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Edgar Wright: ‘With Baby Driver, my oldest idea became my biggest hit’

17 December, by Michael Hogan[ —]
The director on taking 22 years to make his passion project, Hollywood’s turbulent year, and finding Cornettos in far-off places

Dorset-born director Edgar Wright, 43, made his name with cult Channel 4 sitcom Spaced before moving into film. He made the “Cornetto trilogy” with long-time collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, comprising Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. Since heading to Hollywood, Wright has directed Scott Pilgrim Vs the World and co-written The Adventures of Tintin. He scored his biggest box office hit so far with this year’s getaway car thriller Baby Driver, out now on DVD.

Baby Driver was both a critical and commercial success, so I guess you’ve had a good year?
I can’t complain. It was my passion project. It’s been a long and winding road to get here, but I’m extremely happy with how it came out. Funny how my oldest idea ended up being my biggest hit.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi review – may the eighth be with you

17 December, by Mark Kermode[ —]

Writer-director Rian Johnson delivers a fine mix of character, storytelling, explosions and something to think about on the bus home

The core theme of the ongoing Star Wars narrative has always been one of balance – an equilibrium between light and dark, life and death. Balance is also the key to making a great Star Wars movie, with the directors of each new episode standing or falling on their ability to walk a tightrope between spectacle and substance, seriousness and absurdity – keeping both the fans and the first-timers happy.

In this eighth episode in the official Star Wars saga, writer-director Rian Johnson (who made his name with such adventurous features as Brick and Looper) proves himself the master of the balancing act, keeping the warring forces of this intergalactic franchise in near-perfect harmony. Just as the film’s sound designers understand the tactical use of silence, so Johnson instinctively knows when to internalise or externalise the film’s multiple explosions – conjuring vast attack ships on fire and tiny individuals in torment with equal ease.

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DVD reviews: Dunkirk; Félicité, Wormwood; The Apartment

https://www.theguardian.com/film/dramaplay episode download
17 December, by Guy Lodge[ —]
Dunkirk spirit falters on the home front, Alain Gomis brings the streets of Kinshasa to sensual life, and a Billy Wilder classic sparkles on 4K

Cannily timed, I presume, to catch the weary eye of the desperate last-minute Christmas shopper wondering what they can get their dad who expressly said he didn’t want anything, but will act mortally aggrieved if you listen to him, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (Warner Bros, 12) jackboot-stomps on to DVD shelves tomorrow. It’s a summer blockbuster that adapts quite well to yuletide event-viewing status, and not just because of its chilly, windblown atmospherics. There’s plainly a warming, unifying intent to its multi-angled breakdown of the Dunkirk evacuation, a feelgood sensibility laced through its solemn, storm-blue elegy, that’ll draw many a familial crowd to fireside viewings in the final week of the year.

It’s hard to deny, however, that Nolan’s film, almost overwhelmingly big and bruising on the Imax canvas, loses a fair bit of its mojo in the transition to TV screens. The muscular, immaculate beauty of Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, its gunmetal metallics spiked by orange-blue flame, is still in evidence, but the scale of its compositions no longer stretch and challenge the eye. Hans Zimmer’s marvellous, louring score is still impressive, but no longer rings in the ears with caught-in-the-crossfire immediacy. It still plays, then, as a handsome, stirring, intricately conceived battle study, missing the sensory extravagance that, in cinemas, outweighed some scripted flaws. The slenderness of its characterisation and performances (save for a constrained but soulful Tom Hardy) stands out more glaringly, as do its narrow, parochial politics. Nolan’s decision to foreground the British military experience above all else, rendering collaborators secondary and the enemy literally unseen, seems an ungenerous one. It remains a grand, symphonic feat of film-making, marshalled by a man at the peak of his formal powers. Its human errors just loom a little larger now.

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John Hurt remembered by John Boorman

17 December, by Guardian Staff[ —]

22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017
The film director remembers his friend, the actor with ‘a single malt of a voice’, who despite his ups and downs, remained a rare talent and a true professional

• Darcus Howe remembered by Diane Abbott

That voice, distilled from alcohol and Gauloises, a single malt of a voice, caressed the nation for half a century. In The Elephant Man it was only the voice. As Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant the voice swerved into a gay queenery. It expressed pain and suffering as a monster exploded out of his stomach in Alien. His Christ for Mel Brooks persuaded us that Jesus had such a voice. Its emollience spread over hundreds of movies, plays and commercials. On stage, it put audiences into a light hypnosis.

He lent it to me for two short films which were the most enjoyable of my career. He was a fine companion over 45 years. He first came to Ireland to make Sinful Davey in 1969. He was convinced that [the director] John Huston decided after the first week that the film was a dud and if he could kill or seriously injure his star it would be cancelled and the insurance would pay up. He had Hurt riding over rough terrain on mettlesome horses. Despite that John moved here. He spent four months living in my guest cottage with a lover and we had dinner nearly every night.

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Hayley Squires: ‘I used to argue with everyone’

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tv-and-radioplay episode download
17 December, by Rebecca Nicholson[ —]

She made her name in I, Daniel Blake – Ken Loach’s searing indictment of the welfare state. Now Hayley Squires is stealing the show in the BBC’s adaptation of The Miniaturist. But there are a few things she wants to get off her chest first

A couple of years ago, Hayley Squires decided to get a new tattoo. “I’d been romantically involved with somebody for a little while, and it had driven me a bit nuts,” she explains. “Then he was out of my life, and it was coming up to my birthday.” She kept thinking up various symbols and signs that might mean something, but nothing rang true. Then she remembered this line. It’s a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it’s tucked nearly underneath the crook of her left arm. It reads: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Why can’t it be down to how good we are at our jobs? It shouldn’t just be about the way I sound when I open my mouth

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Ferdinand review – gently subversive animation

17 December, by Simran Hans[ —]

A flower-sniffing bull goes on a journey of self-discovery in this fun adaptation of a 30s children’s book

Based on Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson’s 1936 children’s book The Story of Ferdinand, this gently subversive Madrid-set feature from animation studio Blue Sky and frequent collaborator Carlos Saldanha (the Ice Age films, Rio) follows an adorable, flower-sniffing bull named Ferdinand. “Is it OK if that’s not my dream?” the baby bull asks his father of fighting. When he discovers that he has no choice, Ferdinand scarpers, hoofing it to a flower farm, where he befriends a human girl and her shaggy sheepdog. Ferdinand’s passivity (and flower obsession) isn’t explicitly coded as queer, though the film hints that this might be the case.

Either way, Ferdinand celebrates his mild temperament and non-confrontational masculinity, which remain unchanged as his bull’s body grows resplendently large. The adult Ferdinand (voiced by WWE superstar John Cena) ends up causing a ruckus at a local flower fair (and offers viewers a very funny scene in a china shop) and so is carted back to the ranch he came from. Other fun characters include a neurotic, calming goat voiced by Kate McKinnon, a trio of bitchy German horses with swishy pastel manes, and mischievous, pilfering hedgehogs Uno, Dos and Cuatro (“We do not speak of Tres”).

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The Prince of Nothingwood review – magical and intrepid

17 December, by Mark Kermode[ —]

Afghanistan’s most prolific director literally puts his life on the line to make movies, as seen in this riveting and hilarious documentary

In the current release The Disaster Artist, James Franco celebrates the tale of Tommy Wiseau, who realised his dream of getting a movie made when all the odds were apparently against him. Yet Wiseau made his 2003 “disasterpiece” The Room with seemingly endless financial resources, in the heart of Hollywood, where all the perks and luxuries of modern cinema were available to him and his crew. Would he have been able to pull it off if he’d been shooting on the fly in war-torn surroundings with nothing but his belief in the power of B-movies to see him through?

Meet Salim Shaheen, the “most popular and prolific actor-director-producer in Afghanistan” (which he laughingly calls “Nothingwood!”), who has made and distributed more than a hundred movies, working on shoestring budgets, undeterred by rocket attacks, riots or religious fundamentalism. As he embarked on his 111th feature (or perhaps 114th – he seems to be making at least four films simultaneously), first-time feature director Sonia Kronlund decided to join him, travelling from Kabul to Bamiyan to see if she had “missed something” in her previous reports from the region for French public radio and TV. How could a land so riven with strife have provided the backdrop for such prolific creativity?

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Minnie Driver: men like Matt Damon 'cannot understand what abuse is like'

https://www.theguardian.com/world/sexual-harassmentplay episode download
17 December, by Edward Helmore[ —]

Actor calls former co-star’s remarks about ‘spectrum of behaviour’ in sexual misconduct ‘Orwellian’ and questions defence of disgraced comedian Louis CK

The actor Minnie Driver has told the Guardian that men “simply cannot understand what abuse is like on a daily level” and should not therefore attempt to differentiate or explain sexual misconduct against women.

Related: Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill to spearhead fight against harassment in Hollywood

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Glenn Close: ‘You lose power if you get angry’

16 December, by Lotte Jeffs[ —]

From vengeful mistress to Agatha Christie matriarch: the actor talks about Harvey Weinstein, mental illness and growing up in a cult

Glenn Close and I sit at the corner of a large boardroom table in an intimidatingly minimalist office on the 14th floor of a Los Angeles talent agency. It’s the kind of environment in which Patty Hewes, the ruthless lawyer Close played in Damages for five seasons, would feel at home and I’m almost waiting for her to stand up, slam both hands on the table and shout, “I’ll rip your face off” or any of the other terrifying put-downs that defined her double Emmy award-winning performance.

But Close is in high spirits and radiates such warmth I barely notice the chill from the tower block’s air-con. After we fiddle with the settings on our swivel chairs, which are so high they make anyone under six foot kick their legs like a child on a swing, the 70-year-old, six-time Oscar nominee and star of stage, television and film starts telling me about her dreams. “I have had a lot recently, full of this wonderful love for a younger man. The dreams just keep coming and I wake up thinking, that was wonderful! It wasn’t necessarily us doing the sexual act, just the feeling of love.”

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi: the Porgs, the Force and the future - discuss with spoilers

16 December, by Ben Child[ —]

It gave us new powers, abundant alien creatures and a triumphant last hurrah for Luke Skywalker, but did Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII live up to the hype?

•Warning: this article contains spoilers

Related: Star Wars: The Last Jedi review – an explosive thrill-ride of galactic proportions

Fan theorists were certain that Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi would be to The Empire Strikes Back what JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens was to the original Star Wars, a movie full of Jedi training sessions on remote planets, rebel backs against the wall and darkling, curveball plot twists. In the end that was only part of the story, for this was a movie that gave us, in the words of Luke Skywalker in one of its earliest trailers, “so much more”. New Force powers, abundant alien creatures like nothing we’ve seen before, and a complex, yet satisfying return for the galaxy’s greatest hero.

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