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17 articles


Straight Outta Compton continues to dominate Us box office as We Are Your Friends bombs

4 hours ago

The hip-hop biopic is the first film to sit atop the Us box office charts for three weekends in a row since Jurassic World

For the third weekend in a row, hip-hop biopic Straight Outta Compton dominated at the Us box office, earning an impressive $13.2m (£8.6m) – pushing its domestic total to a whopping $134.1m (£87.3m), making it the highest-grossing musical biopic of all time, according to Variety. It’s also the first film to top the Us box office for three consecutive weekends since Jurassic World.

Despite Straight Outta Compton’s continued success, the real story at the American box office this weekend was the surprise showing of War Room, a low-budget, religious-themed drama from Alex Kendrick and his brother, writing and producing partner Stephen Kendrick, the pair behind Fireproof and Courageous (Variety dubbed them the Spielbergs of Christian cinema). Made for a mere $3m, the faith-based film shot »

- Nigel M Smith

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Wes Craven obituary

4 hours ago

Us film director and screenwriter famed for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream

Wes Craven, who has died aged 76 of brain cancer, was a horror pioneer three times over. In the 1970s, he wrote and directed several films that delivered a new level of intensity and explicitness to the genre. Most notorious was his debut, The Last House on the Left (1972), the relentless tale of the torture of two women and the revenge doled out to the killers by the victims’ parents. (It was inspired by Bergman’s The Virgin Spring.) Exaggeration and advertising are synonymous, but this was one instance where the poster copy – “To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie...’” – amounted to more than hyperbole. The scenes of sexual violence made the film the subject of continuing censorship for more than 30 years, particularly in Britain, where it was repeatedly refused a certificate by the British Board of Film Classification. »

- Ryan Gilbey

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Venice film festival takes on Everest as it regains ground lost to younger rivals

5 hours ago

Jake Gyllenhaal and Keira Knightley’s mountaineering thriller will open this year’s oldest surviving film festival, which is learning fast how to beat off competition from the likes of Toronto and Telluride

The Venice film biennale may be the world’s oldest surviving film festival, having staged its first edition in 1932, but venerable origins and a glorious past are no guarantee that Venice can secure its future. Especially if you consider its recent near-eclipse by the Toronto film festival, the near-simultaneous North American event that has in recent years become a powerhouse of international dealmaking and a magnet for world-premiere film launches. But the signs are increasingly evident that Venice is regaining its poise and making new headway in what has become a frantically competitive area of the film universe.

Related: Venice film festival 2015: full lineup

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- Andrew Pulver

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Max & Lenny review – friendship and rap bask in the Mediterranean hood

6 hours ago

Fred Nicolas’ debut about two female friends on the fringes of French society displays a languorous confidence that bypasses cliche

It’s good to see the fringes of French society once branded as la racaille (scum) by Nicolas Sarkozy getting detailed consideration: not just in alarmist frontline bulletins like La Haine, but in convention-breaking arthouse fare like Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood and, the ultimate sign of changing times, cheesy mainstream guff like Intouchables. Fred Nicolas’ debut Max & Lenny, like Girlhood a story about female friendship, falls into the second camp – though sparkling Mediterranean azure and super-heated concrete of the Marseille projects give his film an unfamiliar backdrop.

Lenny (Camélia Pand’or) is a disaffected 17-year-old member of Marseille’s underclass, separated from her infant daughter by social services, forced to serve as lookout for her brother’s drug-dealing operation. But for her “music is life”. Trudging tomboyishly around the city »

- Phil Hoad

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The Next Generation Patlabor: Tokyo War review – beyond the uncanny valley

6 hours ago

Anime goes live action, whereby the real apes the artificial apeing the real, making for some overly art-directed oddness

It turns out it is possible to go beyond the “uncanny valley” – that phenomenon whereby something looks a little bit off kilter in CGI re-creations of human faces. Anime veteran Mamoru Oshii moves fully into live action for his latest feature The Next Generation Patlabor: Tokyo War, and uncovers a new realm of oddness: the real, apeing the artificial that aped the real.

Every hair flick, lighting flare and camera angle is just as rigorously stylised and rhetorical as in Ghost in the Shell, the groundbreaking 1995 feature that made his name, and the result is often laughably forced. Characters make bizarrely slow movements into flattering lighting, or hold lengthy dialogue scenes back-to-back on opposite sides of chain-link fencing without ever looking at each other. This might work in hyper-cool anime, but »

- Phil Hoad

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Can Michael Fassbender's Assassin's Creed save the video game movie?

10 hours ago

Will Ubisoft’s bloodthirsty romp through history consign previous celluloid terrors to the dustbin of history?

The history of video game-to-film adaptations is littered with the rotting corpses of productions featuring half-arsed storylines, C-grade casting and a distinctly regrettable absence of directorial vision. The famously appalling German director Uwe Boll has made a living from trotting out cheap and nasty films, which usually make their money back thanks to gamers who are fooled into thinking they are about to re-experience their greatest moments spent with a PlayStation or Xbox on the big screen.

The reality is usually rather different. Movies and video games operate under a completely different set of rules, and quite often the extended non-playable sequences in games which most resemble traditional film narrative are the bits gamers click through in boredom after the first dozen times of viewing. Only the Resident Evil movies have achieved successful franchise status, »

- Ben Child

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Author of latest 007 novel lambasts recent Bond films

10 hours ago

Anthony Horowitz, the author of Trigger Mortis, the most recent Bond novel, praises Daniel Craig but criticises Skyfall and Quantum of Solace

The recent crop of Bond movies has come in for a lambasting from Anthony Horowitz, the latest author to join the 007 novel-writing franchise. Horowitz described the current onscreen incarnation of James Bond as “weak” and said that Skyfall was his least favourite of the entire film series.

In remarks reported by the Mail to mark the publication of Trigger Mortis, the latest in the string of “continuation” Bond novels commissioned by Ian Fleming’s estate, Horowitz complimented Daniel Craig, calling him “terrific”, and said he admired the 2006 release Casino Royale (“a total return to the gritty seriousness of it”), but then laid into the follow-ups. The massively successful 2012 film Skyfall came in for particular criticism.

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- Andrew Pulver

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Phantom review – India's Jack Bauer blows diplomacy out of the water

11 hours ago

Kabir Khan’s pacy film about an army officer sent to flush out the killers of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks is a reckless yet revealing piece of pulp fiction

Just as 9/11 gave rise, after an appropriate mourning period, to a decade of soul- and cave-searching in American cinema, so the spectre of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai in 2008 seems likely to hover over Indian cinema for the foreseeable future. Already we’ve had 2013’s Greengrassy docudrama The Attacks of 26/11, the veteran Ram Gopal Varma’s sober recounting of these events from the perspective of Rakesh Maria, the Mumbai chief of police. There now arrives Phantom, Kabir Khan’s adaptation of Hussain Zaidi’s speculative fiction Mumbai Avengers, which owes more to the 24/Homeland school of counterterrorism, vacillating as it does between pulpy pertinence and arrant wish-fulfilment.

Objections have already been lodged by both Médecins Sans Frontières and the suspected Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, »

- Mike McCahill

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Universal makes a minion of the competition in 2015's summer battle

13 hours ago

In this week’s roundup of the global box-office scene:

• Universal’s focused approach shows up scattergun Warner confusion

• UK and German openings suggest Compton off the pace outside of its hood

• ‘Flop’ Pixels delivers Adam Sandler’s highest overseas take

Aka the winner v the loser of summer 2015. This week’s box office speaks volumes: Minions coasts past the $1bn mark for Universal, the studio’s third 10-digiter this year after Furious 7 and Jurassic World; Warner Bros’ Zac Efron-starring Edm drama We Are Your Friends tanks, managing just $1.8m, a calamity for a wide release. There’s nothing inherently wrong with closing summer with a niche, quasi-indie drama, but not if the rest of your summer slate has consisted of indifferent franchise revisitations (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vacation, Entourage, Magic Mike Xxl), plodding genre efforts (The Gallows, Hot Pursuit) and one trumped-up B-movie (San Andreas). Only Mad Max: Fury Road »

- Phil Hoad

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Wes Craven: the mainstream horror maestro inspired by Ingmar Bergman

13 hours ago

It was the Swedish auteur who prompted the late director to pursue a career in movie-making. His influence can be traced right through Craven’s brilliant, chilling career

Related: Wes Craven: his life and career – in pictures

Wes Craven’s career is a startling link between the European arthouse and Hollywood exploitation horror. This was no movie brat, growing up obsessively watching movies on VHS, getting steeped in trash-celluloid lore, knowing scenes by heart and shooting his own homemade version on Super 8 at the age of nine in the way we might expect of a hugely successful genre director.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Et tu, movies? How Julius Caesar shows film is taking TV's lead

14 hours ago

Hollywood’s plans for a trilogy based on Conn Iggulden’s Emperor books highlights a growing appetite among cinema audiences for bigger, longer stories

Only a few years ago, the idea that Hollywood would commit to making not one but a trilogy of big-budget films based on source material would have been almost unthinkable. But it’s been announced that Conn Iggulden’s popular but relatively modest Emperor trilogy about Julius Caesar is to be adapted by Lionsgate over three films.

Since Marvel announced its gargantuan five-year plan for its third phase of releases, the game has changed in Hollywood. Where before sequels would generally be left open as a possibility dependent on the success of the original, now they are planned years in advance, with each film being shot in the knowledge that another would follow it.

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- Stephen Puddicombe

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Wes Craven reinvented horror three times: cinema looks scary without him

14 hours ago

Through The Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, Craven – who has died aged 76 – dictated the genre so confidently no Hollywood horror director isn’t deeply indebted, no audience member left untouched

Related: Wes Craven: professional scaremonger who rewrote his own horror rules

If you can judge a film-maker’s influence by how many copycats they inspire, then Wes Craven has to be seen as one of the most influential. Three times he changed his mind about what horror movies should be, and three times we were promptly flooded with all manner of dodgy knock-offs.

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- Stuart Heritage

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Wes Craven: professional scaremonger who rewrote his own horror rules

16 hours ago

Famous for his teen-slashers and gory, humour-laden films, Wes Craven has left this earth having set – then revised – horror film convention

Wes Craven, Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream director, dies at 76Craven’s life and career – in pictures

Take any of the most famous conversations from the first three Scream movies – ones where a sycophantic movie geek explains the “rules” of the slasher genre – and they feel very much like the voice of a film-maker who has “seen it all before”.

It says something of the ethos of professional scaremonger Wes Craven that he directed the Scream films, not as a fresh-blooded video store-raised hotshot – a Quentin Tarantino or a Kevin Smith – but as a veteran who once made the very kind of genre films he was deconstructing.

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- Luke Buckmaster

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Putuparri and the Rainmakers wins best film at 2015 CinéfestOz festival

18 hours ago

Nicole Ma’s documentary about Wangkatjungka man Tom Lawford takes $100,000 prize, which producers will use to help reach a wider audience

Hugo Weaving at CinéfestOz: ‘Australian film does exist’

An Indigenous documentary 10 years in the making has beaten a family comedy, a psychological thriller and two classic Australian dramas to the title of best film at the 2015 CinéfestOz festival in Western Australia.

Putuparri and the Rainmakers, directed by Melbourne film-maker Nicole Ma, follows Wangkatjungka man Tom “Putuparri” Lawford and his family as they travel between their home in the tiny Kimberley town of Fitzroy Crossing and Kurtal in the Great Sandy Desert, where the Ngurrara people meet ritually to make rain.

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- Nancy Groves

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Wes Craven, master of Hollywood horror, dies aged 76 – video report

18 hours ago

Hollywood film director Wes Craven has died aged 76 from brain cancer. Craven was best known for his 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street, featuring Freddy Kreuger, and the franchise it spawned. More than a decade later, he won a new generation of film fans over with the hugely successful teen horror series, Scream

Read: Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream director dies

In pictures: Wes Craven’s life and career

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- Guardian film

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Quentin Tarantino says Cate Blanchett's 'arty' films don't have 'shelf life'

18 hours ago

The director of The Hateful Eight doubts whether people will be talking about films like Notes on a Scandal, starring Blanchett, in ‘20 or 30 years from now’

Quentin Tarantino has dismissed the staying power of films featuring Australian actor Cate Blanchett in an interview with New York magazine last week.

“Half of these Cate Blanchett movies – they’re all just like these arty things. I’m not saying they’re bad movies, but I don’t think most of them have a shelf life,” he said.

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- Guardian staff

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Wes Craven, Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream director, dies at 76

19 hours ago

Veteran Hollywood horror director, who made the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream film franchises, dies after being diagnosed with brain cancer

Wes Craven: professional scaremonger who rewrote his own horror rulesWes Craven: his life and career – in pictures

Wes Craven, veteran writer and director of some of Hollywood’s most famous successful film franchises, has died at the age of 76.

The director of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream died on Sunday night at his Los Angeles home after being diagnosed with brain cancer, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed.

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- Monica Tan

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