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White plaque for West End star to launch anti-drug campaign

25 November 2012 3:24 AM, PST

First of new colour plaques for celebrities who died from drug abuse commemorates Noel Coward friend Billie Carleton

The dead body of early 20th-century West End star Billie Carleton was discovered by her maid in her apartment at the Savoy the morning after a victory ball at the Royal Albert Hall. London's aristocracy had attended en masse to celebrate the end of the first world war. Now, almost a century later, Carleton's death is the first to be marked with a white plaque as part of a new campaign to draw attention to flaws in the so-called war on drugs.

The scheme, modelled on the blue plaque scheme that recognises the homes of the famous, will see white, cocaine-coloured discs mounted on the walls of places associated with celebrities who have died from drug abuse.

The campaign has been launched to coincide with the British release of the film The House I Live In, »

- Vanessa Thorpe

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Trailer trash

24 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

How not to start a conversation with Helena Bonham Carter – and the story behind the Blues Brothers' Ray-Bans

Foxing Helena

Jason Flemyng is fast becoming the Kevin Bacon of British film. The amiable character actor clocks up his 90th film with Mike Newell's adaptation of Great Expectations this week, and there's hardly anyone he hasn't worked with, either here or in Hollywood, from Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp to Nick Moran and Sting. He is currently filming Sunshine on Leith, his Lock Stock… mate Dexter Fletcher's second film as a director (it's a love story set to the music of the Proclaimers and also starring Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks). Recalling his time on the set of Great Expectations, in which he delivers a deftly tender performance as blacksmith Joe Gargery, Jason told me of the first time he came across Helena Bonham Carter, who'd just been cast as Miss Havisham. »

- Jason Solomons

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Trouble in Paradise

24 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

(Ernst Lubitsch, 1932, Eureka, PG)

,

Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) was an established character actor with Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater in Germany before he was 21 and started working in the cinema in 1913. He was one of the world's most accomplished directors when, in 1923, he was lured to Hollywood, a decade before Hitler drove most of Germany's leading film-makers into exile. Visual wit, a sophisticated worldly view of mankind's follies and fashionable urban settings in continental cities were the hallmarks of his work, and Trouble in Paradise, one of his greatest films, is widely considered to be flawless.

Suave society thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) and beautiful pickpocket Lily (Miriam Hopkins), both posing as aristocrats, meet while stealing from the rich guests of a Venetian hotel, join forces, and target Madame Colet (Kay Francis), the attractive young widow of a French millionaire. But things get truly complicated when Gaston develops a real affection for the heiress. »

- Philip French

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Silver Linings Playbook – review

24 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

David O Russell alternates between comedy and psychological drama in this hugely enjoyable film

Silver Linings Playbook has a suitably upbeat title and several of the key ingredients for a standard Hollywood "feelgood movie" – an oddball hero returning home to make peace with his family, an encounter with a kookie girl whom he ends up chasing through the festive, snow-flecked streets at Christmas, a couple of public contests (a dance and a football game) on the results of which the future depends. And indeed the movie does make you feel quite good about humanity as the final credits roll. But this is a David O Russell movie, his sixth since 1994, and for him feeling good is the reward for completing an emotional assault course.

Russell made his debut with Spanking the Monkey, a sparkling comedy about a middle-class lad on the threshold of leaving home to enter medical school, who »

- Philip French

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Mark Kermode's DVD round-up – review

24 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Magic Mike; Ted; Brave; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

After what seemed like a lifetime leaning "quirkily" against people and inanimate objects in the posters for dismal, money-spinning rom-coms, Matthew McConaughey rediscovered his mojo this year with two movies that reminded us why we first sat up and took notice of him in Dazed and Confused, Lone Star and even Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. In William Friedkin's Killer Joe, he built upon the career resurrection hinted at in The Lincoln Lawyer, playing a slimy, murderous Texan working both sides of the law.

He dazzles once again in Magic Mike (2012, Lionsgate, 15) as the leader of a male striptease troupe whose routines boast none of the coy amateurism of The Full Monty. Inspired in part by the real-life experiences of beefcakey co-star and producer Channing Tatum, this Steven Soderbergh-directed romp continues the director's ongoing love affair with upmarket exploitation cinema. »

- Mark Kermode

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The Hobbit: stormclouds gather over premiere amid animal care row

24 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

With the Lord of the Rings prequel heading for cinema screens, Peter Jackson, the director, and his cast have been forced on the defensive by rows over animal welfare

British actor Martin Freeman is close to becoming an official mascot for New Zealand, thanks to his role in the new Hobbit film and this weekend's unveiling of a giant image of his face on the side of a Boeing jet at Auckland airport. And suddenly it looks as if the Tolkien entertainment industry might be in need of such a congenial ambassador.

Just three days before the film premieres in New Zealand's capital, Wellington, the long-awaited Peter Jackson adaptation of Jrr Tolkien's first foray into Middle-earth is under attack from several quarters. Its Hollywood producers stand variously accused of cruelty to animals, suppression of the press and exploitative merchandising.

The film-makers and stars of the Lord of the Rings prequel, »

- Vanessa Thorpe

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A comeback or a disaster?

24 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Lindsay Lohan is back on screen for the first time in five years – as Liz Taylor. It's a combination that shows the contrast between a real star and a celebrity better known for her rehab

On Sunday night, in the self-proclaimed "television event of the year", Lindsay Lohan will appear in Liz & Dick, playing Elizabeth Taylor in a movie for the Us cable channel Lifetime about her love affair with Richard Burton.

This is Lohan's first starring role in five years, but the fascination surrounding Liz & Dick has little to do with any hope of a great performance. This, it seems, is the first movie to be explicitly marketed around the disastrous life of its own star, making it an indictment of contemporary celebrity as funny as it is upsetting.

A teaser for the film begins with overlaid clips of TV news audio ("She's young and she's got a bad rap", "Lindsay Lohan, »

- Hermione Hoby

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Bella beats Bond as Twilight movie topples Skyfall from box-office peak

24 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

Films featuring weapon-wielding teenage girls are dominating Hollywood's fantasy output. But in the real world men still hold power in the industry

It was a hard fight, but in the end there was only ever going to be one winner.

As Americans flocked to the cinema last week over the Thanksgiving holiday, early figures showed the latest and last Twilight vampire movie knocking the James Bond blockbuster Skyfall from its perch atop the Us movie charts.

In the end Bond, in the macho incarnation of the brooding, highly masculine Daniel Craig, was no match for a teen action heroine called Bella.

But maybe Bond, and other male heroes of the silver screen, are going to have to get used to being beaten by a much younger girl. For Twilight's Bella is far from alone when it comes to young, active heroines invading cinematic territory usually occupied by male characters. In fact, »

- Paul Harris

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Gambit – review

24 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

This is a flat-footed remake of a mildly amusing 1966 caper movie starring Michael Caine as a cockney conman posing as an aristocrat who hires chorus girl Shirley MacLaine to help him cheat the infinitely rich Herbert Lom in Hong Kong and in a fictitious Arab state.

Joel and Ethan Coen have updated it to Texas and Britain with Colin Firth (in hornrim Caine-type spectacles) engaging Texas rodeo star Cameron Diaz to help shake down rich British bully and art collector Alan Rickman with a bogus Monet. The Coens hang on to the original Gambit's one clever idea, which comes early on and was used better in 1966.

Otherwise, they, director Hoffman and the film's producers have decided to make a pastiche of a 1960s swinging London movie with all the familiar features, including the single word title once obligatory for smart comedy-thrillers (eg, Charade, Arabesque, Kaleidoscope), the cute animated credits in the Pink Panther manner, »

- Philip French

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End of Watch – review

24 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

David Ayer made his name as screenwriter of Training Day, in which Denzel Washington went down the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles as a smart bent cop showing the ropes to honest rookie Ethan Hawke. There is little moral coloration in his directorial debut, the entertaining police-procedural End of Watch, just different shades of honest Lapd blue, as principally worn by dedicated patrol officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has most of the jokes and is considering matrimony, and his Hispanic buddy, Mike Zavala (Michael Peña), who does most of the driving and is a long married father. They're a more realistic version of Lethal Weapon's Riggs and Murtaugh.

Both actors are first rate, their friendship palpable, their professional conduct (tempered by practical joking and youthful bravado) convincing. During the course of their daily watch, they take on every sort of case from fires and domestic disturbance »

- Philip French

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The House I Live In – review

24 November 2012 4:03 PM, PST

Filmed over a period of four years in 20 Us states, Jarecki's documentary is a wide-ranging examination of the futile, self-defeating "war on drugs" that has been an essential plank in the platform of every presidential candidate since the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 and has led to America having the world's largest prison population.

Jarecki and his eloquent witnesses, including the thoughtful David Simon, creator of the TV series The Wire, trace the origins of the war back to late-19th-century racial prejudice, suggest that it has in recent years followed the same stages as the Holocaust, and believe that only a radical reconsideration of American history and contemporary society can effect a positive change in the current tragic situation. Some hope.

DocumentaryDrugsDrugs policyDrugs tradePhilip 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 »

- Philip French

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Starbuck – review

24 November 2012 4:02 PM, PST

Asked by George Melly what it was like going around his 1961 Tate Gallery retrospective, Max Ernst said the pride he felt was like that of a prize stud bull being taken to see his progeny. In Ken Scott's comedy, Starbuck (apparently the name of a famous Canadian bull that sired 2,000 calves) is the pseudonym chosen by David Wozniak, a French-Canadian butcher of Polish extraction, who has precisely the experience Ernst fancifully described.

After having sold a large amount of his bodily fluids to a Montreal sperm bank while a young man, he's confronted by 533 adult children, 142 of whom have launched a class action to discover the identity of their biological father. Come! Come! you might well say. The film's French-Canadian director has much queasy fun confronting David's predicament and its effects on his tight-knit Catholic family and his pregnant fiancee. One way and another, it makes a man of »

- Philip French

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Lawrence of Arabia – review

24 November 2012 4:02 PM, PST

It's astonishing to think that Lean's stately masterpiece was made half a century ago, a mere 27 years after the death of Te Lawrence, and that following the initial showing in 1962 the film was cut, making it necessary for the restorers to have Charles Gray dub the voice of the late Jack Hawkins. There are no intelligent epics like this today and, because of computer-generated effects, it's unlikely that there ever will be again. To appreciate the film fully, Lawrence must be seen in a cinema, in 70mm on the widescreen and in stereophonic sound, and the present theatrical revival is not to be missed. I spent a year in the desert doing my national service and read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom there, but when I think of sand it's Freddie Young's images from Lawrence that I remember.

I'll never forget seeing the film for the first time at the Odeon, »

- Philip French

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Cinema Komunisto – review

24 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

In 1948, when Yugoslavia broke with the Soviet Union, Marshal Tito, who, like his new enemy, Joseph Stalin, was an avid fan of Hollywood movies, especially westerns, set about creating a local film industry. A grand central studio (now a crumbling wasteland) was built in Belgrade, an international festival created near Tito's summer palace and dozens of movies were made, about which we hear from elderly film-makers, among them the marshal's immensely influential personal projectionist. This sad, but fascinating story is illustrated by newsreel material and numerous clips from the mostly indifferent films (including several grandiose epics featuring the likes of Yul Brynner, Richard Burton and Orson Welles that were made to aggrandise Tito himself). There's little here to equal the achievements of the Polish, Czech and Hungarian cinemas from the same time.

DocumentaryWorld cinemaPhilip French

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

- Philip French

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Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! – review

24 November 2012 4:01 PM, PST

I missed Debbie Isitt's 2009 Nativity!, a partly improvised seasonal comedy about kids from various schools in the Midlands competing to win a prize for the best Nativity play. It must have been better than this inept sequel, in which some of the same performers (including Marc Wootton as a dimwitted, childlike classroom assistant) bring choirs from their schools to a Welsh castle to take part in a TV competition for the best Christmas song. The two principal teachers are now played by David Tennant in the dual role of twins, one an ambitious prig, the other a likable supply teacher. He gets "nul point" in both roles. The only laughs come from the film's title and Jessica Hynes as a ridiculously pretentious TV hostess. I missed Debbie Isitt's 2009 Nativity!, a partly improvised seasonal comedy about kids from various schools in the Midlands competing to win a prize for the best Nativity play. »

- Philip French

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Robert De Niro: 'What keeps me awake at night? My children…'

24 November 2012 4:00 PM, PST

The screen veteran on playing an Ocd dad, reuniting with Scorsese and being a new father at the age of 69

Your performance in Silver Linings Playbook has been hailed as one of your best in years and it's attracting some Oscar buzz. How did you get involved?

I'd been talking with David [O Russell, the director] over the years but we hadn't worked together. Then he made The Fighter, which I thought was terrific. He had this other project and he wanted me to play the father. I said I'd do it. That was before David rewrote it and my character changed. He kept to himself more in the book it was based on and was more angry but he didn't have many other colours. I liked what David did: he kind of reversed him, pulled him inside out. He's a guy who has some obsessive compulsiveness. His son [played by Bradley Cooper] has that too but his is more extreme. »

- Killian Fox

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This week's new DVD & Blu-ray

23 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Magic Mike | Brave | Southern Comfort | The Amazing Spider-Man | Ninja Scroll

Magic Mike

It'd be a foolish bet to put money on where Steven Soderbergh's career is going next. Soderbergh's "problem" is that he seems to be good: Magic Mike, a tale of male strippers, comes after a star-studded disease thriller (Contagion) and a female-fronted action movie (Haywire). His next is, obviously, a TV movie about Liberace (seriously, it is).

Magic Mike also rounds off a critically and financially successful year for Channing Tatum, after the ultra-manipualtive tear-fest The Vow and the excellent comedy 21 Jump Street. This movie is loosely based on Tatum's time in dance revue shows in Tampa, so the routines are authentic; but it's not quite Hen Night: The Movie, although it could serve as such.

It's closer to The Wrestler than it is to Showgirls, although thankfully not anywhere near as grim as either. Soderbergh takes »

- Phelim O'Neill

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This week's new film events

23 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Portuguese Film Festival | Nordic Film Festival | Feminist Film Festival | Enchanted Pictures

Portuguese Film Festival London

If Miguel Gomes's recent works like Tabu gave you a taste for Portuguese cinema, you'll find more promise here amid a celebration of Portuguese culture. There's a new documentary on artist Paula Rego, while Pilar del Río talks to Maya Jaggi after the acclaimed doc José And Pilar, about the author José Saramago. There are also docs on architecture and the fascist era, but if there's a new young film-maker to watch, it's João Salaviza, who presents short films including his ghetto drama Arena, which won best short at Cannes in 2009.

Various venues, Sun to 8 Dec

Nordic Film Festival London

It's not as if we needed reminding what Nordic culture has done for our viewing habits lately, but if you can prise yourself from The Killing et al for long enough, there's a broader view here. »

- Steve Rose

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'Being Tolkien's grandson blocked my writing ...'

23 November 2012 4:05 PM, PST

Simon Tolkien was always close to his famous grandfather. But the creator of The Hobbit cast a very long shadow

As creator of The Hobbit, Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings, Jrr Tolkien is one of the most successful authors in history. And yet, says Simon Tolkien, the grandfather he remembers seemed to think he had failed.

It wasn't that his work hadn't met with acclaim: by the time of his death in 1973, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were bestsellers. The problem, says Simon, was that the bigger picture Tolkien had wanted the world to know – the complex hinterland of which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were but a small part – had not been deemed publishable. "He'd produced this huge output that covered everything from the history of the gods to the history of the people he called the Silmarils – that was his »

- Joanna Moorhead

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This week's new films

23 November 2012 4:04 PM, PST

End of Watch | Silver Linings Playbook | The House I Live In | Gambit | Cinema Komunisto | Starbuck | Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! | First | Lawrence Of Arabia | Ninja Scroll

End of Watch (15)

(David Ayer, 2012, Us) Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick. 109 mins.

If there was anything left to do with buddy cop movies then this does it, adding a raw authenticity and almost Tarantino-esque banter to the proceedings. We're on patrol with an Lapd duo whose partnership verges on the homoerotic, and whose sense of duty knows no bounds – a big mistake when they come up against a Mexican cartel. It's exciting, fluent and heavy on the shaky-cam, but ultimately paints a simplistic world of heroic lawmen and caricatured bad guys.

Silver Linings Playbook (15)

(David O Russell, 2012, Us) Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro. 122 mins.

Against-type casting and unbalanced characters do much to disguise the conventional bones of this satisfying romantic drama. »

- Steve Rose

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