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Into the Woods review: trees fall in a forest, making one hell of a sound

17 December 2014 6:59 AM, PST

Rob Marshall’s big screen version of the Stephen Sondheim musical has taken nearly three decades. Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep just about make it worthwhile

The path to the big screen for Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale mashup has been long and winding. A read-through was held more than 20 years ago, with Goldie Hawn and Robin Williams as the infertile baker and his wife, Cher as the witch who commissions them to fetch bits and bobs (cow, slipper, cape, hair etc) from the forest so she can break the spell, Danny DeVito as the giant, Steve Martin the big bad wolf and Roseanne Barr as Jack’s mother, fed up with her son’s bad haggling. A fresh cast – including Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon – were cued up by Jim Henson in the late 90s, before the curtain fell on that, too. Then, after the success of rootin-tootin »

- Catherine Shoard

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Unbroken stars: 'Angelina Jolie wanted to create a bridge between America and Japan' – video interview

17 December 2014 4:46 AM, PST

Jack O'Connell and Japanese rock musician Myavi, the stars of UnbrokenAngelina Jolie's biopic of Olympic long distance runner and second world war hero Louis Zamperini – talk to Andrew Pulver about working with a Hollywood superstar and why the film is meant to help heal relations between warring nations

Jack O'Connell interview: 'My world just got much bigger'

• First look review of Unbroken Continue reading »

- Andrew Pulver and Henry Barnes

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Testament of Youth: battles of Brittain make for moving biopic

17 December 2014 4:23 AM, PST

Taking us from her conservative rural girlhood to the agonies of war, this film of Vera Brittain’s memoir twists the facts to fine if heavy-handed effect

Warning: This article contains spoilers!

More from the Reel history archive

Testament of Youth (2014)

Director: James Kent

Entertainment grade: B

History grade: C-

Vera Brittain’s memoir of her experiences and losses in the first world war was published in 1933 as Testament of Youth. It became an instant bestseller and remains a classic.

Continue reading »

- Alex von Tunzelmann

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The Interview New York premiere cancelled in wake of hacker threats

16 December 2014 11:47 PM, PST

Manhattan premiere pulled, along with media appearances by stars Seth Rogen and James Franco

Department of Homeland Security dismisses ‘active’ threatCarmike Cinemas first chain to cancel all screenings of the film

First-look review: The Interview

The New York premiere of The Interview, Seth Rogen and James Franco’s film depicting a fictional assassination attempt on the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has been cancelled.

The premiere was to have taken place on Thursday at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in Manhattan. A spokesperson for the cinema confirmed the event had been pulled late on Tuesday Us time.

I am not going to let a terrorist threat shut down freedom of speech. I am going to The Interview.

Continue reading »

- Catherine Shoard

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Australian film in 2014: the year that genre film-making hit its stride

16 December 2014 7:59 PM, PST

Horror, history, romantic comedy, Ozpocalypse – Australian film-makers were genre-benders in 2014. It’s just a pity home audiences didn’t see their work

• Australian TV in 2014: the year the schedules ate themselves

• Australian music in 2014: the year its pop wooed the world

• A year of culture in lists

• Feature: what’s wrong with Australian cinema?

In May 2014, a modestly budgeted horror film about a character in a children’s book that comes to life and scares the bejeezus out of everybody – especially the audience – slithered into Australian cinemas. It cost just over $2m and played on a small number of screens. Some critics murmured it was rather good, but it made tuppence at the box office and disappeared as quickly as it arrived.

Then something strange happened. The film – director Jennifer Kent’s spine-chilling debut The Babadook, an experience so brilliantly insidious watching it feels like ingesting slow-acting poison – became an international sensation. »

- Luke Buckmaster

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies rages at the top of the UK box office

16 December 2014 8:59 AM, PST

As the festive season approaches its zenith, the diminutive hero takes the top spot ahead of another blockbusting adventure, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

With a three-day opening of £9.75m, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies achieved the second-biggest weekend of 2014, behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (£10.32m plus £2.33m in previews). The Inbetweeners 2 debuted with £12.54m, but that included £4.49m in previews, which means it grossed £8.05m over the actual Friday-to-Sunday period.

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- Charles Gant

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Annie review – pink, sparkly radioactive waste

16 December 2014 5:37 AM, PST

This unecessary reboot is clearly meant to warm the cockles, but boring musical numbers and hammy performances simply leave the viewer with a sugar rush of nausea

There’s been an update to that well-known tune about Annie, the parentless little cutester melting the flinty heart of the scowling plutocrat billionaire looking after her. It’s based on – and basically mired in – the 1970s Broadway musical, which has already had two movie adaptations: the 1982 film directed by John Huston with Aileen Quinn as Annie and Albert Finney as Daddy Warbucks, and the 1999 version directed by Rob Marshall with Alicia Morton and Victor Garber.

This new one, on the other hand, is basically like a horrific mix of Lionel Bart’s Oliver, My Fair Lady and Pretty Woman. Did we really need another go-around for Annie, that indomitable little curly-haired moppet, who defiantly sings about how she’ll “love ya tomorrow »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups readies for battle with first trailer

16 December 2014 5:12 AM, PST

First footage emerges of Malick’s new film starring Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett, suggesting it will be a fable of Hollywood decadence and disillusion

Terrence Malick rides into Berlin film festival with Knight of Cups

Terrence Malick reaches settlement over unfinished film Voyage of Time

Having just announced that its world premiere will be at the Berlin film festival, Knight of Cups – the new film from Terrence Malick – has had a little flesh put on its bones in the form of its first trailer.

Other than its principal cast, the only previous detail of the film’s content was that it was about “celebrities and excess”. The trailer, in its elliptical way, expands on that, by showing Christian Bale – playing what is presumably a film maker of some kind – brooding moodily on the trappings of his success. His voiceover – typically breathy, in the now traditional Malick manner – has him announcing, »

- Guardian film

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Night at the Museum stars in London for European premiere of Secret of the Tomb - video

16 December 2014 4:21 AM, PST

Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais and Sir Ben Kingsley are among the stars on the red carpet in London's Leicester Square at the European premiere of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. The film opens on December 19 and sees Larry and his friends head to the British Museum to save the magical powers of the Tablet of Ahkmenrah Continue reading »

- Guardian Staff

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The best films of 2014 – readers' picks

16 December 2014 1:51 AM, PST

From book adaptations to chilling thrillers, here are your picks of this year’s best

• Our critics’ top 10

• Video: 2014 in review

Earlier in the year, we asked for your favourite films of the year so far, and you came out in droves in support for The Lego Movie and Under the Skin. This time round, some of the year’s later dramas and thrillers rose to the top of the pile.

Thanks to everyone for their votes, and for sharing their reasoning behind each choice. We’ve compiled a handful of your submissions in the top 10 below, along with our critics’ thoughts on the film in question. Here we go:

Continue reading »

- Tshepo Mokoena

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Chris Rock's Top Five has some serious women issues

15 December 2014 8:04 AM, PST

Chris Rock’s heavily promoted film about a standup comic looking to kickstart his career has its moments, but the female characters in Top Five are stereotypical throwbacks

Top Five review: Chris Rock dazzles in full meta jacket

I think of my brain as a system of valves, and I often have to plug certain parts to fully enjoy a movie. The casual racism valve gets quite a workout, but the bolt on the overt sexism valve is completely stripped — after years of use, that one just spins in place without ever fully squeezing shut, which might be part of the reason I wasn’t able to enjoy Top Five as much as I’d hoped I would.

I’ve admired Chris Rock’s recent media tour. He speaks so pointedly and plainly about systemic racism in Hollywood that I thought the movie he’d written and directed would reflect some of those lessons, »

- Danielle Henderson

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