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Film | The Guardian



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



Published: Sat, 21 Apr 2018 09:00:04 GMT2018-04-21T09:00:04Z

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



Duck Butter review – intense lesbian romance churns up disappointment

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 02:30:01 GMT2018-04-21T02:30:01Z

Search Party’s Alia Shawkat falls for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in this occasionally daring but ultimately exhausting 24-hour love story

Writer Mike White and director Miguel Arteta have quietly become one of the most effective yet underrated double acts working in independent film. They’ve created a string of nuanced, darkly funny, usually female-centric films and even one TV show, starting in 2000 with uncomfortable stalker comedy Chuck & Buck. Since then they’ve given Jennifer Aniston her best role to date in The Good Girl, gifted us with the criminally short-lived Laura Dern HBO show Enlightened, and most recently delivered Beatriz at Dinner, one of the sharpest films to tackle the current fractured state of the US.

Related: 'I'm not a quirky 17-year-old any more': what Arrested Development's Alia Shawkat did next

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Al Pacino on Scarface 35 years later: ‘Bombast was what we were trying to say’

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 14:38:33 GMT2018-04-20T14:38:33Z

The team behind the crime classic reunited at the Tribeca film festival to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary with some awkward moments

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When he declared that the world (and everything in it) was coming to him, the audience cheered. When he shot Robert Loggia (that chazzer) the audience cheered. When he wore a white brimmed ladies’ hat and flirted with Michelle Pfeiffer the audience cheered. But when he got blown away by a sawed-off shotgun at the end, the audience cheered at that, too. When people say they love Scarface, they love every bit of Scarface.

The Oliver Stone-penned, Brian De Palma-directed rags-to-riches fable is 35 years old, and an anniversary screening at the Tribeca film festival was a reminder that this vulgar, brutal and, um, powdery gangster tale is every bit as entertaining as you remember. Though close to three hours, it zooms from the first electronic Giorgio Moroder beat to its final discharge of bullets. That a dazed, sourpuss Al Pacino slumping in a banquette surrounded by neon-lit mirrors half-listening to Richard Belzer make cocaine jokes is only one of this film’s indelible images tells you something.

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Vittorio Taviani obituary

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:40:29 GMT2018-04-20T16:40:29Z

Film-maker who wrote and directed more than 20 films with his brother Paolo

Vittorio Taviani, who has died aged 88, was the elder of the two Taviani brothers, the film-making duo who enjoyed great acclaim and success in the 1970s and 80s. With his brother Paolo, two years his junior, he wrote and directed more than 20 films. The brothers were said to work harmoniously as one. “We have different characters but the same nature,” Vittorio said in 2012. Marcello Mastroianni, who starred in their 1974 drama Allonsanfàn, addressed the brothers as “Paolovittorio.” Asked at the end of the shoot what it was like to take direction from two people, he replied: “There were two of them?”

The Tavianis won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for their 1977 masterpiece Padre Padrone, shot on 16mm for Italian television. This odyssey of rural hardship was adapted from the memoir of the linguist Gavino Ledda, son of a brutal Sardinian farmer, and elevated by its unusual mix of neorealist earthiness and Brechtian theatricality. In the film’s opening scene, for instance, the real Ledda hands a stick to the actor playing his on-screen parent: “My father was carrying this,” he says.

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I’ve been called a whore for my part in the #MeToo campaign. It won’t stop me | Asia Argento

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:52:35 GMT2018-04-20T12:52:35Z

Since accusing Harvey Weinstein of rape, I have been vilified in Italy. But I’ve got a message for these predatory enablers

Whore. Liar. Traitor. Opportunist.

I have been called all of these things and more since I first began to speak out last October about being raped in 1997, when I was 21 years old, by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. For speaking my truth, I have been slut-shamed, victim-blamed, bullied, and threatened on a daily basis. And I am not alone.

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Shaking seats, water sprays, scented air: is 4DX the future of cinema?

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:09:31 GMT2018-04-20T12:09:31Z

It’s more ghost train than art house – the rollercoaster-like cinema technology has arrived in Leicester Square. Our film critic tries it out

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I didn’t just go to a movie the other night, I was “in the movie”. That’s what maker of new cinema technology 4DX claims happened, at least. If Imax and 3D were the beginning of a new multiplex arms race, 4DX is the nuclear option, supposedly “a revolutionary cinematic experience which stimulates all five senses”. What that means in practice is a more rollercoaster type of cinema experience: the seats move in all directions, fans blow wind through the auditorium, there are water sprays, scented air, smoke, strobes, snow effects and more. Developed in South Korea, 4DX has been gradually rolling out around the world: first in Asia and central and south America, reaching the US in 2014, and the UK (in Milton Keynes) in 2015. Now the Cineworld chain has opened a 136-seat 4DX auditorium in Leicester Square, central London.

Needless to say, the treatment favours a certain type of movie. Future 4DX releases include Avengers: Infinity War, Solo and Jurassic World. At my screening, it’s Rampage, in which Dwayne Johnson and a giant white gorilla save humanity from skyscraper-toppling mutant monsters.

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Lars von Trier’s Cannes return proves festival is still in thrall to male privilege

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:17:07 GMT2018-04-20T12:17:07Z

Cannes’ efforts to get von Trier back on board, along with its weak record on women directors, shows it has failed to get to grips with the era of Time’s Up

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Time heals, particularly at the Cannes film festival, which has welcomed Danish director Lars von Trier back into its circle of celebrated auteurs, seven years after his ban for saying he sympathised with Hitler at a press conference. Then he was declared “persona non grata” but now, miraculously, he has become grata again, with his new film The House That Jack Built.

Like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, Von Trier remains a favoured son of the most prestigious film festival in the world. The line that separates the art from the besmirched artist is never crossed at Cannes. The waves from the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, post-Harvey Weinstein, only seem to have caused minor ripples offshore while the party continues unabated on the Croisette.

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Rachel Weisz expecting 'a little human' with husband Daniel Craig

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:43:16 GMT2018-04-20T16:43:16Z

Hollywood couple who married in 2011 announce they are having their first child together

Rachel Weisz has revealed she is expecting her first child with husband Daniel Craig.

Weisz, 48, told the New York Times: “I’ll be showing soon. Daniel and I are so happy. We’re going to have a little human. We can’t wait to meet him or her. It’s all such a mystery.”

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Natalie Portman pulls out of Israel award due to 'distressing recent events' there

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:04:32 GMT2018-04-20T11:04:32Z

Jerusalem-born actor was due to receive 2018 Genesis prize but cancels saying she ‘cannot in good conscience’ attend ceremony

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Natalie Portman has pulled out of a major award ceremony due to take place in Israel, citing her “distress” at recent events in the country.

Portman, who was born in Jerusalem and holds dual Israeli and US citizenship, was named in November as the recipient of the 2018 Genesis award, a yearly prize for “outstanding achievement by individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields [who] embody the character of the Jewish people”.

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Geoffrey Rush: Daily Telegraph loses bid to bring theatre company into lawsuit

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 06:27:44 GMT2018-04-20T06:27:44Z

Actor is suing News Corp paper over stories alleging inappropriate behaviour in Sydney Theatre Company play

The Daily Telegraph’s “zealous if not desperate” attempt to again amend its defence in the defamation lawsuit brought by actor Geoffrey Rush has been rejected by a federal court judge.

Justice Michael Wigney on Friday also dismissed a bid by the tabloid to launch a cross-claim against the Sydney Theatre Company, describing the proposal as “very weak if not tenuous”.

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Javier Bardem defends Woody Allen: 'I am very shocked by this treatment'

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 22:03:28 GMT2018-04-19T22:03:28Z

The actor, who worked with Allen on Vicky Cristina Barcelona, has defended him after other stars have decided to distance themselves

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Javier Bardem has come to the defense of Woody Allen in response to other actors distancing themselves from the film-maker.

The Oscar-winning actor, who worked with Allen on 2008’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, has said in a new interview that he is “absolutely not” ashamed of starring in the film.

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I Feel Pretty review – Amy Schumer's self-image comedy falls flat

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 20:00:33 GMT2018-04-18T20:00:33Z

As an insecure woman finding her place in a superficial world, the comedian’s considerable talents can’t save a subpar script

Amy Schumer’s sharp, occasionally hilarious, brand of comedy is reliant on a number of constants, one of the most defining of which is a frank, often brutal discussion of how she’s physically compared with other women. In her standup, she frequently mocks the vapidity of an industry that deems her abnormal while remaining confident and, despite some self-deprecation, secure about her appearance.

The plot of her latest star vehicle I Feel Pretty feels like comfortable territory then, focusing on the issue of self-image in a society ruled by superficiality. As was often the formula in her once rather brilliant sketch show Inside Amy Schumer, a relatable topic is used as the jumping-off point for a fantastical conceit. In the film, she plays Renee, a woman stuck in an unglamorous job, forever being made to feel lesser by bar staff, shop workers and men who reject her online. After being inspired by the movie Big, she makes a wish to be beautiful and the following day, after an accident in a cycling class, she wakes up to a different reflection.

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Ghost Stories review – Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse shine in dreamlike spookfest

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 18:38:31 GMT2017-10-05T18:38:31Z

Co-directed by Andy Nyman and The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson, this three-part portmanteau horror turns out a disturbing, atmospheric fable



Ghost Stories is a barnstormer of an entertainment, a fairground ride with dodgy brakes. It’s an anthology of creepy supernatural tales in the intensely English tradition of Amicus portmanteau movies from the 1960s, such as Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, or the Ealing classic Dead of Night. Each story is made individually stranger and tinglier by the way the film allows you to notice an overarching narrative between them, becoming increasingly visible through the uncanny accumulation of coincidental detail.

Writer-directors Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have adapted it from their colossally successful stage show: Nyman is the actor, writer and magician who has devised productions for Derren Brown; Jeremy Dyson is the actor, comedy writer and co-creator of The League of Gentlemen. I never saw Ghost Stories in the theatre but I wonder if the broader, brasher moments might have been more effective live. On screen, it was the subtler touches I found more disturbing: the strange dreary worlds and interiors with a putrefying wintry light: a seaside caravan park, a crepuscular pub in the middle of the day, a blank modern church. The action is wrapped up with a time-honoured narrative trick that has been with us since cinema’s earliest days. It can be overused. But Nyman and Dyson pull it off with tremendous verve.

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Redoubtable review – Michel Hazanavicius’s Jean-Luc Godard biopic a pastiche without passion

Sat, 20 May 2017 21:52:41 GMT2017-05-20T21:52:41Z

There’s plenty of knowing winks and stylistic homages to Godard’s work, but this study of a politicised and resentful JLG doesn’t quite put you where it wants to

Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable is a reasonably funny, moderately interesting movie, wearing its sprightly colourful pastiche like dry-cleaned retro couture. It is about Jean-Luc Godard – amusingly played by Louis Garrel – and his mic-drop moment in the late 60s. Nettled at the accusation that his cinema is selling out and neglecting the revolution promised by the Paris événements of 1968, and that he himself is becoming middle-aged and irrelevant, Godard rejects the French industry that had lionised him as a global celebrity and finally goes on a political and artistic journey way upriver, experimenting with communal cinema and radical film-making.

He also painfully breaks with his beautiful young wife Anne Wiazemsky, played by Stacy Martin, whose memoir One Year Later has been adapted by Hazanavicius for the film. Their marriage is happy at first; they share a joke that they are like the brave crew of the French nuclear submarine, the Redoubtable, which they heard about on the radio. But Godard – increasingly boorish, jealous and nihilist – begins to resent Anne taking acting jobs and spending time away from him on location, in an industry he comes to detest.

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Rampage review – Dwayne Johnson tackles giant animals run amok

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 20:00:11 GMT2018-04-11T20:00:11Z

When shady gene experiments in space go wrong, there’s only one man standing who can sign language in great ape

Here’s a film to remind you that while most guys of 45 have paunch-bulges on their tummy that balloon outwards as they bend forward, Dwayne Johnson gets two or three on the back of his big shaven head when he looks up. The nape of the man-mountain’s neck ripples with mini spare tyres. And he’s doing a lot of gym-built rubbernecking at the ginormous creatures crashing around overhead in this enjoyably preposterous summer actioner, based on the 80s video game of the same name. It’s directed by Brad Peyton, who was also in charge of San Andreas, Dwayne’s last movie featuring a lot of helicopters.

Dwayne feels awe, fear, anger and a certain type of embattled kinship with these mega-animals. He sort of feels their pain, as the uber-beasts roar, rear up on their hind legs and do extensive CGI-rendered damage in urban environments, their hairy pelts bristling with the futile tranquilliser darts that uncaring military personnel have blasted into them.

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Truth or Dare review – silly, spirited horror plays a fast-paced game

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 13:00:05 GMT2018-04-11T13:00:05Z

The production company behind Get Out and Happy Death Day has another hit on its hands with this Final Destination-lite shocker

Given the current obsession with reboots, revisits and rehashes, it’s strange that the Final Destination franchise hasn’t cheated death and been dragged back to life after five films and $665m in the bank. It’s even stranger given that its legacy has been haunting lesser pretenders in the past year from the incompetent shlock of Wish Upon to the snappy, if throwaway, slashery of Happy Death Day. Blumhouse, the phenomenally successful company behind the latter (last year also saw them turn Get Out and Split into global smashes) is now hoping to milk yet more money from the death-heavy formula with Truth or Dare, a slick college-set horror.

Related: Trapped in the Sunken Place: how Get Out’s purgatory engulfed pop culture

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The Rider review – impressive, stylish bronco rider drama bucks the trend

Sat, 20 May 2017 08:45:20 GMT2017-05-20T08:45:20Z

Chloé Zhao’s distinctive new feature shows life among South Dakota’s star bronco riders, who play themselves in a kind of heightened documentary

Chinese-born film-maker Chloé Zhao had her debut feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes two years ago, and she returns to this sidebar with another absorbing indie-realist slice of Americana: a tale of cowboys, bull riders and bronco riders in South Dakota. It’s a sombre study of the risks they face and stoically accept, and could even be seen as a terrifying parable of the shortness of life. In many ways, The Rider feels like an expanded, loosened and more impressionistic version of something very much more overtly crafted by, say, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry or Annie Proulx.

Yet Zhao’s approach is different. This is a movie using non-professionals playing versions of themselves, and under Zhao’s patient, unintrusive directorial eye they appear to be inhabiting a kind of heightened documentary. Dialogue scenes and wordless sequences roll easily by, and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious narrative direction. And maybe the movie could have done with clipping 10 minutes or so from the running time, and with being edited to give it more conventional focus. Yet that would be to sacrifice something of its honesty, authenticity and flavour. You have to let it grow on you.

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A Quiet Place review – silence never sounded so terrifying

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 14:30:50 GMT2018-04-05T14:30:50Z

In John Krasinski’s brilliantly suspenseful thriller, a family must remain silent at all times to avoid the giant predators roaming their post-apocalyptic world

If ever a film had me mentally tiptoeing over a booby-trapped carpet of eggshells while silently gibbering with anxiety, it’s this brutal sci-fi suspense thriller, written by horror specialists Scott Beck and Bryan Woods and directed by John Krasinski, who developed the screenplay with them and stars – alongside Emily Blunt. It’s set in a postapocalyptic wasteland. But this isn’t a young adult drama, it’s a prematurely old adult drama, a world in which innocence, childhood and happiness have been blowtorched off the face of the Earth.

Related: The new silent era: how films turned the volume down

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Blockers review – prom night comedy as parents turn sex obstructors

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 06:00:06 GMT2018-03-29T06:00:06Z

Entertaining film about the parents of three teenagers who attempt to foil their offsprings’ plans to lose their virginity

Some really good gags about American Beauty and the Fast and Furious franchise are part of what’s enjoyable about this extremely likable generation-gap comedy from screenwriting brothers Jim and Brian Kehoe. It’s a script that’s been on the black list for a while under previous titles Cherries, and The Pact. Kay Cannon (writer of Pitch Perfect) makes her directing debut.

Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and former WWE wrestling star John Cena play Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter – overprotective single mom, super-competitive coach figure and louche slacker-boozehound. They get to know each other at the school gates when they realise that their tiny kids have become best friends. As the years go by, the trio drifts apart but reunite in a spirit of parenting crisis when their girls hit their teen years. To these grownups’ collective menopausal horror, Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) have made a pact to lose their virginities on prom night. So as the stretch limo heads off with their loved ones on board, accompanied by the dates their parents loathe, the three notional adults spring into action on a desperate mission to stop their teenage children from having sex. They will be what the title promises and to underline this, the poster has an outline picture of what might be called a “rooster”.

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Chappaquiddick review – tragedy and trauma reign in Ted Kennedy biopic

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 18:40:29 GMT2017-09-11T18:40:29Z

Jason Clarke impresses as the last Kennedy brother, whose reputation never recovered following the death of a young supporter in murky circumstances

By the end of his life, Senator Edward M Kennedy was “the lion of the Senate”, a sturdy marble column of American liberalism for close to 50 years. His final substantive act was giving the Obama daughters their pet dog. But in 1969, though he was a powerful man on paper and next in line for the presidency, family insiders knew he was a joke.

Joe Kennedy Jr, who died a war hero, was the favorite. John F Kennedy, the martyred president, had the charm. Robert Kennedy, who was supposed to be president, was the brilliant one. All this landed on the shoulders of Ted, the last living Kennedy son. He never had the respect of his father, but still lived in the glow reflected by admirers of his brothers, especially after the death of Bobby.

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You Were Never Really Here review - Joaquin Phoenix turns Travis Bickle

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 15:29:35 GMT2018-03-08T15:29:35Z

Lynne Ramsay’s portrait of a traumatised tough guy on a rescue mission is a dreamlike drama that wilfully defies convention

The ghost of Travis Bickle haunts this nightmarish and enigmatic psychological drama from Lynne Ramsay, starring a slab-like Joaquin Phoenix and featuring an eerie, jangling musical score by Jonny Greenwood with bone-juddering percussive thuds that sound like gunshots or someone being beaten to death. Adapted by Ramsay from a 2013 short story by the American author Jonathan Ames, the action is elliptical, elusive, fragmented. It is a movie that teeters perpetually on the verge of hallucination, with hideous images and horrible moments looming suddenly through the fog. The movement is largely inward and downward, into a swamp of suppressed abuse memories that are never entirely pieced together or understood. All the while, the sickeningly violent action continues: bodies of brutally murdered people are always being discovered in a kind of waxwork immobility.

I have seen You Were Never Really Here twice, and it disturbed me as much the second time, though unlike the majority of critics, I don’t think it is Ramsay’s best work. There is something showy and coercive about its edits and hard cuts and soundscape lurches, and something a bit macho about the violence and the inner torture. The ending, a fantasy scene with contrived dialogue, doesn’t really work. But the shivers and eddies of fear are clear enough.

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Lean on Pete review – Andrew Haigh's equine epic is as comforting as a country ballad

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:31:39 GMT2017-09-01T08:31:39Z

This adaptation of Willy Vlautin’s novel about lost souls saddled with a fading racehorse gets lost out on the range – but you end up rooting for it

Lassie came home and Willy was freed but the omens aren’t looking good for Lean on Pete, the imperilled racehorse at the centre of Andrew Haigh’s heart-rending creature feature. Pete, we soon learn, is overworked and past his prime, destined to be sold south for slaughter as soon as he loses his next race. And while Disney might conspire a happy ending for this horse, it’s likely that British-born Haigh has a different destination in mind.

Flushed with the homegrown success of Weekend and the brilliant 45 Years, Haigh’s first American-set picture fairly wallows in hardship and misery, almost to a fault. It proceeds to cut Pete loose, point him towards the desert and then drags its anxious audience along for the ride.

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Shirin Neshat on the video art that reconnected her with Iran - The Start podcast

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:00:27 GMT2018-03-22T06:00:27Z

The visual artist reveals how her installation Turbulent built a community among the Iranian diaspora in New York, and expressed her feelings for her homeland

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In 1998, a photographer who made New York her home following the Iranian revolution decided to make her first video installation. Parted from her family for 12 years, absent from the place she grew up in, Shirin Neshat sought out a team of exiled Iranian artists to create a piece that would indulge her nostalgia for traditional music and poetry. The resulting conceptual work, Turbulent, presented ideas rooted in folk culture that commented on women’s isolation in contemporary Iran, and on the creation of art itself.

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Experiment 20: the women who defied a controversial experiment – video

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 21:47:47 GMT2018-03-11T21:47:47Z

Experiment 20 dramatises the stories of three women who took part in the psychologist Stanley Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiments in 1962, and insisted on being heard. More than 800 people were recruited for what they were told was a study about learning and memory. The scenario they took part in urged them to inflict electric shocks on another person. This film by Kathryn Millard is the last in Guardian Australia’s Present Traces series, presented by Macquarie University and linked by archive material

• Watch more from the Present Traces series

Paul Daley on Asio Makes a Movie and Present Traces

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'Stand with me': Frances McDormand gets every female Oscar nominee on their feet – video

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 05:58:23 GMT2018-03-05T05:58:23Z

Frances McDormand uses her best actress speech for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to ask all the female nominees in the audience to stand up together. She tells the audience: 'Meryl, if you do it everybody else will … OK look around everybody ... because we all have stories to tell and projects we need to finance.' She then urges industry figures to speak to them in the next few days to make the projects happen. Her speech ended with: 'I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.' 

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Slasher Patrol: the prowler who shook 1950s Sydney – video

Sun, 04 Mar 2018 23:43:38 GMT2018-03-04T23:43:38Z

The imagination of suburban Sydney in the late 1950s was seized by a series of horrifying and sometimes savagely violent night-time attacks, the work of a mysterious figure the tabloids dubbed 'the Kingsgrove Slasher'. 

Slasher Patrol – part of our Present Traces series of films from Macquarie University based on archive material – tells the inside story of the long investigation and eventual arrest of the Slasher, and of the crack team of cops led by the film-maker’s uncle, Detective Sergeant Brian Doyle


• Watch more from the Present Traces series
• Unnatural Deaths: the emotional power of forensic photographs 

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'I have a spotlight. People listen to me.' John Connors on his controversial award speech

Tue, 27 Feb 2018 09:29:01 GMT2018-02-27T09:29:01Z

John Connors won best actor at the Irish Film and Television Awards recently for his role in Cardboard Gangsters. His speech addressed a number of issues including discrimination against Travellers, suicide and how creativity saved his life and has been watched over 1 million times on Facebook alone. He speaks with Guardian journalist Iman Amrani about class, his journey into acting and what he plans to do next.

Warning: contains strong language

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the ROI, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.



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The Skin of Others: when Douglas Grant met Henry Lawson – video

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 17:00:21 GMT2018-02-26T17:00:21Z

The Skin of Others explores the meeting between Douglas Grant, an Indigenous activist and first world war veteran, and the famous Australian author Henry Lawson which took place at Lawson’s north Sydney home in 1921. Drawing from papers left behind by Percy Cowan, the short film uses dramatic re-creation, archival stills and animated backdrops to bring the meeting to life. The film is the latest in the Present Traces series of films from Macquarie University, based on archive material 

Watch more from the Present Traces series

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India mourns as Bollywood superstar Sridevi dies – video obituary

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 13:08:12 GMT2018-02-25T13:08:12Z

Sridevi Kapoor, a Bollywood actor who broke the mould of traditional female roles, drowned in her hotel bath after losing consciousness, police have said. The prime minister, fellow actors and fans paid tribute after her death aged 54


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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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Director Sergei Loznitsa on Russia: ‘It’s hard to change the mentality of a nation’

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 13:55:43 GMT2018-04-13T13:55:43Z

The acclaimed Ukrainian director discusses his latest drama A Gentle Creature, the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and the ‘hell’ of Russian history

Sergei Loznitsa is enjoying a rare day off, ahead of the last day of shooting of his new feature, about the war between Ukraine and Russia. His hotel room in the provincial town of Krivoy Rog is decorated wall to wall with pictures, storylines and notes.

Filming has been a challenge, the Ukrainian director says, not least because of Ukraine’s lousy transport network. “The roads are very bad. You never understand this when you live in Europe,” he says.

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Edie Falco: 'I've never loved the work more, but I'm not cut out for the business'

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 10:00:02 GMT2018-04-11T10:00:02Z

The Emmy-winning star of The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie talks about her latest film, her response to the Louis CK allegations and her involvement in Cynthia Nixon’s campaign

In Outside In, you play a high school teacher who develops a strong bond with a former student. Did you have any similar teachers in your own life?

In college, I was with this group of actors and, more than anything, I noticed how much confidence they seemed to have about their abilities. I didn’t have anything like that. And I had a voice teacher who pulled me aside and said, almost in a conspiratorial sort of tone, “I don’t know if you know this, but you know more about acting than anybody here could teach you.” He’s passed away since, but what a huge effect that had, just on my ability to believe in myself, that it didn’t matter if I wasn’t a good acting student, because on some level I knew what I was doing.

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James Ivory: why Ismail Merchant and I kept our love secret

Tue, 27 Mar 2018 14:19:09 GMT2018-03-27T14:19:09Z

The great film-maker reveals why he and the producer hid their love all their lives – and vents his anger at Call Me By Your Name’s lack of full-frontal nudity, even though the film won him an Oscar

When James Ivory recently bagged an Oscar for the gay coming-of-age hit Call Me By Your Name, the victory made him, at 89, the oldest Academy winner ever. Although the win, for best adapted screenplay, is still fresh, the film has been seducing audiences ever since its rapturous premiere at the Sundance film festival more than a year ago.

Ivory’s script has scooped most of the big prizes, including a Bafta and a Writers Guild of America award, but he sounds dazed when asked to reflect on its success. “Its wide appeal is still something of a mystery to me. And it really is adored, especially by young women and older people. Married couples come up to me on the street in New York – often in their 70s or 80s – and they rave about the movie. I guess it’s an unabashed first-love idea everyone can identify with. The sexual orientation of the characters doesn’t mean as much as the emotion of the story.”

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‘Pakistan is ready for change’: Verna star Mahira Khan on her controversial career

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:04 GMT2018-03-16T08:00:04Z

The star gained global attention when her film about a rape survivor who takes revenge on her attackers was nearly banned in Pakistan. She explains why its release was a victory for all women

Mahira Khan represents a face of Pakistan rarely seen outside the country: a face that doesn’t fit into the dynamic in which Pakistani women are either a “Madonna or a whore”. An unapologetic rebel in her life choices, she represents a new generation – and is helping redefine what it is to be a Pakistani woman.

The 33-year-old came to the attention of the world in a whirl of controversy when her film, Verna (Or Else), about a rape survivor who wreaks revenge on her attackers, was denied a certificate by the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) in Pakistan because of its “mature themes” and “edgy content”. The ruling attracted global condemnation and the film won the backing of the international film fraternity, including the Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone (who had faced a similar backlash for her film Padmavati).

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'The hardest member of Radiohead? Ed's probably tasty' – Jonny Greenwood answers readers' questions

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 16:12:58 GMT2018-03-14T16:12:58Z

Fresh from an Oscar nomination for Phantom Thread and with Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here in cinemas, the film composer and Radiohead guitarist discusses his two-pronged career

Jonny Greenwood’s place in the music firmament is well established after three decades as lead guitarist of Radiohead. But he has built a parallel career composing film scores that threatens to eclipse his day job. His recent soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, his fourth collaboration with the film-maker, earned him an Oscar nomination this year, and he provides a another distinctive and eclectic score for Lynne Ramsay’s latest, You Were Never Really Here. Taking time off from his dual career, Greenwood answers readers’ questions about cinema, music, guitars and fighting. Steve Rose

Jessie Jones: Working for film obviously uses a different skill set, even ethos, when producing music as there’s always an image that you’re accompanying. I’m just wondering if that’s affected your work with Radiohead. The band, I think, has a very visual soundscape anyway, but I wonder how has working with film influenced that?

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Ruben Östlund: ‘All my films are about people trying to avoid losing face’

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 09:00:42 GMT2018-03-11T09:00:42Z

The Swedish director of Force Majeure and Palme d’Or winner The Square, starring Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West, on the folly of screen violence and finding drama in the oddities of human behaviour

Ruben Östlund is the rugged adventurer of Swedish film, the man who came down from the mountain to sun himself by the Med. I first meet the director on a posh restaurant terrace at the Cannes film festival. He’s easy to spot among the immaculate diners, perched at a corner table and clasping a mug of coffee as though to keep his hands warm. Östlund is bearded and rumpled and reeks of the outdoors – a child of nature come to gatecrash high society. He says he loves the Alps; he loves to ski. He spent most of his 20s shooting extreme sport videos. “Then I got bored of resorts. Too many lift queues.”

I think the ski slope’s loss might be cinema’s gain. Or possibly he’s just swapped one extreme sport for another. Östlund’s latest film, The Square, crash-landed on the festival as a last-minute addition, still warm from the editing suite (and would later make off with the all-important Palme d’Or). It’s a lovely, freewheeling piece of work – a comedy that starts out as a satire on modern art and then jumps the fence to embrace the whole world, riffing on themes of public space and personal responsibility. The film’s title refers to a utopian free zone that is marked out on the street outside a Stockholm museum. “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring,” the accompanying brass plaque explains. “Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.”

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John Boyega: ‘I’m very direct. I can’t lie’

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 09:00:13 GMT2018-03-10T09:00:13Z

He shook up Star Wars as its first black stormtrooper and hasn’t looked back since. John Boyega on facing down bullies and not being nicey-nice

John Boyega is talking about the day his world changed – and he knew everything would be OK. It’s not when he got the lead role in his first film, Attack The Block, aged 18, nor when he was whisked off by JJ Abrams to Hollywood for a mighty role in Star Wars. Not even when he earned his spurs as a serious film actor in last year’s Detroit, a shocking exposé of racism in the US police.

No, he realised everything was going to be just fine back in secondary school when he learned to use his hands. “I smacked a few people in the face. That was a glorious day. I was 14 or 15. I was on the 148 bus and I got to the bus stop and a guy that had been at our school was there with two of his friends. He wanted a new phone, so he thought he was going to get one off me. Anyway, to cut a long story short, he approached me with one of his friends and I made both their left eyes water. And I didn’t even punch. I slapped – hard. It was significant I slapped because that’s something a parent would do to their child.”

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Isle of Dogs review – a canine tale of strange beauty

Sun, 01 Apr 2018 08:00:13 GMT2018-04-01T08:00:13Z

With none of the archness of his Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson’s gorgeous new stop-motion tale is a funny, touching, doggy delight

Having been underwhelmed by Wes Anderson’s previous animated feature, Fantastic Mr Fox (in which the universality of Roald Dahl’s source succumbed to a whiff of arch adult smugness), I approached this latest stop-motion epic with trepidation. Indeed the very concept – sick dogs abandoned on a Japanese garbage island – seemed so self-consciously quirky that at first I thought the teaser trailer was a hoax. Yet Isle of Dogs is a delight: funny, touching and full of heartfelt warmth and wit.

With breathtaking visuals and an uncanny eye for canine behaviour, it transposes the kid-friendly charm of The Incredible Journey to the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Mad Max via the Japanese cinema of Yasujiro Ozu, Seijun Suzuki and, most notably, Akira Kurosawa.

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YouTube: the home of great movies…

Sun, 15 Apr 2018 07:00:09 GMT2018-04-15T07:00:09Z

The picture quality might not be the best, but it’s amazing how many brilliant films you can watch for free whenever you tire of cat videos

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We’ll happily spend substantial amounts of time there (more time than we initially intended, usually) chain-watching cat videos, comedy skits, makeup tutorials and assorted other forms of short-form video debris, but something about watching films on YouTube sounds a bit wrong. YouTube is a grainy distraction, a working-hours time-waster, its best bits shared and disseminated via email and social media – but would you specifically sit down before it of an evening and press play?

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Mad Max: will courtroom feuding put the brakes on a Fury Road sequel?

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 11:43:26 GMT2018-04-18T11:43:26Z

George Miller’s dystopian romp left audiences desperate for more. Yet even in a world teeming with unwanted follow-ups, we may not get it

George Lucas once argued that The Phantom Menace was the Star Wars movie he would have made back in the 1970s, had special effects technology been sufficiently advanced. With Mad Max: Fury Road, director George Miller took that concept – the turbo charged, high-end revamp – and managed to get it out of first gear.

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Is Avengers: Infinity War an allegory for Disney’s worldconquering master plan?

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:00:16 GMT2018-04-16T09:00:16Z

In buying Fox, Lucasfilm and Pixar, the film studio is on the way to controlling the movie universe - drawing parallels to Avengers’ evil overlord Thanos

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Unless you’ve been living in a communications black hole for the past decade, you’ll know that the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of Marvel’s strategic 10-year comic-book movie masterplan, bringing together the whole stable of superheroes for a blockbuster to bust all blocks. The movie itself is about another masterplan: bad guy Thanos is trying to acquire the all-powerful “Infinity Stones”. If he gets them all, and puts them in his shiny fancy-dress glove – sorry, “Infinity Gauntlet” – he can “wipe out half the universe” with a snap of his fingers.

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Miloš Forman: the director who brought the spirit of anti-Soviet rebellion to Hollywood | Peter Bradshaw

Sat, 14 Apr 2018 10:29:15 GMT2018-04-14T10:29:15Z

The Czech film-maker forged a brilliant career after overcoming the obstacles of both postwar communism in his homeland and Hollywood to where he escaped

Related: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest director Miloš Forman dies aged 86

The divine inspiration of madness – its ambiguity, its creativity, its higher sanity, and the cover and legitimacy it gives to protest against oppression and bullies of all stripes – these were the ideas which energised Miloš Forman in his remarkable work. He was the Czech new wave émigré who brought the spirit of anti-Soviet rebellion to Hollywood and made its sly comic strategies and humanist passion flower in dozens of different ways. He also became one of the many directors whose work was shaped by working with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière.

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Giant sharks and giant budgets: how the B-movie brought its A game

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 13:13:26 GMT2018-04-13T13:13:26Z

After Guillermo del Toro turned a creature feature into a best picture Oscar winner, films with B-movie plots, from Rampage to A Quiet Place, are also edging their way to the top

The B-movie, in the traditional sense of the term, doesn’t really exist any more. The genre was named to describe films forming the trashier, less-anticipated second half of a double feature: with those mostly gone the way of the drive-in, anything we now call a “B-movie” can only be the main attraction, a second-class A-movie, looking at the gutter from the stars. For the term persists, not just with reference to low-budget genre or exploitation cinema, but to major-league studio productions made in the same spirit of carefree scrappiness.

Related: What's the secret to The Rock's success?

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Times move pretty fast! Rewatching 80s favourites in the age of #MeToo

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 05:00:28 GMT2018-04-13T05:00:28Z

Molly Ringwald’s reappraisal of The Breakfast Club has thrown an uneasy light on other 80s classics, with their casual treatment of rape and abuse, dodgy sexual politics and breezy paedophilia. We look at 10 of the worst with fresh eyes

Everyone has blind spots when it comes to things they loved as a child: you don’t remember how shonky your favourite toys were, or how weirdly racist your most-adored first books could be. Partly, this is because you encountered these things as a child and so didn’t think to question them, but it’s also because you don’t want to question them, because questioning them means rewriting your happiest memories.

This is probably why John Hughes has got a free pass for so long. Many of us who are now adults grew up with his films and cherished them with the fond sentimentality French novelists reserve for madeleines. He is – rightly – held up as the man who brought a soulfulness to the teen genre, but that was never Hughes’s full story, really. So when Molly Ringwald, who starred in three of his teen movies, wrote in the New Yorker this week about rewatching those films in the #MeToo era and pointed out that, actually, Hughes’s teen films have some distinctly unsoulful elements to them, it was, for fans, as if the emperor’s most devoted courtier had pointed out his (semi) nudity. Ringwald cites 16 Candles in particular, although with its rapiness and racism, that movie has been pretty unwatchable for a while now, surviving only on nostalgia. But she also talks about The Breakfast Club, a film still genuinely so beloved that a restaurant chain is named after it. Yet the school thug (Judd Nelson) is vicious to Ringwald’s character throughout the film, even looking up her skirt in one scene and poking her in the vagina, and still she swoons into his arms at the end.

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The new silent era: how films turned the volume down

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 05:00:24 GMT2018-04-06T05:00:24Z

Amid the thunderous noise of much modern cinema, films such as A Quiet Place and Wonderstruck show that the power of keeping quiet is seriously underrated. Time to enjoy the silence

A Quiet Place is a smart, scary little shocker that uses restraint in the area of sound to enhance its visual horrors. Give or take the score, the odd whisper and the occasional blood-curdling roar, John Krasinski’s film deals in cinema’s most underused commodity: silence. This will be music to the ears of anyone overwhelmed by the cacophonous use of sound in modern film, but there is a narrative reason too: the movie is set in a world terrorised by blind carnivorous monsters with acute hearing. The only way to avoid their gnashing jaws and lunging talons is to keep shtum. Communication between the main characters – a family of five hiding in an underground shelter – is conducted chiefly through sign language, lending a small advantage to the eldest child, Regan, who happens, like the actor playing her (Millicent Simmonds), to be deaf. It’s as if the whole world has come round to Regan’s way of hearing things, or rather not hearing them.

The scenario is the inverse of that in Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, also starring Simmonds, this time as the deaf runaway Rose. She appears in those sections of the film set in 1927, which are shot, as The Artist was, in the style of a silent movie, accompanied here by Carter Burwell’s busy-bee score. Leaving the cinema one afternoon, Rose notices that the building is closing temporarily to allow newfangled sound equipment to be fitted. The era of the talkie has arrived, putting her cruelly out of sync with the movies she adores.

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Have Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time got black feminism all wrong?

Sat, 31 Mar 2018 06:00:05 GMT2018-03-31T06:00:05Z

The trope of ‘black girl magic’ has gained box-office clout with recent films. But despite its progressive message, some fear it will become a marketing tool

Related: Hidden figures: the history of Nasa’s black female scientists

Hollywood is having a black girl moment. That’s right, coloniser! Melanin has been dripping off the big screen for little over a year, creating new stars, new social media challenges – and women have very much been at the centre of it all, both in front and behind the camera. Hidden Figures, which came out in the US in December 2016, told the true story of the three African-American mathematicians who played a pivotal role in getting US spacecraft into orbit. It made more than $200m globally. Then in the summer of 2017 came the brilliantly bawdy comedy Girls Trip. Grossing more than $140m, the film introduced global audiences to the actor Tiffany Haddish, and provided an invaluable education in the many uses of a grapefruit.

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Is Sean Penn the most unbearable Hollywood actor on the planet?

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 11:22:29 GMT2018-03-29T11:22:29Z

His new novel is prompting widespread ridicule but Penn is not the only star to dedicate his life to strange behaviour and bizarre career choices. Here are his nearest rivals

The hammering that Sean Penn has taken for his novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff – particularly the fact that it ends with a poem that calls the #MeToo movement “a toddler’s crusade” – isn’t purely down to the book being bad. No, it’s because the book has reinforced the popular notion of Penn as a scrunched-faced misery guy who takes his craft so seriously that it makes him awful to be around.

The question is not “Is Sean Penn publicly unbearable?” because clearly the answer to that is a hard yes. Instead, the question is “Is Sean Penn the most publicly unbearable actor working today?” Luckily for everyone, I’ve crunched the numbers and figured out a top five.

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Killer kids: why do children make the most magnetic villains?

Sat, 24 Mar 2018 10:00:02 GMT2018-03-24T10:00:02Z

From the horror classics to TV’s End of the F***ing World and Toni Collette’s new film Hereditary, children are a locus of anxiety during times of upheaval

Kids, huh? They say the darnedest things, they look at the world with fresh eyes and then, once every decade or so, you remember they can be murderers.

Related: Hereditary trailer: will this be the year's scariest movie?

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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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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society review – an outbreak of world war twee

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 05:00:14 GMT2018-04-20T05:00:14Z

Populated by Downtown Abbey graduates, this glutinous postwar rom-dram is a load of cobblers

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Time for another outbreak of world war twee: a glutinous 40s-period exercise in British rom-dram solemnity, as if Downton Abbey were subject to a very polite Nazi occupation. (There are three graduates of that TV series in this film, and it might have been sufferable over four or five episodes at Sunday teatime.) Just reading the cutesy title made me lose the will to live halfway through.

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Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote film to receive premiere at Cannes after two-decade wait

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:55:21 GMT2018-04-19T12:55:21Z

Long-gestating Man Who Killed Don Quixote confirmed as the festival’s closing film, while Lars Von Trier makes his Cannes return after seven years away

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Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will receive a world premiere at the Cannes film festival, as the event’s closing film, it has been announced. This is in addition to confirmation of Lars von Trier’s return to the festival after a seven-year ban.

The screening of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote comes despite an ongoing court case, arising from a dispute between Gilliam and the film’s former producer Paulo Branco. However, the film-makers recently issued a statement denying that Branco had the power to block the film’s release.

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It was panned on release – so why are we hopelessly devoted to Grease 40 years later?

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:00:17 GMT2018-04-20T08:00:17Z

An endorsement of rape culture or a rejection of slut-shaming: the debate over the film continues, four decades on. How did it become arguably the most beloved movie musical of all time?

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When Grease was released in cinemas in 1978, a starry, bubblegum-bright adaptation of the 1971 Chicago-to-Broadway musical, the initial reviews were not kind. “A grave disappointment to anyone in search of style or substance,” wrote the Guardian’s Derek Malcolm that year – although, like many of his similarly unimpressed critical peers, he did concede that it was fun and likely to be a big hit. Such an assessment turned out to be as understated as Sandy’s pre-makeover twinset-and-pearls. According to Box Office Mojo, Grease is the second-most-successful musical movie ever, beaten only in the past 12 months by Disney’s mammoth Beauty and the Beast live-action reboot.

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Gone too Tsar: the erotic period drama that has enraged Russia

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:04:19 GMT2018-04-19T11:04:19Z

A state-funded film about tsar Nicholas II’s affair with a ballerina, Matilda was expected to be a celebration of Russian culture – but it has outraged the Orthodox church

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In the midst of the frostiest relations between Russia and the UK since the cold war, this weekend Russia is sending over a cultural present: the controversial historical drama Matilda opens in British cinemas. It features beautiful costumes (7,000 of them, according to the LA Times), an international cast, lavish sets and a fair amount of nudity. Perhaps this is the warm and generous Russian gift to bring the thaw we have been waiting for.

Or perhaps not. Matilda comes trailing bitter arguments over historical accuracy and accusations of blasphemy. It’s the erotic scenes that have caused a scandal in Russia. The film details (with a large dollop of artistic licence) the real-life relationship between tsar Nicholas II and prima ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya, an affair which almost derailed his 1896 coronation and, some argue, set in train the events which led to the revolution of 1917.

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Rachel Weisz: 'My parents were refugees. Brexit feels like a death'

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 08:00:20 GMT2017-06-10T08:00:20Z

In her most successful decade, the actor talks family, ‘surrealist’ politics and the perils of marrying James Bond

Rachel Weisz stands in the doorway of a cafe in downtown New York, adjusting to the gloom from the brightness outside. We are in the East Village, a formerly bohemian part of town long since gentrified, although, as I note to her as she sits down, the park at the end of the street still seems to host a few local eccentrics. “Yes,” she smiles, fishing in her bag for her glasses. “It’s not all bankers.” The 47-year-old lives around the corner and, in spite of her wealth, fame and marriage to Daniel Craig, gives the impression of living a life somewhat in line with the low-maintenance neighbourhood. This morning, Weisz dropped off Henry, her 10-year‑old son, at school, went to yoga, caught up on emails, and tonight she is taking Henry to the theatre. She is trying to get people together on Sunday for a roast dinner.

It’s hard for me to understand how Donald Trump happened. It’s surrealist

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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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Tom Courtenay: 'I've done my best work since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer'

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 07:00:15 GMT2018-04-20T07:00:15Z

The veteran actor used to be so insecure about his work that he ‘couldn’t bear looking back’. Now, he says, everything has changed

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Over coffee and biscuits in a Soho hotel, the actor who played Billy Liar is showing me a picture of his dog on his iPhone. If this was not weird enough, Tom Courtenay then points out that Stanley, his seven-year-old pointer, is gazing longingly at Colin Firth on a Sunday supplement cover. “We did a film together … me and Colin, that is,” 81-year-old Courtenay explains with a wink. “Extremely unsuccessful but very enjoyable; we laughed all the time. So we now have a running joke on these things,” he says, wiggling his phone, “which is nice. I also sent him another where Stanley was deciding between him or Dustin Hoffman.”

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Funny Cow review – Maxine Peake blazes in the dark days of standup

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 18:45:19 GMT2017-10-11T18:45:19Z

Peake is hypnotically belligerent as an ambitious club performer trampling over prejudice and sticky carpets on the 1970s comedy circuit

Maxine Peake dominates the screen as producer and star of this painful, angry film written by Tony Pitts and directed by Adrian Shergold, about a fictional female club comedian fighting her way to the top, or at least the middle, in 1970s Britain.

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Beyond the Clouds review – brash Bollywood in the Mumbai underworld

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:00:17 GMT2018-04-20T08:00:17Z

A motorbike drug-runner and his sister face a storm of trouble in this uneven drama by the feted Iranian director Majid Majidi

Majid Majidi is the Iranian director who established himself most satisfyingly with the 1997 gem Children of Heaven, a very charming and sweet-natured tale about two children, a brother and sister. His latest movie is a departure: a slightly misfiring Hindi-language Bollywood-style melodrama set in the Mumbai underworld, with a forthright musical soundtrack from veteran composer AR Rahman. It, too, is about a brother and sister, but they are older and more disillusioned.

Amir (Ishaan Khattar) is a kid working for a sinister gang boss and sex-trafficker, couriering drugs around town on his motorbike under cover of making fast-food deliveries. On one occasion he is chased by cops and desperately implores his sister Tara (Malavika Mohanan) to hide him and the wrap of coke he has on him. Akshi (played by the actor and director Goutam Ghose), an acquaintance of Tara’s at the market where she works, bundles Amir into a pile of his clothes as the cops come through. Later, Akshi makes violent sexual demands on Tara in return for having helped, and she hits out at him. Soon Akshi is in hospital and Tara is in prison awaiting trial for attempted murder. If Akshi dies things will go badly for her.

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Un Beau Soleil Interieur (Let the Sunshine In) review – Juliette Binoche excels in grownup film

Fri, 19 May 2017 16:14:50 GMT2017-05-19T16:14:50Z

Inspired by, but not adapted from, Roland Barthes, Claire Denis’ new film about a single woman living alone in Paris is a sophisticated delight

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Claire Denis has confected one of the festival’s most unexpectedly delightful movies, showing in the Directors Fortnight sidebar. It’s an elegant, eccentric relationship comedy of ideas, highly rarefied and possessed of an almost inscrutable sophistication: the film has been co-written by Denis and novelist Christine Angot, reportedly inspired, in the loosest sense, by Roland Barthes’s prose meditation A Lovers Discourse: Fragments. The director has however warned audiences off the idea of seeing it as any sort of adaptation.

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