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Eddie Redmayne as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe – first picture released

31 minutes ago

First image of the Oscar-winning actor in The Danish Girl, the Tom Hooper-directed film about the transitioning of Einar Mogens Wegener in the 1930s

First it was a Thomas the Tank Engine movie, now it’s a film about a pioneer of sex reassignment surgery, The Danish Girl. The first still of Eddie Redmayne in character as Lili Elbe has been released, showing the Oscar-winning actor of The Theory of Everything with full makeup, curled red hair and what would appear to be false breasts.

The Danish Girl, adapted from David Ebershoff’s novel and directed by Tom Hooper, is the story of Elbe, who became one of the world’s first known recipients of this type of surgery. She was born in Denmark as Einar Mogens Wegener and underwent a series of then experimental operations in Berlin in 1930-31. Organ rejection following an attempt to transplant a uterus »

- Andrew Pulver

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Harrison Ford to star in Blade Runner sequel

1 hour ago

Ford is set to reprise his lead role in the dystopian sci-fi film, but producer Ridley Scott may hand over the director’s reins to Denis Villeneuve

Related: Ridley Scott does a runner on Blade Runner sequel

Harrison Ford will reprise his lead role in the dystopian sci-fi film Blade Runner for a sequel, according to media reports.

Related: Blade Runner 2 producers invite Harrison Ford to return for sequel

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- Monica Tan

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Scarlett Johansson: 'There is nothing strange or creepy about John Travolta'

2 hours ago

The subject of Travolta’s affections at the Academy Awards on Sunday has come to the defence of the star

If you thought there was something a little creepy about John Travolta’s behaviour at the 2015 Oscars, you were totally wrong. After the veteran Us actor’s chin-grabbing antics while presenting an award with Frozen’s Idina Menzel were “revealed” by his representative to have been planned in advance, actor Scarlett Johansson has issued a statement suggesting that photographs of the pair sharing an apparently awkward red carpet embrace did not paint a true picture.

“There is nothing strange, creepy or inappropriate about John Travolta,” Johansson told the Associated Press on Thursday, in an apparently unprompted statement in which she referred to her former co-star as a “class act”.

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- Ben Child

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The Boy Next Door review – abundantly silly erotic thriller with Jennifer Lopez

14 hours ago

Like a daytime TV movie but a bit glossier and a bit ruder, this erotic thriller throwback is deeply ludicrous – but may certainly be enjoyed on that basis

The success of Fifty Shades may mean we’re in for a spate of 90s-throwback erotic thrillers, this time flogging female desire. Few will be as abundantly silly as this one, in which Jennifer Lopez’s married schoolmarm learns that the gym bunny she’s strayed with is a possessive homewrecker who knows how to cut brake cables – so, you know, ladies: beware. It’s one of those innately conservative Channel 5 matinee movies with glossier production and more shots of its leading man’s sixpack, but the inevitable sass-along screenings will be a scream, and it may be your first and last opportunity to see J-Lo parsing the Iliad.

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- Mike McCahill

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Hinterland review – wispy but affecting drama about young adulthood

14 hours ago

Harry Macqueen wrote, directed and stars in this tender but insubstantial drama about two childhood friends holidaying together

Director-writer-actor Harry Macqueen’s first feature is so wispy and slight that it would only take a strong sneeze to blow it away, but its tender sensitivity is delicate and affecting enough to make one want to cup hands to protect it. Harvey (Macqueen himself), an aspiring novelist in his 20s, picks up Lola, an old friend from his childhood, for a weekend break in Cornwall at a house where they spent many family holidays as kids. Although their relationship is platonic, it’s clear there are strong feelings under the surface, expressed largely through longing looks and barely spoken hints. But the will-they-or-won’t-they suspense is less the point than the film’s interesting attempt to evoke the indecision and anxiety of young adulthood, especially for a cash-strapped generation. Campbell’s »

- Leslie Felperin

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The Tales of Hoffmann review – Powell and Pressburger’s other magic ballet film

14 hours ago

Perhaps even more hallucinatory than The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger’s tale of a poet regaling a tavern with tales of his impossible loves is a thing of pure, dreamlike strangeness

“Made in England” is how Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger finally stamped their unworldly, otherworldly Tales of Hoffmann from 1951, an adaptation of the Jacques Offenbach opera, which is now on rerelease. It actually negated English and British cinema’s reputation for stolid realism. This is a hothouse flower of pure orchidaceous strangeness, enclosed in the studio’s artificial universe, fusing cinema, opera and ballet. It is sensual, macabre, dreamlike and enigmatic: like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In his autobiography, Powell recalls talking to a United Artists executive after the New York premiere, who said to him, wonderingly: “Micky, I wish it were possible to make films like that … ” A revealing choice of words. It was as if »

- Peter Bradshaw

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A Dark Reflection review – clunky drama hoping to expose an air travel scandal

14 hours ago

Former BA pilot Tristan Loraine’s pet project is an agonisingly wooden drama that aims to lift the lid on what he claims is a very real health scandal – but this is just not the way to raise the issue

Here is an oddity. It’s effectively an amateur feature film produced to professional standards – more or less – and directed by a former BA airline pilot called Tristan Loraine. He retired on medical grounds in 2006, then retrained at the National Film and Television School, and is on a mission to campaign against the “aerotoxins” he says are poisoning cabin crew and passengers on all commercial flights, as unfiltered toxic fumes are recirculated into the aircraft. With help from industry colleagues and supported by Express newspapers, Loraine raised the production funds. The drama itself – about an investigative journalist working on this issue – is woodenly acted, clunkily written and agonisingly directed. It »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Focus – fantastically boring caper with Will Smith on insufferably smug form

15 hours ago

There is no trace of the old Will Smith charm in this glossily mediocre con caper that is almost entirely free of anything or anyone to care about

What on earth happened to Will Smith? He could until recently trade on a certain amount of charm: I have a soft spot for his sentimental drama The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) and he did a good job in the almost impossible role of Muhammad Ali for Michael Mann in 2001. But Smith is just insufferable in this fantastically boring caper about high-class con-trick artists: supercilious and smug, gliding through a glossily mediocre film on cruise control. It is written and directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (who made Crazy, Stupid, Love and I Love You Phillip Morris), but without the flair or fun of those pictures. Smith is super-cool con artist Nicky, and Margot Robbie is Jess, the hot would-be grifter that »

- Peter Bradshaw

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White God review – surreal dog-uprising thriller with bite

15 hours ago

A psychotic outbreak affects all the dogs in Budapest in Kornél Mundruczó’s energetic and imaginative film

Kornél Mundruczó’s work has in the past been self-conscious, opaque and implausible. Well, implausibility is probably still an issue with his new film, but there has been a great leap forward in energy, flair and imagination. It’s a more arresting and entertaining movie than I ever expected from this director: a captivatingly bizarre quasi-horror thriller drama about a mass canine uprising in Budapest that could have been crafted by Hitchcock or James Herbert. Lili is an unhappy little girl who has to go and live with her disagreeable dad when her parents split up. He hates her beloved labrador cross, Hagen, and chucks him out on the street. The animal is found and trained up as a fighting dog – a perversion of his gentle nature that eerily coincides with a general »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Catch Me Daddy review – big scenes and bold ideas in honour-killing drama

15 hours ago

This flawed but ambitious film about a British Pakistani family who hire a posse of thugs to hunt down their errant daughter is a tough look at contemporary gender politics

Daniel Wolfe’s debut movie arrives in the UK after its premiere at Cannes last year: a tough drama about contemporary Britain’s tribal and gender politics. This is ambitious work from a promising talent. There are big scenes, bold ideas and great images – created with Robbie Ryan’s tremendous cinematography. It is based on the murderous phenomenon of “honour killing” in British Pakistani communities. When Laila (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) runs away to be with her white boyfriend, Aaron (Conor McCarron), her family hires a posse of tough guys to get her back, a little like John Ford’s The Searchers. It’s brutal, nihilistic and often deeply pessimistic, but conjures moments of lyrical beauty from the landscape. There is »

- Peter Bradshaw

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel review – daft but good-natured sequel

16 hours ago

It’s sentimental, silly and stereotypical, but this later-life comedy sequel grows on you, and the thespian firepower of Smith, Imrie, Nighy, Dench – and now Gere – is redoubtable

Considering the quality of most sequels, it was bold, or rash, to put the words “second best” in the title. But though still treacly, still exasperatingly sentimental and stereotypical, this follow-up to the first Exotic Marigold Hotel turns out to be rather better. By bringing back the story of Brit retirees at a chaotic Indian hotel, director John Madden and his writer, Ol Parker, have given it the air of an unassuming BBC1 sitcom that grows on you. It’s a daft, good-natured Arcadian comedy of late-life yearnings with the same formidable cast, plus some newcomers. Maggie Smith’s cockney accent is still unconvincing, but there’s no doubt that her screen presence and sheer thespian firepower lend heft to this film, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Is Catch Me Daddy's street-casting an antidote to Britain's toff-actor problem?

18 hours ago

The stars of a gritty drama about a girl on the run from her father were spotted on the street. It’s a trail blazed by directors from Ken Loach to Shane Meadows, and has brought some of our most searing performances to the screen

Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar last week was the icing on the cake for what’s been a good spell for British acting. There was also recognition for the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Felicity Jones, Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike at this year’s Oscars, and British actors have been routinely nabbing iconic American roles such as Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo), Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and even Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis). Not to mention Spider-Man, Superman and the last Batman.

But it’s a certain kind of British actor who has been celebrated of late, as evidenced by Vanity Fair’s recent Hollywood issue, which »

- Steve Rose

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It Follows review – sexual dread fuels a modern horror classic

21 hours ago

David Robert Mitchell’s tale of a fatal curse that can only be transmitted to an unwitting lover taps into primal anxieties so effectively you can’t help but be traumatised

A friend confessed to me recently that this was the only film to have given him, in adult life, a proper wake-up-sweating nightmare. I don’t think I have ever had a nightmare quite as scary as this film – a modern classic of fear to be compared to something by a young Carpenter or De Palma.

It Follows is from the American director David Robert Mitchell, whose 2010 debut movie, The Myth of the American Sleepover, was a gentle, unthreatening drama about teens and platonic crushes. That was Dr Jekyll to the snarling Mr Hyde of this new one. It genuinely is disturbing.

Related: It Follows: ‘Love and sex are ways we can push death away’

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Halle Berry: ‘If an Oscar winner tells you they can pick out hits, they’re lying!’

22 hours ago

Still the only black woman to have won the best actress Oscar, Berry talks about frankly about the difficulty of finding great characters to play and her feelings about the state of the film industry

Hi Halle. Your film Frankie and Alice, about a woman with a multiple personality disorder, is coming out after having been on the shelf since 2009 (1). Can you even remember making it?

Oh, absolutely. When something is that important to you, and you put your blood, sweat and tears into it, I doubt you’ll ever forget it. My first meeting with Alice (2), the day I got to work with Phylicia Rashad who I just absolutely adored, the day Stellan Skarsgård and I did our first scene together... When people say: ‘there’s no way you’re going to make a little movie about this subject no one cares about’, I think you remember every step of the way. »

- Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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Patricia Arquette and the Hollywood pay gap: who's to blame?

23 hours ago

Hillary Clinton has joined the actor’s call for equal pay, but in Hollywood there is confusion about the causes of the persistent gender disparity

When Patricia Arquette used her Oscar speech to condemn pay disparities between men and women everyone seemed to cheer.

Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez led the Dolby theatre audience’s applause, the media backstage greeted Arquette like a conquering hero and Hillary Clinton, among others, echoed her denunciation.

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- Rory Carroll

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The tyranny of Netflix: you must watch this movie. Now!

26 February 2015 4:19 AM, PST

Thanks to video-on-demand, films never go away any more – so when I tell you to watch a weird Austrian cowboy movie, I expect you do it. This week

Netflix and video-on-demand and Hulu have created immense new pressures on hardcore movie lovers. In the olden days you could tell a friend, “You just have to see House of Games; it’s the best scam movie of the year!” or “I will not stop badgering you until you see Nine Queens! It’s the best South American scam movie of the year!”

And back in the olden days people would reply: “Yeah, sure, I’ll get to it when I get to it.” But then the film would end its theatrical run, so your friends had a legitimate excuse to ignore you. They would assure you that they would get around to seeing that Argentine movie about the bank robber with »

- Joe Queenan

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The Lazarus Effect review – a dog's dinner of a yucky resurrection-horror

26 February 2015 2:38 AM, PST

There’s nothing remotely original or interesting about this poorly put-together, cliched tale of a team of scientists who invent a goo that brings dead people back to life

Is playing God a good idea? Well, every story since the ancient Greeks says “no,” but maybe this time will be different? That’s the hope of two scientists, Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde), who have just concocted some milky-white goo that, when zapped with a nice James Whale-esque bolt of electricity, can resurrect the dead. Initially their study was meant merely to prolong a surgeon’s post-flatline window to “bring someone back,” but as so often happens in the lab (or in movies about labs) their discovery becomes so much more.

The pair and their student volunteers (they are at an unnamed religious university) find success when they bring a dog back to life. But the pooch soon starts acting funny. »

- Jordan Hoffman

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Liam Neeson's special set of skills has forced other ageing actors into training

26 February 2015 2:17 AM, PST

The 62-year-old is back with yet another running-about thriller, and hot on his heels is Sean Penn’s Taken-esque The Gunman, featuring topless surfing. Has Neeson’s success meant his peers must attend action star bootcamp?

You can’t really blame Liam Neeson. While male actors over 60 aren’t always shy of work, they’re rarely taking on lead roles in multiplex-dominating blockbusters, and they’re hardly ever getting paid up to $20m for it. So although reviews for Tak3n (pronounced Tak-threen?) might have been fairly brutal (it received a franchise-low of just 10% on Rotten Tomatoes), it proved that at an unlikely age, Neeson is still a major box office draw.

The film, which had a budget of just $48m, made around six times that amount internationally, and the performance of the Taken series has given hope to both Neeson and other actors in his age bracket about »

- Benjamin Lee

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Fifty Shades's 73% drop suggests box office one night stand, not commitment

25 February 2015 4:10 AM, PST

In this week’s instalment of our series tracking cinema’s worldwide winners …

Fifty Shades of Grey drops 73% in the Us, meaning Avatar’s record take is safe

Jackie Chan’s Dragon Blade opens big in China but can it breakthrough abroad?

• The Interview haemorrhages theatrical revenue

Fifty Shades still has the global scene trussed up, but dramatic plunges from its opening weekend – -73% in the Us (one of the largest falls on record) and -57% overseas – suggest that it has already exhausted its core audience, the El James faithful, let alone any casuals pulled in by the furore. Strong repeat business looks beyond Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation, which was cautiously praised as an effective damage-limitation exercise given the shortcomings of the source material. Universal played a blinder on the publicity front, with blanket coverage everywhere contributing to the mammoth, and in many ways historic, opening. The only comparable international »

- Phil Hoad

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Bill Nighy on The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: 'I'm not famous for being a fox' - video interview

25 February 2015 4:04 AM, PST

Bill Nighy and Dev Patel, stars of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, tell Andrew Pulver how the continuation of the franchise deepens and extends the story. Nighy suggests that it 'unlocks something in the audience which allows you to briefly properly join the human race' and sings the praises of his co-stars, many of whom he has known for four decades Continue reading »

- Andrew Pulver and Jonross Swaby

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