08:57:28 GMT2017-12-07T08:57:28Z

    Showgirls? The Blair Witch Project? And not a Bertolucci film in sight? The public’s judgment has hit a new low with this list of cinematic snorefests

    The British public, wrong as they are about everything, have just outdone themselves. A survey has been published – a survey to promote a new type of washing machine, but still – listing the 20 most boring films of all time. And, lord, it is a mess. Let’s begin by showing you which films the public chose:

    1. 50 Shades of Grey
    2. The Blair Witch Project
    3. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
    4. Brokeback Mountain
    5. Transformers
    6. The Postman
    7. The Artist
    8. Australia
    9. Vanilla Sky
    10. Seven Years in Tibet
    11. Batman and Robin
    12. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    13. The Matrix Revolutions
    14. Showgirls
    15. Far and Away
    16. The Tree of Life
    17. Noah
    18. Meet Joe Black
    19. Lincoln
    20. Cleopatra

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    Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water is a much-needed ode to the 'other'

    Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:00:12 GMT2017-11-30T12:00:12Z

    The acclaimed director’s Oscar-buzzed fantasy brings together a group of people sidelined by society and their quest makes for unexpected resonance in 2017

    “Speaks to the moment” is a phrase film journalists have found themselves writing a lot in 2017, whether discussing the blockbuster patriarchy-smashing of Wonder Woman, the socially needling sleeper success of Get Out or the corrosive middle-American pressure-cooker of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. As many column inches have been spilled on such films’ individual merits as on what they mean: how they reflect current society, and what the public’s response reflects back at them. When even a film as outwardly feathery and innocuous as Paddington 2 has inspired thinkpieces about its anti-Brexit subtext, you know we’ve hit a tough time for pure escapism.

    Related: The Shape of Water review – Guillermo del Toro's fantasy has monster-sized heart

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    Is Kris Kristofferson's wedding-planning dog drama already the worst movie of 2018?

    Wed, 22 Nov 2017 07:39:27 GMT2017-11-22T07:39:27Z

    Best Friend From Heaven sees Kristofferson voice a dead pooch sent back to earth to arrange his owner’s nuptials. It’s a new low for the ‘talking animals’ genre

    You would think that, by now, people would have stopped making films about talking animals. You would think that, after witnessing the monstrosities that were Andy the Talking Hedgehog, A Talking Cat!?! and Kevin Spacey’s Nine Lives, producers would run a giddy mile from such a flat-out dismal genre.

    And yet.

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    Would ‘intimacy directors’ make shooting sex scenes safer?

    Tue, 21 Nov 2017 16:45:35 GMT2017-11-21T16:45:35Z

    The film, theatre and TV industries have problems with sexual abuse, but a new initiative seeks to make nude scenes a more comfortable experience for actors

    It is now well-established that the film, theatre and TV worlds have serious problems with sexual assault and harassment. There are, of course, predators and abuses of power in every industry, but performers (as well as crew members) are in a business where boundaries are blurred in the name of art; kissing and intimately touching virtual strangers are often a legitimate part of the job. This week, the Stage reported that Ita O’Brien, a movement director, and her agents Chris Carey and Sam Dodd, had drawn up a set of guidelines to protect actors, from the audition stage to being on set.

    These include not asking for nudity or simulated sex at auditions, making sure everyone knows what is expected in terms of sex scenes, having a minimal number of people on set during such scenes, and small but significant things, such as having dressing gowns to hand. O’Brien also recommends employing an “intimacy director” to monitor sex scenes and ensure that people adhere to the safeguarding measures. “Invariably, whenever there isn’t transparency, whenever everybody isn’t in agreement and knows what’s going on, that’s when actors are left vulnerable,” she said.

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    Other stories: why now is the time for a new movie canon – chosen by women

    Fri, 03 Nov 2017 06:00:16 GMT2017-11-03T06:00:16Z

    From film schools to DVD shelves, movies considered to be classics are largely made by men. Now, with Hollywood in turmoil, we asked women in film to nominate the movies that should be hailed alongside Scorsese and Spielberg

    For as long as most of us have been around, the canon – those books, plays, films and TV series anointed as the most important of their kind – has been defined by a singular commonality: most of it was created by white men. When I entered graduate school in theatre management and producing in the 1990s, we were required to read a series of books entitled Famous American Plays of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s etc. Everything I was assigned, except for two plays – Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding and Lillian Hellman’s The Autumn Garden – was by men.

    Sadly, it hasn’t changed over the last couple of decades. When I spoke to female film students at the University of California, Los Angeles a couple of years ago, they said the films on their curriculum were virtually all by white men. These students were made to believe, through the films they studied, that women – our experiences, thoughts, decisions, passions and ideas – don’t rate. Women’s lives are pushed from centre stage into a corner. It is pretty full in the corner, because half the world is stuck there.

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    When should cinemas turn on the lights at the end of a film?

    Sun, 05 Nov 2017 17:00:23 GMT2017-11-05T17:00:23Z

    The final scene of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name plays while the credits roll – prompting audiences to object to the house lights being turned on. So how do theatres decide when to flick the switch?

    Italian film-maker Luca Guadagnino’s new coming-of-age drama Call Me by Your Name has received ecstatic reviews, but not every cinemagoer has emerged from the movie content. According to reports on social media, branches of Vue and Odeon chose to raise the house lights as the credits rolled – even though they roll over the film’s moving final scene.

    The scene may not be especially crucial to the plot, but it contains the last beats of an awards-worthy turn by its young star, Timothée Chalamet. So is flicking the light-switch the senseless act of a multiplex with no appreciation for the subtlety of arthouse cinema? Actually, no, says Dave Norris, a former chief projectionist at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, London.

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    Thor: Ragnarok – is it really Marvel's best movie yet? Discuss with spoilers

    Fri, 27 Oct 2017 05:00:20 GMT2017-10-27T05:00:20Z

    It’s rated 99% on Rotten Tomatoes – but does the humour make up for the lack of emotional heft, Cate Blanchett’s tiny screen time, plotholes and a shorn hero?

    • This article contains spoilers

    The Thor movies have always been something of a mixed bag. Kenneth Branagh’s cultured introduction to the Norse deity, 2011’s Thor, brilliantly imagined the comic-book saga as heroic fantasy in space, one part Tolkien to two parts Gene Roddenberry, with a dash of cod-Shakespearean pomp for good measure. Then 2013’s Thor: The Dark World rather ruined it all with a muddled tale of cosmic dark elves that to this day remains an entirely missable entry in the Marvel canon. Now we have Thor: Ragnarok, billed by its director Taika Waititi as a reinvention of the son of Odin, and currently the recipient of a staggering 99% “fresh” rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

    Is this latest trip to Asgard really the best Marvel movie so far? Does the movie live up to Waititi’s own hype? And will you ever forgive him for ruining Chris Hemsworth’s gorgeous mug? Here’s your chance to weigh in on the film’s key talking points.

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    How failed racial politics sink George Clooney's Suburbicon

    Fri, 27 Oct 2017 11:00:28 GMT2017-10-27T11:00:28Z

    The actor-director’s well-intentioned dark comedy, starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, hits a pothole with a curiously misplaced subplot about racism in the 50s

    A number of bloodied dead bodies pile up in the course of George Clooney’s new film Suburbicon, but they’re not the primary source of the sour smell emanating from this manic, distracted and, let it be said, notably white black comedy. If you were to briefly summarise the premise of the film – which Joel and Ethan Coen wrote in 1986 before setting it aside, which should perhaps be a red flag – you’d principally describe the woes of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), a middle-class schlub in 1950s suburbia who gets violently entangled with the underworld after mob goons kill his disabled wife (Julianne Moore). Or so it seems: this being a pastel-noir Coenland of shady truths and shadier motives, the full picture is more complicated than that.

    Related: Suburbicon review – George Clooney's picket-fence creepfest grows up to be Fargo's idiot child

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    'If there's an ocean, maybe there's surf': Bruce Brown on making The Endless Summer

    Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:26:40 GMT2017-12-13T16:26:40Z

    In one of the last interviews he gave before his death this week, Bruce Brown talks about chasing summer and surf around the globe, turning a $50,000 gamble into a $33m cult classic

    The first Hollywood movies about surfing like Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo gave the sport a bad rep. They made us out to be a bunch of idiots having food fights. We wanted to show how it really was: a legitimate sport. In 1955, while I was doing military service in Hawaii, I started filming my buddies on the waves. By the early 60s, my surf films were giving me a regular income, and I decided to take more time over one.

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    Adam Driver: ‘Compared with the military, acting isn't that difficult’

    Sat, 09 Dec 2017 09:00:03 GMT2017-12-09T09:00:03Z

    The Star Wars actor on leaving the Marines, filming nude scenes with Lena Dunham and getting in touch with his dark side

    Adam Driver has a reputation for being a serious young man, which is partly a matter of attitude and partly, I suspect, to do with some aspect of his physiognomy: he has a large head and outsize features that somehow combine to give an impression of gravity. Before the photoshoot, he let it be known that he finds it uncomfortable to have a journalist (me) in his sightline on set, the kind of specification one might expect of a particularly precious Hollywood star. But this turns out to be misleading. Driver’s discomfort is with the entire celebrity aspect of his job, which makes talking about his role in the latest Star Wars trilogy somewhat tricky. I don’t even know where to start with The Last Jedi, I say, as we settle down after the shoot, and Driver grins, then looks gloomy. “Me, neither,” he says.

    We are in downtown Manhattan, a few miles from Driver’s Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood (Lena Dunham lives there, too) and a more upscale part of Brooklyn than the grungy Greenpoint location of Girls. That show, the sixth and final season of which ran on HBO earlier this year, was watched by relatively modest numbers, but has had an outsized influence on the culture. Barely a day goes by without Dunham being mentioned in a blogpost somewhere, and it gave Driver, who played her on-off boyfriend, the kind of career launch twentysomething actors can only dream of. At 34, not only does he have his second go as Kylo Ren in the latest Star Wars movie, but he has just shot The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, directed by Terry Gilliam, was in the Steven Soderbergh film Logan Lucky and played the title role in the Jim Jarmusch movie Paterson. Pretty good, I’d say, although I assume the two Star Wars films – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – are the real life-changer.

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    Jodie Foster: ‘I make movies to figure out who I am’

    Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:32 GMT2017-12-10T09:00:32Z

    Directing a new Black Mirror film gives Jodie Foster the chance to look back at her own upbringing. The Hollywood titan talks to Tim Adams

    Last week Charlie Brooker was recalling for me the moment he learned Jodie Foster would direct an episode of Black Mirror, his inspired series of one-off dramas about the ways our gadgets are colonising the idea of “human”. Brooker had written a script for the new series in which a neurotic single mother uses technology to spy on her young daughter and keep her safe from the world. The Netflix people suggested they tried the script out on the two-time Oscar-winning actor.

    Brooker has had considerable global success with Black Mirror but still, the thought of working with Foster, “an actual icon”, made him come over, he says, “all British and starstruck”. He turned to his co-showrunner for the series, Annabel Jones. “We were like: ‘You’re kidding, right? You are going to try Jodie bloody Foster? Yeah right, of course you are.’”

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    Miranda Richardson: ‘The Weinstein offices reeked of after-hours sex’

    Fri, 08 Dec 2017 06:00:34 GMT2017-12-08T06:00:34Z

    The Oscar-nominated actor is about to star in both TV comedy-drama Girlfriends, and alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger, a film about the Boston Marathon bombing. She talks about working with Weinstein and why she’d love to return to SNL

    ‘I’m not known as a commercial babe,” says Miranda Richardson, matter-of-factly. “But actually I thought, well, why the hell not do this for a minute, and see if I can hack it?” Richardson is talking about her upcoming primetime ITV comedy-drama Girlfriends, the latest from Kay Mellor, which follows three lifelong friends as they navigate their 50s together. But we’re also here to talk about Stronger, a weighty real-life drama about Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombings. Richardson is a tour de force as Jeff’s mother, Patty, a meddling, needy drunk who struggles to let go of her son. The film is picking up some Oscar buzz.

    “Well, everybody’s doing everything now, as we know,” she shrugs. “I’ve always thought of work like that. And because we don’t have a thriving movie industry here, you’ve got to move about a bit.” To say Richardson, 59, has moved about a bit is an understatement. She’s one of the most acclaimed British actors of the past four decades, with extraordinary range. She has been nominated for an Oscar, won two Golden Globes, been in Hollywood blockbusters, daft-as-a-brush British sitcoms, indie films, prestige TV, an avalanche of theatre, hosted Saturday Night Live and found time in between to learn how to train birds of prey, for which she has had a lifelong love.

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    SNL’s Kate McKinnon on playing Theresa May: ‘There are lots of things about her I find endearing’

    Fri, 08 Dec 2017 06:00:34 GMT2017-12-08T06:00:34Z

    The Ghostbusters star’s turn as Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live made her one of 2016’s breakout stars. Her latest impression? A mischievous take on the PM

    Hi Kate. I’m also Kate.
    Oh, Kates are the best Kates, aren’t they?

    I just watched your new film, Ferdinand, in which you play a scrappy goat (1). How long did it take you to perfect your goat scream?
    It sunk in in about a day. There’s one [video] in particular, a compilation of the best goat screams, and I have seen it upwards of 75 times. I still cry with laughter every time I watch it. It might be the funniest thing in the entire world.

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    Thelma Schoonmaker on the Technicolor magic of A Matter of Life and Death

    Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:18:18 GMT2017-12-05T15:18:18Z

    Powell and Pressburger’s 1946 film, about a man who has to convince the angels that he deserves to remain on Earth, has a special place in the heart of Scorsese’s Oscar-winning editor – not least because she married its director

    One of the most romantic movies ever made began its life in a government office. In 1945, the Ministry of Information suggested to Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who had recently scored a success with A Canterbury Tale, that they might make a film to soothe fractious Anglo-American relations. Although Brits and GIs fought alongside each other in the war, American soldiers stationed in the UK had gained the unwelcome reputation of being “oversexed, overpaid and over here”.

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    Anne Reid: 'Why am I cast as dreadful mothers? I’m adorable!’

    Thu, 09 Nov 2017 17:48:57 GMT2017-11-09T17:48:57Z

    She’s played Valerie Tatlock in Coronation Street and Daniel Craig’s lover in The Mother, and now stars in the thriller Kaleidoscope. Anne Reid talks to Rebecca Nicholson about awards, Victoria Wood and why it’s good to show older people falling in love on screen

    ‘What can I tell you without giving the whole plot away? That’s the problem,” smiles Anne Reid. We’re meeting to talk about Kaleidoscope, a knotty, taut and claustrophobic thriller starring Reid and Toby Jones, directed by his brother, Rupert Jones. It’s the kind of brilliantly insidious film that reveals its secrets slowly and cleverly. It’s far better to see it knowing absolutely nothing at all about it. Which, of course, makes it very difficult to talk about. “Well, let’s not tell people then,” Reid decides, firmly. “I play the mother of Toby Jones. It was a great part. She’s dreadful. Why do people keep casting me as dreadful mothers? I’m adorable! But I seem to be terribly good at playing dreadful mothers.”

    At 82, Reid is a bona fide legend of stage and screen, though she still refers to herself as “a jobbing actress. I’ve accepted stuff even if it’s a few lines, because I think it’s better to be seen.” For the past few years, Reid has been performing her own cabaret show, telling stories from her life along with her favourite musical numbers, so it should come as no surprise that she is fabulously entertaining company – warm, charming, and always ready with an anecdote. “Have you seen the film?” she asks. I tell her I have. “Where did you get it from?” They sent me a stream. “A stream! I want to have a stream!” she says. There’s a perfect comic pause. “What’s a stream?”

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    UK box office suffers worst week in years as The Last Jedi looms

    Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:37:30 GMT2017-12-12T15:37:30Z

    Snowy weather and the upcoming release of the new Star Wars film created a perfect storm for the UK top 10, but things were rosier for Jumanji, Paddington 2 and The Disaster Artist

    A perfect storm of factors combined to depress UK box office to its worst weekend in recent years. Most significantly, the arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi this Thursday (14 December) means that distributors gave the 8 December date a wide berth, not wanting to release a major film and then have it knocked off screens six days later. But the snowy weather at the weekend across much of the UK cannot have helped, with families preferring sledging activities to daytime cinema outings, and transport disrupted. Finally, a couple of more commercially promising titles that were available to audiences – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Fox animation Ferdinand – were still at the preview stage, and so the box office these two films generated has not been included in the weekend chart by data gatherer comScore. These takings will be declared after the films’ official release.

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    The Prince of Nothingwood review – magical and intrepid

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 06:59:24 GMT2017-12-17T06:59:24Z

    Afghanistan’s most prolific director literally puts his life on the line to make movies, as seen in this riveting and hilarious documentary

    In the current release The Disaster Artist, James Franco celebrates the tale of Tommy Wiseau, who realised his dream of getting a movie made when all the odds were apparently against him. Yet Wiseau made his 2003 “disasterpiece” The Room with seemingly endless financial resources, in the heart of Hollywood, where all the perks and luxuries of modern cinema were available to him and his crew. Would he have been able to pull it off if he’d been shooting on the fly in war-torn surroundings with nothing but his belief in the power of B-movies to see him through?

    Meet Salim Shaheen, the “most popular and prolific actor-director-producer in Afghanistan” (which he laughingly calls “Nothingwood!”), who has made and distributed more than a hundred movies, working on shoestring budgets, undeterred by rocket attacks, riots or religious fundamentalism. As he embarked on his 111th feature (or perhaps 114th – he seems to be making at least four films simultaneously), first-time feature director Sonia Kronlund decided to join him, travelling from Kabul to Bamiyan to see if she had “missed something” in her previous reports from the region for French public radio and TV. How could a land so riven with strife have provided the backdrop for such prolific creativity?

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    DVD reviews: Dunkirk; Félicité, Wormwood; The Apartment

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 08:00:25 GMT2017-12-17T08:00:25Z

    Dunkirk spirit falters on the home front, Alain Gomis brings the streets of Kinshasa to sensual life, and a Billy Wilder classic sparkles on 4K

    Cannily timed, I presume, to catch the weary eye of the desperate last-minute Christmas shopper wondering what they can get their dad who expressly said he didn’t want anything, but will act mortally aggrieved if you listen to him, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (Warner Bros, 12) jackboot-stomps on to DVD shelves tomorrow. It’s a summer blockbuster that adapts quite well to yuletide event-viewing status, and not just because of its chilly, windblown atmospherics. There’s plainly a warming, unifying intent to its multi-angled breakdown of the Dunkirk evacuation, a feelgood sensibility laced through its solemn, storm-blue elegy, that’ll draw many a familial crowd to fireside viewings in the final week of the year.

    It’s hard to deny, however, that Nolan’s film, almost overwhelmingly big and bruising on the Imax canvas, loses a fair bit of its mojo in the transition to TV screens. The muscular, immaculate beauty of Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, its gunmetal metallics spiked by orange-blue flame, is still in evidence, but the scale of its compositions no longer stretch and challenge the eye. Hans Zimmer’s marvellous, louring score is still impressive, but no longer rings in the ears with caught-in-the-crossfire immediacy. It still plays, then, as a handsome, stirring, intricately conceived battle study, missing the sensory extravagance that, in cinemas, outweighed some scripted flaws. The slenderness of its characterisation and performances (save for a constrained but soulful Tom Hardy) stands out more glaringly, as do its narrow, parochial politics. Nolan’s decision to foreground the British military experience above all else, rendering collaborators secondary and the enemy literally unseen, seems an ungenerous one. It remains a grand, symphonic feat of film-making, marshalled by a man at the peak of his formal powers. Its human errors just loom a little larger now.

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    Avengers: Infinity War – which superheroes are about to meet their doom?

    Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:00:13 GMT2017-12-05T13:00:13Z

    The latest episode in the Marvel Cinematic Universe saga will feature a vast array of costumed crime fighters. It’s time to edge some of them out of the picture

    It’s easy to forget, almost a decade into the phenomenally successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), that there was a time when studio bigwigs worried about audience recognition. Next year’s Avengers: Infinity War will have a roster of superheroes so populous that it’s easy to imagine lesser-known costumed crime fighters (we’re talking about you, Hawkeye and Falcon) struggling to squeeze into even the widest of widescreen shots. It’s going to be crowded.

    And yet it’s unlikely the studio will bother to enlighten those viewers who have watched only a handful of the saga’s 18 (so far) episodes. And, while it’s possible to pity the fool who goes into Avengers: Infinity War cold (“Why is a talking space badger bantering with a moody teenage tree monster?”), it’s not as if the other movies aren’t out there for the uninitiated to dive into at their leisure.

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    The Smurfette Principle: why can’t Hollywood accept gender equality?

    Mon, 11 Dec 2017 09:00:00 GMT2017-12-11T09:00:00Z

    As Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and It show, the problematic trope of token girls in all-male gangs endures

    It has been a good year for women in cinema in many ways, with a high count of quality female-made and female-led movies, and the removal of an echelon of sexual predators from the industry. But by some metrics, there’s still a way to go. In particular, the Smurfette Principle. The phrase was coined back in 1991 by US writer Katha Pollitt, who bemoaned the number of films and TV programmes that featured a group with one lone female. Not just The Smurfs but also The Muppets, Winnie The Pooh, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so forth. “The message is clear,” she wrote, “... boys are central, girls peripheral.”

    Related: Wonder Woman review – glass ceiling still intact as Gal Gadot reduced to weaponised Smurfette

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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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    French Aids drama BPM shows Hollywood how to capture gay history

    Wed, 18 Oct 2017 11:00:01 GMT2017-10-18T11:00:01Z

    The Oscar-buzzed film is refreshingly queer, filled with an authenticity that sanitised disappointments such as Dallas Buyers Club and Stonewall still fail to include

    It has been a landmark year for LGBT cinema. From Moonlight’s Oscar victory to the triumphant Sundance premieres of gay romances God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name; from the transgender breakthrough of Chile’s A Fantastic Woman to the mainstream politicking of Battle of the Sexes, we’re seeing a wider-than-ever array of approaches to sexuality on film, no longer confined to the arthouse fringe.

    Related: After the Moonlight fades: what's next for LGBT cinema

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    Carry on up the Kremlin: how The Death of Stalin plays Russian roulette with the truth

    Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:00:00 GMT2017-10-18T05:00:00Z

    Armando Iannucci’s new film is a romp through some of the darkest days of the 20th century. But, asks one historian, is farce really the best way to understand the dictator’s murderous regime – or its legacy in Russia today?

    My first memory of the outside world was watching my parents as they heard an announcement on the radio that Joseph Stalin was dead. The news was greeted not with relish but with awe and apprehension. The Soviet dictator was a colossal figure in the mid-20th century, even in the west. His death on 5 March 1953 was a reference point not just for the Soviet people but for the wider world. Now it is history.

    That is until now. With The Death of Stalin, director Armando Iannucci has brought the story surrounding the dictator’s last hours and the political scramble among his potential successors to a modern audience. The subject is a strange choice. Where the suicide of Hitler in the bunker has a squalid drama, captured effectively in the 2004 film Downfall, the death of Stalin has to have the drama squeezed out of it, drop by drop. He did not take his own life nor, as far as the evidence suggests, did anyone else. He died of natural causes at his dacha outside Moscow, surrounded by his fearful and sycophantic court.

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    You ain’t heard nothin’ yet: the moment Al Jolson sounded the birth of the talkies

    Sat, 07 Oct 2017 23:05:34 GMT2017-10-07T23:05:34Z

    Ninety years ago, in October 1927, Warner Bros was facing ruin. It staked its future on a film called The Jazz Singer – and turned an entire industry upside down

    It was just a short scene in a movie, in which a diminutive actor utters a few unscripted words to the orchestra leader, reciting a line that went down in history: “Wait a minute … you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.” But it was a scene that changed the entertainment world and heralded the dramatic arrival of sound to the movies.

    Never again would audiences have to read “titles” to explain the action or translate the sweet nothings of lovers. In the space of just over an hour, the silent film was dead.

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    The Room: the fall and rise of the men behind the 'Citizen Kane of bad movies'

    Mon, 02 Oct 2017 05:00:22 GMT2017-10-02T05:00:22Z

    Derided as the worst film ever made, The Room has become a cult classic with a James Franco film about it on the way. Now its creators Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero are back with a surreal thriller. It can’t be as bad, can it?

    “What’s your favourite film?” asks a member of the audience. “Apocalypse Now,” says the director. “Back to the Future,” says one of the lead actors. Then his co-star – who has shoulder-length dyed black hair, an eastern European accent and is wearing sunglasses indoors, at night – answers: “Orson Welles.”

    This isn’t the first time that Tommy Wiseau has appeared to miss the point. He financed, wrote, directed, executive-produced and starred in what is quite possibly the worst feature film ever made; a movie so cringe-inducingly terrible that the story behind its production is now being told in The Disaster Artist, a new Hollywood biopic directed by and starring James Franco.

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    Pixel wizards: meet the unsung heroes bringing your favourite films to life

    Mon, 25 Sep 2017 08:42:01 GMT2017-09-25T08:42:01Z

    Forget directors, the real stars behind the likes of The Jungle Book and Star Wars are the VFX artists who build their digital worlds. We report from the cutting edge festival offering a glimpse into the secret life of cinema

    “So I need to know: Are you ready to be transformed?” shouts Scott Ross to the 900-strong crowd in the auditorium. They respond with raucous applause. To them, Ross is a legend. He ran George Lucas’s visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in the 1980s, then founded his own Oscar-winning effects firm with James Cameron. His audience is largely made up of young people looking to follow in his footsteps: animators, video game designers, concept artists, illustrators and effects specialists. These are the people who build the digital worlds where we’re increasingly spending our leisure time – in movies, games, and virtual reality. They are transforming culture and they’ve come here to transform themselves, even if they’re not exactly sure what into.

    Welcome to Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn. If the name sounds odd, that seems to be the idea. It takes place in Troia, Portugal, an idyllic peninsula just south of Lisbon. Its organisers describe it as “Burning Man meets TED Talks”, though it’s equally a spiritual retreat. Students and young professionals come here from across the world, as do big industry names looking to hire new talent, make connections and softly promote their brands – brands such as Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar, Google, Oculus (the Facebook-owned VR company), King (the makers of Candy Crush Saga) and Unity (makers of the pre-eminent game engine).

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    From Queen Victoria to Jesus Christ: the figures who most fascinate filmmakers

    Sun, 24 Sep 2017 16:00:49 GMT2017-09-24T16:00:49Z

    Thanks to Judi Dench, Victoria now reigns supreme as the most popular character ever in British films. But who are the pretenders to her throne?

    Queen Victoria has replaced Sherlock Homes as the most featured character on British screens. According to a study by the British Film Institute, the monarch now is jointly tied with James Bond, on 25 films – thanks to Judi Dench’s turn in Victoria and Abdul. But which other enduring characters have appeared multiple times in the movies around the world?

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    'All the grace of a drunk ewok': readers review Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Mon, 18 Dec 2017 10:11:25 GMT2017-12-18T10:11:25Z

    We asked fans to give their verdicts on episode eight of the Star Wars saga. From raving reviews to bitter disappointment, here’s what some of you said

    SPOILER WARNING: There is discussion of the film’s content in the following review, so proceed with caution

    After much anticipation Star Wars: The Last Jedi is finally here. We asked you to review the latest instalment – so did it live up to your expectations? Were all your questions answered? Here’s what you told us.

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    High-concept satire Downsizing is dwarfed by its white saviour narrative

    Mon, 18 Dec 2017 12:00:02 GMT2017-12-18T12:00:02Z

    Alexander Payne’s ambitious new comic fantasy has ideas to spare but a condescending tone and a disastrous racial caricature leave a bitter taste in the mouth

    There was a time when Alexander Payne was, as far as the critical majority was concerned, close to unassailable in the ranks of modern American auteurs. His 1996 debut, Citizen Ruth, earned only a niche following, but the five features that followed, from 1999’s sourball classroom satire Election through to 2013’s mournful father-son comedy Nebraska, earned him a reputation as a kind of jaundiced observational poet of sad-sack America, a body of work bound by grim-faced humour, mundane tragedy and white male heroes with scarcely any heroic virtues at all. It’s a run that has netted him two Oscars, a flood of other honours, and repeated critical comparisons to Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and even John Updike. David Thomson himself gushed: “Payne is one of America’s quiet and persistent treasures, like maple syrup, the St Louis Cardinals or the apparent tranquility of our deserts.”

    Related: Is climate change Hollywood's new supervillain?

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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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    Star Wars: The Last Jedi: the Porgs, the Force and the future - discuss with spoilers

    Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:05:44 GMT2017-12-16T18:05:44Z

    It gave us new powers, abundant alien creatures and a triumphant last hurrah for Luke Skywalker, but did Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII live up to the hype?

    •Warning: this article contains spoilers

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

    Fan theorists were certain that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi would be to The Empire Strikes Back what JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens was to the original Star Wars, a movie full of Jedi training sessions on remote planets, rebel backs against the wall and darkling, curveball plot twists. In the end that was only part of the story, for this was a movie that gave us, in the words of Luke Skywalker in one of its earliest trailers, “so much more”. New Force powers, abundant alien creatures like nothing we’ve seen before, and a complex, yet satisfying return for the galaxy’s greatest hero.

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    The 50 top films of 2017 in the UK: 50-5

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

    A horror take on America’s racial divide starts the final week of our countdown of movie highlights, which also has erotic beauty, sci-fi noir, aching grief, and fun with communism. Check in every weekday for more

    5

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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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    Star Wars: The Last Jedi in-depth fan review: 'I finally got to see my dreams come true'

    Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:00:28 GMT2017-12-14T10:00:28Z

    Rian Johnson’s sci-fi sequel will inspire kids 30 years from now to reintroduce it to awestruck audiences

    SPOILER WARNING: There is discussion of the film’s content in the following review, so proceed with caution

    When I was a young nerdlinger playing with Star Wars toys in the backyard (OK, indoors, let’s be honest) I had a very specific fantasy. Not just having Chewbacca as a best friend ... in the movie in my mind, Jedi Knights would defeat their foes by taking their at-rest lightsabers, pressing the hilt against someone’s head and then activating its emitter. Man, wouldn’t that be a savage way to take out some Mos Eisley scum and villainy? But surely I’d never get a chance to see something that awesome in a Star Wars movie, right?

    Related: Mark Hamill – ‘I said to Carrie Fisher: I’m a good kisser – the next thing, we’re making out like teenagers!’

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    Hayley Squires: ‘I used to argue with everyone’

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 08:00:25 GMT2017-12-17T08:00:25Z

    She made her name in I, Daniel Blake – Ken Loach’s searing indictment of the welfare state. Now Hayley Squires is stealing the show in the BBC’s adaptation of The Miniaturist. But there are a few things she wants to get off her chest first

    A couple of years ago, Hayley Squires decided to get a new tattoo. “I’d been romantically involved with somebody for a little while, and it had driven me a bit nuts,” she explains. “Then he was out of my life, and it was coming up to my birthday.” She kept thinking up various symbols and signs that might mean something, but nothing rang true. Then she remembered this line. It’s a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it’s tucked nearly underneath the crook of her left arm. It reads: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

    Why can’t it be down to how good we are at our jobs? It shouldn’t just be about the way I sound when I open my mouth

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    The 50 top films of 2017 in the US: No 5 Lady Bird

    Mon, 18 Dec 2017 12:00:02 GMT2017-12-18T12:00:02Z

    Greta Gerwig’s alternately funny and poignant coming-of-age triumph continues our countdown, with Saoirse Ronan in the self-nicknamed title role

    Is Lady Bird the greatest film of all time? Well, if divisive critical aggregation engine Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed then yes, yes it is. Since its premiere at the Telluride film festival, the coming-of-age comedy has racked up nothing but positive notices, translating to a rare 100% rating. It then achieved the important distinction of being the most-reviewed title at this height with 170 critics sharing their love, pushing previous record-holder Toy Story 2 down to second place.

    I’ll get it out of the way now: Lady Bird is not the greatest film of all time and while I’m at it, the Rotten Tomatoes algorithm is not the most accurate way of judging critical reception (check out the far more nuanced system at Metacritic instead). But there’s a reason so many writers have struggled to find a major problem with Greta Gerwig’s (solo) directorial debut (she co-directed 2008’s mumblecore drama Nights and Weekends). It’s not because, like with many highly ranked Rotten Tomatoes films, it’s inoffensively pleasant but it’s down to Gerwig’s almost scientific precision, tightly constructing an affecting story that doesn’t waste a word, a moment even, while never feeling like a rigid construct.

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    John Hurt remembered by John Boorman

    Sun, 17 Dec 2017 08:00:25 GMT2017-12-17T08:00:25Z

    22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017
    The film director remembers his friend, the actor with ‘a single malt of a voice’, who despite his ups and downs, remained a rare talent and a true professional

    • Darcus Howe remembered by Diane Abbott

    That voice, distilled from alcohol and Gauloises, a single malt of a voice, caressed the nation for half a century. In The Elephant Man it was only the voice. As Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant the voice swerved into a gay queenery. It expressed pain and suffering as a monster exploded out of his stomach in Alien. His Christ for Mel Brooks persuaded us that Jesus had such a voice. Its emollience spread over hundreds of movies, plays and commercials. On stage, it put audiences into a light hypnosis.

    He lent it to me for two short films which were the most enjoyable of my career. He was a fine companion over 45 years. He first came to Ireland to make Sinful Davey in 1969. He was convinced that [the director] John Huston decided after the first week that the film was a dud and if he could kill or seriously injure his star it would be cancelled and the insurance would pay up. He had Hurt riding over rough terrain on mettlesome horses. Despite that John moved here. He spent four months living in my guest cottage with a lover and we had dinner nearly every night.

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    What Salma Hayek’s Weinstein story reveals about Hollywood power and pay

    Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:00:09 GMT2017-12-15T06:00:09Z

    The actor’s account of her dealings with the producer is shocking. Not just for providing further allegations of sexual harassment – but for what it tells about how and why women are paid less than men

    In Salma Hayek’s blistering and upsetting account in the New York Times of the harassment and threats she received from Harvey Weinstein after she rejected his advances, there was a small but telling description of how deals in Hollywood were made – the sort of secretive, manipulative, imbalanced deals that enabled Weinstein to get away with his abusive behaviour for so long. As an actor in Frida, the biopic of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo that she had taken to Weinstein as her own project, Hayek wrote that she would be paid “the minimum Screen Actors Guild scale plus 10%. As a producer, I would receive a credit that would not yet be defined, but no payment.” This kind of remuneration – or rather lack thereof – for a producing role was not, she wrote, “that rare for a female producer in the 90s” (she doesn’t say whether she earned “back-end” money after the film’s success). She was excited, Hayek wrote, adding: “I did not care about the money … In my naivety, I thought my dream had come true.”

    I wouldn’t like to second-guess the truth of this, but many women will be familiar with the stories they tell themselves about why they’re not paid as much as they should be, or as much as male peers. Hayek does it in her piece – she was a “nobody” (she wasn’t), she had been “lucky” (rather than talented) to land roles in Hollywood films – it was “unimaginable” for a Mexican actor to make it in Hollywood (true, but she had done it).

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    Star Wars' Mark Hamill – ‘I said to Carrie Fisher: I’m a good kisser – next, we’re making out like teenagers!’

    Fri, 15 Dec 2017 07:23:09 GMT2017-12-15T07:23:09Z

    Luke Skywalker is back in The Last Jedi – and it’s a triumphant return. The Star Wars actor recalls the shock of finding out about Fisher and Harrison Ford’s secret affair and the pain of losing his longtime friend

    Han Solo is dead and Princess Leia, heartbreakingly, died almost a year ago, when Carrie Fisher died after becoming ill on a flight from London, as she was going home for Christmas. Which means, out of the original Star Wars trio, the most holy of cinematic trinities, Luke Skywalker is the last one standing. This is not how anyone expected it to end, least of all Luke himself, Mark Hamill. So, while the latest entry in the Star Wars canon, The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson, is great fun – as exciting and inspired as its predecessor, JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens, but a lot funnier and without all the heavy-lifting of exposition and character setup that Abrams’s film had to cram in – it is also very poignant.

    No one could have foreseen Fisher’s death and, in fact, she was going to be the centre of the next movie, just as Ford was the heart of The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi is very much Hamill’s film. But there are moments in this movie that feel, in retrospect, breathtakingly prescient. The scenes between Luke and Leia after their long separation made my throat catch. I cannot imagine what it must be like for Hamill to watch them, his last on-screen moments with the woman who, for 40 years, was his on-screen sister and his off-screen friend.

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