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Battle of the Sexes review – Emma Stone aces it in tennis's biggest grudge match

1 hour ago

Steve Carell is well cast as the ex-champ who tried to prove men’s superiority on court, but Stone calls the shots as women’s No 1 Billie Jean King

This is a seductively enjoyable, smart and well-acted film based on the most deadly serious sporting contest of modern times: the Battle of the Sexes tennis match of 1973 in a packed Houston Astrodome. It stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell, respectively women’s No 1 Billie Jean King and fiftysomething ex-champ and self-proclaimed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs – fighting to prove that men are better at tennis and better, full stop.

The film crucially faces the same challenge as the participants from real life: the challenge of tone. How unseriously should this match be taken? How strenuously should the attitude of casual jokiness be maintained? No one involved in this encounter could be certain of its outcome; neither side could be sure of avoiding humiliation, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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James Franco: ‘I was certainly taking myself too seriously before. But who doesn’t?’

2 hours ago

His riotous new film, The Disaster Artist, is one of the best in a fascinating but patchy career. So how did this notorious workaholic with a fear of failure learn to laugh at himself?

James Franco, the stoner’s comedian inside a workaholic arthouse auteur trapped in a Hollywood leading man’s body, is a bewildering enough prospect as an actor, but that’s nothing compared with what he is as an interviewee. As I walk into his hotel room in San Sebastián, Spain, where he is at the film festival showing his latest effort, The Disaster Artist, which he directed and stars in, I wonder which side I’ll get today. (Please, God, not the pretentious-auteur one.) After all, what to expect of a man who, in one year, made eight movies including Eat Pray Love; the pretty good Allen Ginsberg biopic, Howl; the completely meh comedy, Date Night; the endurance movie, »

- Hadley Freeman. Photograph: Michael Buckner/Rex

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Jada Pinkett Smith: ‘Who’s the best at music in my family? Everyone plays in their own sandbox’

3 hours ago

Fresh from weeing over a crowd of people in Girls Trip, the actor offers her thoughts on the various skill sets of her family

Hi, Jada! Was there a moment of hesitation when you read the Girls Trip script and saw that you had to wee yourself over a crowd of people (1)?

No! People always ask me that. That was actually one of the moments that made me think: “Oh, wow, this is going to be a lot of fun.” It’s completely unexpected and completely outrageous. And, you know, it’s a movie.

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- Stuart Heritage

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Hi-Lo Joe review – chemistry and charisma in tale of two thirtysomethings

3 hours ago

Joe and Lizzie try to make it work in James Kermack’s debut feature, which is big on angst but shot through with undeniable energy

British writer-director James Kermack’s feature debut goes big on the angst of thirtysomething blokes and their eternal struggles issues with commitment and attaining self-knowledge, but it’s hard to hold a grudge against it given the energy of the direction and the charisma of its toothsome young stars. Matthew Stathers stars as the titular Joe, a professional children’s entertainer and hard-partying showboat who is determined to make it work with the lissom Ellie (Lizzie Philips), an aspiring dancer as quick on the quip as Joe himself. Although Gethin Anthony, Tom Bateman and a few other supports drift in and out of the story, the relationship between the two leads is the object of focus here as they go through the highs and lows of young love. »

- Leslie Felperin

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Why is Oscar-buzzed romance Call Me by Your Name so coy about gay sex?

4 hours ago

The much-lauded 80s-set drama is a triumph on many levels but its conservative attitude towards showing men having sex remains problematic

There was a time, not all that long ago, when Luca Guadagnino’s new film Call Me By Your Name would have been something of a fringe item. A florid gay love story, set in the rarefied playground of wealthy white academics who use “summer” as a verb, awash in Euro-art flourishes inspired by the likes of Bertolucci and Antonioni, and based on an André Aciman novel treasured chiefly within the Lgbt community, it’s the kind of film towards which enraptured critics usually struggle to steer substantial audiences.

Related: Call Me By Your Name review – gorgeous gay love story seduces and overwhelms

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- Guy Lodge

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#Starvecrow review – first ever selfie movie needs an upgrade

5 hours ago

Shot mostly on camera phones, this British drama about a group of insufferable twentysomethings has little going for it besides zeitgeist bragging rights

After found footage and phone footage films, here, with the inevitability of a man in belted jeans launching a new iPhone model to a crowd of saucer-eyed disciples, is the first ever selfie movie – a naive and self-indulgent piece with very little going for it other than zeitgeist bragging rights.

Shot mostly on camera phones by the actors, #Starvecrow is a tiny-budget British drama about a group of insufferably privileged twentysomething mates. Ben Willens is Ben, a controlling narcissist who creepily films everything on his phone. When his on-off girlfriend (Ashlie Walker) walks out for good, he steals her friends’ mobiles – giving the film its footage of attention-seeking drunken antics and nastier behaviour never intended for Snapchat. Ben, like one of the lads from Made in Chelsea »

- Cath Clarke

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Is all forgiven? The strange, troubling resurgence of Mel Gibson

6 hours ago

The actor-director seemed unemployable after a string of antisemitic and racist outbursts. But steady work since and a new comedy vehicle suggest his time in the wilderness is up

The long, complicated saga known as the Never-Ending Rehabilitation of Mel Gibson unspools another chapter. Gibson is playing his most prominent on-screen role, in Daddy’s Home 2, since his obscenity-filled antisemitic meltdown on the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway on a hot July night in Malibu more than a decade ago.

Given the serendipity of long-range movie-release schedules, how was Gibson to know that his latest bid for a soft landing back in the box-office charts, and back in the warm bosom of filmgoers worldwide, would take place during a tsunami of revelations of sexual chicanery and all-round vileness among top Hollywood figures and Washington politicians?

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- John Patterson

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Jane review – wondrous footage lights up Goodall's Tarzan dream

8 hours ago

Jane Goodall’s research into chimp behaviour was a great leap forward in scientific research and this documentary does her work full justice

Here is a portrait of the primatologist as a young woman. Using footage only recently rediscovered in the National Geographic archive, octogenarian Jane Goodall recollects her first field study of chimpanzees in the wild in Tanzania. This was the 1960s, and Goodall was a 26-year-old typist with no academic training. Yet on that trip she made a great leap in scientific research by observing chimps making and using tools. Goodall says that it was her mother who built her self-esteem when she was growing up – encouraging her to see beyond the expectations that a nice, middle-class girl from Bournemouth should get married and start a family. Instead, she dreamed of living with animals in the jungle like Tarzan. There are more than 40 documentaries about Goodall. What makes »

- Cath Clarke

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Suburbicon review – George Clooney spies murder and malice in picket-fence America

10 hours ago

Matt Damon plays a beleaguered salaryman whose life goes horribly wrong in Clooney’s account of crime and racial prejudice in the postwar Us

For his latest directorial outing, George Clooney has given us a macabre comedy noir: watchable, lively, intricately designed, but with exotic plot contrivances and parallel storylines that don’t fully gel. Clooney and longtime producing partner Grant Heslov have rewritten an unproduced script by the Coen brothers, set in a satirically picture-perfect 1950s American suburb. Like the manicured locations of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet or Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven, this is a place where ugly realities hunch behind the picket fence and the Colgate smiles: racism, deceit, murder.

There is something surreal about the way these two dramas unfold side-by-side without impinging on each other

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- Peter Bradshaw

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Better Watch Out review – deranged mind games and faultless performances in Christmas horror

23 hours ago

Three young Australian actors lead the action in Home Alone gone bad-style thriller, with a big and cheeky twist

Better Watch Out is hardly the first scary movie to juxtapose festive season merriment alongside gnarly thrills, involving menacing phone calls, sharp instruments and various applications of duct tape.

Watching it reminded me of the, shall we say, morally dubious 1984 slasher flick Silent Night, Deadly Night – a cinematic experience I was sure I had repressed. A smattering of other films over the years – most of them junk, with titles like Happy Helladays and Slaughter Claus – have put the “yell” in “yuletide”, the “slay” in “sleigh” and the, er, “nnnnoooooo!” in “Noel”.

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- Luke Buckmaster

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Peter O'Toole was not the drunken hell-raiser he made out, says author

22 November 2017 7:45 AM, PST

Actor’s biographer says personal archive reveals a ‘sensitive, organised man’ who was writing two screenplays just before his death in 2013

Peter O’Toole was writing two screenplays just before his death at the age of 81, according to research that also suggests the actor’s hell-raising image was a myth that he cultivated himself.

While working on a book about the actor, the biographer Alexander Larman had a glimpse of screen versions of the Seán O’Casey play Juno and the Paycock, and Chekhov’s work Uncle Vanya. He said O’Toole starred on stage in those plays, which each had characters with some similarities to O’Toole’s personality.

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- Dalya Alberge

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In a Lonely Place review – Bogart still captivatingly cynical in noir classic

22 November 2017 7:42 AM, PST

Humphrey Bogart’s boozy screenwriter plays off perfectly against a marvellous Gloria Grahame in Nicholas Ray’s hardboiled thriller from 1950

Humphrey Bogart’s world-weariness and romanticism take on something brutal and misogynist in this 1950 noir masterpiece directed by Nicholas Ray – and it’s a marvellous performance by Gloria Grahame. This national rerelease is linked to the Grahame retrospective at BFI Southbank, in London. It is adapted from the hardboiled thriller by Dorothy B Hughes, changing her story and rehabilitating the male lead in one way, but in another, introducing a new strain of pessimism and defeat.

Bogart is Dixon Steele, a boozy, depressive Hollywood screenwriter whose tendency to violence and self-hatred isn’t helped by the fact that he hasn’t had a hit in years. Like the directors, producers and actors he occasionally sees in bars, his best days were before the second world war. One night at a restaurant, »

- Peter Bradshaw

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

22 November 2017 4:35 AM, PST

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

22 November 2017 4:21 AM, PST

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 bravura character study

22 November 2017 4:00 AM, PST

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'

22 November 2017 1:01 AM, PST

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?

21 November 2017 11:39 PM, PST

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 November 2017 8:45 AM, PST

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

21 November 2017 8:29 AM, PST

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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