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Rewatching classic Australian films: Crocodile Dundee

4 hours ago

The most commercially successful Australian film in history may linger fondly in the memory, but it plays awkwardly now

Its been almost three decades since Paul shrimp on the barbie Hogan first doffed his iconic Akubra hat and graced the big screen, wrestling wild animals, sipping pots of beer and comparing knife sizes in the role that defined his career. But given the oafishness of his character, graced" hardly seems the right word.

Back in 1986, when Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee became a local and international box office sensation (the film that bears his name is to this day the most commercially successful Australian feature in history), Hogan and director Peter Faiman extracted laughs from the story of a Tarzan-like rube with a small brain, a big heart and a bigger knife.

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- Luke Buckmaster

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Super Duper Alice Cooper review 'competent but underwhelming'

5 hours ago

Elton John, Iggy Pop and other rock stars pay homage in this so-so bio-doc about the notorious rocker

This competent but underwhelming portrait of the 70s/80s rock star sticks to the usual wave-graph structure of a thousand other rock bio-docs: the subject starts from humble origins, rises to the top, declines due to substance abuse and ego issues, and ends up finding fame and happiness at last through sobriety, comeback concerts and managing not to die. All that's missing is the obligatory footage of a Hall of Fame induction. That said, the often snake-draped Cooper has always been a charismatic presence who gives good quote, and even if the music hasn't aged well bar the big hits like Eighteen and School's Out  the film makes a persuasive case for his influence and appeal. Borrowing from the visual playbook of the Robert Evans-centred doc The Kid Stays in the Picture, »

- Leslie Felperin

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We Are the Best! review entertaining, good-natured story about young girls in a punk band

6 hours ago

Lukas Moodysson goes back to his directorial roots with an enjoyable adaptation of a graphic novel by his wife about a trio of 12-year-old girls forming a band

Lukas Moodysson has circled back to his roots with this ingenuous, good-natured story about three lonely 12-year-old girls in 1982 who form a punk band. It is a long-overdue rediscovery of humour and gentleness, based on a graphic novel by the director's wife, Coco, Moodysson and possibly doubly autobiographical in the sense that Lukas and Coco are remembering their own teen rebellions and casting a keen eye on their children. Mira Barkhammar is the introverted, bespectacled Bobo, the driving force of the band, who finds herself marginalised by the dynamic, prettier Klara (Mira Grosin) and talented guitarist Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne). The movie is more about their downbeat, dull, day-to-day lives and interminable, inconclusive band rehearsals than any actual musical identity; all this is entertaining and real, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Magic Magic review Juno Temple and Michael Cera in a satisfyingly nasty drama

7 hours ago

In part it looks like a horror-thriller, but Magic Magic is more an unnervingly plausible depiction of mental breakdown, and it features a couple of career-high performances

Chilean director Sebastián Silva gave us a clever and disturbing psycho-chiller of domestic servitude in his 2009 movie The Maid, then teamed up with Michael Cera for the peyote-dream road movie Crystal Fairy. Now he reunites with Cera for Magic Magic, a film with some mannerisms that make it look like a horror-thriller, although it is more a disquieting and unnervingly plausible depiction of mental breakdown. Juno Temple takes her career to the next level with this artless, raw performance, something to be compared with Catherine Deneuve in Polanski's Repulsion, and Cera comes into his own as a natural villain and the nastiest piece of work to be seen in the cinema all year. Temple is Alicia, who has come to Chile to hang »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Rebel Without a Cause review an imperfect film, but James Dean still has an extraordinary, feline potency

7 hours ago

There is some stuffy, faintly reactionary stuff in this famed 1955 teen drama, but James Dean is truly extraordinary, and it has some brilliant scenes

Nicholas Ray's 1955 teen issue drama is re-released as part of a James Dean season at London's BFI Southbank. I haven't seen it since the last revival in 2005. Then it looked to me stuffy, with a reactionary insistence that men's failure to be real macho types was leaving their sons with problems; the issues of gay sexuality and abuse appeared to be skirted around, and everything was seen from the fussy older-generation's perspective. All this is probably still true, but I responded more positively this time. Dean's performance has such an extraordinary, feline potency and the opening scene is actually brilliant: Dean's Jim Stark reels drunkenly into the police station's juvenile division and mocks everyone, while Natalie Wood's Judy, in another office, tremblingly recounts her horror at her dad's contempt, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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The Love Punch review entirely ridiculous but likable midlife comedy

7 hours ago

The cast might well have done it just for the sake of a holiday on the French riviera, but at least this cheerfully daft adventure canters along amiably

It is said that Michael Caine decided to do the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels after reading the script's first line: "Ext. South Of France. Day". Perhaps Emma Thompson had a similar experience before accepting her role in this entirely ridiculous, cheerfully daft and very amiable midlife comedy in which she goes to the French Riviera to steal a super-valuable diamond. Thompson and Pierce Brosnan play Kate and Richard, a bickering divorced couple who face poverty in their retirement years because a sinister plutocrat has bought Richard's company and done a Robert Maxwell on the pension scheme on which these ex-spouses were relying. They are forced to team up to get revenge and head off to Cannes, along with feisty neighbours Jerry (Timothy Spall »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Locke review Tom Hardy is mesmerising in an engrossing solo thriller

7 hours ago

This supremely gripping one-man drama is a perfect vehicle for Tom Hardy's pent-up brilliance

For years, I remained stolidly baffled while all around, critics simpered and swooned at the words "Tom Hardy". The mere mention of his name caused hardened reviewers to whinny ecstatically as they slid to the floor. Well, it's time to do some swooning and simpering and whinnying and sliding of my own. Hardy gives us a masterclass in less-is-more acting for this absolutely engrossing, stripped-down solo piece, written and directed by Steven Knight, the screenwriter of Cronenberg's Eastern Promises and Frears's Dirty Pretty Things. For an hour and a half, all you see is Hardy himself, playing a construction manager at the wheel of his car, talking to the people in his life on his hands-free mobile his boss, his wife, his former assistant. It's a story so involving, it sounds like someone came up to Knight in the pub, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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God's Not Dead review warped evangelist drama

8 hours ago

The content lurking beneath the telemovie sheen of this religious drama veers from the suspect to the outright hateful

Rush-released for Easter, this warped evangelist item a perturbing Us sleeper hit proceeds from a semi-credible dramatic framework in initiating a debate between a pious student (Shane Harper) and his atheist professor (erstwhile Hercules Kevin Sorbo, an unlikely proponent of Bertrand Russell). The multi-stranded content lurking beneath its sun-dappled telemovie sheen, however, veers from the suspect (see the would-be Christian beaten by her Muslim father!) to the outright hateful: by the jawdropping climax, wherein a preacher is effectively granted divine right to mow down non-believers, "doing God's work" has become indistinguishable from Grand Theft Auto. Ban this sick filth.

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- Mike McCahill

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Wrinkles (Arrugas) review 'the politest possible prison movie'

8 hours ago

A black-humoured but heartbreaking Spanish animation draws a desolate portrait of care home life

A warm welcome for this funny, heartbreaking animation from Spain by Ignacio Ferreras about a care home for people with Alzheimer's. A retired bank manager called Emilio is placed by his son in a home when his forgetfulness becomes too much to bear, and his new residency assumes the character of the politest possible prison movie. Poor bewildered Emilio is befriended by the dodgy Miguel, who shows Emilio how to survive and how to make the best impression on the staff. Watching this movie has the same desolate quality as Philip Larkin's poem The Building, and yet it is tender and lovable, too.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Reaching for the Moon review messy but respectful biopic of artists' relationships

8 hours ago

Poet Elizabeth Bishop and landscape architect Lota de Macedo Soares's messy lives and loves are paid watchable tribute

The take-home moral of most biopics is that you can be gifted or happy but never both, especially if you're an artist. Reaching for the Moon gets to make this point twice with its account of the tempestuous relationship between American poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) and Brazilian landscape architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Glória Pires). Not only do they have to navigate around Lota's first girlfriend (Tracy Middendorf), and battle for success during the homophobic 1950s and 60s, but they also have to deal with Elizabeth's alcoholism and Lota's mental instability. Director Bruno Barreto doesn't always succeed in carving a clear shape out of the messy raw material, but the film is consistently watchable, and pays due tribute to its protagonists' talent, illustrated by frequent recitations of Bishop's poetry and location work showing off Soares' designs, »

- Leslie Felperin

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Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to go head-to-head at Cannes film festival

9 hours ago

Jimmy's Hall, directed by Loach, and Leigh's Mr Turner among the 18 films selected to compete at prestigious event this year

Two of the greats of British cinema, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, are to go head to head at this year's Cannes film festival, more than two decades since they first sparred for one of the most prestigious prizes in the film world.

The pair first competed at the premier European film festival in 1993, when Loach won the jury's prize for Raining Stones and Leigh walked away with the best director accolade for Naked.

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- Hannah Ellis-Petersen

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Bill & Ted's 25th birthday: party on, dudes!

11 hours ago

Who would have predicted that a goofy movie about two time-travelling California metalheads would still be celebrated 25 years after its release? Hadley Freeman was 12 when Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came out and she's loved it ever since

Of all the delightfully improbable scenarios depicted in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure from Napoleon Bonaparte causing havoc on a waterslide to Billy the Kid and Socrates (aka "So-crayts", of course) picking up chicks in a California mall to George Carlin acting in a film alongside Keanu Reeves and a member of the Go-Go's none would have seemed more unlikely on its release than the idea that one day, with much media fanfare, the public would be celebrating the film's 25th anniversary.

By the time Bill & Ted was released in 1989, the 80s teen film explosion was starting to taper out. Heathers, which came out in 1987, had so deftly satirised the conventions of the genre »

- Hadley Freeman

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Sharknado was daft fun but celebrities will kill the sequel

11 hours ago

Everyone in Sharknado was a nobody or a would-be has-been and it worked because they played it straight. The self-conscious follow-up is bound to jump the shark

Last year, a cheesy made-for-tv movie called Sharknado achieved a level of fame far out of proportion to its merits. In this joyously inane motion picture, an unexpected hurricane the worst kind churns up the waters off the southern California coast and starts depositing man-eating sharks the worst kind on to the streets of Los Angeles, making rush-hour traffic even more maddening than usual. Oddly, in a jarring lapse of authenticity and narrative cohesion, no other species of fish get involved. Nor are there any whales or dolphins or octopuses or seals or walruses flying through the Santa Monica air. It's Sharknado, not Squidnado.

The sharks, to their credit, do not seem all that surprised to find themselves thrashing about on the northbound »

- Joe Queenan

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James Franco makes cameo appearance in Apes sequel without his knowledge

12 hours ago

Franco played Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but unbeknownst to him, he's appearing in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as well

James Franco: I invented the Oscars selfie

Franco supports Shia Labeouf

James Franco will soon appear in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes without even knowing it.

Franco played human protagonist Will Rodman in 2011's franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes. With the sequel set 10 years on from the events of the first film, which *spoiler alert* saw the majority of the human race catch a bad case of the simian flu, the likely assumption was that Franco's character would have quickly perished.

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- Ben Travis

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Robin Williams to star in Mrs Doubtfire sequel

13 hours ago

Follow-up in the works to 1993 comedy about a divorcee who impersonates a Scottish nanny to be closer to his kids

Robin Williams is set to return in a sequel to Mrs Doubtfire, the 1993 comedy about a divorced dad who impersonates a Scottish nanny to be closer to his children, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Williams played a struggling actor who dons drag to become the no-nonsense Euphegenia Doubtfire in Chris Columbus's film. The role which won him the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical two decades ago. The sequel's screenplay is by Elf director David Berenbaum, and the new production would also see Columbus return to the director's role.

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- Ben Child

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Oliver Stone: China's film-makers need to confront country's past

13 hours ago

Stone causes controversy by telling Beijing international film festival audience that Chinese directors fail to make movies about Mao Zedong's damaging legacy

China Film Group part-funds Warcraft film

China may relax foreign film quota

Hollywood's habit of allowing Chinese censors to cut offending material from blockbuster movies has led to accusations of artistic surrender from some critics. But at least one Us film-maker has clearly not been reading the script: Oliver Stone has told an audience in Beijing that the world's most populous nation desperately needs to confront its past on the big screen if its burgeoning film industry is to be taken seriously.

Speaking at the Beijing international film festival, Stone caused huge embarrassment for organisers when he began to discuss the failure of local directors to confront the damaging legacy of the country's revered founder Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution a half century ago. The outspoken film-maker »

- Ben Child

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Transcendence: 'A sleek but insubstantial thriller' first look review

14 hours ago

This cautionary tale of artificial intelligence suffers from telling an overly familiar story, while the life drains out of 'digitized Oz' Johnny Depp

One of the things that tell us that Johnny Depp has ascended to the first rank of movie stars is that he gets to speak in his own peculiar, hybridised accent. A lot of movie actors from the Golden era forged their own unique vocal patents, from Cary Grants transatlantic mockney to Kate Hepburns high society bray; towards the end of his career, Brando slipped in and out of the British accent he first perfected for Mutiny on the Bounty as if donning a favored pair of slippers. Depp, ever the Brando fan, seems to be following similar course. In his new movie Transcendence, which was directed by Christopher Nolans cinematographer Wally Pfister, and produced by Nolan, Depp plays Dr Will Castor, a rockstar AI scientist with tortoise-shell glasses, »

- Tom Shone

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 review appealing leads and zappy scraps, but a sense of deja vu

14 hours ago

The webslinger and his conspicuously male adversaries have some zappy scraps in this reboot sequel, but the most intriguing clashes here are between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy

Here is the second new Spider-Man film or the fifth, if you are tactless enough to remember the once colossal Sam Raimi-directed trilogy that finished in 2007, quickly to become the boringly obsolete boot to this reboot a sobering lesson in consumer capitalism and franchise movie-making.

This latest Spidey, written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner and directed by Marc Webb, is high-energy entertainment; Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker has rangy charm and there is a genuine romantic spark between him and Emma Stone, as sharp as ever playing Gwen Stacy. Webb at one stage conjures a beautiful seasons-passing montage of Peter Parker's unhappy loneliness that reminded me of the relationship comedy (500) Days of Summer, which made his name. But despite sensational new backstory developments, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Cannes 2014 lineup: 'A mouth-watering selection'

15 hours ago

The Guardian's film critic, Peter Bradshaw, gets his teeth into a Cannes programme that includes new films from David Cronenberg, Olivier Assayas and Ken Loach

The announcement of the Cannes competition list is an event that becomes more tinglingly tense and exciting every year. These are the films that will, for good or ill, dominate world cinema conversation in the coming 12 months. They're an alternative canon to the English-language "awards season" movies that emerge after Venice and Toronto in the autumn. With films by big-hitters including Cronenberg, Godard, Hazanavicius, Ceylan and the Dardenne brothers, this is likely to be the case once again.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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The force of law: Prisoner claims persecution for Star Wars faith

15 hours ago

'I fear retaliation from the dark side', says anonymous prisoner at London's Hmp Isis, alleging widespread intolerance of Jedis

A British prisoner who claims to be a practicing Jedi says he faces persecution from authorities unwilling to recognise the Star Wars religion.

The unnamed prisoner has written to prison newspaper Inside Time, asking editors not to publish his name or other details "as I fear retaliation from the dark side". In a letter published on the newspaper's website, he writes: "I recently put in an application asking that I be allowed to practise my religion freely I am a Jedi. The written reply said, 'whilst Jedi is a recognised religion according to the UK census, it is not recognised by the National Offender Management Service, and we cannot change your religious record because of this.'"

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- Ben Child

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