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Turkey Shoot rewatched – video-game carnage in a dystopian future

7 hours ago

Before The Hunger Games there was this world-gone-wrong story of a chaotic tournament of death, directed by Ozploitation maverick Brian Trenchard-Smith

The success of The Hunger Games franchise brought new interest in stories set in dystopian future worlds where average Joes and Janes are forced by wicked authoritarian governments into deadly head-to-head combat. Some wags dubbed the adventures of Katniss and co “Battle Royale with cheese” – a reference to Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku’s conceptually similar 2001 cult classic about violent feuding teenagers, and the novel it was based on.

But director and Ozploitation maverick Brian Trenchard-Smith cracked open the genre many moons before the dour-faced Hunger Games heroine fired her first arrow or Fukasaku armed a class of ninth graders. Chaotic tournament of death extravaganza Turkey Shoot (first released in 1982) is a world-gone-wrong story of “social deviants” who fight to survive in a horrible game where they are hunted and killed for sport. »

- Luke Buckmaster

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James McAvoy: ‘Being a Celtic fan is hard’

17 hours ago

The actor, 36, on the high and lows of football fandom, Scottish independence, and having a crush on Anne-Marie Duff, now his wife, when he was 18

I really enjoy playing mental cases, people with obsession and delusion. It means that as an actor you are engaging your imagination all the time.

I used to be a bit too humble for my own good. I had to learn self-worth and to have a positive image of myself. Maybe it’s a good thing. Perhaps if I hadn’t been humble I’d be really fucked up now.

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- Ed Cumming

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Magic Mike Xxl: stripping the storyline down to the bare bones

22 hours ago

You don’t need a good screenplay or story arc when Channing Tatum and co have got their kit off, just plenty of long shots and slow motion

A good screenplay wastes no time in establishing precisely what’s at stake – or so a thousand budding writers have been taught to believe. In practice, this advice often results in movies that frantically up the ante without ever stopping to ask why, and fill the screen with characters spouting platitudes like “this is the big one”, “everything depends on what happens tonight” and “you’ll remember this moment for the rest of your life”.

What could be more subversive, then, than a film that not only eschews jeopardy from beginning to end, but goes out of its way to actively lower the stakes? What could feel more refreshing than a film in which a character approaches a microphone just before a climactic showdown and declares, »

- Charlie Lyne

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How Daisy Ridley went from bit parts to lead in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

27 November 2015 11:00 PM, PST

Jj Abrams plucked British actor out of minor roles in Casualty, Silent Witness and student films

Daisy Ridley made her first feature film three years ago, a project by the film-maker Peter Hearn and his students at Andover College, where he is a lecturer. Ridley, like the handful of other professionals working with the students, was paid expenses for her role as a comic book drawing come to life, but that was about it.

Daisy Ridley’s second feature film is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh in the multibillion-dollar series. And if internet rumours are anything to go by (they’re not normally, of course, but Star Wars fans tend to be an obsessively analytical and keen-eyed bunch), Ridley’s character Rey, a staff-wielding scavenger picking through the wreckage of battles, is the film’s lead. “She’s not a superhero,” the British actor has said. “She’s »

- Emine Saner

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Submerged review: stuck in a limo with you and a shock lobster

27 November 2015 8:16 AM, PST

Weak and leaky horror about awful people trying to save themselves from a sinking motor, lifted only by a giant crustacean

Legendary schlock producer Samuel Z Arkoff confessed that he frequently came up with ideas for posters first, movies second. It is in that context that I can’t get too angry at Submerged, a dense, low-budget genre picture with very few thrills. Its poster image – a hand pressed against the window of a car that’s plunging underwater, with the tagline “You can’t scream and hold your breath at the same time” – is truly a work of brilliance. I can only blame myself for thinking the movie could measure up.

In my head, I’d conjured some gonzo real-time indie spirit experiment, such as Rodrigo Cortés’s Buried, the Ryan Reynolds film set entirely within a coffin. (It works!) If not that, at least a cheeseball flick such »

- Jordan Hoffman

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Sean Connery's wife charged with Spanish property tax fraud

27 November 2015 6:37 AM, PST

Micheline Roquebrune could face potential £16m fine and two-year jail term if convicted of allegations relating to sale of property in Marbella

Sean Connery’s wife has been charged with taking part in an alleged plot to defraud the Spanish treasury of millions of euros in property taxes.

If convicted, Micheline Roquebrune, 86, could face a fine of up to £16m and a jail term of up to two and a half years.

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- Damien Gayle

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This week’s new film events

27 November 2015 5:00 AM, PST

Edinburgh Greek Film Festival | Bath Film Festival | London International Animation Festival | Stolen Images: People & Power In The Films Of Raoul Peck

We care about Greek cinema more than we used to thanks to the efforts of auteurs like Yorgos “The Lobster” Lanthimos and Athina Rachel “Attenberg” Tsangari. But we also care about Greece more than we used to since it’s become the flashpoint for the EU’s economic problems. So a good time for a sampler of recent offerings from the country. As well as The Lobster, this round-up includes Xenia, an up-to-date comedy in which two siblings search for their Greek father, and Little England, a lush melodrama set on mid-century Andros by Pantelis Voulgaris.

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- Steve Rose

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This week’s new films

27 November 2015 5:00 AM, PST

Carol | The Good Dinosaur | Bridge Of Spies | Black Mass | Radiator | All About Them | My Skinny Sister | Unbranded | Being AP | Doctor Zhivago

As he did with 2002’s Far From Heaven, Haynes sweeps us away in illicit 1950s passion, conveying grand emotions with gorgeous visuals, intelligent observation and exquisite acting. At heart, it’s a simple love affair between a lonely wife and a young shop assistant. The prospect of a “happily ever after” is dim from the outset, but we’re with them every intoxicating step of the way.

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- Steve Rose

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The Guardian film show: Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Good Dinosaur and Black Mass - audio reviews

27 November 2015 4:21 AM, PST

The film team review this week's big cinema releases in the audio-only version of the Guardian film show

Catherine Shoard and Peter Bradshaw join Xan Brooks for our weekly round-up of the big cinema releases. This week the team snoop out real quality in Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies; see love blossom and wither in Todd Haynes's Carol; go for a prehistoric perambulation with Pixar's The Good Dinosaur and see the performances (and prosthetics) laid on thick in James 'Whitey' Bulger gangster biopic Black Mass.

• Watch this week's Guardian film show

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- Presented by Xan Brooks with Catherine Shoard and Peter Bradshaw. Produced by Joan Portillo and Simon Barnard

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Why Doctor Zhivago is the one film to watch this week – video review

27 November 2015 4:15 AM, PST

David Lean’s epic tale of loss and longing is being re-released as part of the BFI’s Love season. Peter Bradshaw recommends Lean’s film, which tracks the illicit love affair between Omar Sharif’s idealistic doctor and the tragic, abused Lara (Julie Christie) across the course of the Russian revolution. Doctor Zhivago, which also stars Tom Courtenay and Rod Steiger, is playing across the UK in selected cinemas

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- Peter Bradshaw and Henry Barnes

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The 10 best actor transformations

27 November 2015 4:00 AM, PST

As Johnny Depp goes bald for Black Mass, we hail the most startling cinematic metamorphoses

From Edward Scissorhands to Jack Sparrow and the Mad Hatter, Depp has always been a chameleon. He’s being Oscar-tipped for his latest transformation: into notorious real-life mobster James “Whitey” Bulger for crime thriller Black Mass. Via a painstaking process involving bald caps, hair implants, facial prosthetics, piercing sky blue contact lenses, tooth-staining and makeup to achieve Bulger’s Irish complexion, Depp menacingly inhabits the role of the sociopathic South Boston gang leader. Bulger declined to meet Depp, who instead studied tapes and was offered advice by Bulger’s longtime lawyer, Jay Carney. However, he credits his convincing Boston accent mainly to hanging out with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.

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- Michael Hogan

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Browser app 'blocks all Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers'

27 November 2015 3:30 AM, PST

Users who install the extension see a warning sign based on the long-running space opera’s famous opening crawl if the page they are about to visit mentions Jj Abrams’ new episode

It’s the dilemma facing every Star Wars fan: how to surf the internet without being assaulted from all sides with spoilerific articles and social media shares about new instalment The Force Awakens. Now a new Google Chrome plugin is promising to keep users blissfully unaware of even the most minor plot detail from Jj Abrams’ mega-hyped new film.

The Star Wars Spoiler Blocker extension promises to warn you about Star Wars content on any page you’re about to visit. If the offending article reveals – don’t worry we made this one up – that Luke Skywalker is Kylo Ren’s father, the user will see only a large box resembling the long-running space saga’s famous opening »

- Ben Child

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That's a wrap: will Carol's Christmas paper offer mean you see the movie?

27 November 2015 3:17 AM, PST

A London cinema is promoting the new Cate Blanchett movie by offering the audience the chance to have presents ‘festively wrapped while they relax and watch the film’. Is this a new trend in promotions?

Like most people, you’re probably on the fence about whether or not to watch Carol at the cinema this weekend. And this could be for hundreds of reasons.

Years of flashy blockbusters might have convinced you that Carol is the sort of small-scale, intimate film that’s now best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home six months after its theatrical release. Or you might have become sceptical of the awards season, and chosen to boycott all artistic work that you suspect has been made purely to appeal to academy voters. Or maybe you just hate beauty and emotion in all its forms, you monster. Whatever your reason, though, you’re statistically more »

- Stuart Heritage

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – what we learned from the Thanksgiving trailer

27 November 2015 3:04 AM, PST

Snoke gets a response, Kylo Ren could be more than just a Darth Vader fanboy, and John Boyega’s Finn is running from something we haven’t yet seen

Jj Abrams’ The Force Awakens is already the most talked-about movie of 2015 on social media, according to a new report. But it seems Disney has a few final tricks up its sleeve to build hype ahead of the movie’s 17 December release date in the UK and debut in the Us a day later. A final trailer has been released to celebrate Thanksgiving, while Entertainment Weekly has posted a video revealing some of new droid Bb-8’s secrets. Here’s what we discovered after putting them both under our mystical Jedi microscope.

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- Ben Child

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Marina Hyde's Lost in Showbiz: Zoolander 2 and the vital role of humour

27 November 2015 2:36 AM, PST

Diversity of opinion and tone are to be cherished in a free society but a world without jokes is not a safe space

A tactical victory in the alternative universe of internet petitions, where a seconds-long cameo by Benedict Cumberbatch in the new Zoolander 2 trailer has been branded transphobic. Then again, what hasn’t?

I’m joking, of course – and the lovely thing about the more intelligent provisional wings of modern activism, from feminism to trans rights to newcomers such as transracialism, is that they are totally on board with the idea that jokes might be permissible. Even when representation is not what you might wish, even when there are vital battles left to be won, even when you think the joke isn’t funny. History shows us that someone else is always likely to come along and make a miles better joke about that lame joke, and make »

- Marina Hyde

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Roman Polanski will not be extradited from Poland

27 November 2015 1:34 AM, PST

Prosecutors will not appeal against decision not to send film director to Us, where he pleaded guilty to statutory rape

Poland will not extradite film-maker Roman Polanski to the Us in an almost 40-year-old case, after prosecutors declined to challenge a court ruling against it.

Prosecutors in Krakow, who sought the extradition on behalf of the Us, said on Friday they found the court’s refusal of extradition to be “right” and there were no grounds to appeal against it.

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- Associated Press in Warsaw

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Black Mass review – big, brash and horribly watchable

26 November 2015 3:00 PM, PST

Johnny Depp plays real-life Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in a preening, macho drama that brims with confidence and verve

Since its premiere at Venice earlier this year, Black Mass has been labelled Johnny Depp’s “comeback” picture, although I’m not so sure he ever went quite as far away as everyone thinks. A career as prolific as his is bound to have some dry spells. At any rate, Depp carries this big, brash and horribly watchable true-life crime drama, written by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk and directed by Scott Cooper, and the movie has valid insights into the political roots of gangsterism.

Depp plays south Boston wiseguy James “Whitey” Bulger, whose heyday was the 70s and 80s. With his bald head and weird blue eyes, Depp’s Bulger is a fully paidup sociopath with a groany-deep voice like Ray Liotta in GoodFellas. His brother, Massachusetts State Senator Billy Bulger, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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The Good Dinosaur review – desperately disappointing and twee

26 November 2015 2:45 PM, PST

It may be visually impressive, but this Jurassic outing lacks the passion and sophistication that we’ve come to expect from Pixar

With Inside Out, the animator Pixar got its mojo back. It was one of the year’s best films: passionate, sophisticated and beguiling. As for The Good Dinosaur … it has its critical admirers, but I found it desperately disappointing, unoriginal and twee, exactly the kind of creative cul-de-sac that we’d been afraid of before Io. The Good Dinosaur is premised on a what-if idea: the meteor supposed to wipe out the dinosaurs bypasses the planet, a near‑miss episode that makes a funny opening sequence. So dinosaurs stay on the scene with humans: we see a family of dinosaurs tending to their farm, and of course talking, though it’s not clear if this is an evolutionary development or the usual Disney anthropomorphisation. An apatosaurus called Arlo »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Radiator review – absorbing portrait of ageing and unhappiness

26 November 2015 2:30 PM, PST

This intelligent, deeply personal work explores the often overlooked domestic lives of older people, to outstanding effect

Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years recently exploited the relatively unnoticed cinematic potential in the domestic lives of older people: the secret existences of a long marriage. Michael Haneke’s Amour, in its more exacting and terrifying way, did too.

Now this excellent debut from British writer-director Tom Browne approaches the same territory: an intimate, micro-budget drama which is absorbing, subtle and outstandingly acted. (Browne was the co-writer of Ben Hopkins’s The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz in 2000, and has had a substantial acting career under the name Tom Fisher.) His co-writer, Daniel Cerqueira, plays Daniel, a lonely middle-aged teacher in London, who receives a desperate telephone call from his elderly mother, Maria (Gemma Jones). His cantankerous and impossible father, Leonard (Richard Johnson), has evidently taken to lying on the downstairs couch, apparently stricken »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Blur: New World Towers review – press-kit-style documentary

26 November 2015 2:23 PM, PST

Concert bits get across the group’s charismatic energy as performers and evoke the rapture of live performance, even if the film is serviceably thin

This press-kit-style documentary also features the four members of Blur recounting how they came to record their album The Magic Whip in five days during an unscheduled tour break in Asia, intercut with recent concert footage from shows in Hyde Park, London, and Hong Kong. As with all band docs, your enjoyment mileage will vary largely according to how much you already like the music. Strictly in filmic terms, this is serviceable if a bit thin – crisply shot and edited, but lacking in any ideas or content that would make it appealing for non-Blur fans. 

Related: Blur and Oasis do battle for number one spot: from the archive, 17 August 1995

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- Leslie Felperin

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