Fly men to the moon: Ad Astra and the toxic masculinity of space films

Brad Pitts saga is the latest sci-fi film to fall back on stereotypes of heroic men and emotional women Brad Pitt has not minced his words while talking about his new space epic Ad Astra, in which he plays a stoic, closed-off astronaut with daddy issues. What we were really digging at was this definition of masculinity, he recently stated, and lamented having grown up in an era where we were taught to be strong, not show weakness, dont be disrespected. That is bang on-message with #MeToo Hollywood, but Ad Astra also brings home how gendered the space film has always been. Factually minded films from this genre The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, First Man have had little choice but …

The Two Popes: Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce divine in papal faceoff

Hopkinss Benedict XVI and Pryces Francis I make for a winning Vatican odd couple in this succession drama whose careful script ends not with a bang but a wimple Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce find some tremendous actorly form in this humorous, indulgent, lop-sidedly sentimental Pope-off which becomes a Pontiff bromance adapted by Frank Cottrell-Boyce from Anthony McCartens stage-play and directed by Fernando Meirelles. Its an entertaining if preposterous imagining of private meetings supposedly taking place a decade ago between Pope Benedict XVI, formerly the Austrian Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Hopkins) and the Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Pryce) as the Pope was pondering his sensational decision to retire, and before Bergoglio the supposed liberal and critic of the incumbents conservative views …

Hitler comedy Jojo Rabbit primed for Oscars after winning top Toronto award

Taika Waititis whimsical second world war film has won the peoples choice award at this years Toronto film festival, following in the footsteps of Green Book Second world war comedy Jojo Rabbit has won this years peoples choice award at the Toronto film festival, a prize thats seen by many as a major predictor of Oscar success. The film, which follows a young German boy who turns his idol Adolf Hitler into an imaginary friend, is written and directed by Taika Waititi, who also stars in the film. Its described as an anti-hate satire based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens and also stars Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell. Waititis previous films include What We Do in the …

The stars of The Kitchen on on-screen equality

Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy and Elisabeth Moss talk all-female casts, box-office hopes and Kool-Aid pickles Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish are kicking back in the Warner Bros commissary, discussing an American delicacy that, strangely, does not appear on the menu: I taught them about pickles and Kool-Aid, says Haddish proudly, as her two castmates erupt in squeals of revolted laughter. That shows the true love I have for you, says McCarthy. Because I kept saying no and she kept saying: You have to try it! I was like: I. Dont. Want. To. Do. This. And then the next thing I know, I was eating it and Here, McCarthy, a Saturday Night Live regular and veteran of several blockbuster …

Farmed out to a white family, I became a skinhead: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje on his first film

The actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talks about growing up in Essex and joining a racist gang a story now told in his directing debut, Farming There are some stories that, though they wait half a lifetime, must get told. Seven years ago, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje gave an Lost. Farming, which he had then already been writing and developing for nearly a decade, explored a real-life mystery: it was the incredible story of how he, a young Nigerian boy raised by white foster parents in 1970s Tilbury, Essex, had forged an identity for himself in a violently racist local skinhead gang, and lived to tell the tale. The film, which eventually premiered at the wider release this month. It both dramatises a brutal …

How we made Quadrophenia, by Phil Daniels and Leslie Ash

Riding the scooter along the clifftop at Beachy Head, I got too close and fell off Phil Daniels, played Jimmy I wasnt well when I went for the auditions at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. Id been in South Africa filming Beachy Head. Riding along the clifftop, I got a lot closer to the edge than I was meant to and fell off the scooter a couple of times. I remember the first assistant director, Ray Corbett, telling me: Listen, its the third day. If you fell off that cliff, dyou know what would have happened? They would have recast you tomorrow. Jimmys not a hero, hes just a normal boy next door, and thats what makes him work. He ultimately …

I dont regret being messy and imperfect Constance Wu on Crazy Rich Asians, Twitter storms and acting with J-Lo

Constance Wu stars in new heist movie Hustlers. Martha Hayes hears how she made it to the top and why shes not seeking approval from anyone Like many struggling actors, in her early 20s Constance Wu waited tables and toyed with the idea of getting a proper job. In her case, retraining to be a speech therapist. Wu is visibly embarrassed when I bring it up, which has less to do with her chosen field, and more with her motivation behind it. Its really the most pathetic reason of all, she says, rolling her eyes. I had a boyfriend I was in love with, who wasnt too psyched with the idea of being with an actress, because it wasnt stable. …

The Goldfinch review Donna Tartt adaptation settles for silver

An elegantly made attempt to transport the Pulitzer prize-winning novel to the screen boasts a strong cast but a confused emotional focus Is Donna Tartts Pulitzer prize-wining novel The Goldfinch unadaptable? Is it possible to condense 784 globetrotting pages of romance, terrorism, grief, drug addiction and art world espionage into a coherent and dramatically satisfying movie? After 149 minutes of Brooklyn director John Crowleys much-anticipated, and much-feared, attempt, the answer appears to be shrug emoji? Because its neither a rousing success nor an embarrassing failure, falling somewhere in between, closer to admirable attempt. Most importantly, its nowhere near the ungainly mess some had expected, its many, many moving parts stitched together with an elegant hand and unlike some weighty adaptations, …

Send in the crowns: in trumping Venice competition, Joker begins grand slam | Xan Brooks

The victory for Todd Phillipss revisionist comic book blockbuster is a credit to a festival in touch with crazed politics, contemporary paranoia and superb cinema Todd Phillips Joker spins the tale of a pathetic loser who ends up a winner, the low-class upstart who upsets the applecart and explodes the establishment. Nobody least of all Joaquin Phoenixs snivelling party entertainer believed he stood a snowballs chance in hell. But his message hit home and the voters clamoured change and we live in interesting times where the old rules dont apply. As with the man, so with the film. Since its incel vigilantes. Its been seen as left-wing; its been seen as right-wing. Its politics are so turbulent, so unrefined – …

Streaming: Elisabeth Moss in Her Smell not to be sniffed at

Elisabeth Moss thrills as a strung-out rock star in Alex Ross Perrys tremendous, terribly titled new film A bad title can be a debilitating handicap to even the best of films: if it makes you wince even to say the thing, its that much harder to get invested in watching it. This is a truth that has been learned the hard way by the new film from American independent writer-director Alex Ross Perry: a daring, grungily immersive and quite brilliantly acted character study that has been saddled, for reasons best known to Perry himself, with the buzz-killing moniker Her Smell. Try telling people, as I have for several months now, that they should be looking out for a terrific film …

A Batman v Joker movie could make Marvel’s Avengers look like the Powerpuff Girls

Could Warner Bros finally match Marvels box office might with a mini-verse featuring Robert Pattinsons caped crusader and Joaquin Phoenixs Arthur Fleck? Where DisneyDC seems hellbent on going in the opposite direction. After 2017s Suicide Squad slumped languidly into the shadows, Wonder Woman, Shazam! all managed to engage audiences without cramming dozens of costumed crime fighters into the same movie. Freed from the need to maintain thematic integrity across multiple episodes, Warners superhero movies have finally found their feet. So much so that it is tempting to wonder if the long-mooted DC Extended Universe, always planned as a Marvel-aping excuse to cross-pollinate the publishers entire back catalogue, has already met an untimely demise. James Gunns upcoming Suicide Squad 2 may …

‘I love Woody and I believe him’: Scarlett Johansson defends Allen

Actor says she has spoken extensively to the director about claims of sexual abuse and would work with him any time Scarlett Johansson has come out strongly in defence of Woody Allen, saying she loved the film-maker and believed he is innocent of the abuse accusations made by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. Match Point, Scoop and Timothe Chalamet, Greta Gerwig and Colin Firth, all of whom expressed regret at working with Allen after the re-emergence of Farrows allegation of sexual abuse against him. Allen has always denied the allegations, which have been investigated twice by authorities and no charges brought. Other actors such as Javier Bardem and Anjelica Huston terminated a four-film agreement with him, citing his comments about …

Cold war experiments and storybook monsters – back to Venice’s VR island

Now in its third year, the virtual reality section of the Venice Film Festival has become more mature and serious in its focus. The 76th Venice film festival has included sci-fi thrills and comic-book action, backstage melodrama and medieval court intrigue. During the events most escapist moments, anyone longing for a dose of reality would have had more luck finding it in the virtual world. Venice VR is a pioneering festival sidebar dedicated to showcasing the best examples of an emergent art form, with a programme of 40 VR works from around the world. Daughters of Chibok, examining the aftermath of Nigerias Porton Down explores Webbs experience of being breast cancer in 2017. Her VR project, her 30-minute short film …

Maggie Smith’s 20 best films ranked!

Ahead of Smiths withering return in the Downton Abbey movie, we rate her greatest big screen performances so far, from spinsterish aunt to voracious seducer, Harry Potters teacher to Muriel Sparks haughtiest heroine Judi Dench and Smith play two sisters living on the Cornish coast in the 1930s who take in a mysterious Polish stranger. His handsome brooding looks unlock dormant emotions in them both. A strong, yet nuanced performance from Smith. 15. Quartet (1981) A complex, unrelatable role for Smith in Jhabvalas cool, measured adaptation of the Jean Rhys novel, directed by Queen Mary Alan Bennett with Smith on fiercely charismatic form as Joyce, the demanding wife of shy, retiring chiropodist Gilbert, played by Palin. In the postwar era …

Make them wait! Why the age of bingewatching may finally be over

Disneys new streaming service will release episodes once a week, rather than in one go, bringing an end to Netflixs exhausting all-you-can-eat model Disney+ doesnt launch for another two months, but it is proving exhausting already. We are exhausted by the prospect of signing up to yet another subscription service. We are exhausted by the punishing promises of franchises being run even further into the dirt in the form of sequels, spinoffs and series. We are exhausted and baffled and defeated by The Mandalorian will play out across eight weeks. AV Club Orange Is the New Black consistently named Netflixs best original programme should have been a major publicity-grabber. Instead, the whole thing dropped at once and was buried by …

Stop whining, empty nesters. Your child going to uni is not about you | Barbara Ellen

Why are parents hijacking their kids experiences to put themselves at the centre? Its not healthy As a fresh contingent of British kids gears up for university, who should we be most concerned for them or their parents? I ask because sending a child off to university seems to have morphed from an exciting rite of passage (for the child) into some dark, angst-ridden melodrama starring the parents. How do they feel about it? Are their hearts broken? Will they cope? This is usually accompanied by emotional accounts of parents staring forlornly into their childs empty bedroom, perhaps weeping on to a favourite toy from childhood, or bravely talking about taking up new challenges to fill the void. What emerges …