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Best films of 2018 so far

play episode
19 June, by Tamsin Bracher and Andrew Pulver[ —]

The very best of 2018, from Black Panther rewriting the rules for superheroes, Gary Oldman going to war as Churchill, and Maxine Peake blazing her way through 70s sexism

Raucous thriller about the real-life 1973 kidnapping of J Paul Getty’s grandson, and the billionaire’s subsequent refusal to pay the ransom – a film that became notorious in its own right after reshooting scenes featuring disgraced actor Kevin Spacey.

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Will Ferrell to star in Eurovision song contest comedy for Netflix

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/eurovisionplay episode download
18 June, by Guardian staff[ —]

Actor is writer and star of feature based on the international singing competition

Will Ferrell is set to star in a Netflix film based around the Eurovision song contest.

Related: Eurovision 2018: five things we learned

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'Ripe for disruption': female film-makers rally for industry overhaul

18 June, by Pamela Hutchinson[ —]

From a toolkit inspired by Asia Argento to a feminist tattoo parlour, BFI’s Women With a Movie Camera summit offered inspiration – and a call to action

Ava DuVernay may not have been at the BFI Southbank in London this weekend, but her films and her words were. Not to mention the number of people walking around with her name emblazoned on their chests. The film-maker’s assertion that “activism is inherently a creative endeavour” was quoted more than once from the stage at the Woman With a Movie Camera summit. And it’s an idea that works just as well forwards and backwards. For many women in the film industry, simply creating can be an act of disruption or activism in itself.

The theme of the day, which included panels, presentations and performances, and took over all four screens of the BFI Southbank, was power – and how to change the unbalanced power dynamic in the creative industries. In that light, it was a disappointment that activist and model Munroe Bergdorf, booked as the event’s keynote speaker, was unable to attend. While signatories of an online petition had objected to a trans woman having a platform at the event, the speakers and organisers of the summit signalled their support of her invitation, standing on stage together when she was due to speak, in a gesture of solidarity, to applause from the audience. “Her words would have set the tone for reclaiming the BFI as an inclusive space with radical potential,” said Observer film critic Simran Hans in a statement. Holly Tarquini, executive director of FilmBath, also noted how Bergdorf’s name was mentioned admiringly in each panel, and said: “It’s essential that we celebrate when women like Munroe Bergdorf are given a platform by public organisations.”

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Evil spirit that haunts scary movie Hereditary is the gene genie

18 June, by David Cox[ —]

Ari Aster’s horror triumph feeds off suppressed fear that we cannot escape our biological fate – leaving audiences unnerved

  • Warning: contains spoilers

On the face of it, Hereditary is a slice of silly supernatural hokum replete with the threadbare tropes of the genre. However, Ari Aster’s debut scarer has nonetheless struck a nerve: it seems to linger in the minds of those who see it. Why?

Many horror films (Blair Witch, The Babadook, It Follows) jog the Jungian subconscious to tickle merely fanciful fears. Others (Carrie, Don’t Look Now, Get Out) dare to touch upon real-world terrors. Often, it’s the latter whose spectres persist.

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Gotti, Escobar, Manson: Hollywood's problem with real-life criminals

https://www.theguardian.com/film/dramaplay episode download
18 June, by Charles Bramesco[ —]

The release of two critically panned films about criminals with fascinating backstories highlight the difficulties of adapting theatrically villainous characters

In death as in life, John Gotti’s a hard guy to pin down. The John Travolta-led biopic simply titled Gotti entered US theaters over the weekend, in the culmination of a long journey fraught with mishaps. The initial plan was a release straight to video back in December, until distributor Lionsgate decided to abandon ship 10 brief days before the slated release, throwing the film’s future into jeopardy. Lionsgate sold the rights back to the producers and left them to land a new benefactor, which they found in Vertical Entertainment (the same label that will quietly shepherd Billionaire Boys Club, the film containing what will in all likelihood be Kevin Spacey’s final leading performance, through multiplexes this August) and, in an inexplicable first, overnight phenom ticket retailer MoviePass. This new deal came together in time for the world premiere last month at the Cannes film festival, where press screenings were unceremoniously cancelled at the last moment, leaving only an exclusive gala premiere few critics were permitted to attend. As ever, nothing sticks to the Teflon Don.

Related: The eight most criminally awful things about John Travolta's Gotti

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'A tale of two crises': a husband and wife document Europe's refugee crisis

https://www.theguardian.com/world/migrationplay episode download
18 June, by Jake Nevins[ —]

The HBO documentary It Will Be Chaos goes inside the Italian island that is on the frontline of an international problem

On the arid Italian island of Lampedusa, known as the “door of Europe”, 400,000 migrants have arrived by way of the Mediterranean sea in just the past two decades. With a population of 6,000 and an economy that runs on fishing and tourism, it’s emerged as an unlikely port in the storm of Europe’s immigration crisis, welcoming asylum seekers from Syria, Libya, Eritrea, the Gambia, the Maghreb, Sudan and Tunisia, whose coast is just 70 miles away.

Related: What is the current state of the migration crisis in Europe?

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Wild thoughts: what do wilderness films tell us about our sheltered lifestyles?

18 June, by Steve Rose[ —]

Films such as Leave No Trace that profess to be about an alternative way of life have more in common with the suburbia of The Truman Show than they seem

When I see a movie about people trying to live alternative lifestyles, I think of the travel agency Jim Carrey visits in The Truman Show, with its alarming poster of an airliner getting struck by lightning, accompanied by the slogan: “IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!” A similar deterrent seems to be in operation whenever people reject conventional ways of living in the movies. More often than not, the parents go crazy, the kids are screwed up and you come out of the cinema thinking: “Well, I’m glad I didn’t try that!”

For all its merits, Debra Granik’s latest film Leave No Trace can’t help but agree. It’s the story of a father and teenage daughter who live off-grid in the middle of a national park. Despite their minimal carbon footprint, it is not exactly a sustainable lifestyle: they are evicted by the authorities; dad (Ben Foster) is a traumatised war veteran who can’t cope with “civilisation”; daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) discovers what she’s been missing – like friends.

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Inside the real Studio 54: Sex balconies! Liza Minnelli! No hats!

18 June, by Lauren Cochrane[ —]

Full of rollerskating Wall Street Bankers, tabloid fixtures and postwar frivolity, a new documentary reveals the social backdrop of the famous club

Related: Studio 54: heady daze of disco decadence – in pictures

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The Tale: a key film of the #MeToo era deserves more than NowTV

play episode
18 June, by Guy Lodge[ —]
Jennifer Fox’s devastating memoir, pitching her teenage self’s ‘erotic awakening’ against her adult view of sex abuse should be widely available

From film festival sensation to streaming channel content: it’s a swift, cinema-skipping trajectory that more and more outstanding films are taking these days, and one I’ve discussed often in this column. But the downshift in screen size for The Tale, an emotional gut-punch now streaming at Sky-owned NowTV, feels especially notable in this regard – a case of a potentially era-defining film entrusted to the unpredictable hands of online distribution.

The first narrative film by the accomplished documentary-maker Jennifer Fox, The Tale was the uncontested toast of a low-key Sundance film festival in January, inspiring the most impassioned reviews out of the snowy Utah hills, as well as some of the fiercest deal-making. The excitement was understandable: by virtue of unplanned timing as well as its own candid, considered storytelling, Fox’s deeply personal work was instantly hailed as a defining film of the #MeToo era.

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Awkwafina: ‘I was always the crazy one, the funny one. I’d do anything for a laugh’

https://www.theguardian.com/film/sandra-bullockplay episode download
17 June, by Helena de Bertodano[ —]

When she’s starring alongside Sandra Bullock in Ocean’s 8 or rapping about her vagina on YouTube, she’s Awkwafina. But at home she’ll always be Nora Lum from Queens

The front desk clerk at the Beverly Hills Hotel is polite but puzzled. “Nora Lum? No, we have no one staying here of that name.” How about Awkwafina, I ask, spelling it out for him. He looks at me as though he thinks I might be messing with him. “Sorry, madam,” – is that a note of relief in his voice? – “no one of that name either.” I reach for my phone, but then I have an idea. Sandra Bullock? Suddenly I have the attention of all three front desk clerks. “This way, madam.”

“Who the fuck is Awkwafina? That’s everyone’s reaction,” laughs Nora Lum/Awkwafina (pronounced Aquafina) when I eventually find her. She and Bullock – or “Sandy” as Lum affectionately calls her – are both holding court at the hotel today to discuss their new movie Ocean’s 8, a female reboot of the Ocean’s Eleven crime comedy heist first made famous by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1960, then reprised by George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen. In the movie poster Bullock and Lum are flanked by six other top-tier names: Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Sarah Paulson and Mindy Kaling. “No one knows why I was cast,” says Lum, who has just turned 30. “Even I don’t know. Gary Ross [the director] really took a chance on me. He saw something in me that I don’t think I even saw in myself. Because of his confidence, I felt confident, too.”

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