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Mon, 07 Oct 2019 12:36:32 GMT

2019-10-07T12:36:32Z en-gb Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2019 The Guardian

  • ‘What killed Michael Hutchence?’: how far does the rock doc need to go in 2019?

    The film about the INXS frontman follows Surviving R Kelly and Leaving Neverland in upping the stakes considerably

    What killed Michael Hutchence? Mystify: Michael Hutchence brings new information to light. According to then-girlfriend Helena Christensen, in 1992 the INXS frontman got into an altercation with a taxi driver which led to him falling and hitting his head. She remembers him lying unconscious in the street with blood coming out of his mouth and ear. Hutchence woke up in hospital angry and confused, and refused to be treated. After that, friends say, he was never quite the same: he became aggressive, erratic and “seemed to crave more danger”. His death, five years later, was ruled to be suicide by hanging but, Mystify reveals, the autopsy revealed large areas of brain damage.

    Perhaps the desire to come up with such a revelation is particularly understandable in the case of Hutchence, whose death was alleged by his then-partner Paula Yates to be the result of autoerotic asphyxiation. The theory has been widely contested, but once established, such associations are very hard to overwrite. Mystify, directed by longtime INXS collaborator Richard Lowenstein, could be seen as an attempt to do that.

    Continue reading. Documentary films Pop and rock Film Music INXS Culture

    Mon, 07 Oct 2019 08:00:44 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Steve Rose 2019-10-07T08:00:44Z The muzzling of Michael Winterbottom: how Sony censored Greed

    His fashion tycoon send-up, starring Steve Coogan with alarming teeth, was meant to end with shocking figures about workers’ pay. But the studio said no. The director relives a six-month spat

    Every year for the past three decades, Michael Winterbottom has made a movie. Britain’s most mercurial director may have hopped between genres like a frog on a bouncy castle, but he has stuck to a strict schedule – inspired, apparently, by the subject of his first film, Ingmar Bergman. (Bergman only agreed to the documentary because he was so tickled by the then 25-year-old’s surname. “It’s the one time it’s been a help,” says Winterbottom. “As a child, it wasn’t the easiest.”)

    Continue reading. Michael Winterbottom Film Greed The super-rich Fashion Rich lists Culture Sony Pictures Philip Green Film industry Retail industry Steve Coogan David Mitchell Inequality Celebrity Employment Business Channel 4 Life and style Media Global economy Refugees

    Mon, 07 Oct 2019 05:00:43 GMT Photograph: Sony Pictures Photograph: Sony Pictures Catherine Shoard 2019-10-07T05:00:43Z Tyler Perry opens vast new Atlanta film studio with star-packed party

    Oprah Winfrey and Halle Berry help launch writer-director’s facility, one of largest in US

    The writer and director Tyler Perry has officially opened his massive new film studio in Atlanta, with a party that drew celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L Jackson and Halle Berry.

    Continue reading. Film industry Business Film Atlanta Culture US news World news Georgia

    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 15:10:41 GMT Photograph: Paul R Giunta/Getty Images Photograph: Paul R Giunta/Getty Images Associated Press 2019-10-06T15:10:41Z Sorry We Missed You star Debbie Honeywood: ‘On the first day, I completely got impostor syndrome’

    The first-time actor on getting her role in Ken Loach’s film and learning about the hardships suffered by care workers

    Debbie Honeywood grew up in Wallsend, north Tyneside, and worked in a school before being cast in Sorry We Missed You – her first film role – as contract nurse and in-home carer Abbie.

    How did you get the part?
    When I turned 40, I had a bucket list of things I wanted to do – go to Glastonbury, see the Rolling Stones and get on the telly. I had been working in a high school for 10 years as a learning support assistant and wanted to do something new. One night, I got an email about this movie from the extras agency and I applied. Then they asked me to send a video to Ken Loach; the next thing I knew, they were asking me to meet him for a drink – I told my mam I’m going on a date with Ken Loach. They kept asking me back to do auditions, but I didn’t find out for a long time that I’d actually got the job.

    Continue reading. Sorry We Missed You Film Culture Ken Loach

    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 11:00:18 GMT Photograph: Entertainment One Photograph: Entertainment One Killian Fox 2019-10-06T11:00:18Z ‘It’s a form of modern slavery’: MPs on Ken Loach’s film about the human cost of the zero-hours economy

    The director’s new film, Sorry We Missed You, couldn’t be more timely. We ask MPs and business leaders including Frank Field and Anna Soubry what they make of its uncompromising vision

    It’s three years since Ken Loach released I, Daniel Blake, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for its searing depiction of austerity-era Britain, with food banks a dismal fact of life and a benefits system that crushes rather than supports its supposed beneficiaries.

    Now Loach has turned his attention to another dehumanising trap of our neoliberal age: the world of zero-hours contracts. Sorry We Missed You, again set in Newcastle, tells the story of Ricky and Abbie, a fortysomething couple with two kids whose problems are less to do with finding work than stopping it from eating up their lives. Abbie, played by first-time actor Debbie Honeywood, is a home carer who covers the cost of her own travel between appointments and whose crammed schedule makes it impossible for her to bestow proper care on her vulnerable “clients”.

    Continue reading. Sorry We Missed You Ken Loach Film Culture Gig economy Couriers/delivery industry Business

    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 11:00:14 GMT Photograph: Entertainment One Photograph: Entertainment One Killian Fox 2019-10-06T11:00:14Z American hero Matthew Rhys is proud to be Cardiff-born and bred The prospect of a Welsh Bafta this month means more to the Hollywood A-lister than many of the US plaudits he has won

    An American viewer who comes across the line-up of leading men nominated for the Welsh Baftas this month might be brought up short by one of the four names. Michael Sheen? Tick. Celyn Jones? Yes, certainly sounds Welsh. Sir Anthony Hopkins? No questions asked. But what about Matthew Rhys? He’s an A-lister in the US, where he won an Emmy last year, and many fans have no idea he was not raised on their side of the Atlantic.

    But Rhys, 44, who co-stars with Tom Hanks in the very American film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is in fact Cardiff born and bred. His surname is a clue, yet the actor’s mastery of accents, particularly in the award-winning spy television series The Americans, has shaped his career, keeping him working largely in the US, where he first appeared in the popular series Brothers and Sisters with Sally Field and Calista Flockhart.
    Fellow American cast members are not always happy, he told the Observer this weekend, when they discover he is Welsh. “I do get comments like, ‘When are you going back?’ and ‘Have you got leave to stay?’ It is all done under the guise of joking about it, but they are annoyed by it.”

    Continue reading. Film Television Wales UK news

    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 09:32:09 GMT Photograph: FX Photograph: FX Vanessa Thorpe 2019-10-06T09:32:09Z Why the best film of the 21st century is There Will Be Blood

    Paul Thomas Anderson’s tragic parable of society’s addiction to oil, fuelled by a zealous Daniel Day-Lewis, is a burning indictment of male aggression and an apocalyptic warning

    The title is a prophecy, a warning, or a vengeful supernatural pronouncement. Paul Thomas Anderson’s strange masterpiece, freely adapted by him from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil!, is a tragic parable of man’s dependence on this commodity: formerly the lubricant of commercial triumph and technological innovation, and now the dwindling lifeblood of our material prosperity, the unacknowledged driving force of our military conflicts, and even the cause of a coming ecological catastrophe. That dark title threatens a calamity now visible on the horizon: destruction of the Earth itself. And it is all inscribed in the story of the movie’s leading character, a man with the Bunyanesque name of Daniel Plainview.

    Continue reading. Film There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson Daniel Day-Lewis Culture Drama films Oil Business Commodities Oil Fossil fuels Environment

    Fri, 13 Sep 2019 05:00:42 GMT Photograph: Handout/PA Photograph: Handout/PA Peter Bradshaw 2019-09-13T05:00:42Z ‘An account of how insane we once were’ – Paul Thomas Anderson on There Will Be Blood

    The director explains why he won’t quibble with his film being named best of the century – but what makes it really great is Daniel Day-Lewis

    Do you think it’s the best film of the century so far?
    Who am I to argue? I’ll take it. It’s bragging rights for sure and I don’t take it lightly. But, of course, I could rattle off a long list of great films from this century … that isn’t hard to do.

    Is there a competition in you to care about such things?
    I suppose if it was second-best film of the century my first question would have been, “What’s No 1?” It’s very possible by the end of this year it could slip off the list entirely.

    Continue reading. There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson Film Culture Daniel Day-Lewis

    Fri, 13 Sep 2019 05:00:22 GMT Photograph: Pal Hansen/The Observer Photograph: Pal Hansen/The Observer Catherine Shoard 2019-09-13T05:00:22Z The 100 best films of the 21st century

    Gangsters, superheroes, schoolkids, lovers, slaves, peasants, techies, Tenenbaums and freefalling astronauts – they’re all here in our countdown of cinema’s best movies since 2000

    • The director of our No 1 reacts
    • Film-makers choose their No 1
    • Peter Bradshaw on why our No 1 is our No 1

    Continue reading. Film Culture Drama films Science fiction and fantasy films Documentary films Animation in film Quentin Tarantino Christopher Nolan Michael Moore Ridley Scott Kathryn Bigelow Clio Barnard Ken Loach Matteo Garrone Coen brothers Apichatpong Weerasethakul Nanni Moretti Sarah Polley Andrea Arnold Darren Aronofsky Marjane Satrapi Steven Soderbergh Sofia Coppola Abbas Kiarostami Stephen Frears Jacques Audiard Mike Leigh Yorgos Lanthimos Ang Lee Pixar Lynne Ramsay Joanna Hogg Seth MacFarlane Alexander Sokurov Aaron Sorkin David Fincher Action and adventure films Thrillers (film) Michael Winterbottom Steve Coogan Terence Davies Kenneth Lonergan Pedro Almodóvar Ava DuVernay Martin Scorsese Park Chan-wook Nuri Bilge Ceylan Lars von Trier Asghar Farhadi Andrew Haigh Wes Anderson Alfonso Cuarón Charlie Kaufman Andrey Zvyagintsev Alexander Payne Terrence Malick Jordan Peele Paweł Pawlikowski Sacha Baron Cohen Michael Haneke Steven Spielberg Paolo Sorrentino Joshua Oppenheimer Comedy films Family films Claire Denis Todd Haynes David Lynch Barry Jenkins Wong Kar-Wai Jonathan Glazer Richard Linklater Steve McQueen Paul Thomas Anderson Comedy Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Bright Star The Dark Knight Fahrenheit 9/11 Private Life Call Me By Your Name Gladiator The Hurt Locker The Selfish Giant Gomorrah The Wind That Shakes The Barley No Country for Old Men The Son’s Room Stories We Tell Fish Tank Persepolis Ocean’s Eleven Philomena A Prophet (Un Prophète) Love & Friendship Waltz With Bashir Paddington 2 Mr Turner Brokeback Mountain The Incredibles We Need to Talk About Kevin The Souvenir Ted Wuthering Heights Behind the Candelabra The Social Network Fire at Sea Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 13th Toni Erdmann The Wolf Of Wall Street Unrelated A Separation 45 Years The Child Gravity Anomalisa Leviathan Nebraska The Tree of Life The Grand Budapest Hotel Get Out Ida Borat Spirited Away The White Ribbon Roma Lincoln A Serious Man The Great Beauty The Act of Killing Son of Saul Mulholland Drive Team America: World Police Moonlight Synecdoche New York Hidden In the Mood for Love Under The Skin Boyhood 12 Years A Slave There Will Be Blood

    Fri, 13 Sep 2019 05:00:19 GMT Composite: n/a Composite: n/a Peter Bradshaw, Cath Clarke, Andrew Pulver and Catherine Shoard 2019-09-13T05:00:19Z The directors’ cut: film-makers choose the best movies of the century so far

    From Mike Leigh to Richard Linklater, Joanna Hogg and Michael Winterbottom, here are some of the century’s greatest films, chosen by some of the directors whose own films feature in our top 100

    Silent Light (2007)
    The purest cinema. Thinking of it gives me the same feeling I had when the credits rolled on my first viewing of it over a decade ago. (I wonder how many other films on this list were in competition at the 2007 Cannes? What an astounding year for cinema.)

    Continue reading. Film Culture The Wolf Of Wall Street Mike Leigh Richard Linklater Barry Jenkins Andrew Haigh Joanna Hogg Kenneth Lonergan Steve McQueen Joshua Oppenheimer Paolo Sorrentino Michael Winterbottom

    Fri, 13 Sep 2019 05:00:13 GMT Photograph: Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo Photograph: Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo 2019-09-13T05:00:13Z Joker review – the most disappointing film of the year

    Why so serious? Todd Phillips’ solemn but shallow supervillain origins movie has a strong performance by Joaquin Phoenix but is weighed down by realist detail and tedious material

    The year’s biggest disappointment has arrived. It emerges with weirdly grownup self-importance from the tulip fever of festival awards season as an upscale spin on an established pop culture brand. Last year we had Luca Guadagnino’s solemn version of Suspiria, and now it’s Joker, from director and co-writer Todd Phillips: a new origin myth for Batman’s most famous supervillain opponent.

    Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a pathetic loser and loner in Gotham City, some time in the early 1980s. Arthur is a former inpatient at a psychiatric facility but is now allowed to live with his elderly mother, Penny (Frances Conroy), in her scuzzy apartment. Poor Arthur has a neurological condition that means he is liable to break into screeching laughter at inopportune moments. He has a crush on his single-mom neighbour Sophie (Zazie Beetz) and pines to be a comedian, hero-worshipping cheesy TV host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). But he can only get a job as a clown in grinning makeup and floppy-toed shoes twirling an advertising banner outside a store, where he is bullied and beaten up by young thugs passing by. One day, after the humiliation and despair become too much to bear, Arthur gets hold of a gun and discovers that his talent is not for comedy but violence.

    Continue reading. Joker Film Culture Joaquin Phoenix Superhero movies Crime films

    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 10:11:43 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros Photograph: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-03T10:11:43Z Gemini Man review – Will Smith vs Will Smith leaves audience in a coma

    The digital de-ageing gimmick adds little sprightliness to Ang Lee’s humourless thriller about a government agent on the run

    Digital youthification and deepfakery is the new frontier in studio movies, taking regular live-action films into a deeper uncanny valley. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman features a young-looking Robert De Niro and now comes this very odd, dodgily acted, semi-intentionally bizarre action-thriller directed by Ang Lee and written by David Benioff, Billy Ray and Darren Lemke. It stars Will Smith as Brogan, a special-forces assassin who discovers his corrupt government paymasters are harbouring a secret and subsequently finds there is a new and worryingly familiar-looking young assassin in town. It’s a youngster who has, to coin a phrase, started making trouble in the neighbourhood.

    Continue reading. Film Will Smith Science fiction and fantasy films Ang Lee Clive Owen Thrillers (film) Culture

    Fri, 04 Oct 2019 09:40:37 GMT Photograph: Allstar/PARAMOUNT PICTURES Photograph: Allstar/PARAMOUNT PICTURES Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-04T09:40:37Z The Climbers review – stirring tribute to China’s mountaineering hero

    Bombastic and unsubtle this paean to Fang Wuzhou may be, but its vertiginous set-pieces put many US blockbusters to shame

    Produced by celebrated spectacle-peddler Tsui Hark for co-writer/director Daniel Lee, this is the latest in a run of preposterously patriotic yet enjoyable Chinese event movies. It pays stirring tribute to Fang Wuzhou, a humble, Mallory-worshipping mountaineer who led a successful ascent of Everest in May 1960, declaring “the whole world will remember this day”.

    Nobody really does, unfortunately. No doubt this is down to the loss of the expedition’s camera equipment during an avalanche, with the consequent shortfall in photographic evidence prompting some in the climbing community to have their doubts. The film compounds his nightmare by having Fang (Wu Jing) return to base camp to learn his beloved Ying (Zhang Ziyi) is departing to study meteorology in the Soviet Union.

    Continue reading. Film China Mountaineering Drama films World news Culture Asia Pacific

    Fri, 04 Oct 2019 11:00:13 GMT Photograph: Okazaki_hirotake[j P S]/Trinity Film Photograph: Okazaki_hirotake[j P S]/Trinity Film Mike McCahill 2019-10-04T11:00:13Z Judy review – Renée Zellweger goes full rainbow in vanilla biopic

    Zellweger rises to the challenge superbly in a standard-issue heartwarmer, premiering in Telluride, that sugarcoats the sadness

    For Judy Garland fans, the final station of the cross in the ordeal of her last years was a five-week booking at the Talk of the Town nightclub in London in 1969, which she desperately needed for the money. In those famous and often chaotic concerts she appeared frail, unwell, tipsy or bleary-eyed: mannerisms that she had long since semi-consciously incorporated into her live act. But they were real at some level. Also real were the many flashes of the old magic; emotional arias made more glorious for having been wrenched from her battered heart. This movie is about that troubled period: a defiant last stand in full view of her passionately supportive fans. It was Judy’s emotional Alamo in the face of parasitic husbands, spiteful press and misogynist showbiz overlords – beginning with studio chief Louis B Mayer, who ruined her childhood on the yellow brick road to stardom.

    Judy is adapted by screenwriter Tom Edge from Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow, and is directed by Rupert Goold; Renée Zellweger gives us a heartfelt, studied portrayal of Garland. Her performance and the film itself are forthright and un-camp, though careful to acknowledge the importance of Garland’s gay fanbase by adroitly creating two fictional gay superfans. It is clearly influenced by Garland’s own self-mythologising movie about her British period, I Could Go on Singing (1963), about the gutsy yet vulnerable singing star doing shows at the London Palladium.

    Continue reading. Telluride film festival Film Renée Zellweger Judy Garland Biopics Culture Judy

    Sat, 31 Aug 2019 04:00:37 GMT Photograph: Pathe UK Photograph: Pathe UK Peter Bradshaw 2019-08-31T04:00:37Z Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War review – a soldier’s life in home movies

    The granddaughter of a second world war soldier assembles films, photos and diaries of his extraordinary exploits in this poignant and thrilling documentary

    There’s warmth, intimacy and real archive fascination to this true-life tale from the second world war: a rare example of a regular soldier being allowed to tell his own story. It’s a documentary co-produced by actor and writer Carina Birrell, who shares with us the remarkable history of her grandfather, Harry Birrell, who was given a cine camera as a boy in Glasgow in the late 20s. It gave him a lifelong passion for the cinema and for documenting his life in home movies.

    Carina has had access to 400 reels of film in six great metal trunks, kept in her dad’s garden shed along with portfolios of photographs and thrilling diaries, all telling the stories of Harry’s childhood and youth in Scotland, and his service in the second world war, commanding a Gurkha platoon and travelling in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Burma.

    Continue reading. Documentary films Film Culture Second world war Scotland

    Wed, 02 Oct 2019 15:00:18 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-02T15:00:18Z Solidarity review – sparky study of industry’s nasty secret

    Lucy Parker’s revealing documentary shines a light on the surveillance that blacklisted supposed troublemakers

    Lucy Parker’s film is about a nasty, dirty, century-old little secret at the heart of the British state: industrial surveillance. It is about the Blacklist Support Group, formed 10 years ago when it was revealed that construction firms such as Balfour Beatty and Carillion had been submitting names of supposed troublemakers among the workforce (people who were sometimes doing nothing more than demanding back pay and union representation) to a central snoopers’ body they were bankrolling, blandly called the Consulting Association.

    This grew out of another body called the Economic League, formed in 1919, and its mission was to circulate – and continuously update and expand – a blacklist of workers who would then mysteriously find themselves unable to get jobs. Keen to justify their meal ticket, the beady-eyed blacklisters would look for more and more people whose working lives they could ruin: people who sometimes were doing nothing more than writing to the local press on leftist issues.

    Continue reading. Documentary films Film Culture Business Trade unions Politics Surveillance

    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 07:00:41 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-03T07:00:41Z The Captain review – airline disaster nail-biter plays by the rules

    This fictionalisation of what happened when a plane’s windscreen shattered 32,000ft over Tibet ramps up the suspense in enjoyably predictable ways

    This brazenly manipulative but undeniably effective disaster movie is as corny as an industrial-sized bag of week-old popcorn but proves that the Chinese film industry really has entered the late stages of capitalist aesthetic degeneration. Directed by Andrew Lau, who shepherded the glorious Infernal Affairs trilogy to completion, this based-on-a-true-story drama offers a suspenseful fictionalisation of what happened when the cockpit windshield on a Sichuan Airlines flight shattered unexpectedly while the plane was at 32,000ft over the Tibetan plateau.

    Craggy-featured Zhang Hanyu anchors the story as the titular captain Liu Changjian, a terse, disciplined ex-air force pilot whose fortitude and quick reactions are tested by this sudden crisis. But the fun part is the way the film stays in the well-worn grooves of genre expectation with the supporting cast of characters, including a cheeky pup of a co-pilot (Jiang Du) who is chastised by circumstance, a steady-nerved, swan-like head of the cabin crew (Quan Yuan), and various other crew members and passengers whose actions variously help or hinder efforts to land the plane safely – like the jerk in business class who you secretly hope will die and the cute Tibetan kid and his mom who look like they could easily be sacrifices to the chaotic gods of aeronautic disaster. Sadly, there is no nun with a guitar whose vigorous impromptu performance nearly kills a sick child, or an inflatable autopilot in the tradition of Airplane!

    Continue reading. Film Action and adventure films Thrillers (film) China Air transport World news Culture Asia Pacific

    Fri, 04 Oct 2019 07:00:08 GMT Photograph: Trinity Film Photograph: Trinity Film Leslie Felperin 2019-10-04T07:00:08Z Elvis Unleashed review – superfluous swagger from the comeback King

    Presley’s return from seven years of acting in ropey movies to give these preening performances makes him seem petulant and outdated

    Last year, the famous 1968 Elvis Presley TV comeback special was released in cinemas to mark its 50th anniversary. Now here’s a superfluous documentary featuring outtakes from that film’s live sets. Rolling Stone recently described Elvis’s performance in the show as one of the greatest in rock’n’roll history. The King himself was reportedly so shook up by it that he ejaculated into his leather trousers. But I couldn’t help feeling underwhelmed, vaguely repelled even by his preening, smirky stage presence.

    In 1968, Elvis hadn’t performed live in seven years after switching to movies, acting in a succession of increasingly ropey productions. For the TV comeback he performed two unplugged sets plus two accompanied by a 45-piece orchestra, dressed throughout in uncomfy skintight black leather, chest exposed, hair slicked back. At 33, he’s still looking good – the days of bloated Vegas Elvis are still to come. But bequiffed and crooning “Do the chairs in your parlour seem empty and bare?” he must have looked seriously quaint to the youthful rebels of 1968.

    Continue reading. Film Music documentary Elvis Presley Music Culture

    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 12:41:57 GMT Photograph: Fathom Events/CinEvents Photograph: Fathom Events/CinEvents Cath Clarke 2019-10-03T12:41:57Z The Birdcatcher review – ropey rural wartime thriller

    Disguising herself as a boy, a Jewish girl escapes the Nazis by getting a job on a Norwegian farm in this hammy Euro-drama

    Fads may change, tastes may come and fashions may go, but one thing seems constant: an inexhaustible market for ropey, hammy Euro-puddingish, lite-drama films set in the 1940s. Here’s another such, set in Nazi-occupied Norway, written by Trond Morten Christensen and directed by British film-maker Ross Clarke. It is avowedly based on a composite of real cases.

    The Danish star Sarah-Sofie Boussnina (who was Martha in the recent Mary Magdalene, with Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus) plays Esther, a Jewish girl in Trondheim who escapes a Nazi roundup and flees into the countryside. She winds up disguising herself as a boy and getting a job at a farm owned by Norwegian collaborationist Johann (Jakob Cedergren) whose wife Anna (Laura Birn) is having an affair with a German officer (August Diehl).

    Continue reading. War films Drama films Film Culture Norway Second world war Thrillers (film)

    Wed, 02 Oct 2019 17:00:20 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-02T17:00:20Z Werewolf review – kids v crazed canines horror

    A group of teenagers liberated from a Nazi concentration camp face a terrible new threat in this disturbing, challenging drama

    There’s a very horrible premise to this feral ordeal from Polish writer-director Adrian Panek, a follow-up to his 2011 debut Daas, a mysterious fable about a messianic figure in 18th-century Poland.

    Werewolf is set at the end of the second world war. A group of teenage children are liberated by approaching Soviet forces from the Nazis’ Gross-Rosen concentration camp in south-western Poland. This is the point in most stories where the nightmare might be deemed to have ended. Not here.

    Continue reading. Horror films Film Culture Drama films Poland World cinema

    Wed, 02 Oct 2019 13:00:15 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-02T13:00:15Z Good Posture review – coolly comic tale of love and lies

    A little fib to her ex-boyfriend upends the life of a privileged young woman in Dolly Wells’s stylish, Brooklyn-set diversion

    Actor turned writer-director Dolly Wells makes her feature debut with this slight, elegant, lo-fi indie comedy, a tale of self-doubting but privileged cultured/artistic twentysomethings in Brooklyn, New York, which unrolls in the manner of Noah Baumbach or Lena Dunham.

    Wells’s coolly indirect way with dialogue prevents the movie becoming insufferable in the way that it might have done in other hands. It is like a short story that insouciantly signs off before you’ve quite decided what it means.

    Continue reading. Comedy films Drama films Film Culture Emily Mortimer

    Wed, 02 Oct 2019 11:00:14 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Peter Bradshaw 2019-10-02T11:00:14Z ‘I go nowhere, I see no one’: Garbo letters reveal lonely life of film icon The star told her closest friend of her isolation in a series of notes that are now up for auction

    Greta Garbo, the elusive Hollywood actress of the 1930s, was so inscrutable she was known as the Swedish Sphinx.

    Born in Stockholm, she is best remembered for leading roles in the movie classics Queen Christina and Anna Karenina and for the famous phrase “I want to be alone” – a misquoted line from her 1932 hit Grand Hotel. It fitted her image as a star who shunned the glitz and hoopla of Hollywood.

    Continue reading. Greta Garbo Film World news

    Sat, 05 Oct 2019 11:35:42 GMT Photograph: Allstar/MGM/Sportsphoto Ltd. Photograph: Allstar/MGM/Sportsphoto Ltd. Vanessa Thorpe Arts and Media Correspondent 2019-10-05T11:35:42Z Martin Scorsese says Marvel movies are ‘not cinema’

    The director says he has tried and failed to watch the new brand of superhero films, which he likens to theme parks

    Martin Scorsese, one of cinema’s most venerated current directors, has decried superhero movies – the dominant force in today’s industry. The director of films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas told Empire magazine that his attempts to get up to speed with contemporary superhero films had failed.

    “I tried, you know?” the director said when asked if he had seen Marvel’s movies. “But that’s not cinema.”

    Continue reading. Martin Scorsese Film Superhero movies Culture Marvel US news World news

    Fri, 04 Oct 2019 12:56:41 GMT Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage Catherine Shoard 2019-10-04T12:56:41Z Director Euzhan Palcy says Hollywood found her ideas ‘too black’

    Barbican in London is shining a light on film-maker’s work as part of Black History Month

    The first black woman to direct a Hollywood film says she was turned down repeatedly for projects because her ideas were “too black”, even after Marlon Brando earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in her film about apartheid, A Dry White Season.

    Euzhan Palcy – whose work is part of Black History Month seasons at the Barbican in London and Home in Manchester – broke through in the mid-1980s with her film Sugar Cane Alley but stepped away from Hollywood in the 90s after repeated rejections.

    Continue reading. Film Black History Month Francois Truffaut Robert Redford Culture Race World news Barbican Manchester UK news London

    Fri, 04 Oct 2019 11:25:55 GMT Photograph: Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images Photograph: Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images Lanre Bakare Arts and culture correspondent 2019-10-04T11:25:55Z James Franco accused in lawsuit of sexually exploiting women

    Two women come forward alleging star’s acting school promoted ‘widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior’

    James Franco is the subject of a new lawsuit claiming his acting school sexually exploited women.

    In the suit filed in Los Angeles, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal allege that Franco’s now-defunct program allowed him and male collaborators the opportunity to dangle potential roles in front of women while engaging in inappropriate conduct, according to the New York Times and NPR.

    Continue reading. James Franco Film Culture US news Sexual harassment World news

    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 21:08:29 GMT Photograph: VARIETY/REX/Shutterstock Photograph: VARIETY/REX/Shutterstock Benjamin Lee 2019-10-03T21:08:29Z Kate Berlant: ‘There’s a connection between being psychic and improv’

    She’s had small roles in hipster thriller Search Party and the new Tarantino movie but comedy is Berlant’s first love. Why? Because it’s ‘a place of terror’

    To fellow comic Bo Burnham, she is the “most influential/imitated comedian of a generation … a millennial Lenny Bruce”. As anyone who saw her Edinburgh fringe debut last year will know, Kate Berlant is the real deal – a silly/clever impro-comic majoring in how identity and ego are performed in the too-much-information age. And yet here she is arriving in London for a short standup run, to zero name recognition and minimal fanfare.

    That may change: after roles in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 2018 hit Sorry to Bother You, she now has a TV sketch show in development with sidekick John Early. Telly connoisseurs will identify Early as a star of hipster comedy-thriller Search Party, in which Berlant also appeared. The duo have posted a series of hilarious videos online skewering – as Search Party did – the smart, shallow and self-absorbed millennial way of being. But their TV projects have yet to escape in-development gridlock, obliging Berlant’s genius to remain, for a little while longer, a secret shared by comedy lovers alone.

    Continue reading. Comedy Stage TV comedy US television Culture Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Sorry to Bother You Television Comedy Television & radio Film

    Wed, 02 Oct 2019 05:00:15 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Brian Logan 2019-10-02T05:00:15Z Bringing back Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man for the Black Widow movie is cheating

    Ellen Ripley and Gandalf have staged comebacks, but making Marvel fans watch their heroes die, then blithely return, is a big ask emotionally

    Hollywood has always had a problem with death. Yes, it’s a hugely effective plot device when you need to ramp up the drama. But it’s inconvenient when you kill off your main character and thereby boost demand among audiences to see them reappear.

    The prequel, cloning, time travel, magic and alternative universes have all been used in science fiction and fantasy to bring back beloved mainstays of 20th and 21st-century Hollywood, with different degrees of success. Most fans of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley would wish she had never returned as a freaky xenomorph-infused clone of herself in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s tacky and implausible Alien Resurrection, but few Lord of the Rings heads took issue with Ian McKellen’s Gandalf returning with shiny ironed tresses a few shades paler after his battle with the Balrog in The Return of the King.

    Continue reading. Superhero movies Science fiction and fantasy films Film Marvel Culture Robert Downey Jr Avengers: Endgame Avengers: Infinity War Star Wars Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Star Wars: The Last Jedi Comics and graphic novels Books

    Fri, 20 Sep 2019 07:56:41 GMT Photograph: Marvel/Disney/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock Photograph: Marvel/Disney/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock Ben Child 2019-09-20T07:56:41Z Werewolf review – choppy, shlocky Polish drama Pairing concentration camp history and horror stylings leads to a struggle with tone Adrian Panek’s film can’t surmount

    A semi-feral band of child survivors from a concentration camp find themselves imprisoned in an isolated house by a pack of slavering guard dogs from the same camp. This crass allegorical tale from Poland has some visual flair but relies rather too heavily on exploitative, horror-style music cues and lascivious shots of mutilation and injury. Choppy editing adds to the sense that this picture is struggling to achieve a tonal balance and work out exactly what it is trying to say.

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    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 04:29:03 GMT Photograph: PR Photograph: PR Wendy Ide 2019-10-06T04:29:03Z Why so stupid: how Joker is too juvenile to be provocative

    Controversy has swirled around the grimy origins tale but Todd Phillips’ DC drama isn’t anywhere as shocking as it seems to think it is

    There’s been an air of tense caution surrounding the upcoming release of Todd Phillips’ new film Joker, an apprehension eerily recalling the anarchy in Gotham following the clown criminal’s terrorist threats in The Dark Knight. Maybe it’s due to false memories of the Aurora shooter dressing up as the Joker (a bit of apocrypha since disproven) before opening fire on a screening of the follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises, in 2012, or maybe it’s due to the subject matter of a man on the edge finally snapping and going on a spree. Most likely due to a combination of the two, large swaths of the public share in a faint unease that the nationwide premiere may provide occasion for an act of mass violence.

    Continue reading. Joker Joaquin Phoenix Film Culture DC Comics

    Wed, 02 Oct 2019 05:00:23 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise/AP Photograph: Niko Tavernise/AP Charles Bramesco 2019-10-02T05:00:23Z Over-40 actors still fighting the ageism that stymied Judy Garland

    Renée Zellweger’s Garland biopic is a powerful reminder of the attitudes that infect youth-obsessed Hollywood

    In 1962, Judy Garland received an Oscar nomination for her role in Judgment at Nuremberg and regarded it as an auspicious restart for her career. She had been thrown into the deep end of Hollywood’s unforgiving waters as a child actor, and since her early success, every aspect of her life had been marred by desperate attempts to keep her head above water. Unsuccessful marriages to other struggling artists, an addiction to drugs that was spurred on by abusive producers and, above all, her constant anxiety to control her appearance – all these problems were symptoms of her toxic relationship with Hollywood. “Isn’t this pretty good for somebody Hollywood thought as too old, too fat and too undependable to offer a job?” she wrote. Judy, the new film starring Renée Zellweger, recounts the sad ending that she was heading for instead.

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    Mon, 30 Sep 2019 12:27:41 GMT Photograph: Photograph: Kia Rahnama 2019-09-30T12:27:41Z Joker makes great disability art by letting its hero bite back

    The new Batman spin-off understands perfectly the frustration and helplessness caused by involuntary mental health conditions – but refuses to milk them for tragedy

    I knew Joker was a film whose relationship to society today is a rich – and sometimes fraught – one. But until I saw it, I hadn’t realised just how pertinent a film it would be. Set in dystopian Gotham of the 1980s, it’s a world where the vulnerable of society, such as single mothers, the elderly and people with mental health issues are crammed into crumbling housing projects, while super-affluent bankers live it large. The villains in Joker are the filthy rich, such as the bullying, Trump-like Thomas Wayne who blames the poor for their own poverty as he campaigns to become mayor.

    This is first-person cinema told from the point of view of someone with mental health issues. The character of Arthur Fleck is an authentic and well-researched depiction of a man with borderline personality disorder. At times, it felt less like watching a superhero movie and more like a social drama depicting a real-life horror story of austerity.

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    Fri, 27 Sep 2019 14:26:15 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise Photograph: Niko Tavernise Justin Edgar 2019-09-27T14:26:15Z Is The Farewell the olive branch the US-China culture war needs?

    A film depicting a young Chinese-American woman’s experience highlights differences between the two countries – but may also signal hope for the future

    Similar to the hype surrounding the release last year of Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood romcom to feature an all-Asian cast, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, made for a far more modest $3m, has also generated a great wave of goodwill since its premiere at Sundance in January. The Farewell is a welcome addition to a new canon that depicts the contemporary Asian-American experience. As a mixed-race woman who was not born or raised in her parents’ home country/culture, I found the depiction of the complex east-west family dynamics highly resonant, particularly around the themes of belonging and not belonging. I also shed quite a few tears in the process.

    The Farewell reaches cinemas as the US-China trade war continues to send shockwaves through the global economy; it is far more political than I could have imagined. Starring Crazy Rich Asians alum Awkwafina as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who discovers her grandmother, or nai nai in Mandarin, has terminal lung cancer and has only a few months left to live. However, her family have wrongly – in Billi’s opinion – withheld the truth from her grandmother: a common practice in China, as well as in Japan and Singapore. In an attempt to reconcile their so-called “emotional burden”, the family travel to Nai Nai’s home in Changchun, the capital of north-east Jilin province, to stage a fake wedding between her cousin and his Japanese girlfriend so that the entire extended family can bid Nai-Nai a final farewell.

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    Mon, 23 Sep 2019 15:25:49 GMT Photograph: film company handout Photograph: film company handout Jingan Young 2019-09-23T15:25:49Z With Mosul, the Russo brothers fall prey to white saviour syndrome

    The new film from the Avengers: Endgame film-makers is set in Iraq and gives the main roles to Arab actors. But by failing to hire an Arab director, they have missed the opportunity to smash the established narrative

    When the Russo brothers announced that their first post-Avengers: Endgame endeavour would be an Arabic-language action thriller, I was intrigued. The directing duo have spent the last seven years helping to define the face of contemporary American heroism, so I wondered how they would tell a story where the heroes are an Arab SWAT team, the villains are Isis and the battleground is Iraq?

    Hollywood has made plenty of movies focused on the post-9/11 Middle East, where the stories are centred on white heroes and Arabs are relegated to supporting roles that, more often than not, perpetuate negative stereotypes; The Hurt Locker, American Sniper, Lone Survivor and 12 Strong are a few examples of white saviour narratives. But Mosul, they said, was going to be different. Based on a 2017 New Yorker article, The Desperate Battle to Destroy Isis, it tells the true story of a renegade Iraqi SWAT team who, in 2014, took on Daesh in a bid to take their city back.

    Continue reading. Film Mosul War films World news Iraq Culture Middle East and North Africa

    Fri, 20 Sep 2019 14:27:05 GMT Photograph: Jose Haro Photograph: Jose Haro Hanna Flint 2019-09-20T14:27:05Z How Hustlers shows the importance of female solidarity

    In the acclaimed fact-based drama, the bond between women is shown with rare sensitivity and depth even as they engage in criminal acts

    • This article contains spoilers

    The marketing campaign for Hustlers, a film that opened to an unexpectedly impressive $33m at the US box office last weekend, presents the film as a fun, woke, neon-soaked update of Coyote Ugly. But behind the pink-and-blue-hued ads showcasing the stars Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B, lies powerful commentary on the nature of female intimacy, a mass market shell hiding surprisingly incisive feminism.

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    Thu, 19 Sep 2019 05:00:24 GMT Photograph: Alison Cohen Rosa/AP Photograph: Alison Cohen Rosa/AP Rosa Boshier 2019-09-19T05:00:24Z J-Lo for the win? Taking an early look at Oscars 2020 frontrunners

    The major fall festivals are now over, giving us a clearer idea of which stars might find themselves prepping an acceptance speech for February

    After what’s been a mostly God-awful year at the movies, the fall festival season has felt more necessary than ever, a warm hug after eight months of being repeatedly slapped in the face.

    Shot-in-the-dark speculation over next year’s awards race has been replaced with far more informed predictions, a guessing game still, but one that’s already easier to play. By this time last year, we’d already seen six of the eight best picture nominees and so with Venice, Telluride and Toronto out of the way once again, we can sift through the hits and misses to figure out what films and performances will have enough power to motor their way through to February.

    Continue reading. Oscars Awards and prizes Culture Film Jennifer Lopez Tom Hanks Adam Driver Joaquin Phoenix Joker Noah Baumbach Scarlett Johansson Renée Zellweger Venice film festival 2019 Venice film festival Telluride film festival Toronto film festival 2019 Toronto film festival Festivals Hustlers

    Mon, 16 Sep 2019 06:00:47 GMT Photograph: Barbara Nitke/Courtesy of STXfilms Photograph: Barbara Nitke/Courtesy of STXfilms Benjamin Lee 2019-09-16T06:00:47Z Send in the crowns: in trumping Venice competition, Joker begins grand slam | Xan Brooks

    The victory for Todd Phillips’s revisionist comic book blockbuster is a credit to a festival in touch with crazed politics, contemporary paranoia – and superb cinema

    Todd Phillips’ Joker spins the tale of a pathetic loser who ends up a winner, the low-class upstart who upsets the applecart and explodes the establishment. Nobody – least of all Joaquin Phoenix’s snivelling party entertainer – believed he stood a snowball’s chance in hell. But his message hit home and the voters clamoured for change and we live in interesting times where the old rules don’t apply.

    As with the man, so with the film. Since its grand unveiling at the Venice film festival last weekend, Phillips’s revisionist comic-book blockbuster – charting the formative years of Batman’s nemesis – has had the critics worrying at it like a ham-bone tugged between a pack of dogs. It’s been hailed as a fiery socialist call-to-arms and damned as a cynical instruction manual for incel vigilantes. It’s been seen as left-wing; it’s been seen as right-wing. Its politics are so turbulent, so unrefined – and yes, arguably garbled – that they sprawl and crawl beyond traditional party boundaries. Much, it might be said, as real-world politics has a tendency to do these days.

    Continue reading. Venice film festival 2019 Film Culture Venice film festival Festivals Joaquin Phoenix Joker Oscars Roman Polanski Awards and prizes

    Sat, 07 Sep 2019 21:53:10 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise Photograph: Niko Tavernise Xan Brooks 2019-09-07T21:53:10Z Why The Third Man is an essential primer for no-deal Brexit

    As the classic noir gets a 70th anniversary re-release, it’s hard to ignore the parallels between a shattered postwar Vienna teeming with spivs and the future the Brexiters have in mind

    What perfect timing for The Third Man to step back out of the shadows. Often hailed as the finest film Britain ever made, a 70th anniversary re-release will see it return to cinemas with the government much in the market for symbols of national grandeur. While Boris Johnson has named his favourite film as Dodgeball – for once, eerily believable – as the great British breakdown goes on it is easy to imagine him waving a tiny Union Jack at Carol Reed’s majestic noir.

    It is true, of course, that there could be no better moment for The Third Man to reappear – just not as a cosy patriotic treat. Rather, it is a cold premonition of no-deal Britain.

    Continue reading. The Third Man Film Brexit Graham Greene UK news Politics Foreign policy European Union World news Europe Culture Books Article 50 Boris Johnson

    Thu, 05 Sep 2019 10:57:55 GMT Photograph: Allstar/STUDIOCANAL/BRITISH LION Photograph: Allstar/STUDIOCANAL/BRITISH LION Danny Leigh 2019-09-05T10:57:55Z ‘Incel’ violence is horrific, but Joker is complex, and doesn’t take sides

    Alarmist reactions to the ‘rightwing’ film – starring Joaquin Phoenix as a needy, dangerous wannabe star comic – overlook its subtler points

    Todd Phillips’s Joker had its world premiere at the Venice film festival only on Saturday, so it’s impressive that nearly everyone on the internet has an opinion on it. Reviews from critics here have been largely positive, though have also already sparked discontented rumblings from that nebulous collection of industry folks and movie fans known as “film twitter”. One of the central points of contention around Phillips’s comic-book villain origin story is that it in some way panders to incel culture, or “involuntary celibates” – men who see themselves as losers and “beta males” who women don’t want to sleep with. Angry, misogynistic and feeling entitled to sex and attention, incels have been prone to real-world violence, as with the Isla Vista murders in 2014, when a killer targeted a sorority – shooting 11 people and killing six before killing himself.

    Continue reading. Joker Film Venice film festival 2019 Venice film festival DC Comics Joaquin Phoenix Culture Festivals US news World news Women Sexual harassment US crime Crime UK news Life and style

    Mon, 02 Sep 2019 13:57:22 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise Photograph: Niko Tavernise Christina Newland 2019-09-02T13:57:22Z Summer box office 2019: what are the major lessons of the season?

    Less rebooting! More Keanu! Less Shaft! The summer season is over and it’s time to sift through the hits and misses to see what the industry can learn

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    Wed, 28 Aug 2019 05:00:37 GMT Illustration: Guardian Design Illustration: Guardian Design Benjamin Lee 2019-08-28T05:00:37Z Natural Born Killers at 25: the problem with Oliver Stone’s hit film

    The controversy-courting 1994 road movie about a couple of bloodthirsty killers took the media to task but failed to investigate further

    Natural Born Killers came to theaters on 26 August 1994, only a few short months after OJ Simpson’s infamous flight from justice in a white Ford Bronco in June. At the time, director/co-writer Oliver Stone could not have anticipated the scale of the spectacle that the scandal would mutate into, a 24-hour news orgy of speculation and generally ghoulish exploitation of the public’s morbid fascination with carnage. The trial wouldn’t even begin in earnest until January of the next year, and yet there’s the Juice, stuffed in the final moments of Stone’s blood-spattered road movie. His hangdog visage flashes past the screen in the whirlwind montage of shocking images that close out the film, a canny symbol for the toxic symbiosis between America’s epidemic of murder and the culture of TV press feeding on it which Stone rails against. Simpson appears only for a split-second as an unwitting warning – the ghost of media circuses yet to come.

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    Mon, 26 Aug 2019 15:09:48 GMT Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive Charles Bramesco 2019-08-26T15:09:48Z Aaron Paul: ‘Breaking Bad changed my life’

    As the cult show’s wild-eyed crystal meth dealer, Aaron Paul became one of TV’s most unexpected anti-heroes. But then, as Rhik Samadder discovers, the actor is full of surprises

    The skinhead with crazy eyes opens a concealed hatch in the floor to reveal a chilling sight: stark concrete steps leading to an empty basement, bare walled, dimly lit. The kind you see on the news. It’s not that I expected Aaron Paul to live in a trailer, cooking meth in his underpants, but this is a surprise. To clarify, the rest of his Hollywood house is beautiful, befitting the star of one of the most successful TV shows of all time. Breaking Bad broke viewing records and was acclaimed as the high watermark in a golden age of long-form television. Bryan Cranston’s performance as chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-kingpin Walter White is often described as Shakespearian, yet it was the slow-burn arc of his slacker protégé, Jesse Pinkman, that was arguably more cathartic. How does any actor move on after being in a masterpiece? “We talk about it all the time,” he admits. The way he describes the finale sounds almost painful. “It was next to perfect. Brian and I read it together at his place in New Mexico. When he read the screen direction ‘end of series’ we just sat in silence for 30 seconds.”

    I meet Paul earlier at a long table in his expansive garden, amid the sound of rushing water. He smiles broadly, the sun beaming just for him. It’s kind of strange to see him happy, in patterned shirt and shorts. “I know how lucky I am. I’m on top of the world.” The breeziness contrasts sharply with his onscreen presence. There, he has a mania in his blue eyes and flushing skin, threat in the ravaged growl of his voice, but also beautiful vulnerability. We see the puppy inside the feral dog. No matter how intense the situation, you believe him as an actor.

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    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 08:00:14 GMT Photograph: Ramona Rosales/August Photograph: Ramona Rosales/August Rhik Samadder 2019-10-06T08:00:14Z Dolly Wells: ‘As a heterosexual woman, you get your approval through other women’

    The actor and co-creator of Doll & Em, who starred alongside Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, talks about becoming a director

    The writer, actor and now director Dolly Wells moved to New York in the summer of 2014, leaving London, where she was born. It was for family reasons – her husband, who is half-American, missed home – but it coincided with a new phase of her career. That same year, the first season of the much-missed comedy Doll & Em aired on HBO. She wrote and starred in it with her best friend, Emily Mortimer, and after years as a largely comedy actor, it established her as a writer worthy of serious attention.

    Brooklyn gave her the material she needed to make her big-screen directorial debut, Good Posture. “I felt in quite a bit of pain, moving to America, leaving my brothers and sisters, my mum, whatever my identity was,” she says. “Trying to work out if I would be a different person in this country.”

    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 14:23:50 GMT Photograph: Ali Smith/The Guardian Photograph: Ali Smith/The Guardian Rebecca Nicholson 2019-10-03T14:23:50Z Ang Lee: ‘I know I’m gonna get beat up. But I have to keep trying’

    The celebrated film-maker’s new film pits Will Smith against his much-younger clone – a reverie on the ageing of both the star and the director

    You haven’t seen nerves until you’ve met Ang Lee on the day his new film receives its world premiere. This is Gemini Man, a frantic thriller in which Will Smith plays an assassin hunted by his own younger clone; where there’s a Will, there’s another Will, you might say. Parts of the picture were shot in Budapest, and it is here that the 64-year-old film-maker shuffles into a hotel suite overlooking the Danube. “Everything feels harder than you can imagine right now,” he sighs, sinking into an armchair. He picks up a glass from the table in front of him, then puts it down again. “Even lifting that was hard.”

    He doesn’t carry himself today like one of the most celebrated film-makers of all time, a man who has never won a major award without going on to make it part of a matching pair. He has twice beaten Steven Spielberg to the best director Oscar, first for his gay love story Brokeback Mountain and then for the CGI fantasy Life of Pi; receiving the prize for the latter, he gave thanks to “the movie god”. He also has two Golden Globes and two Baftas – for Brokeback and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, his ground-breaking, treetop-scaling martial arts adventure. His movies have twice scooped the top prize at Berlin (for his Taiwanese-American comedy of manners The Wedding Banquet and his English-language breakthrough Sense and Sensibility) and Venice (Brokeback and the erotic thriller Lust, Caution).

    Continue reading. Ang Lee Film Culture Will Smith Film industry Brokeback Mountain Life of Pi Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lust, Caution Hulk

    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 14:04:39 GMT Photograph: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photograph: Chiang Ying-ying/AP Ryan Gilbey 2019-10-03T14:04:39Z Rhys Ifans: ‘My best kiss? It was long, slow and forbidden’

    The actor on an embarrassing wetsuit incident, an evangelical Sunday school and spontaneous combustion

    Born in Haverfordwest, Wales, Rhys Ifans, 52, was Bafta-nominated for the 1999 film Notting Hill. In 2005, he won a Bafta for playing Peter Cook in Not Only But Always. His other films include Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows and Mr Nice. He stars in On Bear Ridge at Cardiff’s Sherman theatre until 5 October, then at London’s Royal Court from 24 October.

    When were you happiest?
    I look at my nephew, who is five years old and in a perpetual state of bliss; I imagine that’s what I was like when I was five. That’s not to say I am unhappy now; I was on top of the world walking through a park to work this morning.

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    Sat, 28 Sep 2019 08:29:04 GMT Photograph: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images Photograph: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images Rosanna Greenstreet 2019-09-28T08:29:04Z ‘This isn’t a paranoid future nightmare’: the explosive return of Chris Morris

    The satirist’s new film was inspired by the FBI’s attempts to manufacture terrorists. He talks about the problem with white liberals – and his duty to provoke

    Chris Morris first saw the reports on Sky News. The FBI had arrested an army planning “full ground war” on the United States. A massive jihadi battalion, trained in Miami but backed by al-Qaida, was promising to “kill all the devils we can” – starting with Chicago’s most famous skyscraper, Sears Tower.

    That was in 2006. Two years later, Morris got a tipoff from someone involved in the trial that the case could be “a bit whiffy”. In fact, it was a colossal stitch-up. The bureau’s biggest counterterrorism scalp of recent times was, says Morris, “all a huge lie, before it was called fake news. Totally manufactured nonsense.”

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    Fri, 27 Sep 2019 05:00:29 GMT Photograph: Yui Mok/PA/Image manipulation by GNM imaging dept Photograph: Yui Mok/PA/Image manipulation by GNM imaging dept Catherine Shoard 2019-09-27T05:00:29Z Steve Martin and Martin Short: ‘Do you think the Queen will come to our show?’

    Two of the Three Amigos are hitting the road with a banter and banjo-filled double act. But it’s not about nostalgia, they insist

    “I’m a Guardian subscriber!”

    Oh, come now, Steve, you’re just buttering me up.

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    Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:26:08 GMT Photograph: Mark Seliger Photograph: Mark Seliger Brian Logan 2019-09-24T10:26:08Z Every Angelina Jolie film performance – ranked!

    Witness Jolie’s trajectory from 90s jobbing actor to fully fledged Hollywood star – with a few bumps along the way …

    Semi-coherent thriller about a real-life murder from Jolie’s scrapping-for-any-bit-of-work period. She is hardly in it, but the post-fame DVD sleeve makes her look like the lead character.

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    Thu, 03 Oct 2019 11:19:38 GMT Photograph: c.W.Disney/Everett/REX Photograph: c.W.Disney/Everett/REX Andrew Pulver 2019-10-03T11:19:38Z Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at 50: their charm lives on

    The 1969 western paired Paul Newman and Robert Redford to magical effect and remains one of the most undeniably entertaining westerns to date

    “The horse is dead.”

    It’s the middle of a tense scene in the 1969 smash Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The town sheriff is attempting to round up a posse to track down Butch and Sundance, leaders of the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang, which has been robbing banks and trains with such impunity that they’ve become an embarrassment for lawman across the frontier. Unbeknown to everyone, these celebrity outlaws are watching the scene unfold from a perch across the street, where they’re blowing their loot on liquor and whores, but the sheriff’s recruitment efforts were doomed to run aground regardless. There just isn’t much appetite for going after an elusive and dangerous pair that seem to be generous in spreading their stolen loot around.

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    Mon, 23 Sep 2019 06:00:24 GMT Photograph: Photos 12 / Alamy/Alamy Photograph: Photos 12 / Alamy/Alamy Scott Tobias 2019-09-23T06:00:24Z Aardman’s 20 best films – ranked!

    From early experiments in claymation TV to its forthcoming Shaun the Sheep big-screen sequel, we rate the animation studio’s output

    After it was used for a perfume ad, Nina Simone’s jazz classic made it into the top 10 in the autumn of 1987. Inspired, no doubt, by the (non-Aardman) video for a successful re-release of Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite earlier in the year, this music video became a second bite at claymation-meets-1950s. Peter Lord, who directed, went with a sultry singing cat and some artistic shots of piano keys.

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    Thu, 19 Sep 2019 12:10:31 GMT Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian Andrew Pulver 2019-09-19T12:10:31Z Maggie Smith’s 20 best films – ranked!

    Ahead of Smith’s withering return in the Downton Abbey movie, we rate her greatest big screen performances so far, from spinsterish aunt to voracious seducer, Harry Potter’s teacher to Muriel Spark’s haughtiest heroine

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    Thu, 05 Sep 2019 11:37:10 GMT Photograph: Nicola Dove/Allstar/BBC FILMS Photograph: Nicola Dove/Allstar/BBC FILMS Peter Bradshaw 2019-09-05T11:37:10Z The best Stephen King movies … ranked!

    With It Chapter Two out next month, plus the news that an adaptation of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is back on track, we count down the finest big-screen versions of King’s terrifying tales

    Cujo arguably has more thrills. Apt Pupil certainly has more chills. But with his sole directorial effort, Stephen King – that great chronicler of retro Americana – somehow made the perfect drive-in movie: a silly, slapdash nightmare of murderous vehicles and appliances attacking hysterical patrons (including a bewildered Emilio Estevez) at a truck stop.

    Continue reading. Stephen King Film adaptations Books Film Culture Horror books Horror films Stanley Kubrick Brian de Palma George Romero Tim Robbins

    Thu, 22 Aug 2019 10:59:02 GMT Photograph: Cinetext Bildarchiv/Allstar/COLUMBIA Photograph: Cinetext Bildarchiv/Allstar/COLUMBIA Graeme Virtue 2019-08-22T10:59:02Z The Abyss at 30: why James Cameron’s sci-fi epic is really about love

    The director’s underwater folly might have flopped on release in 1989 but in the years since, various new cuts have granted it many more lives

    James Cameron’s The Abyss was released in theaters on 9 August 1989. Exactly three months later, the Berlin Wall was demolished, putting a symbolic end to the Soviet bloc and the decades-long tensions that went along with it. It’s easy to forgot how closely these two events coincided, perhaps because Cameron’s films have always seemed directed toward the future, deploying technologies that wouldn’t take hold in the industry for years later. But The Abyss is as old to us now as Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest or Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot was to audiences in 1989, and it is the product of a generation that grew up fearing nuclear annihilation. Expected it, even.

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    Fri, 09 Aug 2019 06:00:38 GMT Photograph: Allstar/20 CENTURY FOX Photograph: Allstar/20 CENTURY FOX Scott Tobias 2019-08-09T06:00:38Z From Trolls to Transformers: toy films – ranked!

    Lego … Care Bears … My Little Pony … all great toys. But which film spin-offs delivered, and which were cynical cash-ins?

    For the uninitiated, a Bratz doll is a Barbie doll without any of the intellectual heft. Accordingly, Bratz: The Movie is what Mean Girls would have been if everyone gave the impression of being there against their will. A terrible, miserable, cynical film that would have exploded if it had contained a single original idea.

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    Thu, 08 Aug 2019 12:00:16 GMT Photograph: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock Photograph: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock Stuart Heritage 2019-08-08T12:00:16Z Joker review – an ace turn from Joaquin Phoenix A mesmerising lead performance gives Todd Phillips’s divisive reimagining of the comic villain raw power

    Since opening to an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival in August, where it scooped the top prize, Todd Phillips’s origins picture about the birth of Batman’s cackling nemesis has become the focus of a moral backlash, with critics using words such as “toxic”, “cynical” and “irresponsible” to describe its relentlessly embittered (and allegedly glorified) tone. That such terms should be applied to a populist studio picture from the director of the Hangover movies is perhaps unsurprising. Phillips has previously struck gold by appealing to his audience’s basest urges with the kind of nastily nihilistic gross-out comedies that he recently complained have been killed by “woke culture”. Joker, which seems to draw in equal measure on Martin Scorsese’s scabrous media satire The King of Comedy and Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, has a similarly dyspeptic worldview, full of characters drunk on a destructive cocktail of enraged self-pity and self-gratification, the latter indulged with an obliterating disregard for consequences. The difference is, this time no one’s laughing.

    Like Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn in The Dark Knight, Joker has an ace card in the form of Joaquin Phoenix’s mesmerisingly physical portrayal of a man who would be king. Reduced to a skeletal state (think Christian Bale in The Machinist, but worse) by a diet of nicotine and pain, Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck is a tragicomic nightmare, a beleaguered, sign-twirling clown who suffers from a medical condition that turns his internal screams into cackling laughter. Bullied, abused and increasingly enraged, Arthur lives with his mother, Penny (Frances Conroy), in Gotham, a city befouled by garbage strikes and overrun by mutant rats. He dreams of becoming a standup comic but has no idea what other people find “funny” – a lethal combination.

    Continue reading. Joker Drama films Film Joaquin Phoenix Culture

    Sun, 06 Oct 2019 07:00:11 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros Photograph: Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros Mark Kermode, Observer film critic 2019-10-06T07:00:11Z Streaming: where to find Judy Garland films online

    Renée Zellweger may excel as the Hollywood icon, but Garland’s own electric screen presence, in classics and curios alike, remains a thing of wonder

    Is every October at the cinema going to turn up a new reason to reflect on the genius of Judy Garland? I shan’t complain if so. A year after Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born remake prompted our revisit to George Cukor’s unimprovable 1954 Garland-starring version, a new biopic puts the embattled icon back in the spotlight. Renée Zellweger delivers a gutsy, all-in tour de force in Judy – but if you want to remember the star through her own performances, the streaming realm turns up a variety of options, some more obvious than others.

    The cast-iron classics are easy enough to find: in addition to A Star Is Born, the likes of The Wizard of Oz (if you’ve somehow made it to reading age without seeing it) and Meet Me in St Louis (if your Christmas spirit begins at the first flicker of autumn) are readily available on Amazon, iTunes and so on. (Though not Netflix, which remains something of a Garland-free zone, its search engine offering Christina Aguilera in Burlesque as an alternative. Not quite, guys.)

    Continue reading. Judy Garland Film Culture

    Sat, 05 Oct 2019 06:59:37 GMT Photograph: Moviestore/Shutterstock Photograph: Moviestore/Shutterstock Guy Lodge 2019-10-05T06:59:37Z Joker – the incels, the incitement, the ending: discuss with spoilers

    Joaquin Phoenix’s cackling baddie is unleashed today – here’s your chance to talk about whether Todd Phillips is trolling us, or if his film deserves all the Oscars it can get

    • This article contains nothing but spoilers about Joker

    Few movies in history have had such an extreme pre-release experience. It is almost unheard of for a mainstream Hollywood studio film to win the Venice film festival’s Golden Lion. And it is unheard of for Venice’s winner, usually an erudite art film, to inspire grotesque hate speech from fans on social media should anyone be the least bit critical.

    A violent look at “how Batman’s foe got that way,” Joker has been hailed as revolutionary for its depiction of mental illness, but – at least in gun-toting America – screenings have been suggested as a potential trigger of violence. There’s been no shortage of conversation around Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s movie but until now, as is so often the case online, few people had actually seen it. Until now. Here are the pressing topics, only some of which are worth laughing about.

    Continue reading. Joker Joaquin Phoenix DC Comics Culture Comics and graphic novels Superhero movies Thrillers (film) Martin Scorsese Film Books

    Fri, 04 Oct 2019 11:53:46 GMT Photograph: Niko Tavernise/AP Photograph: Niko Tavernise/AP Jordan Hoffman 2019-10-04T11:53:46Z Will Kevin Feige’s Star Wars film spell the end for the George Lucas era?

    Since being sidelined in 2012, the creator has kept an ally at the franchise’s helm in Kathleen Kennedy. But is she about to be usurped as overlord?

    It was never going to be easy for George Lucas to walk away from Star Wars. There is an amusing scene in The Force Awakens in which peppy young gun Finn (John Boyega) suggests using Jedi antics to break into a First Order base, only to be told by an incredulous Han Solo: “That’s not how the Force works”. We can easily imagine a similar look of disgust from Lucas when he found out that Disney wasn’t planning to use any of his madcap ideas for its new trilogy of films, following his sale of Lucasfilm and all rights to Star Wars to the mouse house seven years ago.

    Continue reading. Film Star Wars Culture Science fiction and fantasy films George Lucas

    Thu, 26 Sep 2019 10:57:17 GMT Photograph: Richard Lewis/EPA Photograph: Richard Lewis/EPA Ben Child 2019-09-26T10:57:17Z After Windrush: Paulette Wilson’s journey to Jamaica, 50 years on – video

    A letter from the British government classifying Paulette Wilson as an illegal immigrant shook her sense of identity and belonging. ‘Hostile environment’ policies years in the making meant that Wilson and other victims of the Windrush scandal had their right to residency in the UK called into question. She had been detained for a week pending imminent deportation though she had done nothing wrong. It was devastating, but luckily she was released before she was deported. Here we follow Wilson as she returns to Jamaica for the first time in 50 years, trying to make sense of her place in the world and rebuild a sense of security and belonging

    Continue reading. Documentary films Windrush scandal Jamaica Immigration and asylum Commonwealth immigration UK news Black History Month

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