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A ban on smoking in French films? The idea makes me fume | Stephen Leslie

1 hour ago

The great directors have always understood that cigarettes and the screen are inextricably linked, like movement and mortality

The French Socialist senator Nadine Grelet-Certenais has fired up a heated debate in France over the depiction of smoking in the movies. She wants it stubbed out, for good, on the basis that Gallic heroes puffing away on the silver screen makes the filthy habit seem cool and provides the evil tobacco industry with free advertising. Ban it, and everything will be made miraculously better – c’est simple. Her call has been taken up by the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, and suddenly film-makers have a fight on their hands.

The problem with this is that it totally ignores the venerable history of French cinema, which plays out as a long, drawn-out visual love letter to the act of smoking. Smoking a cigarette and cinema have always gone perfectly together – they are both ways of killing time, »

- Stephen Leslie

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Rashida Jones denies she left Pixar over 'unwanted advances' by John Lasseter

2 hours ago

Parks and Recreation star refutes reports that she and co-writer departed over Disney animation head’s behaviour, citing lack of diversity at studio

Rashida Jones has denied claims that she left the writing staff of Toy Story 4 due to sexual harassment by Disney animation head John Lasseter, instead stating that her departure was the result of “philosophical differences” over a lack of diversity at Pixar Animation Studios.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Lasseter, who is also the chief creative officer at Pixar, is to take a six-month leave of absence after admitting to undivulged “missteps”. The announcement was swiftly followed by reports of alleged misconduct by Lasseter published by Variety, Vanity Fair and the Hollywood Reporter, with the Reporter investigation including a claim that former Parks and Recreation star Jones and writing partner Will McCormack had exited Toy Story 4 following an “unwanted advance” by Lasseter.

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- Gwilym Mumford

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Manifesto review – Cate Blanchett is astonishing in bravado character study

2 hours ago

Blanchett plays 13 characters performing screeds by the likes of Marx and Debord in a hypnotically fascinating exploration of philosophy

There is a hypnotic fascination to this work by artist and film-maker Julian Rosefeldt, one of the few commercial films that explores the boundaries between cinema and installation, or cinema and video art. It owes this relative prominence to the presence of Cate Blanchett, who may be rivalling Tilda Swinton as Hollywood’s experimentalist and patron-muse.

Related: Manifesto: Cate Blanchett's multiple personalities for video artist – in pictures

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Pixar's John Lasseter taking leave citing 'missteps' and 'unwanted hugs'

5 hours ago

The head of Disney Animation will take a six-month sabbatical after stating he has unintentionally made staff members feel ‘disrespected or uncomfortable’

Disney Animation head John Lasseter will take a six-month leave of absence after confessing to unspecified “missteps”.

In a company memo, obtained by the Hollywood Reporter, Lasseter writes that he has fallen short in creating a culture that engenders “support and collaboration” and hints at behavior that he has been confronted about.

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- Benjamin Lee

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Is Kris Kristofferson's wedding-planning dog drama already the worst movie of 2018?

6 hours ago

Best Friend From Heaven sees Kristofferson voice a dead pooch sent back to earth to arrange his owner’s nuptials. It’s a new low for the ‘talking animals’ genre

You would think that, by now, people would have stopped making films about talking animals. You would think that, after witnessing the monstrosities that were Andy the Talking Hedgehog, A Talking Cat!?! and Kevin Spacey’s Nine Lives, producers would run a giddy mile from such a flat-out dismal genre.

And yet.

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- Stuart Heritage

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Would ‘intimacy directors’ make shooting sex scenes safer?

21 hours ago

The film, theatre and TV industries have problems with sexual abuse, but a new initiative seeks to make nude scenes a more comfortable experience for actors

It is now well-established that the film, theatre and TV worlds have serious problems with sexual assault and harassment. There are, of course, predators and abuses of power in every industry, but performers (as well as crew members) are in a business where boundaries are blurred in the name of art; kissing and intimately touching virtual strangers are often a legitimate part of the job. This week, the Stage reported that Ita O’Brien, a movement director, and her agents Chris Carey and Sam Dodd, had drawn up a set of guidelines to protect actors, from the audition stage to being on set.

These include not asking for nudity or simulated sex at auditions, making sure everyone knows what is expected in terms of sex scenes, »

- Emine Saner

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Exhibition on Screen: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts review – a master in sharp focus

22 hours ago

This illuminating documentary portrait details the undimmed curiosity and enthusiasm of the grand old man of British painting

In recent years, David Hockney has become the grand old man of British painting, with a giant touring exhibition, A Bigger Picture, in 2012 and a high profile 2014 documentary called, yes, Hockney. With these in mind, this latest offering from the Exhibition on Screen series is a little more modest, taking its cues from the Bigger Picture show with its revelatory multiframe landscapes and the more recent David Hockney Ra: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life.

There’s copious interview material with the artist, conducted by a slightly starry-eyed Tim Marlow, along with contributions from the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones. Hockney still seemingly maintains his transnational life, moving backwards and forwards between the Us (where he created seminal works such as A Bigger Splash) and the UK, where his regular driving trips encouraged a new »

- Andrew Pulver

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Justice League lays down the law at top of the UK box office

21 November 2017 5:49 AM, PST

DC superheroes reign supreme as Paddington 2’s Peruvian émigré leaves Murder on the Orient Express at the platform

The $94m debut for Justice League in the Us has been branded a disappointment, but it’s not so clear that the £7.26m UK debut can be so easily described. First, if previews are ignored, that figure ranks as the eighth-biggest opening of 2017, behind Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Despicable Me 3, Dunkirk, It, Fast & Furious 8 and Paddington 2. So, not so shabby.

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- Charles Gant

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Losing the X Factor: is it time for the X-Men universe to stop expanding?

21 November 2017 4:00 AM, PST

News that James Franco will play Multiple Man in a new film is just the latest attempt to add layers to a cinematic world that’s struggling to take shape

When James Franco entered talks to play superhero Multiple Man in an upcoming movie, we can only imagine the actor, director, screenwriter, musician and poet saw the character as a metaphor for his own creative endeavours. For Marvel mutant James Madrox was named for a useful ability to duplicate himself countless times over, meaning he is capable of living scores of lives all at once.

Related: Marvel, DC, whatever ... why all superhero movies look the same these days

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- Ben Child

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Mel Gibson: Weinstein scandal is a 'precursor to change'

21 November 2017 3:56 AM, PST

Star, dogged by claims of racist and misogynistic behaviour, says he welcomes ‘light being thrown where there were shadows’

Mel Gibson has spoken out about the sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood, saying the wave of accusations against Harvey Weinstein have been “painful” but will lead to change in the industry.

The actor and Oscar-winning director, who has faced repeated damaging allegations of racist and misogynistic behaviour, said: “Things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows and that is kind of healthy. It’s painful, but I think pain is a precursor to change.”

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- Jamie Grierson

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Coco review – Pixar's vibrant, melancholic adventure is a refreshing return to form

21 November 2017 3:00 AM, PST

The story of a Mexican boy stuck in the Land of the Dead uses familiar Disney tropes but feels fresh thanks to a combination of humor, music and emotion

The superficial checklist for a Disney animation usually contains an important moral lesson, a wacky animal sidekick, an asexual romance and at least one frantic chase scene. But buried underneath the bright color palette often lies a bittersweet tone and a surprisingly deft examination of grief. In films from Bambi to The Lion King to Frozen to, most notably, Up, slapstick antics have sat alongside impactful stories of loss, adding rich emotional texture to a light canvas and teaching a younger audience about death without employing a heavy hand.

Related: Thirty years of Pixar: from Toy Story to Finding Dory, the studio's biggest hits

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- Benjamin Lee

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Bye bye Batman: should Ben Affleck bow out as the caped crusader?

20 November 2017 10:00 PM, PST

Justice League’s weak box office performance spotlights Affleck’s tricky position – whether to limp on, or join the order of failed dark knights

If there is a “Batman curse” affecting those who have pulled on the cape and cowl on the big screen, it is not always a lasting one. George Clooney recovered from portraying a detested version of Gotham’s dark knight for Joel Schumacher in 1997’s Batman & Robin to become one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors and film-makers. Christian Bale is rarely out of the awards season spotlight for long, and Michael Keaton is currently experiencing a gilded career revival that has even seen him return to superhero movies.

It would be fair to say, however, that the role can be something of a poisoned chalice. Clooney was perhaps fortunate to recover from the critical drubbing handed to Schumacher’s film (his co-star Chris O’Donnell »

- Ben Child

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Dramatic victory: are we entering a golden age for the sports documentary?

20 November 2017 7:14 AM, PST

Sport’s screen outings have long been blighted by timidity but two new films, 89 and Kenny, tell stirring stories with style and swagger. And there’s more to come

It seems fair to say sports documentary films reached something of an early artistic end-point with 1971’s Football As Never Before, a feature-length George Best portrait by the West German arthouse director Hellmuth Costard – best known for his 1968 work Especially Valuable, which featured a talking penis quoting passages of government legislation.

Presented without voiceover or soundtrack, Football As Never Before is an hour and 45 minutes of a single camera following its star around the pitch during a Manchester United game against Coventry City. Whatever its ultimate merits – and Fanb does provide an absolute gold standard in mesmeric closeup shots focused, for long periods, entirely on George Best’s buttocks – the film also speaks to a more basic confusion over what exactly »

- Barney Ronay

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Call to stub out on-screen smoking in French films

20 November 2017 7:02 AM, PST

Injecting morality into films is ‘like pouring cola into a Château Lafite’, one critic of idea declares

The French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo spent almost an entire film – the 1960s classic À Bout du Souffle (Breathless) – with a Gauloise dangling from his lips. Audrey Tautou portrayed the designer Coco Chanel pinning haute couture dresses while smoking. Jacques Tati was rarely without his pipe and Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu and Alain Delon all puffed their way through decades of movies.

Hardly surprising then that a call for French directors to stub out smoking on screen has been greeted with a mix of disbelief and outright ridicule. It has also prompted the existential question: what would French cinema be without the cigarette?

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- Kim Willsher in Paris

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From Ex Machina to Moonlight: how A24 disrupted Hollywood

20 November 2017 2:00 AM, PST

Can the Us indie distributor become the new Miramax or Weinstein Company?

It is not often that you notice logos at the beginning of movies, but one in particular is becoming unavoidable, especially if you’ve gone to the cinema looking for something a bit edgy and grown-up, but not old-fashioned. If you’re a fan of those sorts of films, then the sliding, retro-minimalist, white-on-black logo of A24 films is probably etched on to your subconscious. You can currently see it before The Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Florida Project and Good Time. And, soon, on The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s buzzed-about tribute to bad-movie titan Tommy Wiseau.

Related: The Florida Project’s Sean Baker: ‘I wanted the kids to be the kings and queens of their domain’

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- Steve Rose

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