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Film | The Guardian



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



Published: Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:05:46 GMT2017-08-17T02:05:46Z

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



Why James Bond couldn't afford to lose Daniel Craig, a true Hollywood heavyweight

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:03:16 GMT2017-08-16T16:03:16Z

Craig’s sensitive and sometimes scary take on 007 morphed the franchise into a sleek supercar. No wonder its producers were so set on him staying

Related: Daniel Craig confirms he will play James Bond again

For decades the James Bond series has been the Rolls Royce of British cinema: deluxe film-making that maintains a reputation for excellence, while simultaneously acting as a classy-but-discreet national-esteem enhancer. From its early-60s inception it has been a solid box-office presence and a middlebrow tastemaker – but no one could ever accuse the Bond films of reinventing the wheel. That changed dramatically with the release of Skyfall – aka Bond 23 – which became the highest-grossing film in the UK (until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and the second biggest British film ever worldwide (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2). With its giant box office take, Bond morphed from a Rolls into a supercar: a Ferrari, or a Lamborghini.

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An Inconvenient Sequel review – Trump looms over Al Gore's urgent climate-change doc

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 15:17:56 GMT2017-08-16T15:17:56Z

New challenges – and a science-dismissing US President – make Gore’s sequel to his 2006 film feel both cinematic and compelling

Related: Al Gore: 'The rich have subverted all reason'

Eleven record-breaking summers on from An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore doubles down. Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s galvanising documentary accompanies the former US vice-president throughout 2015 and 2016, by which point he had pivoted from touring pro-bono slideshows to addressing the Climate Reality Leadership Corps programme initiated by the first movie’s success.

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Why are so many directors un-retiring?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 12:21:47 GMT2017-08-16T12:21:47Z

Whether driven by PR tactics or a need for some creative downtime, an increasing number of film-makers are playing retirement hokey-cokey

Related: Quentin Tarantino confirms he will retire after two more films

If anyone’s earned the right to do whatever he likes in retirement, it’s Hayao Miyazaki. This includes un-retiring, as the venerable 76-year-old animation master has now done four years after his swansong film. After rumours earlier in the year, Studio Ghibli recently confirmed it had reopened to begin making a 12th Miyazaki feature. He is thought to be expanding Boro the Caterpillar, a 12-minute short he had been making for the Ghibli Museum, which he was unsatisfied with.

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Future romance: how science fiction is predicting our relationships

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:00:36 GMT2017-08-16T10:00:36Z

The contemplative indie Marjorie Prime is the latest in a long line of sci-fi films and TV shows that explore how we might date and love in the future

In the opening scene of Marjorie Prime, we first meet Marjorie, an 85-year-old struggling with memory loss, as she listens to Walter Prime, a computerized hologram version of her husband, describe the second dog that she and her real husband adopted.

“Toni II, but that was soon shortened to just Toni,” Walter Prime explains, as if he were actually there. “And of course it wasn’t exactly Toni, but the longer they had her the less it mattered which Toni it was that ran along the beach and which Toni it was that dug up all the bulbs in the garden. The more time that passed, the more she became the same dog in their memories.”

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From Wonder Woman to Spirited Away: what really makes a superhero?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 03:21:35 GMT2017-08-16T03:21:35Z

Hollywood firmly believes in superheroes who fulfil male adolescent fantasies of aggression and violence, but there are other ways to be a hero
• JM Green is an Australian crime writer

There’s an instructive scene in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when Big Daddy, a harsh Mississippi plantation owner, calls his son Brick a 30-year-old kid and says he’ll soon be a 50-year-old kid. The reproach implies a definition of hero that isn’t winning at football. Big Daddy says: “Heroes in the real world live 24 hours a day, not just two hours in a game.”

Heroic is a word synonymous with valour and honour, with courage and decency. A hero sacrifices themselves for others. Hollywood comic-book superheroes fly about attacking evildoers, guided by a simplistic moral code. Superman has his never-ending battle for truth and justice, and appears unarguably respectable until people start asking questions about whether he is a fascist. There he is, without authority, wielding superpowers, passing judgment and dispensing justice.

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John Travolta to play 'the other Sinatra' in film about Jimmy Roselli

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 23:00:23 GMT2017-08-15T23:00:23Z

Singer whose chance of fame was killed off by the Mob and his famous rival is subject of biopic produced by Merchant Ivory

He was an American shoeshine boy with a romantic singing voice that made even mobsters weep.

Jimmy Roselli was known as “the other Sinatra”, but the Mob and Frank Sinatra, his lifelong rival crooner, killed off his chances of finding the fame that he deserved. Now, six years after his death, this unheralded singer is about to receive due recognition with a film in which he will be portrayed by John Travolta.

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Roman Polanski faces new accusation of sexual assault on minor

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:05:04 GMT2017-08-15T22:05:04Z

A woman, identified only as Robin, has said she was ‘sexually victimized’ by the film director in 1973, when she was 16 years old

A third woman came forward Tuesday to accuse Roman Polanski of sexual assault when she was a minor, 40 years after he went on the run for raping another girl.

The woman, identified only as Robin, told a news conference in Los Angeles she was “sexually victimized” by the legendary French-Polish film director when she was 16, in 1973.

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Dunkirk digs in at top of the UK box office as The Nut Job 2 proves a shell of the original

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:30:28 GMT2017-08-15T13:30:28Z

Christopher Nolan’s war drama is still going strong in its fourth week, while the sequel to the animated comedy barely cracks the top 10

Despite dropping another 43% from the previous weekend, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk holds on to the top spot in the UK for a fourth week in a row – a feat that eluded monster hits of the last year, including Beauty and the Beast and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The last film to pull it off was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November and December 2016.

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Marjorie Prime review – melancholy sci-fi offers poignant tale of love after life

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:00:11 GMT2017-08-15T10:00:11Z

A holographic Jon Hamm and a standout turn from Lois Smith are two of the many pleasures packed into this soulful drama set in a future where death doesn’t need to be the end

While multiplex-dwelling sci-fi has spent a lot of time, and a lot of money, pondering how many buildings, robots and Tom Cruises can be smashed into one another, craftier film-makers have found room to explore the more humanist details of what the future might hold. In The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos crafted a savage parable borne from the societal pressures placed upon single people to match up; in Her, Spike Jonze imagined a future where artificial intelligence could act as a stand-in for a flesh-and-blood partner; and on the small screen, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror episodes San Junipero and Be Right Back have offered heart-swelling and heartbreaking views of future romance.

Related: Human, all too human: 10 sci-fi films that show what it means to be alive

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Disturbance in the Force: why is Star Wars trying to make us hate Luke Skywalker?

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:00:05 GMT2017-08-15T05:00:05Z

In The Last Jedi trailer, Luke Skywalker seems to have completely lost his faith. This is not the version of our favourite Jedi that anyone asked for

Hollywood loves a fallen hero. From Christian Bale’s broken Batman in The Dark Knight Rises to Daniel Craig’s wasted James Bond in Skyfall, there is something about the sight of a once-titanic figure laid low that inspires and enthuses film-makers.

As our heroes drink themselves into oblivion, or drown in self-pity, we are reminded of the contrast with their better, truer former selves. The stage is set, inevitably, for sudden and radical rehabilitation – why allow Bane to break Batman’s back if not to allow Gotham’s dark knight the sweetest of subsequent revenge? Why show 007 so ravaged by drink that he cannot hold his Walther PPK, unless it is merely a blip on a predictable path back to insouciant business as usual?

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Stunt driver dies on set of Deadpool 2 after motorcycle scene goes wrong

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 18:13:36 GMT2017-08-14T18:13:36Z

Vancouver police are investigating the death of a female stunt driver during production of the Ryan Reynolds-starring comedy sequel

Stunt driver Joi “SJ” Harris has died on the set of Deadpool 2 after a scene involving a motorcycle went wrong.

The accident happened on Monday morning. The victim is the first African American female professional road racer.

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Joseph Bologna obituary

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:05:18 GMT2017-08-14T17:05:18Z

Actor, playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter who took the part of the tyrannical comedian King Kaiser in the 1982 film comedy My Favourite Year

Tough cookies with soft centres were the stock-in-trade of the actor Joseph Bologna, who has died aged 82. Cinema audiences warmed to him from his performances as gruff, long-suffering or domineering fathers and father figures.

He was the tyrannical comedian King Kaiser, modelled on Sid Caesar, in the nostalgic comedy My Favourite Year (1982), starring Peter O’Toole as an alcoholic former matinee idol. He played one of Gene Wilder’s drinking buddies in The Woman in Red and a man whose teenage daughter (Michelle Johnson) is having an affair with his best friend (Michael Caine) in Blame It on Rio (both 1984). In Big Daddy (1999), he was Adam Sandler’s disapproving father; initially unimpressed when his son adopts a child (“He’d be better off living in a dumpster than living with you!”), he undergoes a change of heart in the courtroom climax.

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‘Ruin porn’ and cinema’s obsession with disused buildings

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:59:38 GMT2017-08-14T08:59:38Z

From documentary classic Grey Gardens to Venezuelan movie La Soledad, the use of derelict buildings is about more than eerie window dressing

Online, they call it “ruin porn”: a 2010s photography trend that has inspired gallery exhibitions, clickbaity listicles and academic theses with titles such as The Anxiety of Decline. Yet cinema’s fascination with disused buildings, like the one in the new Venezuelan feature by Jorge Thielen Armand goes much deeper. The dreamy La Soledad manages to be as confrontational and vitally political as a slasher flick set in those unoccupied properties near Grenfell Tower would be.

Related: Love and squalor: how Grey Gardens changed the documentary genre

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Tom Cruise injured during Mission: Impossible 6 shoot

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:00:16 GMT2017-08-14T12:00:16Z

Actor filmed mistiming leap between two buildings and crashing into wall, but it is not known how serious his injuries are

Tom Cruise has been filmed in apparent pain after a stunt for his new film Mission: Impossible 6 went awry.

Cruise was performing a scene for the latest instalment of the long-running franchise in London. It involved him jumping between two buildings with the assistance of a safety harness. Footage recorded by TMZ shows him mistiming his leap and crashing into the side of the second building. The actor was able to pull himself up onto the roof of the building but was then seen limping heavily before collapsing next to members of the film’s crew. It is not yet known what the extent of Cruise’s injuries are or whether he received hospital treatment.

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Whose Streets? Powerful Ferguson film focuses on ‘flashpoint moment’

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:00:56 GMT2017-08-11T10:00:56Z

Directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis spent more than a year in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown, bearing witness to the protests that followed

Three years ago this month, Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. His death prompted demonstrations, heavy-handed policing, violence and, eventually, national outcry.

Whose Streets?, from film-makers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, follows that arc as it unfolds, from the frontline of the protests to the behind-the-scenes of activists’ homes.

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Emma Stone named 2017's highest-paid female actor with $26m

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 17:49:52 GMT2017-08-16T17:49:52Z

The Oscar-winning star of La La Land was placed ahead of Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lawrence on Forbes’ annual list of Hollywood’s top earners

Emma Stone has been named Hollywood’s best-paid female actor in Forbes’ annual list of top earners.

The 28-year-old made $26m in the last 12 months, the majority of which was earned from her Oscar-winning performance in the musical romance La La Land. The film made over $445m worldwide.

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Daniel Craig confirms he will play James Bond again

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 09:38:52 GMT2017-08-16T09:38:52Z

Actor tells Stephen Colbert on The Late Show he ‘couldn’t be happier’ to resume 007 role despite previous comments

He once said he would rather take his own life than reprise his role as 007. But Daniel Craig may now be regretting his words, as he has confirmed he will, for one final time, play James Bond.

Speaking on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on US TV on Tuesday night, the actor finally put an end to the long-running saga of will he/won’t he play the character for a fifth time.

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Film investors’ fear of the Bard is burying my Richard II, says James Ivory

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 22:36:19 GMT2017-08-12T22:36:19Z

Veteran director claims financiers think he’s crazy for attempting Shakespeare adaptation

He directed Merchant-Ivory classics such as The Remains of the Day, Howards End and A Room with a View, but American director James Ivory is struggling to interest investors in his latest project. The problem, it seems, lies with his writer: William Shakespeare. For more than five years, Ivory has tried in vain to raise money for a cinema adaptation of Richard II.

Despite 50 years of critical acclaim and Oscar recognition, plus British actors Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis lined up to star in his production, financiers are refusing to part with their money. “They look at you like you’re crazy,” he said. “There is an assumption that there is no money to be made from such an investment.”

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The Death of Stalin: first trailer for Armando Iannucci's Soviet satire revealed

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:29:56 GMT2017-08-11T09:29:56Z

Iannucci’s film features a host of acting talent as the Russian dictator’s underlings, including Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs and Michael Palin

Attention comrades! The first trailer for Armando Iannucci’s Soviet satire The Death of Stalin has been unveiled.

Adapted by Iannucci, Ian Martin and David Schneider from Fabien Nury’s graphic novel of the same name, the film depicts the frenzied political manoeuvrings that transpired in the aftermath of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. The film stars a host of prominent British and American actors as Stalin’s underlings, including Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Stalin’s heir apparent Georgy Malenkov, Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov, Jason Isaacs as Georgy Zhukov, Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria and Homeland star Rupert Friend as Stalin’s son Vasily.

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Bill Murray goes to see Groundhog Day – again

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 05:22:25 GMT2017-08-10T05:22:25Z

The star of the 1993 classic movie went to see the Broadway musical version on Tuesday and then returned Wednesday for another show

Tuesday: Bill Murray, star of Groundhog Day, a film famously about reliving the same day over and over, is spotted at the Broadway show based on that film.

Related: Groundhog Day review – Tim Minchin's musical is fantastically witty

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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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CHiPs review – timid, off-colour cops-on-bikes remake

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:00:27 GMT2017-03-24T08:00:27Z

This comic-ironic remake of the old TV show never quite thrums into life, and contains a few horribly misjudged moments

Here comes yet another addition to the “ironic film remake of a beloved 70s/80s TV series” genre, which is starting to look as dated as the shows it purports to send up. Updating the cops-on-bikes action drama of the same name, ChiPs stars Michael Peña in the old Erik Estrada role of Ponch, a sex-addicted FBI agent who is tasked with rooting out police corruption by going undercover in the California highway patrol unit. There he’s paired up with idiot-savant rookie Jon Baker (Dax Shepard, also the film’s director), whose guilelessness is counterbalanced by a remarkable gift for riding motorbikes. Soon the pair are on the trail of a dirty cop (Vincent D’Onofrio, entirely wasted in a gruff, underdeveloped role), bickering and blowing stuff up as they go. When placed next to the gleeful postmodernism of the 21 Jump Street films, this feels remarkably timid, its humour built around off-colour gags (including one desperately poorly judged Oscar Pistorius joke) and the mildly homophobia-tinged bromance between Ponch and Baker. Shepard and Pena do at least throw themselves into proceedings with elan, but they can’t prevent CHiPs from seeming a distinctly second-gear affair.

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I Called Him Morgan review – jazz star's story comes in from the cold

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 10:22:00 GMT2016-09-12T10:22:00Z

Kasper Collin’s spellbinding documentary reveals the tender and tragic tale of hard bop trumpeter Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen

With the best jazz recordings you recognise the beginning and know where it’s going to wind up, but it’s the road there that’s unpredictable. To that end, Kasper Collin’s I Called Him Morgan isn’t just the greatest jazz documentary since Let’s Get Lost, it’s a documentary-as-jazz. Spellbinding, mercurial, hallucinatory, exuberant, tragic … aw hell, man, those are a lot of heavy words, but have you heard Lee Morgan’s music? More importantly, do you know the story of his life?

Lee Morgan may have been one of the most important trumpet players in jazz, but he doesn’t have the household name status of Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis. Unfortunately, like Bix Beiderbecke and Clifford Brown, he died way too young. While Morgan’s output as the leader of his own working group is outstanding (may I recommend to you The Sidewinder, The Gigolo or perhaps even The Rumproller) he was also a linchpin member of the classic Blue Note sound overseen by producers Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff and engineer Rudy Van Gelder.

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Wilson review – Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern in mostly charmless adaptation

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 04:47:47 GMT2017-01-24T04:47:47Z

The filmic take on Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel wants to stand up for the weirdos – but instead makes you yearn for silence

That annoying creep who sits next to you on an otherwise empty bus and won’t stop talking? How would you like to spend an entire movie with him? Don’t worry, it’ll end with life lessons about the importance of family. Wait, come back!

OK, it’s not all bad. Wilson, an adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of the same name from The Skeleton Twins’ director Craig Johnson, at least features an adorable terrier. But, she dies. Oh man, I keep screwing this up!

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Beauty and the Beast review – Emma Watson makes a perfect Belle in sugar-rush romance

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:00:07 GMT2017-03-03T17:00:07Z

Watson star cuts a demure, doll-like figure in Disney’s live-action remake, which features an outbreak of starry cameos and the world’s briefest gay reveal

The world’s most notorious case of Stockholm syndrome is back in cinemas. Disney now gives us a sprightly, shiny live-action remake of its 1991 animated musical fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, with Emma Watson as Belle, the elfin beauty from a humble French village whose poor old dad (Kevin Kline) is imprisoned by a wicked beast who lives in a remote castle. This is in fact a once handsome prince (played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens), transformed into a monster by an enchantress as a punishment for his selfishness, while all his simpering courtiers were turned into household appliances such as candles and clocks. Belle offers to be his prisoner in her father’s place. Gradually the grumpy, soppy old Beast falls in love with her and she with him.

Everyone warbles the classic 1991 showtunes by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, and there is a sugar-rush outbreak of starry cameos at the very end, from A-listers who are given full status in the final curtain-call credits. The whole movie is lit in that fascinatingly artificial honeyglow light, and it runs smoothly on rails – the kind of rails that bring in and out the stage sets for the lucrative Broadway touring version.

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T2 Trainspotting review – choose a sequel that doesn't disappoint

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:48:37 GMT2017-01-19T22:48:37Z

Danny Boyle’s followup to the cult 1996 hit isn’t quite as quick and extraordinary as the original, but it is a funny, moving ode to middle-aged male disillusion whose risks pay off in spades

Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting is everything I could reasonably have hoped for – scary, funny, desperately sad, with many a bold visual flourish. What began as a zeitgeisty outlaw romp in the Uncool Britannia of the 1990s is now reborn as a scabrous and brutal black comedy about middle-aged male disappointment and fear of death.

It reunites the horribly duplicitous skag-addicted non-heroes of the first movie about twentysomethings trying to get off heroin in Edinburgh, and finding that they have nothing very much to put in its place. In that film, I often hid my head in my hands, unable to watch scenes about dead babies and diving into gruesome lavatories. Now it’s the sight of desolate men’s faces that made me want to look away: stunned by the realisation that their lives are coming to an end.

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Song to Song review – Terrence Malick returns to form with lyrical love triangle

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 16:30:39 GMT2017-03-11T16:30:39Z

The divisive film-maker adds story to swirling camerawork as Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling cross paths in the Texas music scene

Some artists just see the world differently. Terrence Malick, the secretive and mercurial film-maker whose recent output has been, it’s fair to say, divisive, has a very specific lens. In Malickville, time swirls with a beautiful, melancholic rush of imagery, dizzying the senses at every turn. Malick’s life must be exhausting if every walk across the kitchen to pour a cup of tea is such a moment. But if that is your perception, or what you want to project out into the world, then I guess you have to go for it. This time it pays off.

Related: Is Terrence Malick ahead of his time or out of date?

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Burn Your Maps review: if the kid from Room wants to be Mongolian, let him

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 15:27:27 GMT2016-09-09T15:27:27Z

Jacob Tremblay and Vera Farmiga (as his understanding mother) are irresistible in this strange tale, premiering at Toronto, of a young boy with goats on the brain – it’s just a shame the film isn’t as interested in the locals as they are

Few actors working in Hollywood today have a more expressive face than Vera Farmiga. With a crooked smile or a slightly tilted head, she has the uncanny ability to convey complex emotions in even the briefest reaction shot. Lucky we are, then, that this newest film, Burn Your Maps, offers a rich character, roiled in tumult, and plopped in an extraordinary setting. This isn’t to say this movie is a masterpiece, but it’s one that doesn’t just tug on the heartstrings it yanks on them like a streetcar passenger afraid he’ll miss his stop.

We open in suburban Chicago, where young Wes (Jacob Tremblay) has for some reason become fascinated with everything Mongolian. He watches YouTube videos, is teaching himself the language, listens to throat-singing and takes his older sister’s Uggs and makes them into shepherd’s boots. It’s all very cute, and images of him riding around on his bicycle with goats and eagles made from toilet paper are adorable.

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The Belko Experiment review – gory workplace horror promotes nastiness

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 11:00:28 GMT2017-03-15T11:00:28Z

An enjoyably manic shocker about an office full of employees forced to kill one another uses dark humor and extreme violence to grab attention

Ever have one of those days when you feel like killing your coworker? How about all of them? How about all of them but in a creative array of graphically violent ways? If this is starting to sound like a thought process you often have but perhaps wisely keep secret from others then you’ll probably get a sadistic kick out of this nasty little horror.

Related: Get Out: the film that dares to reveal the horror of liberal racism in America

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Kong: Skull Island review – only de-evolution can explain this zestless mashup

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 22:00:28 GMT2017-03-02T22:00:28Z

Tom Hiddleston’s talents are lost in this jumbled jungle caper that repeatedly indulges in anti-climax and silliness

Deep in the distant jungle … the undergrowth stirs, the lagoons froth, the branches shake and a huge monster rears terrifyingly up on its haunches, blotting out the sun. Run for your lives! It’s a 700 ft turkey, making squawking and gobbling noises and preparing to lay a gigantic egg.

This fantastically muddled and exasperatingly dull quasi-update of the King Kong story looks like a zestless mashup of Jurassic Park, Apocalypse Now and a few exotic visual borrowings from Miss Saigon. It gets nowhere near the elemental power of the original King Kong or indeed Peter Jackson’s game remake; it’s something Ed Wood Jr might have made with a trillion dollars to do what he liked with but minus the fun. The film gives away the ape’s physical appearance far too early, thus blowing the suspense, the narrative focus is all over the place and the talented Tom Hiddleston is frankly off his game. Given no support in terms of script and direction, he looks stiff and unrelaxed and delivers lines with an edge of panic, like Michael Caine in The Swarm.

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Daniel Craig confirms he will return as James Bond – video

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:55:56 GMT2017-08-16T11:55:56Z

In an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, Daniel Craig said he would be reprising his role as James Bond. Craig has starred as 007 in four films to date. The news of his return was welcomed by fans of the film franchise around the world

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Watch the trailer for Wolf Warriors 2 – video

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 08:32:21 GMT2017-08-08T08:32:21Z

Watch the trailer for Wolf Warriors 2, the sequel to the Chinese box-office hit Wolf Warriors. Wolf Warriors 2 stars Wu Jing as action hero Leng Feng, who finds himself in an unnamed African country trying to live a peaceful life, only to be forced to return to his old ways as a soldier

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Barbecue: watch the trailer for a meaty new documentary – video

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 01:38:55 GMT2017-08-04T01:38:55Z

Barbecues are about more than just cooking meat over an open flame. For many, the grill is a pathway to community that crosses cultural boundaries. From Texas to Tokyo, Australian film-makers Matthew Salleh and Rose Tucker explore the meaning of this simple but emotive ritual around the world. Barbecue is streaming on Netflix from 15 August

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In a Heartbeat: watch the trailer for animated short film – video

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:05:23 GMT2017-08-04T00:05:23Z

‘A closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.’ Trailer for the animated short film In a Heartbeat, which has garnered over 11m views on YouTube.

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Sam Shepard, celebrated playwright and actor, dies at 73 – video report

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 18:05:41 GMT2017-07-31T18:05:41Z

Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated author, whose plays chronicled the explosive fault lines of family and masculinity in the American west, has died aged 73. Shepard, though famously a man of few words, produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories. His 1979 play, Buried Child, won the Pulitzer for drama

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Home Alone star John Heard dies aged 71 – video obituary

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 16:15:58 GMT2017-07-22T16:15:58Z

John Heard, the actor best known for his role as Peter McCallister in two Home Alone films, has died aged 71. Variety reported that Heard was recovering from back surgery in a hotel room when he died. The actor received an Emmy award for his role as corrupt detective Vin Makazian in The Sopranos

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Christopher Nolan on Dunkirk: 'There are 400,000 men on this beach – how do you get them home?'

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:08:41 GMT2017-07-18T11:08:41Z

Dunkirk sees director Christopher Nolan tackle one of the most remarkable stories of the second world war: the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers from the beaches of northern France. In an extended video interview Nolan discusses the challenges of bringing such a mammoth operation to the big screen, the hard choices made by those involved in the evacuation and the ‘subtle and truthful’ acting performance of Harry Styles

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George A Romero, 'father of the zombie film', dies at 77 – video

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 10:33:35 GMT2017-07-17T10:33:35Z

The director George A Romero died on Sunday aged 77. Romero, who was born in New York, began his career as a commercial director before finding his calling in horror films. His first foray into zombie horror was the 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. The film’s success led to a long-running series of zombie horror films and won Romero the title ‘father of the zombie film’

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Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau dies aged 89 – video report

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 09:00:53 GMT2017-07-17T09:00:53Z

The actor Martin Landau died on Saturday aged 89. Landau, a New Yorker, rose to prominence in the 1960s when he starred in the TV show Mission: Impossible. During his lengthy career he worked with some of the industry’s best directors including Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola and Tim Burton. In 1995, Landau won an Oscar for playing Bela Lugosi in Burton’s Ed Wood

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Andy Serkis transforms into Gollum to read Donald Trump tweets – video

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 05:59:11 GMT2017-07-13T05:59:11Z

Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum in the Lord of The Rings trilogy, brings his character back to life to read Donald Trump’s tweets on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

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Shia LaBeouf arrest video shows actor's expletive-filled rant – video

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 03:16:45 GMT2017-07-13T03:16:45Z

Videos released on Tuesday by police from Savannah, Georgia, of Shia LaBeouf’s arrest last week on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication show the actor hurling expletive-filled barbs at officers as he questions the reason for his arrest

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Morrissey biopic England Is Mine trailer shows early years of Smiths frontman – video

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 11:42:27 GMT2017-06-30T11:42:27Z

Long before he was the gladioli-waving frontman of The Smiths, and even longer before he became the problematic provocateur of recent times, Morrissey was Steven Patrick Morrissey, a gobby teenage outsider looking to find his place in the world. Directed by Mark Gill and starring Jack Lowden, new biopic England Is Mine traces Morrissey’s formative years and his first fateful encounter with Johnny Marr.

•England Is Mine is released in UK cinemas on 4 August

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Hugh Jackman stars in first trailer for new musical The Greatest Showman – video

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 01:59:57 GMT2017-06-29T01:59:57Z

Directed by Australian film-maker Michael Gracey and starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams and Zac Efron, The Greatest Showman is an original musical featuring songs from La La Land’s Oscar-winning lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, which celebrates the life of entertainer and hoax merchant PT Barnum, who created the three-ring circus.
• The Greatest Showman is due for release on 25 December in the US, 25 December in Australia, and 1 January in the UK

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Lovefilm pushed the envelope for movie buffs – Netflix and Amazon don't come close

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 16:34:32 GMT2017-08-14T16:34:32Z

The postal DVD service, set to close after 15 years, catered for film fans with specific tastes, a far cry from the bargain-bin offering of the streaming giants

It was only a matter of time. This morning Lovefilm finally announced that, after 15 years, it was closing down its postal DVD service. At some point in the past you probably used Lovefilm or a service like it. Chances are that you stopped a few years back and only realised it still existed when you read that it was being discontinued. But there were a hardy few of us who stuck with it throughout.

My pile of Lovefilm envelopes recently became a running joke among my friends. “Why stop there?” one asked recently, as they all laughed at how old-fashioned I was. “Why not get them to send you MiniDiscs via smoke signal?” When a product prompts open mockery, its days are likely numbered.

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Box office massacre: how Hollywood flopped this summer

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 16:14:44 GMT2017-08-11T16:14:44Z

A string of disappointing movies – both critically and commercially – have led to damaging financial implications. So what exactly went wrong?

We’re coming to the end of a particularly chilly summer in Hollywood. It’s been a brutal week for movie theater chains as they ready their quarterly earnings reports for shareholders and warn those investors that they’re not going to like what they see. The AMC theater chain is hemorrhaging money, with a 27% decrease in value over the summer, ticket sales have fallen 10.8% across the board, stocks are in a nosedive (China’s Wanda Group has ponied up $100m to buy out available AMC stock), and the four largest multiplex operations have cumulatively lost $1.3bn.

Present projections predict a year-end total of $11.2bn in ticket sales, chalking up a hefty slide down from last year’s $11.37bn. Just last week, The Dark Tower, a starry wannabe franchise-starter, became the latest under-seen fatality of the season. Things are not looking good.

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Bored with blockbusters? Why Hollywood needs another Bonnie and Clyde moment

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 15:00:32 GMT2017-08-10T15:00:32Z

This weekend marks 50 years since the release of the film that shook up studios and ushered in a new wave of auteurs including Coppola and Scorsese. Does the complacent Hollywood of 2017 need a similar shock?

We will never know the contents of Warren Beatty’s head once it became clear he had cued Faye Dunaway into wrongly naming La La Land this year’s best picture at the Oscars. Rooted centre stage, the cast and crew of the real winner, Moonlight, filing by, he wore the horrified blank stare of the veteran actor suddenly unable to remember his line. Or perhaps he found himself a happy place – lost in thoughts of Bonnie and Clyde, the transformative crime movie whose 50th anniversary was the reason he and Dunaway were there anyway.

In truth, that was a bit of Academy flimflam. Released in August 1967, Bonnie and Clyde didn’t win the Oscar for Best Picture, losing to In the Heat of the Night and the elegant heft of Sidney Poitier. But in the half century since, the influence of the true-ish story of public enemies Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow has never stopped rippling. Throw in The Graduate, out four months later, and you have the vanguard of what would be called “New Hollywood”. Like a flicked switch, it changed the movies – leading an onrush of struttingly glorious films that caught the mood of youth, made by directors, not executives, filling screens with sex and violence, ambivalence and auteurist flourishes.

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Running times: when to go for a pee during classic movies

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 14:20:33 GMT2017-08-09T14:20:33Z

The app RunPee buzzes in your pocket when a boring bit is coming up in a film, so you can go to the toilet without missing anything. So what’s the safest time to nip out in Casablanca or The Godfather?

Even the corniest summer blockbusters now regularly clock in at two-and-a-half hours. So perhaps it should be no surprise that RunPee, an iPhone app advising film viewers when to step out for a wee, is a runaway success. Start the app when you sit down to watch a film, and it will buzz in your pocket when a boring bit long enough for a loo break is coming up. The app was launched in 2008 by American developer Dan Florio and has attracted positive testimonials from stars including Rashida Jones and Stephen Fry. Hugh Jackman says it was recommended to him by Anne Hathaway.

Updated regularly, RunPee already recommends two wee-appropriate moments each in new releases The Emoji Movie and The Dark Tower (judging by the reviews, you could probably sit them both out in the bathroom in their entirety). Yet even classic movies allow for a quick sprint to the loo and back.

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Death Wish: is the Bruce Willis remake an alt-right fantasy?

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 15:25:28 GMT2017-08-08T15:25:28Z

The trailer for Eli Roth’s revival of the action franchise has been accused of being ‘nakedly fascist’ in its story of vigilanteism in a volatile Chicago

There is a long and fine tradition of pointing out that Eli Roth’s new films don’t look very good. The cocksure writer, director, producer and sometime actor has spent the last 15 years serving up reliably polarising product from the gloomy, insidious torture-porn of Hostel to the garish sexpot thriller Knock Knock. Roth’s latest and most high-profile project – a long-in-the-works resurrection of the Death Wish franchise with Bruce Willis as the trigger-happy lead – has attracted even sharper criticism than usual. The launch trailer has sustained heavy fire on social media, called out for being “nakedly fascist” and being compared to “alt-right fan fiction”.

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Say never again: why Daniel Craig should quit while he's ahead as Bond

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 14:54:37 GMT2017-08-07T14:54:37Z

When Sean Connery returned as James Bond after a 12-year hiatus, he tarnished his legacy. Craig, who has reportedly signed up for two more films, would do well to heed the lesson

Legacy matters in cinema. Last week, a US judge allowed a James Bond fan to proceed with a lawsuit against MGM for failing to include the rogue 007 projects Casino Royale (the 1967 version) and Never Say Never Again in a “complete” box set of movies about the suave super spy. Lawyers for Mary L Johnson, of Pierce County, Washington, argue that most reasonable people would expect these films to be included in a comprehensive collection of Bond movies. And they probably have a point, at least in the case of Never Say Never Again.

Never Say Never Again will always be part of Sean Connery’s legacy as 007. The Scotsman returned to his most famous role in 1983, 12 years after his previous appearance in Diamonds Are Forever. Unfortunately, the film, directed by Irvin Kershner, was produced independently of official rights holder Eon Productions and regular Bond studio MGM, and has never been able to shake off a reputation as the black sheep of the series.

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The meaning of Clint: what watching 40 Eastwood films has taught me

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 16:32:18 GMT2017-08-03T16:32:18Z

A new collection crams much of Clint Eastwood’s six-decade career into a box set. What do the films, from Dirty Harry to The Bridges of Madison County, tell us about the life and politics of this prolific American institution?

Clint Eastwood occupies the same position in pop culture that Keith Richards does: he has been around for ever; he has done tons of amazing work; he embodies the rebellious, iconoclastic spirit of the mid-60s; and he has never sold out and become a joke like just about everyone else in his generation.

Even timid, self-effacing men who have never fired a gun, much less puffed on a stogie, secretly wish that they could just once sport that filthy poncho, bite down on that cigarillo and fill the streets of Laredo with lead. When push comes to shove, Eastwood, the original rock-star cowboy, can always fall back on the statement: “I’m Clint Eastwood, and you’re not.”

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Scary toddlers and super creeps – helicopter parenting and the rise of 'kindergarten horror'

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 10:05:43 GMT2017-08-03T10:05:43Z

Today’s horror films are being hit by a new wave of creepy clowns, dolls and kids. Are fans reclaiming childhoods stolen by overbearing parents?

There’s nothing like a horror movie for homing in on society’s open wounds and picking at them until they bleed. But if, in the first decade of the 21st century, “torture porn” was the genre’s way of reflecting the brutality and nihilism of a new world order, and if zombie movies could be read as metaphors of everything from ebola to the credit crunch, then what are we to make of the current trend for creepy dolls, creepy clowns and creepy kids?

If I call this “kindergarten horror”, it’s not intended as an insult (watching these spookfests with a rowdy but attentive audience can be a blast), but if you check out any recent horror movies – or even just their trailers – you’ll see the same imagery cropping up so often that it feels as though you’re stuck in a gruesome variation on Groundhog Day. Get a load of those dolls (Annabelle: Creation, Cult of Chucky, The Conjuring 3), clowns (It, Crepitus, Clowntown) or clown masks (Rock Paper Dead, Happy Death Day) and creepy kids (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Sinister 2, The Darkness) possessed by vengeful ghosts or ancient Babylonian deities.

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Violent femmes: Atomic Blonde and Hollywood’s new wave of killer women

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:39:05 GMT2017-07-27T16:39:05Z

Charlize Theron stars as a rough-housing MI6 agent, while Jennifer Lawrence and Taraji P Henson are also portraying spies and hit-women. But is it progress to simply feminise the action-film grunt?

Violent women are all the rage this season – so long as they are highly trained and impeccably dressed. Charlize Theron is a ruthless MI6 agent in Atomic Blonde, Jennifer Lawrence a seductive Russian in Red Sparrow and Taraji P Henson a slick hit-woman for the mob in Proud Mary. At first glance, it’s encouraging to see three strong female actors leading their own movies in a male-dominated industry. But is this really good news for representations of women on screen?

Atomic Blonde is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City and is directed by David Leitch, a stunt man and co-director of Keanu Reeves vehicle John Wick, which gives you a fair idea of his priorities. Theron is Lorraine Broughton, a British spy who is sent to Berlin to retrieve a valuable list of agents. It’s 1989, the Berlin Wall is about to crumble and so are a host of international hitmen waiting for Broughton to execute them in increasingly inventive ways (the freezer door in the face is a highlight).

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Bloodless, boring and empty: Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk left me cold

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 10:33:18 GMT2017-07-26T10:33:18Z

Nolan’s celebrated story of the evacuation at Dunkirk trades guts and glory for a 12A airbrushed rendering of history. The true story is much more complex – and moving

Is it just me? Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has bowled over critics and taken $100m (£77m) at the global box office in barely a week, but it left me cold.

The subject sounds enticing: the legend of Dunkirk tells of an array of unprepared civilians assembling an armada of fishing boats, pleasure craft, yachts, motor launches, paddle steamers, barges and lifeboats to rescue an army from a battle-swept beach. What might cinema reveal of the logistical skills, resourcefulness, courage, doubts, arguments and fears of the citizenry involved?

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Dark knight rising: why Ben Affleck's Batman is the key to DC's movie future

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 05:00:01 GMT2017-07-25T05:00:01Z

Last year’s Batman v Superman almost trashed the Batmobile, but DC needs to harness the Batfleck’s potential to connect its slate of Extended Universe films

Related: Ben Affleck says he will be The Batman despite report he would relinquish role

If the Marvel Cinematic Universe really does come to a close following the events of 2019’s as-yet-untitled Avengers: Infinity War sequel, as president Kevin Feige has been hinting, it will have achieved something historic. Apart from the odd bump in the road – anyone remember Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk? – it might just be possible for fans to rewatch more than 20 movies, stretching back to 2008’s Iron Man, which are all to a greater or lesser extent internally consistent with each other.

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From Thor: Ragnarok to Stranger Things – 10 things we learned from Comic-Con 2017

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:03:41 GMT2017-07-24T11:03:41Z

The annual fan event in San Diego, with its usual mix of teasers, trailers and talks, gave viewers leads on what to expect from next year’s hottest projects

Comic-Con International 2017 – in pictures

Poor Will Byers might have been rescued from the dark alternate dimension that is beginning to bleed into the town of Hawkins, Indiana (otherwise known as the Upside Down) in the Netflix smash. But it looks as if his ordeal is not yet over. As our gang of pre-teens take a trip to the local arcade to play Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair video game, Will suddenly sees the Upside Down flash into reality, with himself once again inside it. What’s more, a new, larger beast – 10 times the size of the Demogorgon from season one and with at least six limbs – appears to be marauding through the darkened skies.

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The Dunkirk spirit: how cinema is shaping Britain’s identity in the Brexit era

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:41:00 GMT2017-07-20T17:41:00Z

Where some see disaster, others see victory … No, not the fraught events of 1940 as depicted in Christopher Nolan’s war epic, but the right’s battle against Europe. Has cinema become a willing ally?

You can’t blame Christopher Nolan for Brexit. The director was halfway through making Dunkirk, his new war epic, when the EU referendum took place last June. But if the leave campaign had wanted to make a rousing propaganda movie to stir the nation, it couldn’t have picked a better subject matter. Dunkirk has got it all: Britain standing alone against the world, our manufacturing superiority prevailing, the nation coming together – all in a literal effort to get out of Europe. If he had got the film together a little earlier, perhaps Nigel Farage wouldn’t have needed to cite Independence Day in his morning-after victory speech.

The Dunkirk analogy has already been trotted out by leave campaigners, of course. Last February, for example, three months before she (wrongly) claimed that Britain would be powerless to prevent Turkey joining the EU, Tory minister Penny Mordaunt wrote an opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph titled “The spirit of Dunkirk will see us thrive outside the EU”. “In our long island history, there have been many times when Britain has not been well-served by alignment with Europe,” she wrote. “When Britain stood alone in 1940 after the defeat at Dunkirk, we were cut off and ridiculed. True leadership sometimes does feel isolating. Yet we have never suffered for it. We are resourceful; we are well connected; our brand is strong in the world.”

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The Snowman: serious film by serious people – or least spooky serial killer thriller ever?

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:15:36 GMT2017-07-20T11:15:36Z

The trailer suggests Michael Fassbender’s Jo Nesbø adaptation is a high-tension, dread-laden thriller with one problem: it’s full of snowmen

The Snowman, which is due for release in October, absolutely drips with pedigree. It’s based on a Jo Nesbø thriller about a serial killer with a disturbingly unique calling card: he leaves snowmen next to his victims. Originally due to be directed by Martin Scorsese, it’s a movie from film-maker Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) that stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, JK Simmons, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Toby Jones, with a score composed by Jonny Greenwood. The message is clear: this is a serious film made by serious people. As its new trailer demonstrates, The Snowman is intended to be taken very seriously indeed.

That said, it’s got loads of snowmen in it. Loads of them. Which is a risk, because it’s hard to make a snowman dramatically meaningful or ominous. Think of snowmen and you’ll think of Aled Jones warbling as a little boy flies through the air with his chilly best friend. Worse, you’ll think of the Michael Keaton movie Jack Frost. For The Snowman to work, it needs to employ some masterful production design: these snowmen have a lot to sell. With that in mind, here’s a definitive ranking of all The Snowman’s spookiest looking snowmen.

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Dunkirk: power, patriotism and Harry Styles on screen – discuss with spoilers

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:00:09 GMT2017-07-21T11:00:09Z

Does Dunkirk’s claustrophobic intensity earn it a place in the pantheon of war movies? Should we read it as a Brexit allegory? And how did the boyband singer turned actor do?

  • This article contains spoilers

It has been hailed by Guardian critics as Christopher Nolan’s best film so far and the movie that sees the director of Inception and The Dark Knight finally live up to the comparisons with Stanley Kubrick. Indeed, Dunkirk currently boasts a rating of 94% “fresh” on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting genuine Oscar potential.

But does it really rank as one of the all-time great war movies? And what did you think of Harry Styles’ acting? Here’s a chance to give your verdict on the film’s key talking points.

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With Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan has finally hit the heights of Kubrick

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 13:43:32 GMT2017-07-19T13:43:32Z

Any mention of the K-word in relation to Nolan has long prompted sneers, but his 10th film is dizzying, dazzling and diamond-hard. It could be his Paths of GloryFor quite a while now – at least since the release of Inception in 2010, Christopher Nolan has been regularly touted as the modern counterpart to the late, great Stanley Kubrick, whose dazzling accomplishments across multiple genres are generally held as the benchmark of American cinema. Back in 2010 those comparisons seemed absurd: how could the writer-director of classy-but-overthought superhero movies, as well as middling oddities such as The Prestige, be seriously thought of in the same bracket as the lambent mind behind Dr Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon?Well, it probably helps that Nolan and Kubrick share a studio – Warner Bros – whose marketing department have been probably the most active in seeding the whispers of equivalency. Nolan – wisely or not – made the link himself when Interstellar emerged in 2014, comparing his film to Kubrick’s 2001. The obvious conclusion is that Nolan’s work, while not exactly trivial, has never measured up to Kubrick’s direct embrace of the big ideas: war, love, sex, social breakdown, human consciousness. That’s not to say Nolan hasn’t aimed high in his “big” films. Interstellar in particular approached some rarefied intellectual heights with its time-bending narrative, but as the Guardian’s critic Peter Bradshaw concluded, it “leaves behind the subversion, the disquiet and Kubrick’s real interest in imagining a post-human future. What interests Nolan more is looping back to a sentimentally reinforced present.” Continue reading...[...]


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The keg party's over: why gross-out comedies are going down the pan

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 06:00:13 GMT2017-07-20T06:00:13Z

Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen and the rest ruled comedy for more than a decade. But everyone’s wisecracking now – from Marvel heroes to current affairs anchors – and the gross-out gags are wearing thin

Before it landed in cinemas last month, the smart money would have been on gambling farce The House as a hit. All the elements of recent comedy successes were there: a zany premise (parents try to pay off their daughter’s tuition fees by opening an illegal casino in their friend’s living room); two well-liked leads in Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler; a ribald, outrageous tone; and some appealingly anarchic set-pieces – who could resist the prospect of watching Jeremy Renner being rolled up in a carpet and set alight?

But resist it audiences did. Most cinemagoers opted instead for the speed-demon thrills of Baby Driver or the unstoppable might of Wonder Woman. On its opening weekend The House grossed a measly $9m in US cinemas, against a budget of $40m. Three weeks later, it still hasn’t come close to earning back that budget.

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Human, all too human: 10 sci-fi films that show what it means to be alive

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:01:01 GMT2017-07-14T14:01:01Z

MoMA’s latest film series sees the institution search deep and wide for the best in out-there science fiction. Here’s a selection that pushes at ideas of humanity

When putting together MoMA’s new film series, Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction, its curator, Josh Siegel, set out to compile a list of pictures that defined the genre within more earthly parameters. He decided to seek out sci-fi that took place on Earth, had no aliens or invasions, and instead investigated what it meant to be human at the time of the film’s release. Before the retrospective, Siegel, along with museum’s chief curator of film, Rajendra Roy, discussed their favorite films in the series.

Related: George and Mike Kuchar: attack of the killer twins

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Game, set and movie: what makes a winning tennis film?

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 15:58:44 GMT2017-07-13T15:58:44Z

Past attempts to capture the game have had mixed results, but Borg vs McEnroe – celebrating the epic 1980 Wimbledon final – and Battle of the Sexes, both due out later this year, could deliver match points

There are so many ways to make John McEnroe mad. You can give him a bad line call or a time violation, or remind him of the French Open title bout he lost to Ivan Lendl in 1984. Alternatively, you can make a film such as Borg vs McEnroe, which lionises him on screen and celebrates his heroic performance in the 1980 Wimbledon final. The film is not out until September and he is already calling fault. He is bemused by the concept and sceptical of the content. He dislikes the fact that it is being made at all. “I’ve never seen a good tennis movie,” the three-time former Wimbledon champion complained to Vanity Fair. “They all were terrible.”

You can argue with McEnroe as much as you like. The man invites it; he feeds on controversy like a mosquito on blood. In the past three weeks alone, he has been accused of downplaying the achievements of Andy Murray and claimed that Serena Williams – widely regarded as the best female player ever – is only as good as the 700th-ranked man. As a film critic, though, he is on far safer ground.

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Big in Albania … countries that gave film flops a second life

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:34:58 GMT2017-07-12T09:34:58Z

The superheroes saved by Mexico, the video-game spinoff that became China’s 12th biggest movie ever, and the British comedian worshipped by a secretive communist nation. We remember the films somebody else loved

The Rock’s Baywatch reboot may be drowning, not waving, in multiplexes around the globe, but there is one territory where cinemagoers apparently can’t get enough of it: Germany. Put it down to the enduring cultural impact of David Hasselhoff, but the country of Angela Merkel is almost single-handedly saving Baywatch from box-office infamy. It’s not the first time a movie has struck an unexpected chord somewhere far from home, as these examples demonstrate.

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David Lowery on why he made A Ghost Story: 'I was freaking out, having an existential crisis'

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 17:41:06 GMT2017-08-09T17:41:06Z

Why would anyone dress Casey Affleck in a white sheet and try to pass him off as a ghost? It all started when David Lowery read an article about earthquakes – and became convinced the world was ending

David Lowery spent much of last summer feeling sick to his stomach. The director was so nervous about shooting A Ghost Story that he filmed it in secret. “I was very aware of falling flat on my face,” he says. “It was such a high-wire concept. I went into it thinking it would be fun, a liberating bout of creative experimentation. But it was terrifying. I was so riddled with self-doubt I probably aged five years.”

Lowery is now grinning from ear to ear, though. He can talk about his fears because A Ghost Story has neither sunk his career nor made him a laughing stock – although you can understand his anxiety. On paper, the film’s “high-wire concept” looks bonkers: it’s Casey Affleck wearing a white bedsheet. He looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost or the phantom emoji come to life. “On set, I kept waiting for someone to call me out, to raise their hand and say, ‘This looks stupid.’ I’m glad no one did, because my confidence was already shot.”

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'I've not retired!' Earl Cameron, Britain's first black film star, on Bond, racism – and turning 100

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 12:03:14 GMT2017-08-08T12:03:14Z

From Thunderball to Inception, from punchy thrillers to mixed-race romances, Earl Cameron blazed a trail through British acting – with just one lung. He relives his meatiest roles and the prejudice he rose above

‘Not long till your birthday!” the receptionist shouts as Earl Cameron materialises in the lobby of the Holiday Inn near his home in Warwickshire. He’s come with his wife, Barbara, to check on the party arrangements. They’ve booked the conference suite, which he now fears is too small, given all the guests who are coming. He has six children scattered around the world, more grandkids than he can keep track of, plus scores of old friends.

It’s going to be a big bash, which is only fitting. Cameron was arguably Britain’s first black movie star – and these are the preparations for his 100th birthday, which takes place this week.

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Clémence Poésy: ‘Can Macron make it work? I’m waiting to see…’

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 08:00:36 GMT2017-08-06T08:00:36Z

The star of In Bruges and Harry Potter on working with Stanley Tucci, Brexit and Le Pen, and her fears for generation Instagram

The French actor Clémence Poésy, 34, is best known for her roles in The Tunnel, In Bruges and as Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter films. In Stanley Tucci’s film of the life of artist Alberto Giacometti she plays opposite Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer. She lives in Paris and east London, and earlier this year gave birth to her first child, Liam.

Your character in Final Portrait is Giacometti’s mistress and muse, Caroline. She’s full of life and colour, but is very temperamental and often skittish. How did you want to play her?
I was constantly scared of her being too much. But Stanley had his film very clear in his head, and knew that the story needed that burst of energy at some points. I was quite careful that we had just a minute to show that maybe her life was a bit more complicated and maybe not as happy as it seemed, and maybe a bit tougher. So we had that conversation about having one silent moment that I think brings that world into the film, and makes her a bit layered, I guess.

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Sharknado 5’s Tara Reid: ‘It can get abusive. There’s a lot of bullying’

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 11:30:13 GMT2017-08-03T11:30:13Z

The American Pie star has battled both online trolls and shark-based extreme weather events. But through it all, she still knows how to tell Jedward apart

Hi, Tara! How are Jedward (1)?

Jedward are great. I’m in touch with them all the time, you know what I mean? I love Jedward, they’re amazing. Jedward are in Sharknado as well. They’re like my little brothers.

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Luc Besson on turning Rihanna into a 28th-century Cleopatra and being stood up by Prince

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 06:00:08 GMT2017-08-03T06:00:08Z

From The Fifth Element to Lucy, Besson’s gender-splicing sci-fi films have never played by Hollywood’s rules. Now he’s taking the biggest gamble of his career by sending Cara Delevingne into space in Valerian

No one needs a hit right now more than Luc Besson. His production company, EuropaCorp, recently posted record losses of $135m. He was ordered last year to pay nearly half a million dollars after being found guilty of plagiarising John Carpenter’s Escape from New York in his 2012 screenplay Lockout. And his new futuristic adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, is the most expensive independent movie ever made, with a budget of around $200m. The film needs to crack at least $400m worldwide (like his Scarlett Johansson action fantasy Lucy) to push the company back into the black. Right now, that looks as far fetched as any of the film’s 28th-century intergalactic escapades. Valerian had a dismal $17m opening weekend in the US last month. In Germany, it landed in third place behind Despicable Me 3, which had already been on release for three weeks.

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The incredible Jessica Williams: 'Great comedy comes from feeling like you've gotten punched up'

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:14:05 GMT2017-07-26T16:14:05Z

The Daily Show’s ‘senior Beyoncé correspondent’ talks about taking on Fox News, the secret to political comedy – and her new film The Incredible Jessica James, about a woman struggling to find love in the age of Tinder

When Jessica Williams enters the room at Manhattan’s Bryant Park Hotel, her long arm extended for a handshake, she lets out a spontaneous belch. “Excuse me!” she says, hand over mouth, surprised by the untimely salutation.

If anyone can make burps endearing, it’s the former Daily Show correspondent. Williams was in a college cafeteria when she got the call from Comedy Central that made her the show’s first black female reporter. “I was at the Panda Express with my best friend,” she says. “I just started screaming, everybody’s looking at us, rolling their eyes, trying to eat their orange chicken.” She was 22 at the time, a senior at California State University, Long Beach, a 30-minute drive from her childhood home.

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City of Ghosts director Matthew Heineman: 'Imagine seeing people crucified – every day'

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:41:43 GMT2017-07-21T17:41:43Z

Their families have been killed, they live in hiding, but a brave group of Syrians continue to defy Islamic State by reporting its atrocities to the world. The director of a new documentary explains how he told their shocking storiesThe most remarkable scene in Matthew Heineman’s new film City of Ghosts – indeed, possibly the most remarkable scene in any documentary you’re likely to see this year – takes place in an unfurnished German apartment. Hamoud al-Mousa, a founder member of the citizen journalist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) sits staring at a laptop, watching a video of his father’s murder at the hands of Islamic State militants. The killing has been filmed in the manner of a Michael Bay movie, bombastic and slickly edited. It is intended to strike fear into Hamoud – and any others willing to expose the many atrocities committed by the terrorist group. Hamoud however refuses to be cowed. “I watch the video a lot. It gives me strength,” he says.Hamoud’s fortitude in the face of such brutality will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of RBSS. Formed initially to document the assault carried out by the Assad regime on their home city, the group turned their attention to Isis when the group took control of Raqqa in 2014 and declared it the capital of their new caliphate. Since then RBSS has, through social media postings and cameraphone footage, shone a light on a regime that is out of reach of western journalists. They have done so at enormous personal cost: several members of the group have been executed, as well as friends and family members. Hamoud’s father is just one of many victims. Continue reading...[...]


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Bryan Cranston: ‘I would go to malls, sit near arguing couples and watch them’

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 14:11:24 GMT2017-07-20T14:11:24Z

The Breaking Bad star’s new film Wakefield is a study of a man who vanishes, only to spy on his grieving family. Would his years of pre-fame voyeurism come in handy?

Hi, Bryan. Where are you today?
I am calling all the way from Chiswick. We could have done this over tea.

Why are you in Chiswick?
One of the things I’d done, just after the end of Breaking Bad, was to create a production company to produce television projects. One of my projects is called Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams. [1] We’re shooting here in London. We have five episodes and I’m acting in one of the episodes. It’s an anthology series.

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The Big Sick's Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon: 'In America, the idea of a cross-cultural relationship is still controversial'

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 08:30:16 GMT2017-07-16T08:30:16Z

A medically induced coma isn’t usually a spark for romance, but it’s what helped Emily V Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, writers of The Big Sick, put the seal on their love – as well as giving them material for the film in which Nanjiani also stars

When Emily V Gordon, then 27 years old, drove to a medical clinic in Chicago she thought she would be in and out in an hour. She had a cold that she couldn’t shift and strange parts of her body ached; she found herself sometimes a little short of breath when she walked. On the way to the clinic, she’d stopped at Wendy’s to buy a Frosty, an ice-cream dessert that was the big treat from her childhood. She thought it would cheer her up, but she left it half-finished in a cup holder.

“I was coming back for that Frosty,” says Gordon a decade on.

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Naomi Watts: ‘My soul was being destroyed’

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 08:00:01 GMT2017-07-15T08:00:01Z

At 32, she was unhireable. At 48, she is unmissable. The Gypsy star talks lucky breaks, bad reviews and being in therapy

“Armchair or sofa?” Naomi Watts wonders aloud, trying to decide where to put us both in her London hotel room. The 48-year-old actor has spent a lot of this year and last portraying a therapist for the 10-hour TV serial Gypsy, and did a good deal of sitting in armchairs for that. She takes the sofa. “This works.”

The day Watts was born, her mother once recalled, the midwife took one look and declared the baby would grow up to be famous. “How many newborns did she say that about?” Watts smiles. In her case, it took a while – the actor did not get her break until she was 32 – but the maternity-ward prediction came to pass and Watts has been established as a Hollywood reliable for years now. Long enough to have gone around twice on productions with leading directors such as David Lynch and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Long enough to have seen the skinny boy who played her kid in The Impossible grow up to become this summer’s muscle-ripped Spider-Man.

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Zoe Kazan: ‘There’s so much sexual harassment on set'

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 10:00:05 GMT2017-07-08T10:00:05Z

Zoe Kazan is no stranger to Hollywood: her parents, boyfriend and late grandfather Elia all found fame in the industry. Now it’s her turn – and she’s doing it differentlyZoe Kazan has been in a lot of movies but, as she tells me on the short walk from a photo studio in Manhattan to an Indian restaurant for lunch, she has been troubled by the paparazzi only once. The actor is in pale dungaree shorts and an embroidered denim jacket, and at 33 is slight and earnest; she could, if she wanted to, still just about carry off bunches. To her bemusement, she is sometimes referred to as “Hollywood royalty”, on account of her famous grandfather, the late Hollywood director Elia Kazan, and also nudges into the demographic of celebrity couple: Paul Dano, Kazan’s boyfriend of 10 years, is the more recognisable of the pair, but neither has been of any interest to the tabloids, Kazan says, until last year, when Dano appeared as Pierre in the BBC’s War And Peace. Suddenly, British paps materialised outside their Brooklyn apartment.That relative obscurity may be about to expire. Kazan has had many small, pivotal roles in big productions, among them Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road and the HBO adaptation of Olive Kitteridge; but her new film The Big Sick, a charming and smart romantic comedy produced by Judd Apatow and co-starring Kumail Nanjiani, has won universal praise in the US. Kazan plays Emily, Nanjiani’s girlfriend, who shortly after they start dating and split up, falls suddenly ill, ending up in a medically induced coma. Continue reading...[...]


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On my radar: Jack O’Connell’s cultural highlights

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 09:00:20 GMT2017-07-09T09:00:20Z

The actor on a book of ancient wisdom, the effortless cool of Fat White Family, hurling, asparagus and Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake

Born in Alvaston, Derby, in 1990, Jack O’Connell made his film debut in 2006 as reluctant neo-Nazi Pukey in Shane Meadows’s This Is England, before landing the part of Cook in Skins. Following turns in Starred Up and Harry Brown – for which Michael Caine labelled him a “star of the future” – he was cast as the lead in Angelina Jolie’s 2014 film Unbroken, about a second world war bombardier and Olympic athlete who ends up in a prisoner-of-war camp. In 2015 he won the EE rising star award at the Baftas, and the following year appeared in Jodie Foster’s Money Monster. O’Connell stars opposite Sienna Miller in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  at London’s Apollo theatre from 13 July.

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Elle Fanning: ‘It’s a job, but it’s also about dressing up and pretending’

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 15:30:01 GMT2017-07-06T15:30:01Z

The actor goes back to her southern roots for the gothic chiller The Beguiled. She talks about growing pains, stage mothers and the joy of playing the bad girl

Once upon a time, a young ingenue took a trip across Los Angeles to meet Hollywood’s equivalent of the big bad wolf. The controversial Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn was casting the lead role in The Neon Demon, a nightmarish fable of the fashion industry, and feared that wholesome Elle Fanning might not be tough enough to stay the course. So Refn asked her out of the blue if she thought she was beautiful – a question deliberately intended to trip her up and make her squirm. The tactic succeeded. But only up to a point.

“In the end I said yes,” Fanning recalls. “I said that yes, I did think I was beautiful. Because I knew it was a test, he was trying to get me to crack. And I thought that this was what I should say, what the character would say. And it was right, it worked, because I got the part.”

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Sofia Coppola: ‘I never felt I had to fit into the majority view’

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 08:00:23 GMT2017-07-02T08:00:23Z

Born into film ‘royalty’, Sofia Coppola defied sceptics with a string of distinctive films, most recently The Beguiled, for which she won best director prize at Cannes. Here she talks fathers, fashion and the female gaze

Film-makers are not, for the most part, paragons of cool, but Sofia Coppola is different – a director whose pristine aesthetic extends beyond the screen into what her close friend the fashion designer Marc Jacobs admiringly terms an “art of living”. Stephen Dorff, star of her 2010 film Somewhere, deems her coolness contagious: “When she casts me, everyone thinks I’m cool again.” And down in the more lowly ranks of film criticism, standard-issue scepticism becomes fannish enthusiasm when I mention I’m about to interview her: “Oh God, I just want her life,” one friend gushes.

Six feature films into her career, Coppola remains unique in a film industry that, in particular, rarely makes celebrities of female directors. Born into the Hollywood firmament – the daughter of era-owning auteur Francis Ford Coppola – she came to film-making via acting, modelling and fashion design. She’s married to a French rock star, Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars, and they divide their time between Manhattan’s West Village and Paris.

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Laura Poitras on her WikiLeaks film Risk: ‘I knew Julian Assange was going to be furious’

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:56:14 GMT2017-06-29T14:56:14Z

The Oscar-winning director made her name with the Edward Snowden revelations. In turn, that led to the opportunity to closely film Assange. But the more she filmed, the more critical she became

Laura Poitras wants to make one thing absolutely clear. She still admires Julian Assange despite everything that has happened. But, it soon emerges, this is a mighty caveat.

Risk, Poitras’s film on Assange, six years in the making, is finally finished. During this time she has gone from being an Assange supporter given privileged access to an outsider banished from the WikiLeaks inner sanctum; she has exposed the National Security Agency’s global spying programme (a lot of it published in Britain by the Guardian) after being the first journalist to make contact with whistleblower Edward Snowden, and she has made an Oscar-winning documentary about Snowden called Citizenfour.

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The Big Sick – the year’s most likably unlikely romcom

Sun, 30 Jul 2017 08:00:14 GMT2017-07-30T08:00:14Z

Illness threatens a blossoming romance in a touching cross-cultural comedy based on the co-writers’ real-life courtship

The oft-quoted instruction to “write what you know” (attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to Faulkner and Hemingway) has become something of a cliche, stifling as many writers as it inspires. Yet Emily V Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani have put this formula to winning use in their screenplay for the year’s most likably unlikely romcom.

A fictionalised account of an episode in which a rare disease landed Gordon in a medically induced coma while Nanjiani got to know her parents for the first time, The Big Sick is While You Were Sleeping for the wide-awake generation, a beautiful blend of real-life grit and Four Weddings fantasy. Produced by Judd Apatow, under whose patronage Bridesmaids became a mould-breaking hit, this touching tale of cross-cultural entanglement finds a Pakistan-born man and an American woman wrestling with the conflicting ties of unexpected love and arranged marriage, with everything –life, death, family – at stake.

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Raw; The Sense of an Ending; Clash; I Am Not Your Negro and more – review

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 07:00:07 GMT2017-08-13T07:00:07Z

A vegetarian student craves human flesh in Julia Ducournau’s prize-winning Raw, The Sense of an Ending is a bloodless affair, and Huppert singsLast year I was on a film festival jury that wound up, after several hours of finicky deliberation, giving our top prize to Julia Ducournau’s coming-of-cannibalistic-age nightmare Raw (Universal, 18). It was, to all of us, an unexpected vote of consensus for a film that seduces through repulsion. “What have we approved?” a fellow juror asked me with a grin as we delivered our verdict. Ducournau’s debut lands on screen like a live, throbbing heart plucked from its housing chest, wrapped in rose-coloured satin instead of butcher’s paper.It doesn’t take long for a grisly grindhouse soul to emerge from its gleaming exterior. As the rituals of campus hazing take their dizzying toll on her, vegetarian veterinary student Justine (Garance Marillier) finds within herself a grislier kind of carnal urge than that usually felt by college kids. As a witty metaphor for the subversive powers of female sexuality, Raw bunks in the same sorority as Carrie and Ginger Snaps, though its most sense-searing excesses are very much its own. Ducournau sees as much body-horror potential here in a botched bikini wax as in a bout of literal knuckle-gnawing. A film in complete sympathy with its heroine’s extreme bodily desires, it’s as grossly red and as quiveringly tender as the best rare steak. Continue reading...[...]


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Has Wonder Woman opened the floodgates for female action heroes?

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 08:59:05 GMT2017-08-07T08:59:05Z

The release of Charlize Theron spy movie Atomic Blonde is the first test of whether we are heading into a new era of kick-ass equalityIf Jean-Luc Godard really meant it when he said “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun”, how come he never made a movie with just a girl and a gun? Vivre Sa Vie might just about scrape through, but Godard basically took it as read that there would be a guy in the mix.Hollywood, on the other hand, has started to take Godard’s maxim literally. We have had countless “girl and gun” movies recently, and virtually none have stuck. It’s as though the studios looked at Bourne, Bond, John Wick and all the other franchised-up action heroes and all had the same bright idea: “Make the hero a woman!” Often that becomes a woman wearing next to nothing, such as Salma Hayek in Everly. Sometimes, a proper fighter gets cast, like Gina Carano in Haywire. Sometimes our hero is a teenager (Hanna); sometimes it’s a Bourne-like agent (Noomi Rapace in Unlocked). Often, it’s Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider, Salt, Wanted). And sometimes it’s a chemically enhanced superhuman, such as Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy. That one worked; the others, not so much. Continue reading...[...]


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Hollywood’s grim century of fat-shaming: from Greta Garbo to Chloë Grace Moretz

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:00:51 GMT2017-08-11T06:00:51Z

The film industry has a long and unhealthy obsession with the weight of its female stars. The more who speak up – like Moretz did this week – the more chance there is of changeThis week, 20-year-old actor Chloë Grace Moretz said she had been “body-shamed” by a male actor on set when she was 15. He was her co-star at the time, in his 20s, cast in the role of her love interest, and he said he would never date her in real life, because she was too big. It was a comment that drove her to tears. Moretz is the latest in a string of Hollywood stars who are prepared to be more open about their experiences of sexism in the industry, from Jennifer Lawrence to Emma Watson. Like the late Carrie Fisher, who revealed she was asked to lose weight before appearing in the new Star Wars series, Moretz touches on something particularly troubling: the pressure on women on screen to maintain a body size that may be unrealistic or unhealthy.Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Silent-film expert Pamela Hutchinson cites the example of Greta Garbo. “Louis B Mayer hired her for MGM in 1925, when she was already a success in Europe, with the caveat that ‘In America, we don’t like fat women’. Garbo ate nothing but spinach for three weeks and then dieted, rigorously, for the rest of her Hollywood career.” There were even more extreme measures. “An actor called Molly O’Day had her excess weight cut away by a surgeon. In 1929, Photoplay magazine explicitly blamed the death of comic actor Katherine Grant on the Hal Roach studio’s demands[...]


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Jean-Pierre Melville: cinematic poet of the lowlife and criminal

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 15:41:24 GMT2017-08-08T15:41:24Z

The French resistance fighter turned film-maker had an instinctive sympathy for the outsider, and remodelled the crime thriller into something studied, cool and subversiveWatching the movies of Jean-Pierre Melville, whose centenary is this year, is about watching the faces of men: impassive, immovable, inscrutable. They exist in a macho world where codes of dress and behaviour are hardly different on either side of the law. There are men in trench coats and hats and loosened ties, men bunched into cars on the way to or from a job gazing blankly straight ahead, men in nightclubs, their professionally bored expressions unaffected or even petrified more intensely by the drink, the cigarettes and the sexy dancers up on stage grinding through some quaintly choreographed routine (a classic Melville scene this, used in almost every one of his films).His most famous picture is probably is the hitman study Le Samouraï (1967), with the exquisitely beautiful Alain Delon as the professional assassin, a man of mandarin detachment. There is a samurai code of blankness or emotional paralysis in many of Melville’s men, as if human emotions are an undisciplined expenditure of effort that should be conserved for the imminent kill. It often creates an almost Beckettian severity and sparseness. One of his eeriest scenes comes from his very last picture, Un Flic, or A Cop, released in 1972. Delon plays an officer called to a crime scene: the hotel room of a young woman who has been murdered. Melville doesn’t show us the[...]


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Jeanne Moreau: the intelligent, complex star who lit up the French New Wave

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 16:06:04 GMT2017-07-31T16:06:04Z

The Jules et Jim star had a world-weary presence that created a space for a new type of female actor in French film. Above all she was a great screen star

Related: Jeanne Moreau, star of Jules et Jim, dies aged 89

Jeanne Moreau is probably best known for a movie in which she was perhaps most atypically cast – as Catherine, the entrancing free spirit who has ensnared two men in François Truffaut’s sensational hit Jules et Jim (1962). But in that movie she was no mere ingenue. Moreau was 35 years old, an established star of the French stage and hardly a newcomer to movies. She had a worldly intelligence and sensuality in Jules et Jim that outranked her suitors. It was a clue to the potency and poignancy of her part in that love triangle.

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Christopher Nolan: from superheroes to Dunkirk’s small tales of heroism | the Observer profile

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 23:02:00 GMT2017-07-22T23:02:00Z

His bold experimental films and blockbuster franchises have met with huge commercial success. Now the director reveals new depths of warmth and humanity with his potent war movieWhen initial details emerged about the new film Dunkirk, attention focused disproportionately on the news of the acting debut of Harry Styles, of One Direction fame. Creditable as the pop star’s performance may be, he isn’t the main reason for the excitement now surrounding the movie.That’s all due to Christopher Nolan, who already has a place on the distinguished roll-call of celebrity film-makers, alongside Cecil B DeMille, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Spielberg and James Cameron. Or, for that matter, his friend Quentin Tarantino, who has spoken of Nolan’s “old film-making craft”, arguing that he would be “just as potent a film-maker as he is if he was making movies in 1975. Or, if he was making movies in 1965. I’d like to see Chris Nolan’s version of The Battle of Bulge [sic]. That would be fucking awesome.” Continue reading...[...]


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‘We warn each other’: how casting-couch culture endures in Hollywood

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 05:59:12 GMT2017-07-18T05:59:12Z

Despite A-List actors speaking out, harassment is so rife in the film industry that a manifesto has been launched to stop women being propositioned at auditions. Can it work?It seems every female actor of a certain status has perched uncomfortably on the casting couch at one time or another. Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Alison Brie, Susan Sarandon and Emmy Rossum have all recalled creepy come-ons from powerful men that took place early in their careers. In an interview in March, Jane Fonda revealed that she had once been fired “because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss”; Zoe Kazan recently described sexual harassment from a producer: “He’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a joke, ha ha.’ But he was also paying my cheque and then watching me from the monitor as I made out with another actor.” Thandie Newton has a particularly horrifying story about how she was persuaded, while still a teenager, to allow a director to film up her skirt during a “weird” audition and then discovered, decades later, that he was still passing the footage around at parties. Continue reading...[...]


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Peter McEnery on Victim: 'I got a lot of letters from the gay community saying: We all thank you’

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:00:00 GMT2017-07-13T16:00:00Z

The actor, who played Dirk Bogarde’s blackmailing boyfriend in the 1961 film, reflects on how it changed attitudes – including his own – to homosexuality six years before decriminalisationVictim was one of those rare films that actually made a difference. Its sympathetic portrayal of homosexuality in 1960s Britain helped pave the way for decriminalisation, six years later, via the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. The Act’s chief architect, Lord Arran, even wrote to Victim’s star, Dirk Bogarde, thanking him. The movie smuggled its courageous campaigning into British cinemas in the guise of an accessible London mystery thriller, in which Bogarde’s respectable, married barrister is drawn into a sprawling blackmail plot by Barrett, a young, gay construction worker, with whom he has been photographed. Peter McEnery, who played Barrett, reminisces on the experience. SRI had no reservations at all about taking the role; it was a good part. And I was absolutely thrilled because Dirk Bogarde was a big name. I had just started out. I had moved up to London and was “living in sin” with my first girlfriend. I had done one movie which I’m admitting to before that, which was Tunes of Glory with Alec Guinness and John Mills, and I had just been auditioned for the newly formed Royal Shakespeare Company under Peter Hall. Continue reading...[...]


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‘A great critic and a lovely man’: Barry Norman dies aged 83

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 23:05:12 GMT2017-07-01T23:05:12Z

Journalist who became familiar figure as BBC’s film reviewer for 26 years wins warm tributes

The worlds of film and journalism are mourning Barry Norman, the veteran critic and journalist who became a weekly oracle for British cinemagoers in the era before the internet took off.

Norman, who presented the BBC’s film review show for 26 years before leaving for Sky, and wrote for newspapers including the Observer and the Guardian, died in his sleep on Friday night. He was 83.

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