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Orion review: the reluctant Elvis-alike turned pretender to the King's throne

2 hours ago

Jeanie Finlay’s ode to Jimmy Ellis, who looked like Elvis, sounded like Elvis and didn’t want to be like Elvis until after Presley’s death, tries to make a country and western classic out of a one-hit wonder

Orion was not trying to be just like Elvis. He even released a single called “I’m Not Trying To Be Just Like Elvis.” The problem, inasmuch as it is a problem, is that Jimmy Ellis, an Alabama-born singer, really sounded a lot like Elvis. The likeness was to the point that this natural talent, who was 10 years younger than The King, was unable to secure any significant work in the recording industry. But in 1977, when Elvis Presley died and a wave of Elvis-nostalgia hit, a business opportunity knocked.

Sun Records, the label that first recorded Elvis (and other early rock n’ roll giants), had been purchased by one Shelby Singleton. »

- Jordan Hoffman

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Timothy Spall: dealing with ghosts

9 hours ago

Having had his own near-death experience, Timothy Spall is easily spooked. So what’s he doing tackling Britain’s creepiest story? He talks – and talks – to Elizabeth Day

Timothy Spall isn’t much given to soundbites. Interviewing him is a bit like pulling a string on the back of a wind-up toy and then watching it go. I barely need to ask any questions before he launches into a long, circuitous answer which loops in and out and back on itself with several eloquently expressed digressions on topics as varied as Darwin’s theory of evolution, the supernatural, nihilism and the state of the conscious mind.

“What is inspiration?” he asks anxiously at one point, his brow furrowed, eyes squintingly focused on some midpoint just beyond my head. “What is genius?”

He’s a cross between an evangelical television preacher and the lecturer everyone loved but was secretly baffled by

Continue reading. »

- Elizabeth Day

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Joss Whedon: ‘Making The Avengers is tough. I may die…’

18 April 2015 1:00 AM, PDT

The director of Age Of Ultron is getting out of the superhero game. But first he’s got to deliver another billion-dollar blockbuster. Will he survive it?

Related: Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron – your pre-release intelligence briefing

The morning Joss Whedon picks up the phone to talk about Avengers: Age Of Ultron, he sounds as if the two years he’s devoted to writing and directing the hotly anticipated superhero sequel have left him a husk of a man, unable to discern real life from comic-book lore. “Reality, what’s that?” he mumbles. “Is that a thing? Is that what the kids are doing now? I work on the movie, go to sleep, work on the movie, go to sleep. When will I be ready to stop? About three months ago.”

I don’t really think about the fans. I think about what I want

I believe »

- Jonathan Bernstein

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Fast & Furious 7 goes head to head with Mall Cop 2's slow and sedate Segway

17 April 2015 9:58 AM, PDT

A comedy featuring an electric scooter is providing unlikely box-office competition for the mega-profitable drag-race-and-guns franchise

Can a fat man on a Segway take on a bodybuilder in a $3.4m, 770-horsepower Dubai-made supercar, one of only seven in the world? Ok, what if it’s a really nice Segway?

Friday’s box office hopefuls are reigning champion Furious 7, starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the late Paul Walker; and opening Kevin James comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, and both star cutting-edge, in-demand technology. It’s just that some of that technology is scooter-based.

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- Sam Thielman in New York

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The force awakens the rumour mill: the craziest new Star Wars theories

17 April 2015 7:41 AM, PDT

From shock villains to surprise resurrections, here are the most unhinged Episode VII rumours making the rounds

The second teaser for the frantically anticipated new Star Wars film has landed and, as expected, fanboys have been thrown into a frenzy of screengrabbing speculation.

But what has the new trailer, which doesn’t even run to two minutes, thrown up exactly? Spoilers ahead. Well, maybe...

The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power, too.

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- Benjamin Lee

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Tom Hardy: five best moments

17 April 2015 4:00 AM, PDT

Standout moments of the chameleon-like actor who stars in this week’s Stalinist-era thriller Child 44

The year 2015 is going to be big for Tom Hardy. He’s always on the cusp of either picking up awards or drawing in crowds, and we’re finally getting the chance to see him try his hand at both, with films including Kray twins biopic Legend and blockbuster reboot Mad Max: Fury Road.

But this week sees a career dip in the remarkably dull Child 44, a thriller about a child killer in Stalin’s Soviet Union. It’s not his finest moment, but to remember better times, here are his highlights:

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- Benjamin Lee

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Star Wars fans look forward to new film The Force Awakens - video

17 April 2015 3:59 AM, PDT

Grown men dressed as wookies while children wield guns and light sabres - it must be a Star Wars convention. Fans in Los Angeles are particularly excited at the event on Thursday after the release of a new 90-second trailer for The Force Awakens, the latest in the intergalactic cannon. Director Jj Abrams is among those mingling with the crowd as the countdown begins to the new film Continue reading »

- Guardian Staff

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My favourite Cannes winner: sex, lies and videotape

17 April 2015 2:56 AM, PDT

Continuing our series in which writers select their favourite Palme d’Or-winning film. Today: Steven Soderbergh’s 1989 debut, which kicked off the career of one of Hollywood’s most fascinating directors – and changed the industry forever

In May 1989 Rob Lowe became one of the first celebrities to become embroiled in a sex tape scandal. An apocryphal story says that a few days earlier, the then 22-year-old was at the Cannes film festival, leaving a screening of Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape. In the film James Spader’s character, Graham, films women talking about their sexual desires. Graham isn’t on camera, but he coaxes them into explicit honesty, capturing their secrets on tape forever. Lowe, unaware of the storm about to break above his head, reportedly turned to a friend and said “Damn! Why can’t I get parts like that?”

Related: My favourite Cannes winner: The White Ribbon »

- Henry Barnes

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While We're Young: an 'ugly cliché' about generational conflict

16 April 2015 9:30 AM, PDT

The film has been acclaimed as a devastating portrait of the generation gap – but when our two Brooklyn dwellers, one Gen X and one Millennial, went to see it, they found it trite. Warning: spoilers

While We’re Young, Noah Baumbach’s comedy of errors, centers on the troubled bromance of Josh, a fortysomething documentarian played by Ben Stiller, and his cool new buddy Jamie, twentysomething Adam Driver.

The reviews have been – generally – glowing and have praised Baumbach’s insight into what’s happening to Generation X amid the rise of the Millennials.

Related: Noah Baumbach: 'In my 20s, I felt like time was running out'

Related: Adam Driver: ‘Lots of things have been said about my face’

Continue reading »

- Raya Jalabi and Dominic Rushe in New York

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Flash arghhhhh!? Is Matthew Vaughn rebooting Flash Gordon a good idea?

16 April 2015 9:23 AM, PDT

Week in geek: The Kick-Ass and Kingsman director is rumoured to be revamping the classic 80s cheesefest. But can you replace Brian Blessed, Queen and Razzie-nommed Sam J Jones and still save every one of us?

Gordon’s Alive! And he’s coming back to the big screen in a new effort from Matthew Vaughn, the British director of Kick-Ass, Stardust and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The news that Vaughn is in talks to direct a new take on Flash Gordon, the 1930s comic book hero who famously inspired Mike Hodges’s preposterously camp 1980 film, has been rather overshadowed by this week’s revelations about the forthcoming Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies. But with Kingsman likely to end up one of 2015’s biggest box-office hits, maybe we should be taking the idea of blasting off once again for planet Mongo a little more seriously.

Related: The week in geek: »

- Ben Child

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Toni Collette: ‘Every scene was like being punched’

16 April 2015 9:16 AM, PDT

Twenty years after her breakout role in Muriel’s Wedding, the Australian actor explains why it was hard to let go of her latest turn as an alcoholic mother – and why she remains a nomad at heart

Usually when you’re shooting a movie you start with an easy, ease-in scene,” says Toni Collette. “Maybe you’ll walk from your car to a store. But there was no such scene in this movie. Every scene was like being punched.” A full 20 years after her breakout role in Muriel’s Wedding, the Australian actor has earned the right to take things easy. But instead of spreading herself thin in studio movies, Collette is still happily taking risks in the independent world, as she does in Glassland, the second film by a little-known Irishman named Gerard Barrett, whom she describes later, in a very emphatic text, as “the real deal”.

Though really »

- Damon Wise

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Cannes 2015: the Brits aren't coming, but I'm still glad to go

16 April 2015 8:57 AM, PDT

English-language movies will be everywhere at this year’s film festival – it’s just a shame so few Brits are behind them

It is always an exciting moment, and not just for trainspotters. The announcement of the Cannes competition list is effectively the beginning of a new film year, and this is the first with the festival’s new president, Pierre Lescure, who is taking over from the legendary, mandarin-figure Gilles Jacob. Although the bullish, vigorous Thierry Frémaux is, of course, the general delegate and prime mover in the choice of films, the choice of jury members and therefore the likely choice of winners. The dominance of Cannes on the international film festival circuit is such that these are the films that will be seen, distributed, talked about and given prizes in the months to come.

It isn’t, on the face of it, a big Cannes year for Brits. »

- Peter Bradshaw

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The Guardian Film Show: Child 44, A Little Chaos, Home from Home and The Last Five Years - video reviews

16 April 2015 8:13 AM, PDT

Henry Barnes and Peter Bradshaw join Xan Brooks for our weekly roundup of the big cinema releases. This week the team watch Tom Hardy Russian (not dragging) as a Soviet agent on the hunt for murderer in Child 44; get tangled up in the weeds of Alan Rickman's Versailles garden romp A Little Chaos; take their time with Home From Home, a 3hr 40min monolithic achievement from Edgar Reitz; and watch Anna Kendrick sing to save a marriage in The Last Five Years

• Want to bloc video? Listen to the audio-only version of this week's show. Continue reading »

- Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes, Peter Bradshaw, Caterina Monzani, Richard Sprenger and Andrea Salvatici

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Martin Scorsese: my passion for the humour and panic of Polish cinema

16 April 2015 7:54 AM, PDT

Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese describes the impact that the restless, dynamic films made by great Polish directors from Roman Polanski to Andrzej Wajda have had on his work

As for many other people, my introduction to Polish cinema came with Andrzej Wajda’s trilogy: Ashes and Diamonds, Kanal and A Generation – actually, they were released out of order here in the Us, and we saw Kanal first, followed quickly by Ashes, both in 1961, and then we got to see A Generation later. Among the three, it was Ashes and Diamonds that had the greatest impact on me. It announced the arrival of a master film-maker. It was one of the last pictures that gave us a real testament of the impact of the war, on Wajda and on his nation. It introduced us to a whole school of film-making, related to what was coming out of the Soviet Union but quite distinct. »

- Martin Scorsese

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The Last Five Years - video review

16 April 2015 7:52 AM, PDT

In this excerpt from the Guardian Film Show Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes and Peter Bradshaw watch Anna Kendrick dominate a romantic musical about the break-up of a marriage. Kendrick plays Cathy, an aspiring stage actor constantly reminded of her lack of success by her husband's rapid ascension to the literary elite. The Last Five Years, which stars Jeremy Jordan as Cathy's husband, Jamie, is out in the UK on 17 April Continue reading »

- Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes, Peter Bradshaw, Caterina Monzani, Richard Sprenger and Andrea Salvatici

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Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision - video review

16 April 2015 7:42 AM, PDT

In this excerpt from the Guardian Film Show Xan Brooks and Peter Bradshaw review Edgar Reitz's epic Home From Home, a three hour, 40 minute chronicle of a young farm hand's quest to learn a new language and culture and escape the confines of German society for a new life in Brazil. Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision is released in the UK on 17 May Continue reading »

- Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes, Peter Bradshaw, Caterina Monzani, Richard Sprenger and Andrea Salvatici

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A Little Chaos - video review

16 April 2015 7:31 AM, PDT

In this excerpt from the Guardian Film Show Xan Brooks, Peter Bradshaw and Henry Barnes get tangled in the weeds of Alan Rickman's romance about the building of a garden for King Louis Xiv. A Little Chaos stars Kate Winslet as a landscape gardener employed to make the Sun King's vision a reality, while Matthias Schoenaerts and Rickman himself co-star. A Little Chaos is released in the UK on Friday 17 May Continue reading »

- Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes, Peter Bradshaw, Caterina Monzani, Richard Sprenger and Andrea Salvatici

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Child 44 - video review

16 April 2015 7:29 AM, PDT

In this excerpt from the Guardian Film Show Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes and Peter Bradshaw get to grips with the mangled Russian accents of a bevy of Rada-trained stars as Tom Hardy chases a serial killer across the 1950s Soviet Union. Child 44, which also stars Noomi Rapace and is based on the bestseller by Tom Rob Smith, is released in UK cinemas on Friday Continue reading »

- Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes, Peter Bradshaw, Caterina Monzani, Richard Sprenger and Andrea Salvatici

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The Emperor's New Clothes clip: Russell Brand doorsteps Lord Rothermere over his non-dom status - video

16 April 2015 5:37 AM, PDT

Michael Winterbottom and Russell Brand team up to take on the system in The Emperor's New Clothes, a documentary about Brand's campaign to make bankers accountable for the irresponsible trading that lead to the 2008 crash and subsequent bail out. The film will be screened in the UK nationwide with a post-screening Q&A by Brand on 21 April and will be on general release from 24 April Continue reading »

- Guardian Staff

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Jenny Agutter: ‘I’m not that young woman people have fantasised about’

16 April 2015 5:01 AM, PDT

The knicker-waver from the Railway Children has been acting for 50 years. She talks about her new movie Tin, her optimism about roles for older women – and why fish and chips can be just as good as caviar

The life of the child actor is one begun under heavy pressure. The threat of corruption is intense, the risk of exploitation high. Any subsequent slide into depression, addiction and debauchery will be well-documented.

That didn’t happen with Jenny Agutter. Now 62, the knicker-waver from The Railway Children sailed through the experience without incident, then grew into an actor so normal it is sometimes a struggle to remember she is a star at all. Unlike her younger peers, frightened into blandly toeing the line, Agutter is open and unstuffy, frank in a way that leaves little scope for misinterpretation; composed but absolutely uncondescending.

Continue reading »

- Benjamin Lee

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