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Andy Serkis directorial debut Breathe to open 61st London film festival

2 hours ago

Biopic of disability rights activist Robin Cavendish, starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, will receive its European premiere at October event

Breathe, the directorial debut of Andy Serkis, has been selected as the opening film of this year’s BFI London film festival.

Starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, Breathe is based on the true story of Robin Cavendish, who was diagnosed with polio while in Kenya and given months to live, only to survive and become an advocate for the rights of disabled people. Foy plays Diana, Cavendish’s wife, who helped him come to terms with his illness, while Hugh Bonneville appears as scientist Teddy Hall, who aided Cavendish in developing a revolutionary wheelchair. Tom Hollander, Stephen Mangan and Diana Rigg also appear in the film.

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- Gwilym Mumford

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A Man Called Ove review – tiresome tale of an old grump

2 hours ago

A Scrooge-like character spends his life railing against his neighbours – and trying to kill himself – in a drama that’s not funny, or sad or interesting

Here is a well-intentioned but tiresomely glib piece of sentimental whimsy from Sweden, based on a bestselling novel. It’s similar in many ways to that other Swedish heartwarmer The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. 

A Scroogey old grump called Ove (Rolf Lassgård) goes about the locality being bad-tempered and disagreeable and enforcing neighbourhood-watch-type rules that he himself has made up. But we find out a little about his late wife Sonja (Ida Engvoll) and about the tough breaks that Ove has had along the way, which explain how this shy young man became a cantankerous old devil. Then some new young neighbours give him a chance at happiness and redemption. 

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Alone in Berlin review – couple wage a quiet war against Hitler

5 hours ago

In this affecting drama, Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson play a grieving husband and wife who embark on dangerous acts of resistance

Here is a handsomely produced and solidly acted period drama set in Nazi Germany, based on the postwar novel by Hans Fallada and based on a true-life case. 

Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson play Otto and Anna Quangel, a middle-aged couple in Berlin in 1940. Hating the Nazis and galvanised by grief and rage at the loss of their son in battle, they embark on tiny but very dangerous acts of resistance: leaving anonymous anti-Hitler postcards in stairwells and public places – a capital crime. Daniel Brühl plays the police inspector on their trail, using flags on a city map showing the whereabouts of cards handed in to the authorities to calculate where the culprit might live. 

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- Peter Bradshaw

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The best films of 2017 so far

5 hours ago

La La Land and The Love Witch wove magic, Moonlight and Lion wrung out tears, while Get Out and Lady Macbeth got nasty. Plus, there were striking debuts, returns to form by seasoned directors and reunions for the Trainspotting rogues

More on the best of 2017 so far: Video games | TV

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- Gwilym Mumford and Andrew Pulver

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Hugh Jackman stars in first trailer for new musical The Greatest Showman – video

8 hours ago

Directed by Australian filmmaker Michael Gracey and starring Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams and Zac Efron, The Greatest Showman is an original musical featuring songs from La La Land’s Oscar-winning lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, which celebrates the life of entertainer and hoax merchant Pt Barnum, who created the three-ring circus

The Greatest Showman is slated for release on Boxing Day

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- Guardian Staff

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R2-D2 droid used in Star Wars films sells for $2.76m

9 hours ago

Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and Darth Vader’s helmet prove less popular in California auction

An R2-D2 droid that was used in several Star Wars films has sold for millions at an auction in California.

The auction house Profiles in History said the 43-inch (110cm) tall unit that was compiled from parts used throughout filming of the original trilogy sold for $2.76m on Wednesday.

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- Associated Press

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Wallace and Gromit creators share animation secrets – video

10 hours ago

Co-founders of Aardman Animations Peter Lord and David Sproxton share some of the secrets behind their beloved films and television series Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run. A major exhibition, Wallace Gromit and Friends: The Magic of Aardman, has opened at the Australian Centre for Moving Image in Melbourne

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- Guardian Staff

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Rebel Wilson and Margot Robbie among Australians joining Academy

11 hours ago

Thor star Chris Hemsworth, Joel Edgerton and Nick Cave also among Oscars organiser’s membership drive

Chris Hemsworth and Margot Robbie may not have Oscars but they will now be able to help decide who wins them.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has beefed up its Australian membership, with Hemsworth, Robbie, Joel Edgerton, Nick Cave and Rebel Wilson, on the back of her Australian court win, among the new recruits invited to join Hollywood’s most exclusive club.

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- Australian Associated Press

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Academy invites record 744 new members amid effort to increase diversity

14 hours ago

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2017 class includes Gal Gadot and Barry Jenkins, attempting to make good on a promise to diversify

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday that it had invited a record 744 new members to its governing body, surpassing the 683 invitations issued in 2016.

The Academy has been under pressure to diversify its membership for several years, reaching a crescendo in 2015, when all 20 acting nominees were white, prompting the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and a collective push to ensure the awards show’s governing body included more women and people of color.

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- Jake Nevins

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Researchers find 'culture of nepotism' in British film industry

15 hours ago

Report shows striking lack of diversity and ‘significant obstacles’ for outsiders looking to break into industry

Nepotism, word-of-mouth employment practices and the widespread use of unpaid work experience have created a “pandemic lack of inclusion” in the British film industry, a report backed by movie producers Barbara Broccoli and Kathleen Kennedy says.

Broccoli, producer of James Bond movies, and Kennedy, president of the Star Wars film-maker Lucasfilm, are throwing their weight behind a plan, backed by £20m of national lottery money, to improve diversity in the sector.

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- Mark Brown Arts correspondent

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Steve Carell on Despicable Me 3: 'I think I'm naturally an evil person'

19 hours ago

Reformed supervillain Gru and his dungaree-sporting Minions are back for another instalment of the high-energy animated comedy. This time Gru attempts to recover a stolen diamond, while trying to resist being tempted back into evildoing by his brother Dru. The film’s stars Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig discuss what makes a good baddie and the enduring appeal of Dru’s diminutive sidekicks

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- Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill and James Turner

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All Eyez on Me review – passionless paean to rapper Tupac Shakur

19 hours ago

This long and solemn hagiography seems concerned only with bolstering the sainthood of the murdered hip-hop star

Demetrius Shipp Jr gives a very accomplished impersonation of Tupac Shakur in this long and solemn hagiography, similar in its piety to the 2003 documentary Tupac: Resurrection. It has similar material – with similar scenes and similar tropes – to F Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton, about Nwa, but with less passion and less energy. 

The same old story is rehearsed: the brilliantly talented rapper becomes a very rich and aggressive uber-celebrity obsessed with respect, who then gets involved in a deeply charmless and unedifying bi-coastal feud with rival rapper Biggie Smalls, played here by Jamal Woolard, who also in fact played Biggie in the 2009 film Notorious. Eventually, Tupac is killed, in a shooting that is still unsolved. 

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, of Dragon Tattoo and John Wick, dies at 56

28 June 2017 3:34 AM, PDT

The actor, who appeared as Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish adaptations of the Stieg Larsson novels, has died of lung cancer

Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist has died at the age of 56. He had been battling lung cancer.

The Stockholm-born actor was best known for his role as Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish Dragon Tattoo trilogy, which included The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

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- Jake Nevins

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With Okja, does Netflix have its first blockbuster movie?

28 June 2017 3:00 AM, PDT

The fantasy epic, directed by South Korean film-maker Bong Joon-ho, could be the streaming service’s first big splash in original cinema

If Netflix’s foray into original television content has been one of the great, industry-shaking developments of the past decade, the streaming service’s attempts at evergreen feature films have been decidedly less successful. Though the site has flourished with original documentaries (13th; What Happened, Miss Simone?; and Get Me Roger Stone are just three critically lauded examples), big-budget features such as David Michôd’s War Machine and Yuen Woo-Ping’s Crouching Tiger sequel have made less of a splash.

That might change with The Host director Bong Joon-Ho’s latest picture, a strange, sweeping cautionary tale of late-capitalist greed called Okja, available on Netflix worldwide.

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- Jake Nevins

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Watch the fur fly: why cat films are better than dog films

28 June 2017 2:43 AM, PDT

Films with cats are cool and mysterious. Mutt movies are a soppy wet lick to the face. No surprise then which Hollywood favours

It is a truth universally acknowledged that not only are cats better than dogs, but cat films are better than dog films. Proof of this arrives on Friday with the release of Kedi, an Istanbul-set documentary by the first-time feature director Ceyda Torun. Kedi is named after one of several characterful cats whose daily lives feature in the film. The stories of these cats are fondly and reverently told by human acolytes, and the film is full of the kind of strange, profound moments of wisdom that only occur when staring into an animal’s inscrutable, calm eyes.

That’s in contrast to, say, A Dog’s Purpose, a film about a dog’s reincarnating spirit and its various sad-sack owners that was released earlier this year, »

- Ellen E Jones

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Michelle Rodriguez threatens to leave Fast and Furious over limited female roles

28 June 2017 2:26 AM, PDT

Actor hopes studio will ‘show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one... or I just might have to say goodbye’

Actor Michelle Rodriguez has threatened to leave the Fast and Furious film series if the franchise doesn’t improve the roles it creates for female actors.

The actor, who stars as the street racer Leticia “Letty” Ortiz in the films, made the comments on Instagram. “F8 is out digitally today, I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one,” she wrote, “or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise.”

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- Gwilym Mumford

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Transformers: The Last Knight wreaks metallic mayhem at UK box office

27 June 2017 8:13 AM, PDT

Fifth instalment of the rampaging-robots franchise topples Wonder Woman, while Diane Keaton lights up Hampstead in a kooky romance

Transformers: The Last Knight, the latest in a seemingly endless series of sequels and brand exploitations this summer, had no problem shoving Wonder Woman off the top spot after a three-week stay, nabbing first place with £4.64m, including £734,000 in previews. That’s almost as much as the weekend box office for the rest of the top 10 put together.

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- Charles Gant

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Baby Driver review – Edgar Wright puts pedal to the metal for wildly enjoyable heist caper

27 June 2017 7:20 AM, PDT

This high-revving thrill ride about a music-obsessed teenage getaway driver is a terrifically stylish piece of work with a banging soundtrack

In 2011 a resident of Oakland, Michigan, caused a sensation by bringing a lawsuit against Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Drive for not having enough actual pedal-to-the-metal driving in it. That same person could hardly do the same to Edgar Wright, director of this outrageously enjoyable petrolhead heist caper, unless it would be for not showing a supercool adult chauffeur atop a Pamper-wearing infant with a steering wheel between its tiny shoulder blades roaring up the M25.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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The Little Hours review – foul-mouthed nuns run riot in flimsy but fun comedy

27 June 2017 3:00 AM, PDT

Aubrey Plaza heads up a cast of skilled comic actors in a sex farce that has amusing moments scattered throughout but risks feeling like an extended SNL skit

Rather like 2011’s Your Highness, the initial gimmick proudly, even boastfully, revealed in The Little Hours is based on the notion that medieval characters can be just as puerile as their contemporary counterparts. Within seconds of the titles ending, 14th-century nuns are swearing, shouting, vandalizing and attacking any local man naive enough to look their way. But the test here – and it’s one that Danny McBride’s misjudged comic fantasy failed at – is whether the film can sustain itself beyond mere shock value.

Related: The Big Sick review – Kumail Nanjiani's real-life romcom is a humane delight

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- Benjamin Lee

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Baby Driver: can a bad title sink a film?

26 June 2017 10:00 PM, PDT

Will Edgar Wright’s decision to make his latest film sound like a slapstick childcare comedy affect its impact – or make no difference?

There is a lot going on in Baby Driver, a caffeinated splicing of crime thriller and jukebox musical. Once you clunk-click into the central conceit – audacious heists, hard-boiled badinage and breakneck car chases all wittily synced and choreographed to its central character’s eclectic iPod playlist – it is an intoxicating, heightened huff of pure cinema. But if you don’t read advance reviews (especially ones heavy on terms like “diegetic music”), your first exposure to writer-director Edgar Wright’s latest movie will probably be its title.

Baby Driver ... is it an impressively rushed sequel to Alec Baldwin’s animated semi-hit The Boss Baby from two months back? Baby Driver – even if it does make perfect sense in context (Ansel Elgort, as gifted wheelman Baby, operates in a »

- Graeme Virtue

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