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Director Crowe finds The Water Diviner
44 minutes ago
Star plumps for tale of father's search for missing sons in wake of ill-fated battle of Gallipoli as first behind-camera project
Russell Crowe is to make his directing debut on the post-first world war drama The Water Diviner, reports Deadline.
Crowe has picked the project, based on a screenplay by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios, from a number of Australia-themed options.
The Water Diviner focuses on a father from New Zealand-born Crowe's adopted homeland who travels to Turkey in 1919. There, he hopes to discover what has happened to his two sons, both of whom have gone missing following the battle for Gallipoli. The failed 1915-16 Allied campaign, which incorporated troops from Australia and New Zealand, aimed to knock Turkey out of the war.
Other projects considered by Crowe for his first film behind the camera have included The Long Green Shore, about a group of Australian soldiers fighting an obscure »
- Ben Child
Shubbak festival: a refuge for Arab culture at a troubled time
1 hour ago
How can a festival celebrate a region gripped with conflict? Omar al-Qattan explains Shubbak, London's Middle Eastern extravaganza
These are troubled times to be putting on a festival celebrating a culture that is, on several levels and in different regions of its rich geography, tearing itself apart. Three "cradles" of our many regional civilisations – Iraq, Syria and Egypt – are riven by conflict, the former two torn apart by civil war. Our oldest and most beautiful cities – Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad – have turned into embodiments of ugly, wanton violence and destruction. Cairo and Alexandria are chaotic, confusing places with uncertain futures. Yemen – or Arabia felix ("happy" or "fertile" Arabia), as it was known to the Romans – is adrift in a combination of tribal war and desperate scrambles for rare resources, including water. Nearby, the Arabian Peninsula, cradle of another of our great civilisations, Islam, has not been immune from unrest and civil conflict. »
Man of Steel ads: Superman = Jesus
1 hour ago
Dedicated website invites clergymen to utilise Superman myth as a mechanism for 'educating and uplifting' Christian audiences
Hollywood studio Warner Bros is targeting Christian audiences in the Us with a campaign for its superhero blockbuster Man of Steel that explicitly compares Superman to Jesus.
The studio has teamed up with a specialist marketing firm with the aim of encouraging pastors to utilise Zack Snyder's comic book reboot in sermons. It has set up a special website touting a nine-page pamphlet entitled Jesus – the Original Superhero. Clergymen are encouraged to "educate and uplift your congregation" using the resource, which also highlights a useful clip from the movie.
"Superman's mythical origins are rooted in the timeless reality of a spiritual superhero who also lived a modest life until extraordinary times required a supernatural response," the notes read. "Jesus was sent by his Father to bear our burdens, to right our wrongs, »
- Ben Child
Anchorman 2 – Ron Burgundy is back
1 hour ago
Will Ferrell and the Channel 5 news team make headlines once again, as they find their place in 1980s New York
The debut full-length trailer for Anchorman: The Legend Continues has hit the web, with Ron Burgundy and his team of eccentric news types relocating from San Diego to New York at the start of the 80s.
The new film, which arrives more than nine years after the release of 2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, sees Will Ferrell's moustachioed lothario/sex pest transferring to a new 24-hour news channel in the Big Apple. As he tells his recruiter: "I'm going to do the thing that God put Ron Burgundy on this Earth to do: have salon-quality hair and read the news."
- Ben Child
Britain's soft power is greater than Gangnam Style – so appreciate it | Dorian Lynskey
2 hours ago
While Asian nations pour cash into promoting culture, the UK is slashing budgets. We shouldn't take our position for granted
Like good health, soft power is something you only really appreciate in its absence. Last year, the outgoing Chinese president, Hu Jintao, wrote an essay bemoaning his country's poor performance in the cultural arms race. "We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernising and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration," he wrote, somewhat dramatically, adding "the international culture of the west is strong while we are weak."
Hu's words can be found in a new report from the British Council, Influence and Attraction: Culture and the Race for Soft Power in the 21st Century, which uses Asia's obsession with extending to warn against British complacency. "The word 'soft' implies 'less effective' and 'less important', »
- Dorian Lynskey
World's most pessimistic?
2 hours ago
From sex tourism to care-home degradation, Haneke and co venture undaunted into areas that Hollywood fears to tread
If Hollywood's knights of raucous mise-en-scene – Michael Bay, Zack Snyder, Roland Emmerich, etc – are there to uphold the gleaming castle of entertainment, I like to think there's a shadowy league ranged against them, beyond the mountains of the Old World. No bodacious starlets for this cabal, no multimillion-dollar CGI sprees; no high-octane street racing, or talking mammoths, or cheap affirmative morality. Nope, for the Austrian League of Extraordinarily Pessimistic Gentlemen, it's only the good stuff: sex tourism, the disappointment of immigrants, care-home degradation, suburban paedophilia, irrational violence, industrial farming and, lest we forget, latent Nazism.
Who are its members? There's Ulrich Seidl, dissecting modern aspirations in his Paradise trilogy; Götz Spielmann, whose impassive framing of his 2008 thriller Revanche hinted there might be such a thing as an "Austrian" style; Nikolaus Geyrhalter, the »
- Phil Hoad
Man of Steel leaps predecessor in single bound
3 hours ago
How long should a franchise lie fallow before it can be rebooted successfully? With its premier comic-book property, Warner Bros allowed an eight-year gap between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins, although it's worth remembering that grosses for the Christopher Nolan trilogy only reached spectacular levels with The Dark Knight, three years later; the sequel made £49.1m, as opposed to just £16.6m for Batman Begins. Sony did pretty well with The Amazing Spider-Man only five years after Spider-Man 3, whereas Universal didn't create much excitement with Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk, five years after Ang Lee's less-than-fully achieved Hulk.
Seven years after Superman Returns underwhelmed audiences with a total of £16.4m in the UK and Ireland, the pricey Man of Steel always looked likely to improve on that total. With Nolan on board as producer, »
- Charles Gant
The Cripple of Inishmaan – review
4 hours ago
Noel Coward, London
Imagine a dramatic hero who stands no chance of being kissed "unless it was by a blind girl" and of whom it is said, by an adoptive aunt, "you'd see nicer eyes on a goat". Daniel Radcliffe is not the first name that would leap to mind in the casting of such a role. But he is the undoubted star of Michael Grandage's revival of Martin McDonagh's 1997 play and proves, as he did in Equus, that he is a fine stage actor with a gift for playing social outsiders.
Radcliffe is the eponymous hero, a disabled 17-year-old orphan named Billy Claven, of McDonagh's ingenious play. Dejected and generally derided, the bookish Billy is brought up by his "aunties" on the isle of Inishmaan. But the dullness of daily life is suddenly relieved when in 1934 Hollywood film-maker Robert Flaherty descends on a neighbouring isle to make »
- Michael Billington
Boot up: Google Glass privacy, Facebook video ads, iOS 7 apps threat, Kazam smartphones and more
5 hours ago
Plus Android Humble Bundle, Apple/Samsung duopoly, music identity, Rihanna and Justin Bieber's YouTube battle, and more
A quick burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team
Privacy authorities issue Google a 'please explain' on Glass | ZDNet
In April, Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim requested a briefing with Google on the device, and today he, and nine of his colleagues from Canada, New Zealand, Israel, Mexico, and Switzerland, among others, have written to Page asking for detailed information on Google Glass, stating that their knowledge on it comes "from media reports, which contain a great deal of speculation".
The commissioners state in the letter that Google has not approached them to discuss the associated ethical issues with Google Glass while the product is in early testing stages with developers.
They have asked Google eight questions around the associated privacy issues, »
- Stuart Dredge
13 hours ago
What first drew you to acting?
It happened by chance. I was brought up as a dancer, and was studying Russian ballet at a school, Corona, when an agency asked me to audition for Cleopatra [the 1963 film]. I went along two hours early to tell them I couldn't go since I had to go and buy ballet shoes. The director, Joseph L Mankiewicz, was just going out the door. We had an informal chat, and the next thing I knew I had an acting career.
What was your big breakthrough?
Doing a musical with Jane Birkin in a West End show called Passion Flower Hotel. It put me on the map – not least because Barbra Streisand's recording of the lead song, How Much of the Dream Comes True, »
- Laura Barnett
Rupert Murdoch splits empire but keeps faith in tomorrow's newspapers
15 hours ago
Mogul to hive off entertainment and publishing assets but believes newspaper businesses will emerge stronger than ever
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation will be split in half on Wednesday as the mogul hopes to build two new empires out of his vast portfolio of assets. It is likely to prove the octogenarian's final major corporate move, and once again he is betting he has seen an opportunity others have missed.
The profitable entertainment assets – including the 20th Century Fox movie studio and the Fox broadcast network in the Us – will form 21st Century Fox.
The company's publishing assets, including HarperCollins and its troubled newspaper division, will trade under the old News Corp name.
Shareholders have long pressed for a split, disenchanted with the returns from publishing, particularly newspapers, as the shift to digital readership eats into profits. Murdoch resisted but caved in after the phone-hacking scandal shook his company to its foundations, »
- Dominic Rushe
Courage of Zimbabwe human rights lawyer captured in film | Rebecca Lowe
19 hours ago
Filmmaker says Beatrice Mtetwa's use of the rule of law is 'her means of resistance against the regime'
Beatrice Mtetwa grew up on a Swaziland farm with nearly 50 siblings. An average day involved waking at 4am, working in the maize fields, preparing breakfast for her family, walking barefoot to school over an hour away, preparing dinner, doing chores and, finally, going to bed. Now 54, she believes it was her childhood struggles that helped make her who she is today: a fearless human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe, dedicating her life to representing those persecuted under the Mugabe regime, and whose story has been captured in a new documentary.
For over two decades, she's proven indefatigable in her fight against injustice. In 2009 Mtetwa became the only African other than Nelson Mandela to win the prestigious Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize. Now, her courage in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles has been »
- Rebecca Lowe
My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
22 hours ago
Everyone's favourite gang of magical nylon-haired quadrupeds pursue a bad pony through a magic mirror to Earth where they, er, become normal Us girls. Pass the booze, let's get started.
Warning: This blog is intended for adult readers
Reading on mobile? Click here to view
Here's some good news if you're a child or a nostalgist or one of those slightly sinister brony people: there's going to be a new My Little Pony movie.
Yes, for the first time since the 1986 Danny DeVito vehicle My Little Pony: The Movie, everyone's favourite gang of magical, friendship-loving, slightly anthropomorphic, nylon-haired plastic horses are back on the big screen in a new outing entitled My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. Obviously this is big news, so let's waste no time in inspecting the new My Little Pony: Equestria Girls trailer for traces of magic and wonder.
Now, the important thing is that you just let your eyes relax. »
- Stuart Heritage
Mickey Mouse seeks new fans with mobile game and cartoon shorts
22 hours ago
Disney hopes Where's My Mickey? game and short-form series will appeal to the current generation of 6-14 year-olds
Disney is hoping Mickey Mouse can find a new lease of life with a mobile game and cartoon shorts series that will go head-to-head with brands like Angry Birds and Talking Friends for the affections of children.
The mobile game is Where's My Mickey?, which is the latest in Disney's series of Where's My games. The franchise first launched in September 2011, and notched up more than 100m downloads in its first year.
Where's My Mickey is being released for iOS, Android and Windows Phone simultaneously, with more than 100 physics-puzzle levels spread across five chapters, and the promise of cameo appearances from Pluto, Goofy and other Disney characters.
It's setting the scene for the new cartoon-shorts series, titled Mickey Mouse, which will make its debut on the Disney Channel network on 12 July.
- Stuart Dredge
12 O'Clock Boys: the documentary for those suffering The Wire withdrawal
23 hours ago
12 O'Clock Boys tells the story of Pug, a 13-year-old boy growing up in a rough part of town, desperate to join the pack of fearless motorbike riders who cruise intimidatingly through the streets, dozens-deep, performing terrifying stunts and sparring with the police.
Their name comes from their trademark trick: a wheelie so steep the bike almost stands up on end: "If you get to 12 o'clock you're the shit," Pug says. "That's when you can really shine."
For viewers of The Wire, this is a familiar world: stoops silhouetted in the glare of orange sunsets, ominous-looking rowhouses whose »
- Paul Owen
Jennifer Lopez joins Chilean miners movie
23 hours ago
Jennifer Lopez has become the latest actor of Hispanic descent to join the increasingly stellar cast of The 33, the movie about the rescue of the Chilean miners trapped underground three years ago, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Lopez will join Antonio Banderas, Martin Sheen and Rodrigo Santoro in a true life tale of the 33 men rescued after being trapped underground for 69 days three years ago, attracting worldwide attention. It is not yet clear which role Lopez will take; her last big screen appearance was opposite Jason Statham in action thriller Parker.
Banderas will play Mario Sepúlveda, who became known to the world as the ebullient host of regular video journals sent to the surface by the miners, earning the nickname "Super Mario". Sheen will play a miner's father, while »
- Ben Child
Cine-files: Skandia Theatre, Stockholm
18 June 2013 5:07 AM, PDT
An atmospheric, quintessentially Scandinavian cinema in Sweden's capital
This week's Cine-files is by Martyn Conterio. If there's a cinema you'd like to tell us about for a future Cine-files, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skandia Theatre is located in the heart of Stockholm's city centre on the busy shopping thoroughfare, Drottninggatan. It's an odd place to find a picture house, and the venue doesn't look much from the outside; but once you get inside the wow factor hits.
Stockholm is not short of agreeable cinema venues, but Skandia Theatre's neoclassical foyer, atmospheric vestibule and wonderful interior design makes it one of the most beautiful in the world. Designed by Gunnar Asplund, chief architect of several Stockholm landmarks, its quintessentially Scandinavian vibe creates a mood and atmosphere before one sits down to watch a film. Built during the golden age of the movie palace, »
- Guardian readers
Douglas Trumbull set to return with Hollywood with two sci-fi movies
18 June 2013 4:50 AM, PDT
Special effects maestro is preparing directorial comeback with films shot with latest higher frame rate technology
One of the most revered figures in science fiction film-making, the director and visual effects expert Douglas Trumbull, is planning his first feature films in more than 30 years.
Trumbull, who worked on the groundbreaking effects for films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner, as well as directing cult classics such as 1971's environmentally themed Silent Running, has two full-length projects in the works. Both are taking advantage of higher frame rate technology, similar to that used by Peter Jackson on his Hobbit films, and will go into production once Trumbull has completed an experimental short using the same process. Intriguingly, the film-maker is working in 3D at an unprecedented 120 frames per second, more than twice the speed of the 48 frames per second rate used by Jackson.
Trumbull, 71, largely left the film »
- Ben Child
Third and fourth Amazing Spider-Man films announced by Sony Pictures
18 June 2013 3:21 AM, PDT
The Hollywood studio spins a larger web with the films scheduled for release in the summers of 2016 and 2018
Hollywood studio Sony Pictures has revealed plans to expand its Amazing Spider-Man saga to four films following the success of last year's debut instalment.
The Amazing Spider-Man, itself a reboot of the studio's hugely profitable Spider-Man trilogy, took more than $750m (£479m) at the global box office and garnered favourable reviews from critics. Sony swiftly announced a sequel, The Amazing-Spider Man 2, which is due to hit cinemas in May 2014. Now the studio says it will release third and fourth movies on 10 June, 2016, and 4 May, 2018, respectively.
"Spider-Man is our most important, most successful, and most beloved franchise," said Sony Pictures vice chairman Jeff Blake, "so we're thrilled that we are in a position to lock in these prime release dates over the next five years."
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees the return of »
- Ben Child
Daniel Loeb raises stake in Sony
18 June 2013 2:15 AM, PDT
Third Point hedge fund urges Japanese company to create independent board to run partially spun-off entertainment arm
The New-York-based hedge fund Third Point has said it has raised its stake in Sony and urged the Japanese company to create an independent board to run a partially spun-off entertainment arm with Sony's chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, as its chairman.
Third Point, a $13bn (£8.3bn) hedge fund founded by the billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, last month proposed that the struggling electronics maker conduct an initial public offering for its profitable music and movie business. It said such a move could boost Sony's share price by as much as 60%.
In a second letter to Hirai on Tuesday, in which he again offered to put a Third Point representative on Sony's board, Loeb added to his proposal by suggesting that Sony adopt "a semi-independent governance structure". Loeb argues that the electronics »
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