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Film | The Guardian

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

Published: Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:37:48 GMT2017-10-18T09:37:48Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bob Weinstein accused of inappropriate behavior by female TV producer

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:20:12 GMT2017-10-17T21:20:12Z

Weinstein denies claim by Amanda Segel, a showrunner for Spike TV’s The Mist, who says he made unwanted advances despite her multiple refusals

Bob Weinstein on Tuesday denied an accusation that he made unwanted advances toward a female showrunner working for the Weinstein Company last year.

The showrunner, Amanda Segel, is an executive producer on Spike TV’s The Mist. Segel claims that beginning last summer, Weinstein repeatedly asked her to dine alone with him and made romantic overtures despite her multiple refusals, according to Variety.

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The Lego Ninjago Movie karate kicks Blade Runner 2049 off top of the UK box office

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:01:16 GMT2017-10-17T13:01:16Z

The Snowman gets a slightly chilly reception, while arthouse audiences warm to animated biopic Loving Vincent and Sally Potter comedy The Party

Opening in the UK with £3.64m, The Lego Ninjago Movie tops the box-office chart, elbowing aside Blade Runner 2049. It’s the second Lego-themed chart-topper this year, following The Lego Batman Movie in February. It’s also the fifth animated chart-topper, following Sing, The Lego Batman Movie, The Boss Baby and Despicable Me 3.

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Reese Witherspoon alleges sexual assault by director when she was 16

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:15:31 GMT2017-10-17T13:15:31Z

Actor says that agents and producers told her to remain silent about the incident, which she says was the first of many experiences of sexual assault and harassment throughout her career

Reese Witherspoon has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16, but was told to remain silent by agents and producers.

The actor made the claims during a speech reflecting on the problems faced by women in the film industry at the Elle Women in Hollywood event on Monday, People reports. Witherspoon did not name the director in question but said that the incident was the first of many experiences of “harassment and sexual assault” throughout her career.

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Back from the dead: is the slasher movie set to make a killing?

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:00:03 GMT2017-10-17T11:00:03Z

The hit Happy Death Day hints at renewed interest in the masked killer genre, with Jamie Lee Curtis back in the Halloween saga and Scream getting revived

Vampire in Brooklyn, Thinner, The Dentist, Leprechaun 3 … the horror genre in the mid-90s was terrifying for all the wrong reasons. It was barely even a thing, at least outside of the very bottom shelf of Blockbuster, a place where kids would awkwardly hover before begging parents to let them watch some film about an evil laundry-folding machine.

Related: Horrorwood! Will the new golden age of scary movies save cinema?

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Carrie Fisher gave predatory producer a cow's tongue in a box

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:17:35 GMT2017-10-17T11:17:35Z

Screenwriter Heather Robinson says that after telling Fisher she’d had to fight off a Hollywood executive, the Star Wars actor hand-delivered him the gift with a threatening note

Carrie Fisher once hand-delivered a cow’s tongue wrapped in a Tiffany box to a predatory Hollywood producer, a friend of the late actor has claimed.

Screenwriter Heather Robinson said that Fisher had intervened after the unnamed executive, identified as an Oscar winner, had tried to force himself on Robinson while in his car.

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Turning to the dark side: is Luke Skywalker really the villain of Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:00:04 GMT2017-10-17T05:00:04Z

In the new poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mark Hamill’s character looms menacingly in the background – just like his dear old dad Darth Vader used to

When giant Snoke told us last time out that there had been an “awakening”, most Star Wars fans assumed the alien overlord must be referring to Daisy Ridley’s proto-Jedi Rey and her madcap Force visions. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious in the run-up to Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi that disturbances in the Force are more insidious and potentially wide-ranging.

First came last week’s final trailer for the middle part of the new Star Wars trilogy, in which Ridley seems to be cosying up to Adam Driver’s sinister Kylo Ren. And this week there’s been plenty of talk online to the effect that Luke Skywalker himself might finally be set to turn to the dark side, 40 years after we first met the Tatooinian farm worker with the big dreams and impressive knack for bullseyeing womp rats.

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Straight to the heart: Hollywood’s hetero approach to casting gay cinema

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:00:01 GMT2017-10-16T09:00:01Z

Call Me By Your Name is the latest movie to cast straight actors in roles that are not, while the opposite seldom occurs. Is it time for #OscarsSoStraight?

Related: Armie Hammer on gay romance Call Me By Your Name: ‘There were fetishes I didn’t understand’

Every time a new movie about a gay relationship comes out, the question gets asked: “Why did they have to cast straight actors?” White actors playing characters of colour is seen as inappropriate; what about straight actors playing gay characters?

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So long, Slumdog? Film studio chief says Brexit threatens British cinema

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:58:34 GMT2017-10-15T15:58:34Z

Lionsgate’s Zygi Kamasa fears hits such as Slumdog Millionaire will no longer be made as funding for UK films starts to dry up

The success of British cinema is being threatened by a loss of funding caused by Brexit, according to the chief executive of a major film company, who warned that hits such as Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech may no longer be made in the future.

Zygi Kamasa, the chief executive of Lionsgate UK and Europe, warned: “Between 2007 and 2013, over €100m [£90m] was invested in UK film. It is a big amount for indigenous British productions. The concern is that, with Brexit, we will lose that funding.”

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Fresh, diverse and earthy: 2017’s great debuts from UK film directors

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:05:14 GMT2017-10-14T23:05:14Z

The end of the London Film Festival highlights the growing success of a new wave of UK film-makers, including Michael Pearce and Rungano Nyoni

Ever since the late Colin Welland collected his screenwriting Oscar for Chariots of Fire in 1982 and declared with a most un-British triumphalism that “The British are coming!”, such public displays of confidence in the country’s film industry have been uncommon, even frowned upon. Perhaps it is time to amend Welland’s cry this year and state the obvious: the British are here. In 2017, there have been more distinctive homegrown debut features funded, made and released, displaying a greater diversity of theme and focus, than in any other year in recent memory.

Previously it has been possible to identify small, localised pockets of new talent: think of 2006, when both Andrea Arnold (Red Road) and Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton) made their debuts, or 2008, which brought forth Steve McQueen (Hunger) and Joanna Hogg (Unrelated). This year feels more like an explosion. It isn’t only that promising new film-makers have emerged; it’s also the way in which their films have challenged and disrupted preconceptions about what British cinema and British stories might be.

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Call Me By Your Name’s Oscar-tipped double act on their summer of love

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 07:00:24 GMT2017-10-15T07:00:24Z

Film critics are raving about the new gay romance Call Me By Your Name. Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet talk about filming in Italy, fathers – and their relationship on and off set

When a film is as extraordinary as director Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, you suspend disbelief. It becomes impossible not to imagine that its characters, 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), a doctoral student working for a professor of Greco culture in northern Italy, and 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet), the professor’s son, are not out in the world somewhere. You picture them now the film is over, continuing to live their lives and picking up the pieces after the devastating love affair that brought them together in 1983. For although we have arrived at a moment in cinema history where – at last – there are more remarkable cinematic accounts of homosexual love than ever before (Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country, John Trengove’s The Wound), this film occupies a subtle category of its own. It is an adaptation, by James Ivory and Walter Fasano, of André Aciman’s 2007 celebrated novel, described by the New York Times as “hot” and “a coming-of-age story, a coming-out story, a Proustian meditation on time and desire”.

On an ordinary, autumnal afternoon, it seems far-fetched that Hammer and Chalamet should be at Claridge’s in London, that they should be available for comment or that they should, after all, turn out to be actors. As the door opens on their hotel suite, it is Oliver and Elio I search for in their faces. Hammer, known for his performance as the Winklevoss twins in David Fincher’s The Social Network, is so good looking it is almost laughable – blond, sportily built, with perfect American teeth. What makes his performance stirring is the sense he gives of beauty as a trap. There is a restlessness about Oliver, subtle hints of unhappiness, as if he needed to disrupt his own veneer.

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Russian 'masterpiece' wins top prize at British Film Institute awards

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:30:54 GMT2017-10-14T23:30:54Z

Paul Greengrass references Weinstein scandal and calls for more diversity in film industry as he collects special prize

The virtues of independent, international film-making were celebrated on Saturday night at a starry British Film Institute awards evening at the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

Related: Loveless review - eerie thriller of hypnotic, mysterious intensity from Leviathan director

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Tom Hanks: ‘I’ve made a lot of movies that didn’t make sense – or money’

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 09:00:03 GMT2017-10-14T09:00:03Z

In the downtime between movies, Tom Hanks has written his first collection of short stories. He talks books, regrets, Hollywood egos and fat astronauts with Emma Brockes

• Read Hanks’ story Three Exhausting Weeks, with audio from the author

“This is odd,” Tom Hanks says with a shake of his shoulders, the international sign of limbering up. We are in a photographer’s studio in LA, a setting that is as familiar to Hanks as the reason for our meeting is strange. He has written a collection of short stories called Uncommon Type and, balanced on the edge of the sofa, is exploring the novelty of giving an interview without “talking points from the studio”. Hanks-the-actor is cushioned; Hanks-the-author is not, and after humbly asking what other writers I’ve interviewed recently (Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis) barks with incredulous laughter. “Oh, shit,” he says.

For those of us who came of age in the late 1980s, Hanks has been around as long as we’ve been going to movies, and at 61 he is bizarrely unchanged: hair marginally greyer, face slightly fuller, but otherwise still Hanks, the boyish energy and cheerful cadences recognisable from three decades on screen. He often starts sentences with “Look, I get it”, or rather, “I-I-I get it”, the mild stutter synonymous with his brand of almost cartoonish affability. “Look, I get it,” he says, pushing his black spectacles up the bridge of his nose, hippy beads slack at his wrist. “I’m a famous guy and I wrote a book and all that, but the reality is, how much does a collection of short stories really warrant attention?”

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Oliver Stone accused of groping by former Playboy model

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 10:14:16 GMT2017-10-14T10:14:16Z

Carrie Stevens claims Stone touched her breast at a party in the 1990s, following the director’s comments about accusations against Harvey Weinstein

Oliver Stone has been accused of groping by a former Playboy model, hours after he declared Harvey Weinstein had been condemned by a “vigilante system”.

Carrie Stevens made the claims on Twitter in response to an article reporting Stone’s comments, which he later clarified. Stevens said: “When I heard about Harvey, I recalled Oliver walking past me & grabbing my boob as he walked out the front door of a party [in the 90s]. Two of a kind!” she wrote.

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Wonder Wheel review – Woody Allen's stagey 50s drama has him running in circles

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 19:16:47 GMT2017-10-13T19:16:47Z

Kate Winslet is a bored waitress having an affair in the latest from the overly prolific writer-director that boasts stunning visuals but a clunker of a script

It’s that time of year again: time for Woody Allen’s ever decreasing fanbase to ignore their well-reasoned intuition and wish for the best from the overly prolific writer-director’s annual starry offering. At this stage of his career, coming off the back of the perfectly acceptable Café Society and the in-no-way-whatsoever-watchable Crisis in Six Scenes, expectations are low, the shining pleasures of 2013’s Blue Jasmine fading faster by the day. Wisely deciding against the boo-loving audience at Cannes, he’s chosen to debut his latest, Wonder Wheel, on the closing night of the New York film festival.

Related: Bad romance: a thorny history of marital strife on film

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65,000 portraits of the artist: how Van Gogh's life became the world's first fully painted film

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 14:19:30 GMT2017-10-13T14:19:30Z

With every frame hand-crafted by a team of artists, Loving Vincent is a fitting tribute to its complex subject. Its makers explain how they recreated his bewitching brushwork

Surrounded by thousands of reproductions on the walls of student bedrooms, cafes and hospital corridors, it’s easy to lose sight of what Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings actually look like: the brushwork, the paint, the expressiveness. Nor quite how many paintings he actually produced – more than 860 in just nine years – beyond the well-known sunflowers, wheatfields, cafes and woolly-necked self-portraits.

But giving Vincent a run for his money – in terms of output at least – is a new film by artist, writer and director Dorota Kobiela and co-director Hugh Welchman, that literally paints the imagined story of Van Gogh’s last days. It’s an extraordinary concept. “Everything was a painting on canvas,” says Welchman. “No tracing, no nothing. The opening shot, where we come down from Starry Night, took six hours per frame to paint. So you’re talking about two weeks to do a second. It might have taken 20 weeks to paint that 10-second shot – you’re looking at half a year of someone’s life.”

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Pierce Brosnan: 'It’s a capricious old game, the world of being an actor'

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:00:31 GMT2017-10-13T11:00:31Z

The former 007 is back in action, starring in politically charged thriller The Foreigner with Jackie Chan, and he talks about Bond, Trump and the difference between good and great acting

Pierce Brosnan can make idle chatter about vaping sound like Shakespearean verse. I ask him about his stance on vaping mostly as a lark, mentioning that he played a constantly vaporizing drug baron in last year’s offbeat thriller Urge, and still he manages a typically flowery, grandiloquent response.

Related: Brosnan's back! Why we should celebrate the shouty former Bond's return

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Under fire: how cinema's new breed of cowboys are taking aim at the old west

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:30:30 GMT2017-10-13T10:30:30Z

They can be set anywhere from Australia to Pakistan – and increasingly it’s women who are shooting from the hip. With new westerns such as My Pure Land and Brimstone, the gunslinger genre continues to reinvent itself

Always changing, the western never changes. Whatever era it is, the essence remains. If I told you about a pivotal scene in which a gunslinger turns to the camera and stares, hard-eyed, at the audience, I might be describing The Great Train Robbery, made in 1903, a silent cinema milestone whose star, Justus D Barnes, was a middle-aged stage actor. Or I could mean My Pure Land, a new film about three women in rural Pakistan defending their home from bandits. Its star is Suhaee Abro, a classically trained dancer in her first major role. Thousands of miles and more than a century apart, she and Barnes share a western moment.

Westerns in 2017 are politically open-minded, geographically flexible – cinematic Lego to be assembled as you like. The director of My Pure Land is Sarmad Masud, a British-Pakistani film-maker from the east Midlands, for whom the genre usefully shaped his ideas. Old and new meet again. My Pure Land is based on a contemporary true story: a young woman called Nazo Dharejo defended her family home from 200 armed assailants. And while we mostly know the western as a period piece, for the nickleodeon thrill-seekers of 1903 it was not. The Great Train Robbery, too, portrayed real events – ones that had taken place three years earlier on the Union Pacific Railroad; the culprits were led by Robert LeRoy Parker, also known as Butch Cassidy, then still at large in south America.

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Kingsman and the temple of doom: Cambodia bans spy flick

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:39:22 GMT2017-10-13T09:39:22Z

Culture ministry chief condemns Hollywood sequel for use of building resembling Ta Prohm as drug lord’s hideout

Hollywood’s light-hearted spy blockbuster Kingsman: the Golden Circle has been banned in Cambodia due to a scene that portrays the country and one of its famous temples as a hotbed of crime.

The action-comedy sequel follows a fictional British spy organisation that joins forces with an American counterpart to search for a drug lord’s hideout, which turns out to be a jungle-ringed temple in Cambodia.

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'Not the case': Lars Von Trier denies sexually harassing Björk

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:33:55 GMT2017-10-17T21:33:55Z

Danish director rejects singer’s allegation as the producer of Dancer in the Dark claims he and Von Trier ‘were the victims’

Danish film director Lars von Trier has rejected Icelandic pop singer Björk’s allegation that he sexually harassed her during the making of the movie Dancer in the Dark.

“That was not the case. But that we were definitely not friends, that’s a fact,” Von Trier told Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in its online edition.

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Ex-Weinstein staffer says assistants were manipulated: ‘We weren’t safe either’

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:01:07 GMT2017-10-17T07:01:07Z

As stories suggest female staffers helped lure producer’s alleged victims, former assistant says she and her colleagues also faced abusive behavior

The women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse spoke of the same tactic: the movie producer would make young women feel safe with the presence of his female assistants, who would later disappear, leaving the mogul alone to harass and assault his guests, they alleged.

After a week of reading stories casting blame on Weinstein’s female employees, one former assistant said she wanted to speak up and make clear that the situation was much more complicated. She and other women at his company were also victims of Weinstein’s abuse – regularly exploited and manipulated, leaving some severely traumatized, the woman alleged in a recent interview with the Guardian.

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The Weinstein Company in talks on possible sale

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:53:01 GMT2017-10-16T16:53:01Z

Film studio to take ‘capital infusion’ and discuss potential sell-off in wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein

The Weinstein Company is in talks to sell to a private equity company in the wake of the sexual harassment and assault allegations against its co-founder Harvey Weinstein.

The film production business has entered into an agreement with buyout firm Colony Capital to secure an “immediate capital infusion”, as the company fights for its future.

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Woody Allen forced to clarify comments about 'sad' Harvey Weinstein

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:28:14 GMT2017-10-16T10:28:14Z

Director says his remarks about the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein were misconstrued and that the producer is ‘a sick man’

Woody Allen has been forced to clarify remarks made about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, after stating that he felt “sad” for the disgraced producer.

Allen was widely criticised for comments made on Saturday in which he expressed sympathy for Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by a growing number of women.

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Harvey Weinstein: Met police investigating five sexual assault claims

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 20:21:10 GMT2017-10-15T20:21:10Z

Scotland Yard to investigate five more allegations against producer as Hollyoaks actor Lysette Anthony says he attacked her in 1980s

Scotland Yard is looking into five allegations of sexual assault by three women against the disgraced Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein in Britain.

A team of officers has been established to look into the alleged crimes, which are said to have taken place in London in 1992, 2010, 2011 and 2015, as well as an allegation of sexual assault previously passed on to the Metropolitan police by Merseyside police, which relates to the late 1980s.

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Harvey Weinstein: the women who have accused him

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 16:56:49 GMT2017-10-15T16:56:49Z

A growing number of actors and others in the film industry have made accusations against the Hollywood film producer

Léa Seydoux: the night Harvey Weinstein jumped on me
Could Harvey Weinstein be jailed?

Harvey Weinstein’s accusers include household names who were still looking to establish themselves when the alleged offences took place. Below are some of the allegations made public so far.

Related: The Caligula of Cannes: my encounter with Harvey Weinstein | Peter Bradshaw

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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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Emma Thompson: Harvey Weinstein is a predator, not a sex addict – video

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:44:12 GMT2017-10-13T10:44:12Z

The actor tells BBC Newsnight that Harvey Weinstein is at the top of a system of bullying, harassment and interference that has been part of women's world 'since time immemorial'. The Hollywood producer has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone. His team did not respond to a request for comment on Thompson's interview 

• The full interview can be viewed here

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Never Stop Riding: the Indigenous western with a mobility-scooter shootout – video

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 23:12:46 GMT2017-10-12T23:12:46Z

Premiering at the Tarnanthi festival of Indigenous art in South Australia, the 10-minute film – starring retired stockmen from the APY lands, along with younger local men – aims to get young people interested in horseriding and away from alcohol.

• Tarnanthi festival of Indigenous art runs until 22 October in Adelaide

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Tessa Thompson on Harvey Weinstein: men should join the conversation – video

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 04:04:04 GMT2017-10-10T04:04:04Z

In the aftermath of the exposé of alleged sexual harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, many celebrities have spoken out about the scandal. Tessa Thompson, who stars in Thor: Ragnarok, is urging men to join the conversation. Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and dozens of other women in Hollywood have condemned the producer amid a growing number of allegations, but most high-profile men in the industry have remained silent

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Fans warned about spoilers as full trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives – video

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 03:35:08 GMT2017-10-10T03:35:08Z

Picking up from the final scene from 2015’s The Force Awakens in which Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) came face-to-face on a mountaintop by the ocean, the new trailer for Star Wars The Last Jedi shows Rey wielding a lightsaber and Luke uttering ominous concerns about the 'raw strength' he’s seen only once before: 'It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.' Before the release of the full trailer, the director of Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, advised those who did not want to see spoilers to avoid watching it. 'I am legitimately torn,' he wrote on Twitter in response to a fan who had asked whether or not to watch the trailer. 'If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it'

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The Guardian at Tiff 2017: Darkest Hour producers on Brexit and Churchill – video

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 08:00:08 GMT2017-09-25T08:00:08Z

Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, the co-chairs of celebrated British production outfit Working Title talk to the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw about their long and varied careers, including the glory days of the Richard Curtis romcoms Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and their newest films Victoria & Abdul and Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour.

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The Guardian at Tiff 2017: Glenn Close on her new starring role, The Wife – video

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:00:42 GMT2017-09-22T08:00:42Z

In the second of our live onstage interviews at the Toronto film festival, Peter Bradshaw discusses The Wife with its star Glenn Close. Close plays a woman whose husband (Jonathan Pryce) is to accept the Nobel prize, and the trip to Sweden precipitates a crisis as frustrations over her own writing career emerge.   

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Moving mountains: how Jennifer Peedom captured pure majesty on film – video

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 18:00:25 GMT2017-09-21T18:00:25Z

Australian director Jennifer Peedom sits down to discuss the making of her latest film, Mountain, a cinematic and musical collaboration between Peedom and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Written by bestselling author Robert Macfarlane, the documentary explores our fascination with mountains. Peedom explains how the collaboration worked – “it means that I’m not the boss” – and how music and film combined

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle: Colin Firth on the superspy comedy sequel – video

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:25:56 GMT2017-09-21T15:25:56Z

The second Kingsman film sees the dapper British secret agents go up against American supervillain Poppy Adams, played by Julianne Moore, with the help of Statesman, their US equivalent. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is out now in the UK, and is released on 21 September in Australia and 22 September in the US.

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Harry Dean Stanton dies aged 91 – video obituary

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 11:24:28 GMT2017-09-16T11:24:28Z

The cult US actor died in an Los Angeles hospital on Friday, aged 91. Stanton’s career spanned more than six decades, appearing in scores of films including Paris, Texas; Alien and Repo Man. Stanton was famed for his ability to project his hangdog, laconic charm into minor roles

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The Guardian at Tiff 2017: meet the stars of gay romance Call Me by Your Name – video

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 13:30:07 GMT2017-09-11T13:30:07Z

In the first of three sessions from the Toronto film festival, the team behind Call Me by Your Name discuss their film with the Guardian’s Benjamin Lee. Based on the novel by André Aciman about an affair between a 17-year-old and a visiting academic, Call Me by Your Name stars Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, and is directed by Luca Guadagnino; it will be released on 27 October in the UK, 24 November in the US and 26 December in Australia.

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I am your conductor: Darth Vader leads orchestra – video

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 15:46:31 GMT2017-08-28T15:46:31Z

Kazakhstan’s National Conservatory orchestra performs John Williams’ Imperial March from Star Wars, conducted by Lord Vader himself. The concert, held within Expo 2017 Astana economic forum, surprised the audience when Darth Vader mounted the stage and faced the orchestra wielding a lightsaber for a baton

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Life and times of Jerry Lewis, the 'king of comedy' – video obituary

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:20:46 GMT2017-08-21T02:20:46Z

The renowned actor and slapstick legend has died in his Las Vegas home at the age of 91. Jerry Lewis was the knockabout clown, singer and showbusiness savant who started professional life in a double act with Dean Martin, went solo and was for a while the biggest comedy star in Hollywood

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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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Polyamory, bondage and feminism: the film that tells Wonder Woman's story

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 11:00:39 GMT2017-10-12T11:00:39Z

Behind the scenes of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a drama that tells the remarkable true story behind the creation of a groundbreaking superhero

Last year, as the US presidential election approached, the cast and crew of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women were finishing their shoot in suburban Massachusetts, thinking that William Marston’s prescription for a better world was finally coming true. Marston, a psychologist who invented a forerunner of the modern polygraph, is best remembered for giving birth to Wonder Woman, a comic he created to show that if men could step back and let women run the world, we’d have peace for our time.

Well, that didn’t happen.

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‘Snoke is Anakin's father’: readers' Star Wars: The Last Jedi theories

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:35:47 GMT2017-10-11T10:35:47Z

From Poe turning to the dark side to Finn being Maz’s son, here are some of your predictions on what will happen in episode eight

Matt, 26, London: Luke Skywalker will be a grey Jedi, somewhere between the dark and the light side. Kylo Ren will be faced with killing his mother, Leia; he won’t go through with it, but she will be killed by someone else. This will make him rethink everything, as even the death of his father by his hand didn’t affect his future as much as he had hoped. After Rey is captured by Snoke, he will help her get free. They will then come together as the dark and light sides of the Force and will develop into grey Jedi, like Luke, forming some kind of new Force order.

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Fargo to Four Weddings: readers' 25 best films of the 90s

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 11:52:43 GMT2017-10-09T11:52:43Z

We asked you to tell us about the films you love from the decade. Here’s what you said

‘The camera work is dizzyingly spectacular’: Jim Hansen, 48, Chicago

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Sedate expectations: will Blade Runner 2049 give birth to the slow-burn blockbuster?

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 05:00:10 GMT2017-10-09T05:00:10Z

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi sequel rejects the breathless fury of modern-day money-spinners in favour of a hypnotically unhurried formula. It won’t catch on – will it?

Blockbusters seem faster and more furious than ever, and not just because producers are desperate to slipstream the success of Vin Diesel’s tyre-screeching franchise. Even as baseline running times have sailed past two hours, the majority of would-be tentpole movies seem resolutely anti-downtime, charging through their story beats in flurries of frantic editing and punch-drunk action.

In a year of aggravating assaults such as the fantasy mish-mash tosh of King Arthur, the heavy-metal headache of a fifth Transformers film and Kingsman’s caffeinated, cartwheeling sequel, the languid pace of Blade Runner 2049 stands out like 2001’s monolith: a mesmerising reminder of cinema’s capacity to instil awe. At one point it is revealed how the latest replicants are “born”, splurging from suspended sacs filled with amniotic fluid. Denis Villeneuve and his cinematographer Roger Deakins seem to have agreed on a similarly immersive approach, practically drowning viewers in visual immensity.

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Let’s have more sex in the movies – but please can it be the fun type?

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 08:00:28 GMT2017-09-30T08:00:28Z

Movies like Daphne depict casual sex among women as a sign of low self-esteem, wholly divorced from desire

Sex, I was informed by the book my mother bought for me when I was 10, meant “that mommy and daddy love each other very much”. But like all the fairytales I read as a child, I’ve since learned that this book presented a somewhat sanitised view of reality. I am now of an age where I know sex can mean many things: validation, forgiveness, boredom. But currently it means only one thing in popular culture when it comes to women: misery.

Yesterday a new film, Daphne, was released in the UK, which tells the story of a young woman, played with extraordinary depth by Emily Beecham, and it is, to use one of Daphne’s own lines, “lovely, in a traumatic sort of way”. But in one regard it feels all too familiar. Daphne’s sex life is chaotic and joyless: she has sex with a man that is so unsatisfying, she takes cocaine afterwards, looking to feel anything, and then has sex with another who so repulses her, she swats his face away from hers as he comes. Daphne’s promiscuity is an externalised expression of her unhappiness, and if that’s ringing any bells for you, it’s probably because you watched Fleabag, Trainwreck, Bridesmaids, or any of the many movies and TV shows depicting casual sex among women as a sign of low self-esteem, wholly divorced from desire. Here, sex is another thing that needs to be fixed.

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Spice World: the feminist movie? When girl power hit the big screen

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 05:00:30 GMT2017-09-28T05:00:30Z

It ditched male charmers and knocked the Bechdel test out of the park. Two decades on, the Spice Girls’ film looks like a brilliant gateway to the F-word

I’m pretty sure that when my dad took me and my best friend to see Spice World: The Movie in 1997, it was for a quiet life rather than to make a point about female identity. Although for the record I always respected his favourite Spice Girl – Sporty – as being the thinking man’s choice. But, for all its stereotyping and campy scenarios, perhaps the trip did have more to offer an 11-year-old girl than just a fun afternoon and salted popcorn.

For one thing, I suspect it was the first film I saw that knocked the Bechdel test out of the park – it’s packed with female-centric conversations and barely touches on men, even less in a romantic context. The closest our heroes come to concerning themselves with relationships is when Emma says she wishes boys could be ordered like a pizza. Or when Geri is seen talking to an awkward bloke at a party, using the F-word itself: it was the first time I’d seen a woman I aspired to be labelling herself a feminist.

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James Corden's Peter Rabbit: another kids' classic wrecked forever

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 12:16:10 GMT2017-09-25T12:16:10Z

A new trailer reveals Beatrix Potter’s gentle rabbit has been turned into a house-trashing, cocky jerk. It looks like he’s gone the way of Postman Pat and Thunderbirds

In a concrete bunker situated miles below civilisation lives a crack team of scientists dedicated to one thing and one thing only: ruining Peter Rabbit as comprehensively as they possibly can.

Parents of young children might be fooled into thinking that their mission has already been a success. After all, there’s already a CBeebies Peter Rabbit adaptation that paints the sedate, 115-year-old Beatrix Potter character as a go-get-’em adventurer whose escapades are typically soundtracked by a series of nightmarish sub-Levellers songs about standing your ground and laughing in the face of danger.

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From Blade Runner to Rollerball: did cinema's sci-fi dystopias predict the future?

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 08:59:09 GMT2017-09-25T08:59:09Z

We are living in the era imagined by science-fiction films – but is reality really mirroring fiction?

Related: Deadly reality TV and sex robots: what can we learn from films set in 2017?

Police cars can’t fly, artificial snakes are not commercially available, and the exodus to off-world colonies has not yet begun, but we’re already living in the world of Blade Runner – chronologically, at least. The original movie is set in 2019. Rutger Hauer’s replicant-in-chief has been activated since January 2016. He might be watching attack ships off the shoulder of Orion as we speak.

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How weird does a celebrity have to be before we stop watching their films?

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 07:59:10 GMT2017-09-23T07:59:10Z

All celebrities are a bit weird, so when one is known for being Weird Even For A Celebrity, you know they are probably crossing over to ‘actually quite scary’

Of the many deeply uncool things I am obsessed with – The Golden Girls, the oeuvre of Roxette, Princess Anne’s hair – the uncoolest is also the one that has been with me the longest. Tom Cruise has been a part of my mental landscape ever since I was old enough to read in a magazine that I was supposed to fancy him. I was alive in the 80s and, as strange as this is now to think about, what with his deeply unsexy obsession since with thetans, back then he was very much pitched as Mr Sexxxxxy. Which is even stranger when you think that Cruise didn’t even grow into his face for another decade: back in Risky Business and The Outsiders, he looked vague and doughy next to his co-stars, particularly the Adonis that was the young Rob Lowe.

Cruise was never really my type, but I will argue until closing time and beyond that he is one of the most watchable actors of all time: a proper Hollywood star who proved in one decade he could do top notch schlock (Top Gun), mediocre schlock (Cocktail) and proper acting (Born On The Fourth Of July and Rain Man, for which he should have won the Oscar instead of Dustin Hoffman).

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle – did the shock tactics go too far? Discuss with spoilers

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:53:19 GMT2017-09-22T09:53:19Z

Was the sex and violence boundary-pushing or in poor taste? Did the Elton John joke wear thin? And what to make of Colin Firth’s resurrection?

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a big sleeper hit, racking up $414m worldwide and confirming director Matthew Vaughn as a major Hollywood player. So can the British film-maker repeat the trick? So far Kingsman: The Golden Circle is balancing precariously at 50% approval on the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, indicating a mixed reception to the return of super-spy Eggsie and his cohort of nattily dressed secret agents. Here’s your chance to weigh in on the film’s key talking points.

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Yes, yes, yes! Welcome to the golden age of slutty cinema

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 05:00:38 GMT2017-09-22T05:00:38Z

The promiscuous heroine of the indie film Daphne upends on-screen conventions about women and sex. From Bond to Bridesmaids and beyond, are the movies finally coming to terms with female desire?

It is a radical act, which every film generation thinks they are the first to discover: to create characters who are not good people. When you drill into it, this always means creating men who are not good men, since the grey areas around women on screen – do they have any lines that aren’t variations on “help”? Do they have motivation independent of the hero’s? – mean that, even in a putatively intelligent film, it is often quite hard to ascribe a moral arc to them, as it would be to a horse, or a robot. So let’s leave aside “good” – it is vanishingly rare, and pretty bracing, to see a woman on screen who isn’t the villain, and yet is not likable.

The eponymous Daphne, a millennial chef trying to weather a choppy, hostile London, in a low-fi indie debut from Peter Mackie Burns, is not at all winsome – haughty and self-absorbed, cranky and ungenerous, she is arresting like the first spoon of a cold soup that you expected to be hot. Her sheer obstreperousness gets in the way of what would otherwise be her headline trait, promiscuity. She’s more often to be found nearly getting laid, then storming off for reasons that may or may not be valid (Daphne is quite a good fourth-date film, or any time you want to have an argument about men and women), than actually pursuing a sexual destiny, distinct from a romantic one. Nevertheless, she has agency enough to upend all the on-screen conventions about women and sex. In theory, if not in practice, she sleeps with whoever she wants to.

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It’s lit! How film finally learned to light black skin

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:26:52 GMT2017-09-21T16:26:52Z

In lighting, makeup and camera calibration, cinema has pandered to white skin for decades. Now, a new generation of film-makers are keen to ensure people of colour look as good on screen as they should

Insecure, the HBO series currently in its terrific second season (#TeamMolly), has been garnering attention since its pilot for its refreshing look at the lives of a small group of black women in Los Angeles. Broadcast in the same slot as its precursor Girls, which showed women as their “real” messy selves, and before that Sex and the City, a fantasia of skipping round New York in Manolos, Insecure sits somewhere between the two. Its storylines are all too real, but it looks stylish and glamorous.

Previous incarnations of black characters on television have mainly been overlit sitcoms or overly gloomy slices of realism. Insecure is neither – and its actors look like bonafide movie stars.

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What the F? How Mother! joined the 'bad movie' club

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:03:33 GMT2017-09-18T18:03:33Z

Filmgoers have handed the film the lowest possible rating, putting it among a select group of F-rated movies that includes the Nic Cage remake of The Wicker Man. Can the Jennifer Lawrence horror really be ‘the worst film of the century’?

At the very beginning of last week’s Toronto film festival, all I wanted to talk about with anyone was the movie I had just seen: Darren Aronofsky’s crazily brilliant and audacious horror-thriller Mother!, all about the couple, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, to whom bad stuff happens at an exponential rate.

My friend Col Needham, founder and chief executive of the Internet Movie Database, smiled and told me: “Do you know, I think it’s a Schrödinger’s movie. Inside the box, there’s a film that is very good and very bad at the same time.” Perhaps in that spirit, the Toronto Globe and Mail noncommittally settled on two different star ratings for Mother!: one star (“for the Aronofsky agnostic”) and four stars (“for the Aronofsky acolyte”). I myself had been an agnostic since Aronofsky’s previous, middling film about Noah.

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Have we reached peak Hans Zimmer?

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 14:08:11 GMT2017-09-18T14:08:11Z

The #stopHansZimmer hashtag was created after the composer was brought in to provide the music for Blade Runner 2049, with critics claiming he’s too dominant

Rare is it that composers of instrumental music can get the time of day from the general public, but Hans Zimmer is a bona fide rockstar. His summer tour played to zealous fans throughout Europe and North America at venues such as Wembley Arena, Radio City Music Hall in New York, and a rousing set at Coachella. The Supermarine cue from his Dunkirk score has a ready spot on my iPhone’s playlist and, although the 60-year-old Frankfurt native is a phenomenon deserving our respect, but maybe it’s time to reel it in a little.

Related: Radiohead and Hans Zimmer collaborate for Blue Planet II teaser

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Horrorwood! Will the new golden age of scary movies save cinema?

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:41:08 GMT2017-09-14T16:41:08Z

It’s been a disappointing year at the box office – which means the huge success of It, Get Out and other horrors have made the genre more vital than ever. So how did these once-fringe films move to the heart of the mainstream?A creepy clown has just chomped a monstrous chunk out of the box office – and It is not alone. This year, horrors Annabelle: Creation and the fantastic Get Out have thrived while other genres struggled to draw in the crowds. The Stephen King adaptation about the evil Pennywise has made nearly $180m (£134m) worldwide in its opening weekend, the biggest-ever opening for a horror. It’s official: horror films are firmly part of the mainstream – for good or bad.The Conjuring “universe” kicked off in 2013, buoyed by the success of the Insidious series. The supernatural sequels and spin-offs that followed its success have since magicked themselves into the worldwide top 30, a list that’s more typically dominated by action, sci-fi and family films. Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation were both part of this phenomenon – the latter made it to number one at the US box office – and there’s more to come: there are spin-offs called The Nun (scarier than it sounds) and The Crooked Man in the offing, alongside The Conjuring 3. It seems audiences cannot get enough. Continue reading...[...]

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Talk is cheap: will anyone save us from the waking nightmare of director Q&As?

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 11:08:34 GMT2017-09-14T11:08:34Z

The growing trend for film-makers to discuss their work with the audience after a screening is ruining the cinemagoing experience. Please make it stop!

There is a disease in the heart of cinema, and that disease is the Q&A. More cinemas are putting them on than ever, partly as a response to the rise of online streaming, in order to “add value” to their offering – and audiences are lapping it up. Q&As with directors and cast sell out in minutes to people consumed with a burning impulse to ask why there are no nice characters in the movie, or what it was like to film all those hot scenes. Why? Who would willingly put themselves through this hell? When will we wake from this nightmare?

Imagine if other art forms enacted the same depressing, bathetic rituals as film-makers do with the Q&A. If, at the end of a gig, the lights came up and Dave Grohl and the rest of Foo Fighters came back on stage to sit on stools and take a few softball questions about lyrics and feedback from Lauren Laverne, before a microphone was passed into the crowd for concert-goers to ask why I’ll Stick Around was omitted from the setlist, or if the band have any words about the passing of David Bowie.

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Liam Neeson has retired from action films – we'll miss his particular set of skills

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 10:18:20 GMT2017-09-13T10:18:20Z

The Taken actor has announced his departure from the genre after a decade of gleefully schlocky thrillers, but also one stone-cold classic

Related: Non-stop action: why Hollywood’s ageing heroes won’t give up

So that’s it. Liam Neeson is no longer an action movie star. His retirement from action films, announced yesterday (“I’m sixty-fucking-five. Audiences are eventually going to go: ‘Come on,’” he said at the Toronto film festival), forms the conclusion of perhaps the most unlikely career jag in cinema history.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer – five things we learned, from Rey's dark side to annoying Porgs

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:23:14 GMT2017-10-10T11:23:14Z

The first full trailer for Episode VIII has been revealed, and offers up glimpses of Luke Skywalker, an emo Kylo Ren and a potentially irritating new creature

Related: Star Wars: The Last Jedi – watch the full trailer

April’s debut teaser for Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi delivered the hefty revelation that Luke Skywalker apparently believes the entire Jedi order has to end. Now we have the final trailer for the follow-up to JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens, and Johnson has already suggested we avert our eyes if we want to avoid finding out too much more ahead of the film’s release in cinema this December. “I am legitimately torn,” wrote the Looper director on Twitter. “If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood …” Assuming you’ve ignored that warning, what did we learn from this latest glimpse of a galaxy far, far, away?

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Sally Potter: ‘There’s nothing like hearing a whole place vibrate with laughter’

Sun, 08 Oct 2017 06:30:43 GMT2017-10-08T06:30:43Z

The resolutely independent British film-maker is back with the most broadly entertaining film of her long career – a star-studded black comedy about a disastrous dinner party that reflects the dark state of the nationSally Potter isn’t quite sure how to react to seeing her name on a T-shirt. With bemusement, she turns over the garment I’ve given to her, as if concerned I might be playing a prank, but there it is: SALLY POTTER, emblazoned in bold black capitals on white cotton. She holds it up to her slender frame, its glaring whiteness almost garish against her tidy black turtleneck, and squints down at it. “People are wearing these?” she asks sceptically. Hers is one of several similarly stark tees celebrating women in film, run up by Etsy startup Girls on Tops, and now popping up all over the international film world. Isabelle Huppert has one. Ava DuVernay has one. Greta Gerwig, too. Tracy Letts, a star of Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird, wore it to the film’s Toronto premiere. Why not Sally Potter? She smiles wryly. “Well, that’s lovely. And also rather embarrassing.”It’s fair to say that Sally Potter, now 68, did not go into film-making to see her name up in lights, let alone across people’s chests. One of Britain’s most staunchly independent writer-directors, she has mostly resisted the lure of mainstream attention and awards in order to work on her own restlessly inventive terms: tackling Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1992), once deemed unfilmable, with Tilda Swinton switching genders across a 400-year timespan; directing herself in the semi-autobiographical terpsichorean meditation The Tango Lesson (1997); writing and directing contemporary culture-clash romance Yes (2004) entirely in iambic pentameter. These are not the choices of a film-maker hungry for mass audiences or an Oscar, though she cocks her head when I say “small scale”. Continue reading...[...]

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Audrey Tautou: ‘My subject in these photos is somebody between the character and who I am’

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 08:00:12 GMT2017-10-01T08:00:12Z

The French actor has been in the public eye since Amélie in 2001. Now, in her first show as a photographer, she’s playing around with that image

‘I’m an interesting subject,” says Audrey Tautou, the French actor who exhibited her photographs for the first time this summer at the Arles festival under the title Superfacial. But it’s not her who decided that, she points out – it has been drummed into her over the 15 years or so since she became an international star courtesy of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amélie.

Tautou starred as the eccentric young Parisienne who, against the artfully shot background of the streets of Montmartre, sets her sights on increasing the sum of human happiness, one kind act at a time. But it wasn’t simply that the film – charming, whimsical and filled with a particularly French brand of tragicomedy – was a hit – it was that Tautou’s heart-shaped, retroussé-nosed and bob-framed face smiled out from every poster.

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Borg vs McEnroe’s Stellan Skarsgård: ‘I’ve been changing diapers for 40 years’

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:00:21 GMT2017-09-21T15:00:21Z

He’s both one of Sweden’s most prolific actors and the father of eight kids – including actors Alexander and Bill. So it’s no surprise that – despite starring in the nail-biting tennis drama – he doesn’t have much time for sport

It must be difficult to get entirely swept up in the magic of the movies when you are the man who once changed Pennywise’s nappies. This is the strange position that actor Stellan Skarsgård finds himself in, as he promotes his new film, Borg vs McEnroe, while his 27-year-old son, Bill Skarsgård, is receiving rave reviews for playing the demonic clown in a new adaptation of Stephen King’s It while his eldest son, Alexander, is about to win an Emmy for his role in Big Little Lies. “I was happy when he was doing It because he had so much fun, and that’s where the joy was really,” says Skarsgård senior, frowning thoughtfully out of the hotel room window, as if searching for the right words amid the rooftop air vents. “It’s also kind of ridiculous, all of it, isn’t it? On Sunday, Alexander goes up for the Emmy … It’s kind of silly, isn’t it?”

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Steve Buscemi: ‘In some ways I feel I haven’t fulfilled my true potential'

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 07:00:34 GMT2017-09-17T07:00:34Z

From firefighter and bar fly to Hollywood superstar, Steve Buscemi has populated his films with lovable oddballs and cold-blooded killers. But, as Aaron Hicklin finds, it’s all been driven by his need to fit inLike Tommy, the aimless barfly he plays in Trees Lounge, the melancholic 1996 indie film he also wrote and directed, Steve Buscemi found himself in a spiral of hopelessness after leaving school, jumping from one part-time job to another: cinema usher, ice-cream seller, petrol station attendant. There were many long nights in bars. “I really had difficulty there [on Long Island] in my last couple of years because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “I felt my life was going nowhere.” His father had pushed all four of his sons to take a civil service exam, in Buscemi’s case as an avenue to a career with the fire service, where he would work for four years. Although he knew he wanted to be an actor, he had only a dim notion of how to realise his dream. It was also his father who suggested he apply for drama school, ostensibly as an interlude until the fire department came calling. At his interview for the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, Buscemi was asked why he wanted to be an actor. He casually parroted his dad’s well-meaning advice that acting classes would stand him in good stead for whatever path he chose in life. “I remember her telling me: ‘Well, we really want people who want to be actors,’” he recalls. “In that moment, I felt I really blew it.” He didn’t, as it happens, but it taught him not to be so cavalier about the thing he was most passionate about. Continue reading...[...]

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Mark Strong: ‘I’ve seen people I know become very famous. It’s nothing I would recommend’

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 08:00:35 GMT2017-09-17T08:00:35Z

The Kingsman actor on not playing the fame game, the hit-and-run joy of character acting and his punk-rock past

Mark Strong is one of the UK’s most successful cinema character actors, with almost 60 film credits in 25 years, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Zero Dark Thirty and the Kingsman series. On stage, he won the 2015 Olivier award for best actor for his role in A View from the Bridge. An only child, Strong was born in London and brought up by his Austrian mother, who worked as an au pair. His Italian father left when he was baby. He lives in north London with his wife, the producer Liza Marshall, and two sons.

You studied constitutional law at Munich University. You could now be an anonymous functionary in the German legal system. What made you want to become an actor?
I had fantasies of being a European lawyer, but I quickly realised I probably just had fantasies of wearing a raincoat and carrying a briefcase and driving a BMW. I thought that would be cool. But the study of law is so dry, especially constitutional law in German. I came across a class in Munich – only Germans could have a course called Theaterwissenschaft, which means theatre science – and it was way more interesting than what was going on in the lecture halls. I just managed to get in on that somehow, and that opened up the whole world of theatre, acting, performance.

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Michael Keaton: ‘There was a lot of bad taste in the 90s and I contributed to that’

Sat, 09 Sep 2017 08:30:03 GMT2017-09-09T08:30:03Z

From Beetlejuice to Batman to Birdman: the actor on superheroes, surprise roles and his second act

The thick black curls that helped make Michael Keaton look so manic in all those 1980s comedies, and which he then tore at as a tormented Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman movies, are long gone; but the satyr-like eyes are unchanged. As he walks into a London hotel room on a grey Saturday morning, holding a cup of coffee, he looks strikingly different from the man I have spent four decades watching on screen: he has the trim, spry build of a wiry woodsman rather than a 66-year-old actor, thanks to half a lifetime spent in rural Montana, fishing and hunting. His walk is reminiscent of a rooster’s strut, with his chest puffed out and a bounce on his toes; that swagger we saw in 2014’s Birdman, for which Keaton won a Golden Globe as the eponymous former superhero actor, was not a put on, it turns out.

“Hadley, huh? My niece is called Hadley,” he says, shaking my hand, and embarks on a winding digression about Ernest Hemingway, whose first wife was called Hadley, and various Hemingway descendants whom Keaton has met over the years, and do I know them (I do not), and how I really ought to meet them. So was his niece named after Hadley Hemingway, I manage to ask.

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Taylor Sheridan: 'The big joke on reservations is the white guy that shows up and says: "My grandma is Cherokee"'

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 14:45:58 GMT2017-09-08T14:45:58Z

The Sicario and Hell or High Water writer has turned director with Wind River, an acclaimed crime thriller set on a Native American reservation. He discusses the Great Spirit, police shootouts, and Nick Cave’s giant cat

The films of actor-turned-writer-turned-director Taylor Sheridan resemble their central characters: stern, taciturn, unwilling to give anything away unless absolutely necessary. These are tales of law enforcers and their quarry, bonded by a desire to simply keep going. We’ve seen them in Sicario, the Denis Villeneuve-directed account of the drugs war on the Mexico/US border, and the Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water, about two Texas rangers’ attempts to hunt down a pair of down-on-their-luck bank robbers. Sheridan’s screenplays for both were thoughtful, funny and frequently terrifying, but above all succinct. After all, when you’re in a shootout with cartel members or desperate felons, there’s little time to shoot the breeze.

Related: Wind River review – Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen team up in smartly chilly thriller | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week

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'Anything is possible in Pakistan – but everything is impossible': Sarmad Masud on filming My Pure Land

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 18:01:10 GMT2017-09-07T18:01:10Z

The British Pakistani film-maker on how he brought a local legend to the big screen, despite a tiny budget and a difficult shoot Nazo Dharejo had barely mastered the alphabet when her father, Haji Khuda Buksh, first showed her how to load a gun. The kalashnikov would be kept on the wall, hung above the living quarters of the family’s two-storey home, where she grew up with her two sisters, and their older brother Sikander in rural Sindh, Pakistan. They were comfortable, but not extravagantly well off; Khuda Buksh worked as a farmer and had inherited a few dozen acres of land from his own father. His wife, Waderi Jamzadi, raised their children and, once the girls left school, aged seven, taught them what she could at home.The girls were moulded to be tough and resilient. Their father would dress them in trousers and shirts – “boy’s clothes” – instead of more feminine, traditional shalwar kameez. Nazo, the eldest daughter, was given the male nickname Mukthiar and was the first to be taught how to shoot, when she was 16. Two years later, with her brother murdered and her father in prison, the fierce but waif-like teenager was armed and leading a gunfight against a criminal army of bandits sent to steal her family’s home and land. Now 41, she has been dubbed “the toughest woman in Sindh” by the Pakistani press, and the story of that night has become local legend – one that British Pakistani film-maker Sarmad Masud has beautifully rendered in his debut feature, My Pure Land. Continue reading...[...]

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Darren Aronofsky on Mother! - ‘Jennifer Lawrence was hyperventilating because of the emotion’

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 16:32:20 GMT2017-09-07T16:32:20Z

The director’s new film pushed Lawrence – as well as audiences – to the brink. Is the bizarre psychological horror a warped self-portrait?

The hour grows late at the London press junket. The schedule is running horribly behind time. Inside suite 206, the reporters find themselves packed in like sardines. They are perched on tables and windowsills, spilling coffee and mopping up the mess with their notepads. Each time the door opens, a fresh arrival comes in, which means that the walls inch ever-closer and there is less air. Tension is mounting and tempers are fraying. The night before, we all sat down and watched Mother! together. Today, it feels as if we might be living it, too.

Darren Aronofsky’s new film is an explosion, an assault, a haunted-house horror that whips up conflicting emotions. Some love it, some hate it and some pinwheel back and forth, like lost souls in limbo. On screen, Jennifer Lawrence plays an unnamed heroine whose domestic idyll is overrun by an endless procession of malignant houseguests. They are disturbing her in the bathroom; they are making out in her bed. “I’m confused,” she confides, just as the nightmare begins. And by God, she is not the only one.

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Daniel Draper, film-maker: ‘Dennis Skinner sang to me over the phone’

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 07:30:37 GMT2017-09-03T07:30:37Z

The man who persuaded Labour’s ‘Beast of Bolsover’ to commit his story to the big screen says his subject was ‘a joy to work with’Daniel Draper, 30, is a documentary maker from Liverpool whose first feature-length film explores the life of Dennis Skinner, the outspoken veteran Labour MP for Bolsover in Derbyshire. Draper met Skinner in 2014 and spent the next three years making the documentary, supporting himself with a part-time job as a chef. Shot for just £2,400 and completed with £21,009 raised on Kickstarter, Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast is released on Friday.What prompted you to make a film about Dennis Skinner?I made a short documentary in 2014 called Still Ragged, about Robert Tressell’s novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, and Dennis agreed to be in it. Before we started filming, he was talking about trees and collecting chestnuts, and I thought: there’s more here than meets the eye, it’s not all politics. After the project was finished, I sent him a letter saying that I didn’t understand why a film hadn’t been done with him before, and would he trust me to do it – because he’s very wary of what he calls “media types”. He called me back one Sunday morning and we talked for two hours. We just really got on. He was even singing to me over the phone. Continue reading...[...]

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Nick Broomfield: 'I was a rebel, causing as much trouble as possible'

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 10:00:41 GMT2017-09-01T10:00:41Z

The inner life of pop diva Whitney Houston, the murder of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG, America’s first female serial killer … film-maker Nick Broomfield talks closeups, close calls and what drives him to find the truth

Nick Broomfield’s original film about Aileen Wuornos, always described as America’s first female serial killer, was released in 1992. In great detail and with remarkable access he covers successive trials, across different states, in which she was handed the death penalty several times over for the shooting of six men on various highways.

What is striking about the first film, The Selling of a Serial Killer, is how isolated and undefended Wuornos was. With her girlfriend giving evidence against her, Wuornos’s only emotional support came from one coquettish Christian woman who had decided to adopt her during the trial. Her legal counsel was Dr Legal, a solipsistic stoner she had seen on a TV advert, who hoped to make his own fee (she had no money, of course) by selling media access. No women’s movement, no statutory support, no flicker or hint that the courts are dealing with anything but a monster.

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Noomi Rapace: ‘Amy Winehouse was like an angel when I wasn’t in a good place’

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 12:08:40 GMT2017-08-31T12:08:40Z

The Swedish star of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo explains how she plans to do justice to the late singer, plus the logistics of that self-caesarian scene in Prometheus

Hi Noomi. In Unlocked, you play a tough-as-nails spy tasked with preventing a terrorist attack. But the role was initially written for a man, wasn’t it?

Yeah, they kind of rewrote the script for me. I wanted her to be a real woman with a personality, more than some badass agent who’s fighting bad guys. I wanted you to see cracks in her.

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Director Francis Lee on sex, piglets and fighting off Hollywood from his hilltop hut

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 06:00:00 GMT2017-08-29T06:00:00Z

The debut film-maker behind God’s Own Country talks about growing up on a farm – and why his sensational debut is not ‘the Yorkshire Brokeback Mountain’

Francis Lee shot his sensational debut God’s Own Country down the road from the farm where he grew up in West Yorkshire. A love story between two young male farm workers, it’s been described as “a Yorkshire Brokeback Mountain” and has been picking up awards left and right, including a best director prize at Sundance and the prestigious Michael Powell award at the Edinburgh film festival. Unexpectedly, it has been a Hollywood calling card and Lee’s phone has been ringing off the hook.

At least, it would be ringing off the hook if anyone could get through. Lee, 48, lives in a wooden hut on the side of a hill near Haworth in the Pennines – Brontë country. “The mobile phone reception is nonexistent and I don’t have internet,” he says. So where does he go to pick up emails from big-shot Hollywood agents? Lee chuckles. “Keighley library. I’m a big fan of libraries. Or I go round to my dad’s. He’s 10 minutes away.”

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Josh O’Connor: from The Durrells to the ‘Yorkshire Brokeback Mountain’ … and beyond

Sat, 26 Aug 2017 23:05:49 GMT2017-08-26T23:05:49Z

Early starts, long hours, lots of sheep: the star of God’s Own Country tells of the hard graft behind the acclaimed film

For Josh O’Connor, known for his role in ITV’s The Durrells, it was the bright Mediterranean sun and the sparkling sea of the hit show’s Corfu setting that lit a path to fame. But this autumn the 27-year-old actor has swapped the heat and goats of the Greek island for the rain and sheep of the Yorkshire dales.

O’Connor is the star of an unusual new romance, God’s Own Country, out in cinemas this week and already hailed by critics as among the best films of the year. The unexpected impact of the story, set on a financially imperilled Yorkshire farm, has left him with a choice to make. Will he stick with British independent cinema, or take up one of many offers from Hollywood? Perhaps even donning a superhero’s cape?

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Jane Goldman: 'The only way Hit-Girl could be not sexualised was by being 11'

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 05:00:03 GMT2017-08-25T05:00:03Z

The Kick-Ass and Kingsman screenwriter on how the late Alan Rickman influenced her new film, The Limehouse Golem, and how her daughters empowered her views on gender politics

There’s a thick pool of shiny yellow goo on the ground outside Jane Goldman’s Camden office, as if an alien has been sick. She answers the door and has a look herself, perplexed.

A cynical person might suspect she set this up, this otherworldly substance on an unassuming side street. Since her screenwriting debut with 2007’s fairytale romp Stardust she has written films about the fantastical meeting the ordinary: Kick-Ass (kid with no powers becomes superhero), The Woman in Black (man gets haunted by a vengeful spirit), Kingsman: The Secret Service (petty criminal becomes superspy), Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (kid meets paranormal prodigies).

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Freema Agyeman: ‘Bradley Walsh is Doctor Who’s new assistant? He’ll be brilliant’

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:26:01 GMT2017-08-24T12:26:01Z

The actor spent two series in the Tardis, played a lawyer in Law & Order, and is now in a vampire caper. Which might explain the home blood-testing kits …

Hi, Freema. You’re in a film that’s about vampires (1) . Have you ever donated blood?
I did at university – like a million years ago. But I’m thinking of doing it again, because my sister’s husband got one of those kits you can get to test your own blood type. He found out he was O-negative. And out of seven people who got tested, I got O-negative as well (2) . That’s the universal blood type, so we can give blood to anyone.

Sorry, why were you using home blood analysis kits?
It was something to do with all of this DNA family history stuff. I’m totally fascinated with heritage. There was a minute when I was talking to Who Do You Think You Are (3) , and some of the stuff they found out in the first round was really interesting.

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Riley Keough: ‘I had a bad reaction to authority’

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 07:00:36 GMT2017-08-20T07:00:36Z

She grew up between Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, Graceland and her father’s trailer park. But actor Riley Keough is amazingly grounded, finds Sanjiv Bhattacharya

A couple of months ago, Riley Keough turned 28, so she went out for a celebratory dinner with friends and family. “I drank some wine,” she shrugs. “But I don’t like drinking, really. I have so much to do and it’s hard to function with a hangover.” She thinks for a moment. “Actually, I don’t like dinners either. Such a waste of time. I like eating, but I don’t like that it’s this whole experience, like picking a restaurant and going there and like sitting at a table…”

She speaks in a quiet, halting voice, grinning as though amused by how her idiosyncratic opinions sound when she says them out loud, and by the bizarre fact that most people actually enjoy food. Which is ironic, considering she’s Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, but we’ll get to that.

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Rupert Everett: ‘I was living in terror for my life when Aids began’

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:00:44 GMT2017-08-20T14:00:44Z

The star of new comedy Quacks had his big break in 1981, but spent the period in ‘sheer panic’ watching friends die. He talks about fear, flops and coming back from the wilderness years

In one way, Quacks is a natural place to find Rupert Everett. The keenly British comedy has “something of the Carry On, Stanley Baxter era” about it, he says – a sharp, playful script; a generous, gracious ensemble cast also featuring Rory Kinnear and Mathew Baynton; very accurate historical detail, such as Everett’s thunderous physician trying to cure what sounds like cystitis with the topical application of a baked potato. Really, what could be more fitting? Who else would you cast?

Yet the legacy of his first, dazzling appearance into British culture, the stage and then film version of Another Country, means that if you were alive and at all conscious in the early 1980s, you can’t help thinking of an Everett sighting as a rare honour, like seeing a ptarmigan, or an MP at a bus stop.

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The Party review – the dinner bash from hell

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 07:59:25 GMT2017-10-15T07:59:25Z

A politician’s soiree quickly descends into farce in Sally Potter’s star-laden satire, a sharply observed study of love and politicsThe titular “party” of writer-director Sally Potter’s riotous tragicomedy is both a ghastly social function at which bourgeois lives unravel and the unnamed political opposition party through whose ranks Kristin Scott Thomas’s brittle antiheroine Janet ascends. She’s the newly appointed shadow health minister, a careerist idealist who believes in “truth and reconciliation” rather than shouting, punching and biting. Yet during the course of a single calamitous soiree, her right-thinking, left-leaning comrades will turn on themselves and one another in an increasingly farcical feeding frenzy. Indeed, when we first meet Janet, she’s pointing a gun at the camera, a harbinger of what’s to come in Potter’s short, sharp satire of love, politics and burnt vol-au-vents.The scene is set in an upmarket London townhouse, where a pinny-wearing Janet prepares nibbles while fielding congratulatory phone calls about her promotion. To her friends she’s “a star” who “looks like a girl, thinks like a man… ministerial, in a 21st-century postmodern, post-post-feminist sort of way”. She also has a secret caller whose texts will add spice to the evening. In the living room, Janet’s morose academic husband (Timothy Spall) nurses a glass of red wine, the repeated blues refrain of I’m a Man blasting from hi[...]

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DVD reviews: Fast and Furious 8; Churchill; A Man Called Ove; and more

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 07:00:24 GMT2017-10-15T07:00:24Z

The fast-car franchise takes more corners than chances, while Brian Cox’s Winston is already overshadowed by Gary OldmanYou’d think, after 16 years, that the fast-cars-and-vast-biceps appeal of the Fast and Furious franchise would be sufficiently established to allow a few risks with the branding. But the UK distributors of its latest instalment are taking no chances. What was released Stateside as The Fate (or the F8?) of the Furious was served to us simply as Fast and Furious 8 (Universal, 12). That’s a shame, because the vague pun in the American title of this typically souped-up monster truck of a film is easily the smartest thing about it.Other than that, it’s loudly banging business as usual for a series that has essentially become 007 with tank tops in place of tuxes. Give or take some inconsequential side-switching within the film’s comfortably established “family”, the franchise’s streak of sentimentality that followed the death of Paul Walker has passed. Director F Gary Gray knows what works. Charlize Theron’s hairstylist inexplicably plonking white-girl dreads on the actor’s ice-carved villain most certainly does not. Continue reading...[...]

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Daniel Radcliffe: is it safe to speak of the curse of Harry Potter?

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 08:59:15 GMT2017-10-09T08:59:15Z

The Hogwarts alumnus is wild and crazed in his new film, Jungle, but can he ever escape his past?

Related: Jungle review – Daniel Radcliffe flounders through shallow Amazon misadventure

It is no spoiler to reveal that, by the end of Jungle, Daniel Radcliffe is lost in the wild; crazed and screaming at the sky. He doesn’t know where he is or even who he is. They should’ve called it Harry Potter and the Crashingly Obvious Metaphor: Radcliffe has been roaming the wilderness seeking life beyond Potter for years.

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

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

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

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

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

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