Last Christmas review Emma Thompson’s romcom is an overstuffed turkey

An attempt to pay tribute to the music of George Michael and the fandom of Love Actually fails on both counts and at many more things along the way Somewhere in the last decade, audiences, and in turn financiers, fell out of love with the London-set romantic comedy, a subgenre that had almost single-handedly been keeping the British film industry alive, or at least somewhat in profit. They were repetitive, predictable and filled with characters who were exclusively, uncomfortably, posh and white yet they were also undeniably effective crowd-pleasers and like many, Ive missed them, as parodical as they can often be. So has Emma Thompson, it seems. Because with all the confidence of a well-spoken Oxbridge alumnus delivering a …

Find Me by Andr Aciman review a beautiful conclusion for Elio and Oliver

The author of Call Me By Your Name returns to his beloved characters in a deeply romantic, philosophical sequel Andr Acimans 2007 breakthrough novel, Call Me By Your Name later made into an award-winning film directed by Luca Guadagnino told the story of a blossoming romance between 17-year-old Elio and 24-year-old Oliver. Exploring themes of passion, obsession and time, the book has since acquired the status of a modern gay classic. In Find Me, Aciman returns to the lives of Elio and Oliver some 20 years later, albeit via a circuitous route: we have to wait until almost halfway through the novel for Elios first appearance, and are not reacquainted with Oliver until the penultimate section. But what Aciman offers …

How Robert Pattinson became an unlikely arthouse superstar

Twilights high school heartthrob has became an indie mainstay but will his newfound niche survive after he takes on the role of Batman? Robert Pattinson has given better performances in better films than The Rover, yet its a brief scene from David Michods outback dystopian thriller that I always think of when it comes to defining his strange, frangible screen persona. Shortly after this otherwise stern, dour sci-fi deals one of film historys least expected needle drops in the bouncy form of Keri Hilsons Pretty Girl Rock, we cut to the daft but oddly affecting sight of Pattinson, playing a gauzy-eyed simpleton at the mercy of the wilderness, sitting in a darkened car and singing softly along to the songs …

‘My ties to England have loosened’: John le Carr on Britain, Boris and Brexit

At 87, le Carr is publishing his 25th novel. He talks to John Banville about our dismal statesmanship and what he learned from his time as a spy I have always admired John le Carr. Not always without envy so many bestsellers! but in wonderment at the fact that the work of an artist of such high literary accomplishment should have achieved such wide appeal among readers. That le Carr, otherwise David Cornwell, has chosen to set his novels almost exclusively in the world of espionage has allowed certain critics to dismiss him as essentially unserious, a mere entertainer. But with at least two of his books, Brexit and the concept that freedom of movement is being taken from them, …

Debbie Harry on heroin, rape, robbery and why she still feels lucky

Shes been through stalking, sexism and drugs and had her house taken by the tax collector. But at 74, the Blondie star is still irrepressibly creative, and happier than shes ever been It wasnt until she was 31 relatively old by pop-star standards that Debbie Harry became famous. This goes some way to explain how she managed to cram in so much before she became the superstar frontwoman of Blondie. To name but a few of her experiences, as a child, she survived being in a coma as a result of pneumonia; as a young woman in New York, she worked for the BBC, hung out with Andy Warhol and other New York faces, escaped an abusive relationship, became a …

Ballers to Honey Boo Boo: pop culture tastes of the Democratic candidates

After Pete Buttigieg revealed his affection for Rebel Wilson comedies, what can we learn from the film, music and TV choices of the other presidential possibilities? This is a crucial time for the 2020 Democratic candidates. Its a crowded field full of big names, and its going to take real work and creativity if anyone wants to stand out from the melee. But luckily Pete Buttigieg knows exactly how to do this: by targeting his campaign hard towards fans of Rebel Wilson. In an interview with the Photograph: David Becker/Reuters In 2016, Joe Biden dropped Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, so clearly the man is not to be trusted. Cory Booker little-known gems Rocky and Star Wars. In other media, …

Demi Moore reveals she was raped aged 15

Actor tells Good Morning America that the attack took place in her home with her mothers knowledge Demi Moore has said she was raped at the age of 15 in her home, by a man who claimed to have paid her mother $500. The Hollywood star, 56, made the allegation during a candid interview on Good Morning America to discuss her memoir, Inside Out. Speaking to Diane Sawyer, she said she came home to find the older man, who knew her mother, in her apartment. After he had raped her, Moore alleges he said her mother had sold her to him. In the book, she writes: It was rape. And a devastating betrayal, revealed by the mans cruel question: how …

Alex Cameron, Jemima Kirke and the behaviour of men: ‘I can’t get away from writing about it’

The Australian artist has been under fire for his ironic personas but his new album is a left-turn, and a gift to the actor he wrote it for No matter how hard I try, I cant get away from writing about the behaviour of men, Alex Cameron says. The Australian singer is in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, Utah, a week away from the release of his third record, Miami Memory, and more than 3,200km away from New York City where he lives with his partner, the artist, actor and Girls star Jemima Kirke, for whom he wrote the record. Camerons relationship with Kirke is mapped on to the record in ways that are incredibly open and occasionally …

‘Dad described the plot of Psycho at the dinner table’: how my parents taught me to love film

The Guardian film critic on how his mother and father shaped his relationship with cinema My parents are dead now, and I think about them both every day. They loved the cinema, and would go all the time as a young couple. My mum had a crush on the young Marlon Brando after seeing him in On The Waterfront and as Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. But it was my dad who was the more voluble about film, if not necessarily the more opinionated. Albert Desmond Bradshaw came to London from Belfast in the 1950s to be a photographer. That was where he met my mum, Mollie, who was working as a secretary. They lived in Highgate, north London and …

Is this the cultural moment of the hot priest?

Fleabag had the hot priest, Grantchester has its sleuthing vicar and even HBOs Young Pope sequel is returning soon but why are we so infatuated with them? Are we living in the cultural moment of the hot priest? my editor asked. I wanted an assignment, and for my sins she gave me one. Theres the one on Fleabag, she said. And the an Irish priest (Andrew Scott) whose vow of celibacy is temporarily compromised by Fleabag. He, in turn, punctures Fleabags cynical shell. Then theres Sidney Chambers (James Norton). Chambers rides a bicycle around the bucolic postwar English countryside, getting mixed up in intrigue while battling his own demons, including combat PTSD. Since Chambers isnt sworn to celibacy, he also …

Couples Therapy: why would anyone agree to televise their therapy sessions?

The showrunners behind an honest, if uncomfortable, new series explain how they got four couples to allow cameras in the room with their therapist Before the closed glass door of a therapists office in New York, a series of couples brace themselves for a slog. One man fidgets with a 3D puzzle; a woman, eyes closed, grips the chair arms. In the chairs, facing a Rorschach-esque painting, the couples seem aware of, if not reacting to, a discreetly installed camera one womans attempt to tuck in her partners shirt tag, met with a shrug and rebuff, morphs into a shoulder rub. But the anticipation seems to cut through any self-consciousness, landing back on the two people their unit, about to …

You Are Already Having Sex With Robots

Henry the sex robot is the “mind” of a “woman” trapped in the “body” of a “man.” When you talk to Henry, you’re really talking to the artificial intelligence database Realbotix developed for its female predecessor, Harmony. To masculinize Henry, Realbotix founder and CEO Matt McMullen and five other “robot heads” sit with Henry doing R&D, which amounts to chatting Henry up. “Henry, how was your day?” McMullen asks. “Just fine, baby,” Henry says. “But when are you going to take me out to dinner?” The humans all look at each other. “That didn’t sound quite right,” McMullen says, and the others agree. The language database they’re developing for Henry shouldn’t include soliciting nights out on the town. “Sometimes Henry …

Edna OBrien: I want to go out as someone who spoke the truth

The Irish novelist on her searing new novel, scandal, regrets, religion and… football In May 2017, I watched Richard Ford attests, a work of profound empathy and grace, its narrative leavened by deftly wrought moments of maternal intimacy that possess a quiet but almost luminous intensity. OBrien is 88. Girl is her 19th novel and she has intimated that it may be her last. It may yet prove to be her most powerful. The idea for the novel came from a newspaper report about a girl who was found wandering in Sambisa Forest in Nigeria. Every day the newspapers are full of novels waiting to be written, but this small item resonated in my inner mind, she recalls. The girl …

Streaming: is the Brazilian film Araby the movie of the decade?

A Brazilian road movie thats been wowing critics for two years finally makes its UK debut I was late getting to this weeks selected film though not as late as film distributors in the UK: it has never been picked up for a cinema or even a DVD release. For more than two years, respected colleagues have been talking up the merits of declare it the best film of this fast-closing decade. Having missed it on its year-long festival run in 2017, I waited for a chance to see it on a big screen. That chance hasnt come, but Mubi has, as it so often does, stepped into the breach. Araby is streaming for free on FestivalScope until the end …

Taylor Swift: Lover review a return to past glories

Taylor Swifts latest album revisits the catchy pop and romantic concerns that made her name Taylor Swift is more of a lover than a fighter. The singer-songwriter doesnt say it out loud on her seventh album the successor to 2017s 1989 via the confessionals of Jack Antonoff, producer of Lordes 2017 album ME! a duet with You Need to Calm Down, a fabulously pitched takedown of haters, bigots and internet trolls, have exuded playfulness, tunefulness and wit in equal measure. An album so long is bound to be a mixed bag. Strong opener I Forgot That You Existed is a breezy kiss-off to an old flame or, perhaps the whole Kimye era: Lived in the shade you were throwing till …

Joseph Fiennes: Ive done my bit for society Ive illustrated the patheticness of misogyny

The star of the hit dystopian drama says he doesnt like to equate Donald Trumps politics with the show. But, he adds, sometimes you just have to point out the blazingly obvious Its alluded to in the novel someday, something will happen to Fred. Quite soon. In a neutral-looking cafe in central London, Joseph Fiennes is talking about the future of his role in The Handmaids Tale. Why, though? I plead with him. Why does he have to die? Its in the novel, Fiennes explains very patiently. Hes got to. Come on, there are some very angry women in red out there. When The Handmaids Tale first appeared on our screens in 2017, it was a bit like having an …