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Hugo Weaving: Just because Australian films aren't seen doesn't mean they don't exist

14 hours ago

CinefestOz’s screen legend for 2015 on Tony Abbott, reuniting with director Jocelyn Moorhouse and why you’ve probably never seen his best work

Hugo Weaving’s top 10 on-screen moments – in picturesRewatching classic Aussie films – follow our weekly blog

Hugo Weaving likes playing faceless villains, he once told an American journalist, because it means people are less likely to recognise him in real life. It’s a good tactic but one that certainly isn’t working for him in sleepy Busselton, Western Australia, where he’s in town to be honoured with the title of “screen legend” at the city’s annual CinefestOz festival – home to Australia’s richest film prize.

Over the course of five days, Weaving is repeatedly invited up to the mic – at opening ceremonies, screenings and lunches – and regularly stopped on the street by industry peers slapping him on the back or by local cinema-goers keen to take a selfie with him. »

- Nancy Groves

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All fuse and no bang? Sophia Loren interview: archive, 29 August 1974

15 hours ago

Sophia Loren talks to Ian Woodward about Peter Sellars, Richard Burton and overcoming her shyness on screen

There are those who maintain that Sophia Loren is all fuse and no bang: she never seems to be ill, or fed up, or bored. Her answer is that she has never suffered from the feeling that she is missing something, for the simple reason that she knows she is not. It takes a lifetime’s wisdom, or a healthy bank balance, to reach that sort of conclusion.

Four years ago the Rome municipal tax collector’s office declared La Loren as the woman with the biggest income in Rome - a taxable figure of £231,100. Incidentally (because it helps feed the mouth of wisdom), the second highest income earner in the city was her husband, director Carlo Ponti, with a figure of £188,000. You can see how, with a cool £400,000 between you, it is »

- Ian Woodward

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‘We are the weirdos’: how witches went from evil outcasts to feminist heroes

28 August 2015 12:27 PM, PDT

Since Anjelica Huston took off her wig in 1990’s The Witches, we’ve made some progress and broken from lore that dictates witches are ugly and evil

Last week saw the 25th anniversary of The Witches, a movie that arguably reflects what’s now become an increasingly dated approach to witches and witch culture.

In the film (based on Roald Dahl’s 1983 book of the same name), a little boy and his grandmother rid England of its horrendously disfigured witches (including The Grand High Witch, played by Anjelica Huston) by turning them into mice.

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- Anne T Donahue

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Ed Helms on Vacation: 'There's no room for dignity in a movie like this'

28 August 2015 11:24 AM, PDT

In new film Vacation, the star of the Hangover movies and Us version of The Office plays another normal man unhinged by events. Ed Helms talks southern manners, prosthetic penises – and what he hated about doing the Daily Show

There is an atmosphere of embarkation and hangover at the Beverly Hills Hilton as the three-day junket for Vacation winds down. Suitcases are being hefted, cameras stowed and taxis are arriving outside in the hellish humidity. I’m Ed Helms’s last appointment of the day. He really should be in a much worse mood than he is.

So, I ask him, how many people have asked you about your worst-ever summer vacation? Eight? 18? “Try 80!” he laughs.

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- John Patterson

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Muhammad: Messenger of God review – evocative account of Islam’s gestation

28 August 2015 8:00 AM, PDT

Majid Majidi’s origin tale of the prophet Muhammad chronicles the birth and rise of Islam, rich with gestural flair and images of bracing beauty

This is not the first time the prophet of Islam has hit the big screen, but Moustapha Akkad’s 1977 film The Message chose to relay Qu’ranic history only from Muhammad’s point of view. Majid Majidi’s Muhammad: Messenger of God, on the other hand, takes the representation plunge.

Related: Rare portrayal of Muhammad’s youth in upcoming Iranian film

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- Phil Hoad

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Dirty Dancing lake had the time of its life, but now it's all dried up

28 August 2015 7:27 AM, PDT

It seems that Mountain Lake in Virginia – now nothing more than a reddish-brown pit – shows little regard for human intervention or Hollywood nostalgia

Seven miles up a winding road in Pembroke, Virginia, sits the Mountain Lake Lodge, an imposing 1930s stone building that looks out over a manicured lawn peppered with cabins. The hotel is instantly recognizable to fans of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing as Kellerman’s Resort, the luxurious summer retreat where the precocious Frances “Baby” Houseman meets hunky dance instructor Johnny Castle and romance ensues.

Mountain Lake Lodge is proud of its fame, and has preserved its history to the delight of thousands of fans who flock to the resort each year to visit Dirty Dancing landmarks on the property, like Housemans’ white latticed bungalow (now called “Baby’s Cabin”), the dining room featuring the famous “no one put Baby in the corner” table, and the spot where Johnny smashes his car window. »

- Susan Harlan

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Spike Lee to get honorary Oscar 25 years after Do the Right Thing

28 August 2015 6:48 AM, PDT

Director’s snub for 1989 film about racial tension in Brooklyn is considered by some to be one of the most glaring in Academy history

Spike Lee, the American director whose 1989 film Do the Right Thing was famously snubbed by the Us Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences more than a quarter of a century ago, is to receive an honorary Oscar for his contributions to film-making.

Lee joins fellow honoree Gena Rowlands, known for her 1960s, 70s and 80s films with director husband Nick Cassavetes, who has twice been nominated for the Academy award for best actress but each time failed to take home the prize. Both will receive their statuettes at the Academy’s annual governors awards on 14 November at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Los Angeles.

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- Ben Child

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Muhammad biopic director calls for more movies about the prophet’s life

28 August 2015 5:37 AM, PDT

Speaking at the premiere of Muhammad: Messenger of God, Majid Majidi says further films would help improve understanding of Islam around the world

It had the potential to be one of the most inflammatory film projects of recent times. Yet the world premiere of Iranian director Majid Majidi’s biopic of the prophet Muhammad not only passed mostly without incident, but even amicably – with a surprise call for rapprochement between the religion’s Sunni and Shia sects.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the Imperial cinema, Montreal, where the premiere was held. Holding signs declaring, “Down with Islamic republic of Iran”, members of the city’s Iranian community objected to what they saw as a glorification of the Islamisation of Iran.

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- Phil Hoad in Montreal

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War Room review: shut up and pray he quits

28 August 2015 5:03 AM, PDT

Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s faith-based film argues that domestic abuse can be cured by retiring to a bunker and praying. It’s an odd plan of attack

Is your husband a self-centered jerk? Does he ignore your needs, pay no attention to your adorable daughter, scold you for giving financial help to your troubled sister? Does he have a wandering eye and come dangerously close to committing adultery? Is he embezzling from his job? Well, you should know that it’s all your fault. When you find his behavior upsetting and take him to task you are only protracting the struggle. What you need to do is surrender, go in the closet and pray.

These tactics, say Alex and Stephen Kendrick in their latest “faith-based” film War Room, will bring your husband back to you, and cast Satan from your home. If you follow a precise prayer regimen (which »

- Jordan Hoffman

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This week’s new film events

28 August 2015 5:00 AM, PDT

Beyond Borders | Cambridge Film Festival | Scalarama | John Waters

The ambitions of Beyond Borders – to facilitate wider international cultural exchange – extend to the film strand of this festival: for instance, 7 Days In Syria (Thu) concerns Newsweek’s Middle East editor Janine di Giovanni, who risked her life to report on the country. Also showing are Drone (Tue), about the CIA’s secret war, and God Is Not Working On Sunday (5 Sep), in which activists Godelieve and Florida represent Rwandan women who have no access to education or money.

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- Ryan Gilbey

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This week’s new films

28 August 2015 5:00 AM, PDT

45 Years | Straight Outta Compton | Hitman Agent 47 | Zombie Fight Club | Billy Fury: The Sound Of The Fury | We Are Your Friends | Barely Lethal

This insightful drama charts the gradual disintegration of an apparently happy couple. Kate (Rampling) and Geoff (Courtenay) are preparing for their 45th anniversary when they receive startling news: the body of Geoff’s former lover, who died more than 50 years earlier, has been found. The two leads give the performances of their lives as they grapple with buried secrets and dashed hopes.

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- Ryan Gilbey

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New Star War footage shows lightsaber-wielding John Boyega

28 August 2015 4:41 AM, PDT

Rogue stormtrooper looks like he’s about to battle Adam Driver’s sinister Kylo Ren in scene from Jj Abrams’ ultra-hyped space opera reboot

The first footage of Britain’s John Boyega wielding a lightsaber as rogue stormtrooper Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit the web, sparking furious online debate from fans.

The footage, premiered via Instagram’s new landscape video format, shows Boyega involved in what appears to be a lazer sword battle with Adam Driver’s nefarious Kylo Ren. Finn carries a blue lightsaber, while Ren wields the red “crossguard” or “crucifix” device seen in earlier trailers.

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- Ben Child

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No Escape review: Owen Wilson and Lake Bell suffer boggle-eyed panic attack

28 August 2015 4:33 AM, PDT

Comedy staples adopt worried faces as parents fleeing with their kids from foreign unrest in this weirdly dubious action thriller

Going abroad is stressful. Sometimes the food’s weird and the weather’s discombobulating, the language is a devil and the locals are unfriendly. Your energy gets sapped. In a knackered fuzz you could start to blame the foreign culture for making you feel this way. If you were feeling really resentful, you might write a film a bit like No Escape.

A daft thriller that sprints along fuelled by xenophobia, No Escape is the fifth collaboration between writer-director siblings John and Drew Dowdle. It’s inspired by John’s 2006 trip to Thailand, which coincided with a peaceful military coup. His holiday carried on without event, but out of that potential danger the brothers have spun a ludicrous yarn: a boggle-eyed panic attack set in an unnamed east Asian country »

- Henry Barnes

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Colm Meaney in talks to play Martin McGuinness in The Journey

28 August 2015 4:07 AM, PDT

Veteran Irish actor looks set to join the previously-announced Timothy Spall, who will star as former Northern Ireland first minister Ian Paisley in Nick Hamm’s film

Irish actor Colm Meaney may join the cast of high-profile Troubles drama The Journey, starring as Martin McGuinness opposite Timothy Spall as Ian Paisley in the story of the two Northern Ireland political titans’ unlikely friendship.

The BBC reports that Meaney, 62, is in advanced talks to sign up for the Oscar-bait project. Spall confirmed he would play firebrand former Democratic Unionist Party leader last month. The Irishman is best known for his role on television as chief Miles O’Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation, , and on the big screen for portrayals in The Commitments, Con Air and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.

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- Ben Child

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Why Hollywood isn't panicking about China's economic crisis

28 August 2015 4:00 AM, PDT

The stock markets may be in turmoil but prospects could hardly be rosier for the Us film industry as it feeds China’s insatiable desire for movies

Hollywood seldom misses an opportunity to panic, but China’s financial turmoil has left it serene, even smug, while the world economy trembles.

Related: Hollywood zooms in on China's film market

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- Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Tom Phillips in Beijing

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Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt romantic drama By the Sea to open AFI fest

28 August 2015 3:01 AM, PDT

Oscar-winning actor’s third film as a director tipped for awards season run after being handed Hollywood world premiere

Angelina Jolie’s new film, the intimate romantic drama By the Sea, has been handed an opening night world premiere at AFI Fest, the annual event laid on by the American Film Institute. The move suggests Jolie’s third film as a director, which she also stars in opposite her husband Brad Pitt as a couple facing a relationship crisis, may have some awards season potential.

“Time and again, Angelina Jolie Pitt has proven herself an artist of the highest calibre,” Bob Gazzale, AFI president and CEO, told the Hollywood Reporter. “It is an honour for AFI to celebrate her latest story with its world premiere and, in doing so, to shine a proper light upon her boundless creative energies as actor, director, writer and producer.”

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- Ben Child

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The Guardian film show: 45 Years, We Are Your Friends, Straight Outta Compton and L'Eclisse - audio review

28 August 2015 2:48 AM, PDT

The film team review this week's big releases, including Andrew Haigh's long-term relationship drama 45 Years and the Nwa biopic Straight Outta Compton

Catherine Shoard and Peter Bradshaw join Xan Brooks for our weekly round-up of the big cinema releases. This week the team watch a long-term relationship rent apart by long-term lies in Andrew Haigh's 45 years; slide into a downer with Zac Efron clubbing catastrophe We Are Your Friends; bounce back up with the energetic Nwa biopic Straight Outta Compton; and face the beauty and terror of Antonioni's classic, reissued L'Eclisse

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- Presented by Xan Brooks, with Peter Bradshaw and Catherine Shoard. Produced by Andrea Salvatici

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The Guardian film show: 45 Years, We Are Your Friends, Straight Outta Compton and L'Eclisse - video reviews

28 August 2015 2:46 AM, PDT

Catherine Shoard and Peter Bradshaw join Xan Brooks for our weekly round-up of the big cinema releases. This week the team watch a long-term relationship get taken apart by long-term lies in Andrew Haigh’s 45 years; slide into a downer with Zac Efron clubbing catastrophe We Are Your Friends; bounce back up with the energetic Nwa biopic Straight Outta Compton; and face the beauty and terror of Antonioni’s reissued classic L’Eclisse

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- Xan Brooks, Catherine Shoard, Peter Bradshaw, Dan Susman, Henry Barnes and Andrea Salvatici

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Top Five: between Chris Rock and a hard place

28 August 2015 1:00 AM, PDT

The stand-up’s second directorial effort is smart, scathing and tackles several important subjects. Which makes its fumbling of others all the more jarring

British cinemas are stuck in a cycle of risk aversion. Distributors lack adventurousness, and when they do take a chance on an unknown entity, liberal audiences applaud them all the way to a neighbouring screen where Minions is playing for the 15th week in a row. This situation causes problems across the board, but its effects are felt most by the kinds of films routinely cited as UK box-office poison: baseball movies, Christian dramas and – most damagingly – films with black leads.

Chris Rock’s latest directorial effort, Top Five, hits DVD this week after a dire performance in UK cinemas back in May. The film directly tackles the limited opportunities available to films with black protagonists – at least those who aren’t trapped in the ’hood »

- Charlie Lyne

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Straight Outta Compton review – how hip-hop pioneers Nwa took on the world

27 August 2015 3:00 PM, PDT

Director F Gary Gray sidesteps the misogyny and cocaine but does a good job of showing the pure electric craziness of the music that Nwa created

The poster design pastiches the “Parental advisory explicit content” stickers that went on CDs back in the Tower Records era, and this is in some ways a boilerplate period music movie right down to the “epiphany” moment in the recording studio. It’s a high-octane recreation of the troubled, triumphant life and times of West Coast hip-hop pioneers Nwa.

During the Reaganite 80s, when audiences might perhaps be coming to associate rap with Will Smith, race rage was building in South Central Los Angeles. The hard-pressed neighbourhood of Compton saw the sensational rise of the revolutionary hip-hop group Niggaz Wit’ Attitude or Nwa – that retail-friendly contraction.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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