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Derek Malcolm reviews The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: from the archive, 18 November 1976

18 November 2012 7:51 AM, PST

Derek Malcolm is quietly impressed by Tobe Hooper's backwoods slasher film

Almost everyone by now must have heard about Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was one of those who noted this neo-Gothic horror story from Locarno in 1975 and then argued for its inclusion in the London Festival of that year since it looked as if it had been banned outright for showing here. While nobody could seriously call it a work of art, it was in my opinion a quite formidable piece of directorial artifice, a horror comic brought to the screen with frenetic energy and life.

Now slightly cut - but not much, since actually most of the violence is planted in the minds of the audience - the film still seems to me a minor tour de force, bringing a nightmare into focus with sledgehammer abandon. Hyped-up from what was apparently a real incident, »

- Derek Malcolm

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Why we're watching… Tom Burke

17 November 2012 4:08 PM, PST

The 31-year-old actor from The Hour on filming a Thai boxing thriller in Bangkok

I know him. He was on that Mad Men knock-off last week. Look, The Hour is nothing like Mad Men – that's our final word on the matter. But you're right, he did pop up as the dashing Bill Kendall.

Was it me or did my TV crackle with sexual tension during his scene with Bel (Romola Garai)? No, ours did that, too.

So we might be seeing more of Bill Kendall from here on? No spoilers, but it's a safe bet. And it might be a while before we work out if he's a good egg or a bit of a cad.

What else has Tom been in? Apart from Brit gore-flick Donkey Punch (oops!) he's mostly done classy theatre stuff at places like the Donmar Warehouse and the National Theatre. But look out for him »

- Tim Lewis

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Michael Sheen: this much I know

17 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

The actor, 43, on his terrible temper, playing Tony Blair and an obsessive fear of breaking the rules

It can be hard to describe who I am at times. It's very messy being an actor, especially when you play lots of "real" people. I find bits of my personality that I can relate to Kenneth Williams or Brian Clough or anyone else I've played.

I have a terrible temper. I have absolutely no problem with getting shouty or a bit physical. It's not something I'm pleased about and it doesn't happen very often, but it's very much there.

Being funny can get you out of trouble. I was taller than my mother by the time I was 12. She's 4ft 11 and a half inches. If she told me off I would pick her up and put her outside. She'd be shouting at me through the letterbox and laughing so much she couldn't »

- Shahesta Shaitly

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Rewind TV: The Hour; Everyday; The Killing; Falcón – review

17 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Stellar performances continue to outweigh flimsy storytelling in BBC drama The Hour, while the final series of The Killing looks like a return to form

The Hour (BBC2) | iPlayer

Everyday (C4) | 4oD

The Killing (BBC4) | iPlayer

Falcón (Sky Atlantic)

A BBC current affairs programme is caught up in a crisis. There are internal machinations, a star presenter gone off-message, an editor undermined from above, government pressure and a gathering scandal involving establishment figures and sexual abuse; if it were not for the 1950s costumes, The Hour could almost be mistaken for a behind-the-scenes look at Newsnight in 2012.

With so much of the BBC's news coverage devoted to the meltdown at the BBC, it's a kind of relief to be transported back to a time before Twitter, before Jimmy Savile and before the Beeb became a self‑consuming behemoth.

The problem with The Hour is that, far from being unmanageably large, »

- Andrew Anthony

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Hit So Hard; Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet – review

17 November 2012 4:02 PM, PST

These complementary American documentaries centre on west coast rock musicians, a female drummer and a male guitarist, who were expected to go to early graves. By some way the more attractive of the two, the likable, sweet-natured Jason Becker, was a musical prodigy and a guitar virtuoso from the impoverished city of Richmond in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1989, aged 19, he was about to become one of the hottest rock stars of his generation. But having had some trouble with his left leg, he had a medical check up and was diagnosed with Als (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), known in America as Lou Gehrig's disease (after the interwar New York Yankees baseball star) and in Britain as motor neurone disease. He was expected to lose his ability to walk and talk and to be dead within five years. In fact only the first half of this prognosis proved to be the case. »

- Philip French

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Hell is a City

17 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

(Val Guest, 1960, StudioCanal, PG)

The versatile British journeyman Val Guest (1911-2006) began his prolific movie career in the 1930s writing scripts for comedies starring Will Hay and the Crazy Gang and was still directing in the 1980s. But his memorable films are genre pictures made in the late 50s and early 60s such as this realistic police procedural thriller, an unusual departure for Hammer, shot in black and white on gritty, unfamiliar Manchester locations. The formidable star is the toughest British actor of the day, Stanley Baker, just then embarking on a four-movie partnership with Joseph Losey. He's a no-nonsense cop, anticipating TV's Z-Cars, which started the following year, and he's pursuing a vicious escaped convict. The violence is unusually convincing for a British movie and fresh observations include an illegal gambling school involved in pitch and toss on the edge of the city.

Guest's dialogue is abrasive and unsentimental, »

- Philip French

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Documentary-makers join forces to expose the evil of global poverty

17 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

Directors of films in the forthcoming BBC series Why Poverty? explain how they tackled the subject and what it taught them

Are Us billionaires destroying the American Dream? Can large-scale agricultural development have a positive effect in Africa? Are Bono and Bob Geldof actually doing any good? And can the history of human poverty over 10,000 years be told in less than 60 minutes? These and many other questions are being posed in a new series of documentaries and short films entitled Why Poverty? launching on Monday night on BBC1. The series, which will be screened in 180 countries including India, Zimbabwe and Brazil, aims to kick-start a global debate in the hope of addressing a broader question: why, in the 21st century, do a billion people live in poverty?

"I think it's an important time to be having this conversation for two reasons," says Nick Fraser, editor of BBC Storyville and co-founder of Steps International, »

- Killian Fox

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This week's new DVD & Blu-ray

16 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Ted | A Simple Life | The Thick Of It: Series 4 | Flight Of The Navigator/Short Circuit | Margin Call


Currently nudging the $500m mark at the box office, Ted is looking like being the biggest comedy of 2012. Like all good comedies the idea is simplicity itself: a talking teddy bear that says and does things that would be shocking said by a real person, let alone a child's toy. It takes this one joke and runs with it until it stops being funny, then continues to run with it until it becomes hilarious again.

Directed, co-produced and co-written by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who also voices Ted in his best Peter Griffin style, the movie follows what happens after a childhood wish comes true. Everyone gets used to the magic of having a talking toy bear in the world pretty quickly, and Ted and his owner (played by Mark Wahlberg »

- Phelim O'Neill

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This week's new film events

16 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

London Iranian Film Festival | Food For Real Film Festival | Framed Film Festival | London Latin American Film Festival

London Iranian Film Festival

How can one of the world's most culturally repressive regimes produce such brilliant movies? The question still stands, in light of Asghar Farhadi, whose A Separation (which played at this festival last year) won the best foreign film Oscar, and whose About Elly enjoyed a warm reception here, even as its star, Golshifteh Farahani, was exiled for displaying nudity in a French ad. What will the contradictory country come up with next? There are more potential award-winners here, such as Here Without Me or family drama A Cube Of Sugar.

Various venues, Mon to 23 Nov

Food For Real Film Festival, Liverpool

If the words "food" and "film" only trigger the reaction, "Mmmm… popcorn!", you need something more nutritious. Such as this food-related film festival, which gives you thoroughly wholesome films, »

- Steve Rose

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This week's new films

16 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Amour | The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 | Mental | Up There | Hit So Hard | Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet | Happy Happy | The Pool | Son Of Sardar

Amour (12A)

(Michael Haneke, 2012, Aus/Fra/Ger) Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, 127 mins

Most romantic stories are beginnings; this is the endgame – the "till death us do part", as experienced by a cultured, elderly French couple after the wife's stroke. Call it a last slow dance in Paris. Watching body, mind and possibly love slowly diminish in their claustrophobic apartment, Haneke's gaze is stately and unflinching. However, there's also a slight remove, making this less emotional than you'd expect but rich in deeper themes.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (12A)

(Bill Condon, 2012, Us) Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner. 115 mins

The love/hate teenage supernatural saga comes to a spectacular/preposterous climax, for better or worse. Bella's enjoyment of her newfound vampire skills is dented »

- Steve Rose

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My secret James Bond past

16 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Mark O'Connell has been a James Bond fan since he saw Octopussy as a boy. He and his father bonded over Bond – especially when he realised his grandfather's close ties to 007

Divorced parent Sundays. Even as a seven year old, I could tell that Dad was running out of weekend trip ideas. A day at the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex to see the trains? Check. Packed lunch in a car watching the planes land at Heathrow? Check. Another day at the Bluebell Railway to see the trains? Check. Try to get your wimpish son interested in junior rugby to no avail. Check. Yet another day at the Bluebell Railway? Please, no!

My parents divorced when I was six. Thirty one years later, I am still an only child. The separation could have been calmer, but show me one that isn't. I stayed with my teacher mum and future stepdad. »

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On the Hobbit trail in New Zealand

16 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

With the film of The Hobbit due out next month, New Zealand is preparing to welcome a fresh wave of visitors keen to follow in Bilbo's hairy footsteps around Middle Earth

There are three stories you'll hear about The Lord of the Rings in New Zealand. The first is the tale of a wealthy man, a Tolkien fan from the Us, who asked the makers of the movies' One Ring to come up with a costly gold replica, then hired a helicopter to fly him over Mount Doom, where he threw it into the flaming inferno. At least, that's how they tell it in Wellington. In Nelson, it's a woman, a spurned lover, who threw her One Ring wedding band into the mouth of the volcano. Then there's the story of the six-foot-three German tourist who arrived at Hobbiton dressed as, well, a very tall hobbit, who felt so at »

- Rebecca Nicholson

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Wellington without Bilbo: hobbit-free New Zealand haunts

16 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

New Zealand's capital city has hotels, bars, coffee shops and galleries to enjoy without any sign of orcs, elves or the Shire

Tourists heading to New Zealand this winter who are not fans of Jrr Tolkien may feel a little like they've entered a parallel universe. For passengers travelling with Air New Zealand the confusion will begin just moments after take off when they are welcomed on board a flight, not to Wellington but to the "Middle of Middle Earth", as the city now styles itself.

The theme will continue with the on-board safety video "imparting a story of safety" with a message from Gandalf - aka the captain.

Arriving at Wellington airport, the first thing bleary-eyed and jet-lagged, tourists will set their eyes upon is a giant Gollum looming over the cafe area. All this before they've even reached the city proper. Once there they may find themselves using »

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David Nicholls: Adapting Great Expectations for the screen

16 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

David Nicholls, author of the hit novel One Day, has always loved Dickens's novel. As the film version is about to be released, he reveals how he set about his adaptation

Read a book at the right age and it will stay with you for life. For some people it's Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, but for me it is Great Expectations. I first read it at 14 or so and, apart from some infatuations with Orwell, Fitzgerald, Salinger and Hardy, it has remained my favourite novel ever since. By some miracle, a story written in the mid-1850s had captured much of how I felt in a small provincial town at the end of the 1970s.

Yet if I saw myself in the book, it wasn't a particularly flattering portrait. It's clear why a young reader might aspire to be Elizabeth Bennet, but who would want to be Pip Pirrip? »

- David Nicholls

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Twilight: what have we learned?

16 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

The oddly chaste vampire saga comes to an end with Breaking Dawn - Part 2. We've watched all five films so you don't have to


Awkward, lip-biting teenager Bella Swan moves to Forks, Washington, where she falls in love with mysterious, moody, tan-averse Edward Cullen. Who turns out to be a vampire! But, y'know, a vegetarian one: he only eats animals. Edward and his foster brothers and sisters (who, er, also date each other: go with it) protect Bella when some evil vampires turn up. After smelling her. Sexy.

Lessons learned ...

Men will always be there to save us weak women

Whether Bella (Kristen Stewart) is walking in front of cars, falling off motorbikes, getting mugged, or merely condemning her soul to Hell by trying to have premarital sex, there's always a vampire (Edward, Robert Pattinson) or wolf (Jacob, Taylor Lautner) to save her. You know what us silly women are like! »

- Issy Sampson

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Nice place, shame about the films

16 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

Cinema Komunisto casts light on cinematic life in communist Yugoslavia. It's a revealing study, says John Patterson

The oddest thing about Cinema Komunisto, Mira Turajlik's fascinating history of Yugoslavian cinema between the second world War and the death of Josip Tito, is the degree to which those who lived through his reign still venerate, indeed adore their late dictator. Perhaps this is unsurprising: Tito's 35 years in power now seem like a golden plateau of peace between two hellish abysses of exterminatory inter-ethnic chauvinism.

Yugoslavia broke early with Stalin and thereafter remained "unaligned", presenting a Janus-face to east and west, a hybrid "communist paradise" in which a wholesale cult of Tito's personality and a cinema of nationalist propaganda sat cheek by jowl with imported Hollywood movies and western holiday-makers splashing happily in the Adriatic. Tito's totalitarianism wasn't altogether Total.

Tito loved the movies, especially westerns, according to his devoted projectionist, interviewed here. »

- John Patterson

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Celebrity grandparents and grandchildren

16 November 2012 3:01 PM, PST

From staying up late to cooking together, famous grandparents and grandchildren – from Sheila Hancock and Tony Benn to Daisy Lowe and Zoe Smith – celebrate the generation gap

Actor Sheila Hancock, 79, with Jack (17), Molly (15), Lola (14), Talia (nine), Charlie (eight), Alfie and Louis (five), and Rosie (two)

Sheila Being a grandma is lovely. There's a feeling of continuation. I know that when I go, which will be shortly, there will be people going on who have in them a tiny bit of me or John [husband John Thaw who died in 2002]. And that's nice. What I've most enjoyed is seeing them change and develop. I'm not that keen on them when they're weeny; they don't do much. Then suddenly, for example, Jack is a man. That is so odd. And these girls are suddenly young women.

It's totally different from being a parent. It's wonderful – you can lead them astray. I don't have to conform. It started with the teeth. »

- Simon Hattenstone, Becky Barnicoat

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Making porn actors wear condoms is not the best way to protect us | Stoya

16 November 2012 10:23 AM, PST

Measure B, a law requiring the use of condoms in adult movies in La County, fixes a problem that doesn't exist. Our sex is safe

The word pornography has a widely splayed set of definitions. To borrow Judge Potter Stewart's words, we know it when we see it – and we all see it with different sets of eyeballs, informed by different sets of experiences and beliefs.

The term "porn industry" is used to cover a broad range of media, but here I want to talk about the capitalism-driven, heterosexual-oriented adult industry. The porn industry that produces movies such as Pirates XXX and features performers such as Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey, and produces websites named bigbuttslikeitbig. It is the porn industry targeted by Measure B, a law requiring the use of condoms in adult movies in Los Angeles County, California, which was approved by 55.9% of voters earlier this month.

We »

- Stoya

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Ten hours with the Twihards

16 November 2012 9:47 AM, PST

Last night, hordes of undead fans turned out to watch all five Twilight Saga films in a row. Would our intrepid reporter survive 10 hours with the Twihards?

In cinemas nationwide last night, legions of fans gathered to watch the five films from the Twilight franchise, amounting to almost 12 hours of vampiric viewing. Legions of fans, plus me. In Norwich.

4.45pm. I arrive late – some of us have jobs, you know – and the first film, Twilight, is almost over. To save you some time, the plot seems to be: girl loves vampire. Compared to the Twihards, assembled en masse, I'm definitely a Twilite. I tell a lady in the queue for popcorn that I've not read the books and she physically reels.

4.47pm. I assumed that at 26 I'd be at least a decade older than the average viewer, but there are plenty of students wearing onesies, clutching travel pillows and beer, »

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Sam Raimi skips down the yellow brick road

16 November 2012 9:21 AM, PST

A Disney fantasy film directed by Evil Dead's Sam Raimi? I cannot wait to see what happens to the munchkins

Reading this on a mobile? Watch the trailer here

Cult directors don't always grow old gracefully. David Lynch may never make another feature film, but you can guarantee that if he did it would be as mind-bending as anything in his later repertoire. Body-horror pioneer David Cronenberg recently followed the relatively tame Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method with the salacious and leftfield Cosmopolis. Nevertheless, it's still weird seeing how easily Sam Raimi has slipped into the role of cosy Hollywood hack with forthcoming Disney fantasy Oz: The Great and Powerful, the first trailer for which arrived online this week.

Raimi is the director of one of the greatest 80s comedy-horror ventures of all time, the fabulous cabin-in-the-woods film Evil Dead II (don't bother with the humourless first instalment: »

- Ben Child

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