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Rewatching robo-sex: what can be learned from previous Westworlds

12 hours ago

With the premiere of HBO’s much-hyped take on the Michael Crichton classic, what about the original, its sequel and the little-seen small screen spinoff?

HBO’s newest drama series, Westworld, premieres this Sunday. No, I have not seen it yet. You might think I’m some highfalutin media hotshot with connections exploding out of all of my orifices, but I’m not. I’m watching the premiere with the rest of you. Like a pleb.

Related: Westworld first-look review – move over Game of Thrones! It's cowboy time

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- Dave Schilling

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'I don't feel guilty': Nate Parker addresses 1999 rape allegation

13 hours ago

Speaking to 60 Minutes, the director of The Birth of a Nation says he sees things through ‘a different lens’ than he did when he was 19 years old

Nate Parker, director of the film The Birth of a Nation, says he does not feel guilty about a rape allegation levied against him in 1999, in a taped interview with 60 Minutes to air on Sunday.

Parker has spoken out in the past about the 2001 trial against him and his college roommate Jean Celestin, who shares story credit with Parker on the film. Parker was acquitted of the charge of raping an unconscious woman, and Celestin’s conviction was later overturned. Parker and the woman had had an earlier, consensual sexual encounter.

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- Nicole Puglise

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Do Not Resist: new film shows how Us police have become an occupying army

13 hours ago

Craig Atkinson’s documentary about police militarization in America asks an important question: how did we get here?

Craig Atkinson’s documentary about police militarization, Do Not Resist, is filled with unsettling scenes like the one where a Swat team destroys a family’s home during a drug raid that nets small amounts of loose marijuana. But the most disturbing scene transpires during the relative placidity of a seminar when a hugely successful lecturer tells a room full of police officers: “We are at war and you are the frontline.

“What do you fight violence with? Superior violence. Righteous violence. Violence is your tool … You are men and women of violence.”

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- Stuart Miller

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Will Wonder Woman be the movies' first major queer superhero?

14 hours ago

DC Comics has confirmed the Amazonian princess is bisexual, so why not celebrate the superhero’s queer identity on the big screen?

The Twitter campaign to alter Captain America’s traditional sexuality was always going to be a struggle. In May, the hashtag #GiveCaptainAmericaaBoyfriend was trending like a Kardashian selfie on the social network. But given Chris Evans’ patriotic superhero has been shown to have feelings for both Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter and her grand-niece Sharon during his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such a major canonical shift always looked about as likely as Hulk agreeing to attend anger management sessions.

Related: Wonder Woman writer confirms superhero is queer

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- Ben Child

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Ava DuVernay: 'The black body is being used for profit and politics'

15 hours ago

The Selma director unravels the ‘American quilt of injustice, oppression and systemic racism’ that is mass incarceration in her new documentary, 13th

Raised in Compton, and educated in African American studies at UCLA, film-maker Ava DuVernay said that her life experiences have left the ravages of the Us criminal justice system a subject very close to her heart.

“Having had the experience of being around folks who have been touched by mass incarceration” along with an education that offered a “framework for why and how things are happening” has had a major impact on the acclaimed director of Selma.

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- Jamiles Lartey

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When Muddy Waters met my Last Waltz | Letters

16 hours ago

I was very happy to read Laura Barton’s lovely piece on the dual 40th anniversaries of The Last Waltz and Jim Szalapski’s Heartworn Highways (G2, 16 September). However, when I came to the paragraphs devoted to my old friend and producer Jonathan Taplin, I could feel my eyebrows furrowing: slightly, but furrowing nonetheless. I owe Jonathan a great deal: if it weren’t for him, I would never have been able to make either Mean Streets or The Last Waltz. Yet, it seems our recollections of the shoot on the latter film differ on one important point.

Related: The Last Waltz and Heartworn Highways: two 40-year-old films at the birth of Americana

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- Letters

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Should actors be allowed to omit their age from IMDb?

16 hours ago

The actor Patrick Kennedy, whose work includes Boardwalk Empire and Atonement, talks about the new California law and why stars deserve to retain their mystique

Actors, like Donald Trump, prefer to remain “semi-exact” when it comes to the facts. Perception is our domain, not to be undermined by actuality. A fact like an actor’s date of birth stands in the way of our dreams at some point in all our working lives – we’re no different from anyone else in this – but it’s notoriously true that actors contend with age in unequal ways. Without a doubt, since I’ve left my twenties the roles have become more interesting. Maybe that’s just art reflecting life. Young men are never as interesting as they think they are. Demetrius is no match for Helena, Lysander for Hermia, nor that dolt Romeo for the wry and cogent Juliet.

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- Patrick Kennedy

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Lee Daniels to make movie musical based on his own life

17 hours ago

The director of Precious, The Butler and the TV series Empire is at work on a film with original songs about his turbulent past

Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated director of Precious, The Butler, The Paperboy and TV series Empire, is to make an autobiographical movie musical. Speaking to Billboard, Daniels, 59, said he was “in talks about doing a musical film about my life. I’ve had a pretty interesting life. I’ve come from the projects. I’ve been homeless.”

Daniels’ career began as a receptionist at a nursing agency, which he quit to found his own agency; it had 5,000 nurses affiliated with it by the time he was 21. After selling up he became an actors’ agent, representing Wes Bentley and Michael Shannon among others.

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- Catherine Shoard

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Clinton, Inc. review – ludicrous right-wing documentary fails to bring down Hillary

17 hours ago

Another lo-fi attempt to sway the election crashes into select cinemas with a set of vicious attacks and a lack of anything resembling a revelation

Please sit down, I have something shocking to tell you. In fact, best make sure you have a glass of water nearby. Okay, here goes. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage may be some sort of … arrangement.

Related: Hillary's America review – Dinesh D'Souza says: beware racist Democrat super-villains

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- Jordan Hoffman

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Top Hollywood salaries flatline, but boom operators enjoy pay rise

18 hours ago

Wages for stars, directors and studio bosses stagnate or fall as risky ‘back-end’ payments become more widespread, according to the Hollywood Reporter

Work in Hollywood and want a wage increase? Then train as a boom operator, pronto. Behind-the-scenes professions – including makeup artists and catering crew – have enjoyed salary rises over the past two years, while actors and directors have seen their pay flatline or fall.

The results of a study published in the Hollywood Reporter found that movie stars and directors have been some of the hardest hit in percentage terms. While A-list actors used to regularly command $20m-plus (£15.4m) salaries upfront, only Jennifer Lawrence has managed to net such a figure recently (for sci-fi drama Passengers). Dwayne Johnson – earlier this year named the best-paid actor – managed a mere $19m for Jumanji.

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- Catherine Shoard

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James Bond producer: Daniel Craig still first choice

19 hours ago

Executive producer Callum McDougall has told the BBC that franchise chiefs Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson are hoping the actor returns

The team behind the James Bond films want actor Daniel Craig to return to the role, one of the producers had told the BBC. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, executive producer Callum McDougall said Craig was “absolutely the first choice” of series producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson.

“I know they’re hoping for him to come back,” said McDougall, who has worked on nine Bonds, including all of those on which Craig has worn the tuxedo: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.

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- Catherine Shoard

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My Scientology Movie: Louis Theroux's exposé is the most damning yet

20 hours ago

The documentarian found a typically offbeat way to infiltrate the church’s secretive world but the result is just as powerful and evocative as Going Clear

Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie pulls off the neat trick of finding a revelatory approach to a topic that’s been well covered of late: the Church of Scientology. For longtime Scientology obsessives, the last few years have puked up a glut of Scientology exposés. Paul Thomas Anderson downplayed similarities between The Master and the early years of L Ron Hubbard’s group, but the film still gives a good idea of how it may have developed. More worrying for Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, was Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear – rich in accounts from church apostates, lawyered-up and fact-checked to the nth degree – and the no-less-excoriating Alex Gibney documentary based on it. Both book and film were devastating for Scientology’s reputation. »

- John Patterson

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Indian film producers ban Pakistani actors 'for ever' over Kashmir crisis

20 hours ago

Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association bans Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working on Indian films as troops clash in disputed territory

The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association has banned Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working on Indian films.

The organisation’s president, Tp Aggarwal, said: “No Pakistani will be hired by their producer members for ever.” However, as a crisis between Indian and Pakistan over attacks in the disputed territory of Kashmir escalates, other reports stated that the ban would last only until normal relations resume between the two countries.

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- Catherine Shoard

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13th review: Ava DuVernay doc shows prisons are the new plantations

29 September 2016 7:00 PM, PDT

DuVernay’s incendiary film, which world premieres at the New York film festival, is a wakeup call that steers clear of broad brush Michael Moorisms to offer a brutal analysis of race and the law in the Us

Like most middle-class white liberals, I am concerned with the issue of racial inequality, but tend to assuage my feelings of anger, guilt and impotence with the sentiment that things are getting better. I mean, we have a two-term black president, right? Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th is an articulate, no-nonsense cup of iced water splashed in my face telling me to wake the fuck up.

“Prisons are the new plantations!” may seem like sloganeering from a far-left protestor, but DuVernay’s effective film draws a strong, straight line from the abolition of slavery to today’s mass incarceration epidemic, explaining its root cause: money. Cheap prison labour is knotted up in »

- Jordan Hoffman

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Deepwater Horizon review – Bp oil spill drama captures heroics and heartache

29 September 2016 3:00 PM, PDT

Mark Wahlberg stars in Peter Berg’s excellent nail-biting drama about the 2010 disaster that cost 11 lives

The spirit of Irwin Allen is revived for the 21st century in this terrifically tense and exciting real-life disaster movie, directed by Peter Berg. It comes complete with the time-honoured figures: the action-man tough guy, the grizzled old-timer whose warnings on safety are tragically ignored and the contemptible corporate drone who is doing the aforesaid ignoring to save money.

Related: Deepwater Horizon review – Mark Wahlberg v Bp in angry disaster movie

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Free State of Jones review – Matthew McConaughey rages through civil war

29 September 2016 2:45 PM, PDT

This audacious, visceral, beautifully shot story of a real-life outlaw in Louisiana’s swamps is one to watch out for in awards season

Matthew McConaughey stars in this startling, fiercely violent, superbly photographed and structurally audacious civil war drama, directed by Gary Ross. McConaughey plays the real-life Confederate soldier Newton Knight, who leads a band of deserters and runaway slaves to form a Robin-Hood outlaw group in the Louisiana swamp and attempts to make Jones county secede from Mississippi and the confederacy to form the “free state of Jones”. He allies himself with slave Moses (Mahershala Ali), marries freed woman Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and after the war takes a lead on democratic reform: this legendary figure has already been the subject of a 1948 movie, Tap Roots, with Van Heflin and Susan Hayward.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children review – amiable Tim Burton fantasy

29 September 2016 2:30 PM, PDT

Terence Stamp, Samuel L Jackson and Eva Green battle time loops in this adventure adapted from the bestseller by Ransom Riggs

Everything but the kitchen sink goes into this buoyant fantasy-adventure from Tim Burton, adapted by Jane Goldman from the 2011 bestseller by Ransom Riggs. It rattles amiably along, although it’s a little overextended and loses something of its control and focus by the end.

This is a sort of classic time-travel mystery: shades of Tom’s Midnight Garden and When Marnie Was There, with a touch of X-Men. There’s a nice pipe-smoking turn by Eva Green as Miss Peregrine (although like all smokers in the movies, she abandons her habit after the first few scenes) and some very creepy monsters who appear to be modelled on Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at The Base of a Crucifixion.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Under the Shadow review – supremely scary horror from Iran

29 September 2016 2:30 PM, PDT

Babak Anvari’s disturbing ghost story, set in Tehran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, is a brilliant parable of supernatural invasion

Sixteen years ago, with movies such as Audition and The Ring, we saw the birth of J-horror: horror from Japan. And who knows? Maybe this smart, claustrophobic picture will herald the beginning of I-horror: scary movies from Iran. Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow is an extremely disturbing ghost story set in Tehran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war: a parable of supernatural invasion that has something to say about national vulnerability and women’s condition under the veil.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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The First Monday in May review – saucer-eyed fashion documentary

29 September 2016 2:15 PM, PDT

There’s star power aplenty in this documentary/promotional video chronicling the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ hit exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass

Related: Met's China: Through the Looking Glass show presents a fantasy of the far east

The Met Gala, otherwise known as the “fashion Oscars”, is the annual super-glitzified fundraiser, packed with A-listers, in aid of the Costume Institute of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts; it is effectively run by Vogue’s Anna Wintour and has entered the laity’s consciousness via the novel and movie The Devil Wears Prada, which may now be influencing the behaviour of the people it was respectfully lampooning. This glossy, but frankly somewhat saucer-eyed documentary/promotional video is about its colossally successful China: Through the Looking Glass event, all about western responses to Chinese culture – an exhibition on which Wong Kar-wai and Baz Luhrmann served as consultants.

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- Peter Bradshaw

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The Fencer review – Touché! Swordplay drama is directed with vim

29 September 2016 2:00 PM, PDT

Klaus Härö’s tale of a champion fencer on the run from the Kgb who winds up teaching schoochildren has strong performances and is luscious to look at

This Finnish-Estonian-German co-production, directed with vim by Klaus Härö, unfolds in the early 1950s, a period that’s still a raw wound for many who survived Soviet oppression under Stalin. Endel (Märt Avandi), a champion fencer quietly on the run from the secret service in Leningrad, manages to get a post teaching at a provincial Estonian school. Before long, he’s developed a deep affection for his charges, mostly war orphans, and starts coaching them on foil control and legwork at an afterschool club. When several kids show promise and skill, Endel must decide whether to risk taking them to Leningrad for a competition. The set-up is a bit schmaltzy and the only guesswork is how bitter the bittersweet ending will be, »

- Leslie Felperin

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