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Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz dress fetches $480,000

11 November 2012 9:38 AM, PST

The gingham dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz has been sold for $480,0000 (£300,000) at an auction in Beverly Hills.

Julien's Auctions said the price for the blue and white pinafore the actor wore throughout the 1939 film was in line with estimates.

But it was well below the figures paid last year for costumes worn by Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, and a similar dress worn during tests for The Wizard of Oz, which fetched $910,000 in 2011. Auctioneer Darren Julien said the difference in price was due to the fact fewer versions of the test dress were made.

The buyer of the Garland dress, made by MGM costume designer Adrian, has not been identified.

Other highlights of the two-day Hollywood Icons sale included a green floral dress worn by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, »


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Back to 1942 – review

11 November 2012 8:11 AM, PST

Feng Xiaogang's sledgehammer epic leaves no arm untwisted and no emotion unmilked in its bid to drive its message home

The Henan province disaster was one of the darkest eras in 20th-century Chinese history – a humanitarian crisis first sparked by drought and then compounded by a combination of windstorms, government corruption and the war with Japan. Feng Xiaogang's sledgehammer epic wants the world to know just how dark, precisely, and it leaves no arm untwisted, no emotion unmilked in its bid to drive its message home. Back to 1942, which screened as the "surprise film" at the Rome film festival, gives us history written in banner headlines and trumpeted by bugles. If it could bring itself to quieten down, it might be more successful.

Our tour guide through the inferno is stoical Fan (Zhang Guoli), a wealthy landowner in Yanjin county who loses everything and joins the caravan of refugees surging »

- Xan Brooks

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Katie Holmes to make Broadway debut after divorce from Tom Cruise

10 November 2012 5:14 PM, PST

Following a high-profile divorce, star revives her career and says she's just an ordinary woman

Four months after abruptly divorcing Tom Cruise in one of the most talked-about breakups in the history of American showbusiness, Katie Holmes is making her debut on Broadway in New York, in a show expected to be one of the hottest tickets of the winter, not least due to her presence on stage.

Holmes is starring in a comedy focusing on family relationships in the mid-west where she grew up.

The career of the former Dawson's Creek actress floundered during her marriage and, since moving to New York with her daughter Suri, Holmes has kept a relatively low profile. In an interview with the New York Times last week, Holmes stressed the normality of her life as a working New York actress who rides the subway, takes her daughter to school and shops unaccompanied in »

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Mark Kermode's DVD round-up

10 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Margin Call; Cosmopolis; Friends with Kids

A couple of years ago, electrifying presence Paul Bettany confessed that he had become so disillusioned with the romcoms and fantasy romps that were his bread and butter (handsomely paying the bills without feeding his soul) that he considered withdrawing from the cinema altogether. This would have been a great loss because Bettany (who acted Russell Crowe off the screen in both A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) remains one of the UK's most charismatic and reliably watchable screen exports, a Malcolm McDowell for the 21st century. Thankfully the actor's faith in the medium was restored by a script that would go on to garner an unexpected but thoroughly deserved Oscar nomination for writer/director Jc Chandor, forming the backbone of a film that would prove conclusively that Bettany still had within him the fire so spectacularly »

- Mark Kermode

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Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger – review

10 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography – like his Terminator alter ego – lacks wit, charm or self-awareness

The sleep of reason breeds monsters, and one of the most alarming creatures dreamed up by our irrational culture is the stogy-puffing bogey Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is the spirit of the age made flesh, and his careers as athlete, actor and politician have dramatised its most disturbing paradoxes – the showdown between technology and human nature, the reduction of art to self-marketing, the transformation of government into a branch of showbiz. His surname, translated, means "black corner": he is the dead end at which the evolution of our species and the development of our society have abruptly arrived.

Arnie's very existence is a vindication of the Third Reich's values. Born in 1947 in defeated Austria, he is, as he once admitted, an unrepentant admirer of Hitler's oratory, and while still a teenager – after experimentally crashing some tanks during his military service, »

- Peter Conrad

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Trailer trash

10 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Film 2012 is back at last – but too late and not for long; tussling over a title; and when Salles met Senna

Film falls from favour at the Beeb

Jonathan Ross's announcement that he is to host a new, populist film review show on ITV should send shivers down the already frail BBC arts spine. The Beeb's long-running film programme Film 2012 returns this week on Wednesday night, having been off-air for a scandalously long time and missed the year's most important film events, from Cannes, Toronto and Venice, through the summer blockbuster season, to the release of Skyfall. What's the point of that?

The show, hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Danny Leigh (above), has smartly avoided critical ire in the film community by inviting most of the nation's critics on to the show at some point (myself included). But, whatever one thinks of the programme's odd chemistry, it »

- Jason Solomons

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Rewind TV: Secret State; Dara O Briain's Science Club; Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature; Imagine – review

10 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Political thriller Secret State was stripped of ideology and a plot, while Dara O Briain had a decent stab at making science sexy

Secret State C4|4oD

Dara O Briain's Science Club BBC2 | iPlayer

Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature BBC1 | iPlayer

Imagine BBC1 | iPlayer

In an age when politics lacks any great thrills, it appears harder to make a great political thriller. The last one that comes readily to mind was Paul Abbott's State of Play, which was way back in 2003, during Tony Blair's eventful second term as prime minister. But since then the air has seeped out of the Westminster bubble and not even the prospect of global economic collapse has succeeded in reflating public interest or screenwriters' conspiratorial imagination. The Killing and Borgen suggest the Danes know how to breathe life into coalition politics but so far it's an art for which British TV »

- Dara O Briain, Andrew Anthony

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Grassroots – review

10 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Stephen Gyllenhaal, father of the actors Maggie and Jake and best known for his television work, has made a fine job of directing this refreshing real-life political story of two eccentric journalists from the alternative press, the investigative reporter Phil Campbell (Jason Biggs) and the rock music writer Grant Cogswell (Joel David Moore) who find themselves at a loose end and go into local politics.

The year is 2001, and without any previous experience the quietly ironic Phil becomes the wild Grant's campaign manager to challenge the complacent professional politicians of Seattle with a single-issue policy of improving the city's neglected public transport system, most significantly the under-developed monorail net.

They are an attractive if at times infuriating pair, and their political education is handled with wit and insight, especially their dealings with their chief opponent, the town's only major black politician Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer), and the result resembles »

- Philip French

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Mother's Milk – review

10 November 2012 4:03 PM, PST

Based on one of Edward St Aubyn's sequence of novels about the dysfunctional upper-middle-class Melrose family (co-scripted by St Aubyn and a first-time feature director hitherto known for his TV arts documentaries), this superior Downton and inferior Brideshead fiction centres on a British family and their offspring. In a chilly way they're trying to be honest about their grotesque mother while losing their fortune and hanging on to their property in Provence.

Everyone is weak and self-deceiving, except perhaps for the articulate eight-year-old Robert, who shares the smart third-person voiceover commentary with his drunken father and sad mother. They in turn cope with a demented grandmother (who's about to hand over the family's French chateau to a new-age, tree-hugging charlatan) and a boozy, neglectful mother. There are a few achingly bad moments that unnecessarily point up the crudity of vacuous British expatriates, but this is generally a film that knows »

- Philip French

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The Sapphires – review

10 November 2012 4:03 PM, PST

Vaguely based on fact, this likable Australian movie, directed by an actor of Aboriginal descent, is set in 1968 when boozy Irish musician Dave Lovelace (Chris O'Dowd) discovers four feisty black singers at an outback talent contest and decides to become their manager. The Vietnam war is raging, and after converting them from country and western to soul (with which he's obsessed) he takes them to Saigon.

They become an immediate success, especially with black GIs, and they tour the dangerous boondocks. No mention is made of the Australian presence in Vietnam (the subject of a single movie, Tom Jeffrey's downbeat The Odd Angry Shot), the whole emphasis falls on the link between the black experience of oppression in the States and Australia.

The combination of Irish soul music and entertaining American troops in Vietnam inevitably suggests a meeting between Alan Parker's The Commitments and the Robin Williams vehicle Good Morning, »

- Philip French

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The Joy of Six – review

10 November 2012 4:02 PM, PST

This sextet of British shorts, more a platter of attractive hors d'oeuvres than a full meal, range in length from seven to 21 minutes, each neatly turned and all well performed by familiar faces. Probably because of the form, they mostly deal with loneliness, as people retreat into fantasy, are cut off from families or try to make contact with strangers. The concluding tale ends on a cheerful note as widowed senior silver surfer Judi Dench masters her computer to get in touch with jolly choirmaster Philip Jackson.

Short filmsPhilip French

guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds »

- Philip French

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Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan – review

10 November 2012 4:02 PM, PST

The 92-year-old Harryhausen, the legendary American film-maker of movies about legends, became hooked on stop-motion animation when he saw King Kong at the age of 13. After a sort of apprenticeship to its special effects designer, Willis O'Brien, he became the greatest figure in the business, working first in Hollywood on pictures like The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and then in Britain since the late 1950s on such films as Jason and the Argonauts, which features the classic swordfight between the Greek adventurers and seven skeletons.

A modest, amusing, articulate man, Harryhausen is the animator as auteur, a craftsman and artist of genius, whose work is superbly illustrated in this riveting film by a French movie historian and rightly celebrated by a roster of distinguished admirers, among them Steven Spielberg, Terry Gilliam, Nick Park, Peter Jackson and Tim Burton. A continual delight.

Ray HarryhausenDocumentaryPhilip French

guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. »

- Philip French

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Century of horror, killing and sex

10 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

After a century looking out for the nation's sensibilities and a new president taking charge, the British Board of Film Classification has much to scrutinise – not least its own history

After 100 years of trimming the naughty and nasty bits from films, the board that classifies all entertainment for theatrical release in Britain is training up its new chief censor, a solicitor.

But if you, like the new man, had already worked at the cutting edge of censorship for some time and were an expert in the legal arguments surrounding the public screening of scenes of violence and depravity, would there really be anything left to learn?

Apparently so, for Patrick Swaffer, who was appointed president of the British Board of Film Classification last month, is undergoing an "induction period" in a job that will see his signature projected on to cinema screens across the land on certification cards for years to come. »

- Vanessa Thorpe

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Here Comes the Boom – review

10 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

The good news is that Adam Sandler, executive producer of Here Comes the Boom, doesn't appear on screen. The bad news is that overweight, baby-faced Kevin James does. He plays Scott Voss, a lazy, unmotivated 42-year-old biology teacher at a failing Boston high school, who returns to his university sport of wrestling to save the school's music department from being disbanded and its dedicated elderly teacher (a prissy Henry Winkler) from being made redundant. He does this by becoming a human punchbag competing as a mixed martial arts cage fighter.

Even less prepossessing than George Formby or Norman Wisdom, who had similar romantic yearnings, James sets his heart on wooing the school's beautiful nurse (Salma Hayek). The film aims to be simultaneously a coarse sentimental little-guy comedy, a tale of embracing the American dream, and an increasingly serious underdog fight movie on the lines of Rocky. It fails on all three counts. »

- Philip French

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This week's new DVD & Blu-ray

9 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

My Neighbour Totoro | Alan Partridge: Mid Morning Matters | Beavis And Butt-Head: Volume 4 | Cosmopolis | Excision

My Neighbour Totoro

As soon as we finally cottoned on here in the west, Studio Ghibli quickly became a name as reliable as Pixar or Disney for high-quality animated features. However, when a film not only bears the Ghibli imprint but also that of the studio's co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki, you're not only guaranteed a great film but one that's a serious contender for all-time classic status.

My Neighbour Totoro was, along with Isao Takahata's Grave Of The Fireflies (a movie it was paired with on its original release), really the start of Ghibli's golden era. It saw them raising their game, including themes of death and loss to give real impact to their stories, making them equally effective to children and adults alike, and as far from throwaway entertainment as possible. Totoro tells its »

- Phelim O'Neill

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This week's new film events

9 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Cinecity: The Brighton Film Festival | Bradford Animation Festival | Bath Film Festival | William Klein

Cinecity: The Brighton Film Festival

Before Cinecity came along 10 years ago, this most movie-friendly of cities didn't have a regular festival to call its own. The void has been decisively filled ever since, thankfully, and this year's anniversary event springs up in venues across the city, including the Pavilion and The Basement, which becomes a pop-up cinema showing music films. There's the expected roster of new international cinema, such as The Hunt, but off the beaten track are artists, films, live music, and a celebration of the late Brighton-based film-maker Jeff Keen.

Various venues, Thu to 2 Dec

Bradford Animation Festival

Animation might reach the parts live-action can't, but it doesn't always reach the audiences it could. So it's only through events like this you'll even find out what you're missing. Led by the feature-length Crulic, which uses »

- Steve Rose

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This week's new films

9 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Argo | Alps | My Brother The Devil | East End Babylon | Aurora | Grassroots | Here Comes The Boom | Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan | The Sapphires | People Like Us | Love Bite

Argo (15)

(Ben Affleck, 2012, Us) Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, 120 mins

Affleck's rehabilitation is complete thanks to this unlikely-but-true collision of Hollywood sci-fi and Iranian politics. It looks and feels like a lost 1970s thriller, with perfect retro styling and slow-burning tension, all nicely undercut by a CIA agent's crazy plan to use a Star Wars knock-off to spirit Americans out of revolutionary Tehran. A fake 70s thriller about a fake 70s sci-fi, based on a real story – what's not to like?

Alps (15)

(Giorgos Lanthimos, 2011, Gre) Stavros Psyllakis, Aris Servetalis, 93 mins

More audacious but coolly deadpan oddness from the Dogtooth director, this time following a secretive group who provide a surreal service for grieving relatives. The world's a stage, Lanthimos hints, »

- Steve Rose

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Skyfall becomes this year's biggest seller at the UK box office

9 November 2012 4:03 PM, PST

Director Sam Mendes's critically acclaimed 007 adventure is on course to become the highest grossing Bond movie of all time

Skyfall, the highly acclaimed latest entry in the James Bond series, has become the biggest film of 2012 at the UK box office within just two weeks of release.

The 23rd 007 adventure, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the series and directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes, has now racked up more than £57m to surpass incumbent The Dark Knight Rises. The figure also makes it the highest grossing Bond film of all time in the UK, ahead of Casino Royale's £55.6m in 2006.

"We are thrilled and proud to reach this box-office landmark in record time, and are delighted that UK audiences continue to enjoy Skyfall," said Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Bond production company Eon. Skyfall opens in the Us this weekend, where it is likely to take another $70m, »

- Ben Child

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Critical eye: book reviews roundup

9 November 2012 4:02 PM, PST

Outsider II by Brian Sewell, Ian Rankin's Standing in Another Man's Grave and Totall Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger

"This is a remarkable memoir, but what is missing is any bridge between the controversialist and the connoisseur, the potty-mouth and the prig: it is almost as though the life of Henry James had been written by Roy 'Chubby' Brown." Craig Brown in the Mail on Sunday gave one star out of five to the second volume of Brian Sewell's memoir, Outsider II: "It is written with his usual verve, powered by exasperation … But his life remains a conundrum. On one level, it is all about the china-shop world of the connoisseur … delving into detail, developing a meticulous eye for suggestion and nuance. On another level, it is about gang-bangs and seething hatreds and releasing the bull into that china shop." According to Lynn Barber in the Sunday Times, the »

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Depressing, but a great tale

9 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

Hit So Hard documents the Hole drummer's descent into drugs hell, with plenty of footage of Courtney Love being equally naughty

The first thing to say about the rock doc Hit So Hard is that, really, you've heard this story a million times. The second is, so what? It's a great story. Tell it again.

Nothing's more toothsome than a narcotic-assisted rock'n'roll swan dive from the top of the pops to the bottom of the barrel. Sometimes, as here, there's a late bounce back towards recovery and sanity; but too often, all you're left with is a cadaver choked on its own vomit with a needle still in its arm. The survivor's tale has the compensatory afterglow of optimism, all horrors viewed through the retrospective scrim of rehab and hard-won sobriety. This way you get no corpse, no legendary status, no crowd of ghouls around the grafitti-covered gravestone, but you »

- John Patterson

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