Hounds of Love review – savagely intense Australian horror is the scariest film of the year

In a directorial debut comparable to The Babadook or Snowtown, the foul and fetid psychological energy clings like an unshakeable dream

Perth-born writer/director Ben Young launches his feature film career like a bat out of hell with the bone-chilling horror-thriller Hounds of Love, a savagely intense and frightening tale of suburban sickos that is hands down the scariest movie you’ll see this year. By contrast, it makes the recent, racially charged water cooler horror hit Get Out look like something you watch with grandma after tea and scones.

Australian cinema’s new enfant terrible (soon, inevitably, to be snapped up by Hollywood) cut his teeth on music videos, including a zombie-infused love story for the John Butler Trio. Hounds of Love is a tough watch but Young’s direction is not gratuitous – given how high impact the film is, it’s surprising how much of the action takes place off-frame.

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A meme come true: Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o to star in film based on tweet

Selma director Ava DuVernay will direct film for Netflix after joke movie pitch about photo of stars goes viral, with a script from Insecure breakout Issa Rae

Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o are set to star in a buddy movie for director Ava DuVernay after a tweet of the two went viral.

The Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-nomimnated actor were pictured together at a Miu Miu fashion show in 2014, which was then used as part of a joke movie pitch on Twitter in April.

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Carne y Arena review – dazzling virtual reality exhibit offers a fresh look at the refugee crisis

Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest project is an innovative and immersive account of the horrors faced at the Mexico-US border

Related: The Day After review - Hong Sang-soo's boozy comedy is diverting but slight

So – the envelope is pushed a little further, the limits of cinema questioned a little harder, the rectangular perimeter fence of the movie screen challenged a little bit more confidently.

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Cannes 2017 day six: Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert on the red carpet – in pictures

The big premieres on the sixth day at Cannes film festival were The Killing of a Sacred Deer (from director Yorgos Lanthimos) and Michael Haneke’s Happy End

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Al Gore at Cannes: ‘Trump cannot stop the solutions to the climate crisis’

The former US vice-president and environmental activist said there was hope in the fight against climate change – but the world and the US had to act

Al Gore believes that Donald Trump will not halt the momentum of the climate movement even if he withdraws the US from the Paris agreement.

Speaking at a press engagement for his new documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, the former US vice-president and environmental activist said that he was confident Trump would commit to the historic climate change agreement, but that even if he did not, it would still not be enough to reverse the move towards renewable energy in many American cities.

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The Day After review – Hong Sang-soo’s boozy comedy is diverting but slight

The South Korean director’s latest is an amusing, if undeveloped sketch about infidelity and mistaken identity, washed down with lashings of alcohol

Related: L'Atelier review – words become weapons in Laurent Cantet's study of a writing workshop

Hong Sang-soo’s The Day After is an amusing, if disconcertingly undeveloped sketch or cine-short-story about infidelity. As so often in the past, this film-maker inhabits a Rohmeresque world of talk, of dialogue, and there is something unfashionably and refreshingly minimalist about this. Most films might have one scene — or no scenes — in which two characters spend their time in a restaurant, talking and getting absolutely trashed. In Hong’s movies this is a keynote scene, or scenes, which might well account for over half the film. There are moreover plenty of scenes with two people talking in which the filming is so austere that Hong disdains more than one setup for the conventional shot-reverse-shot and just has his camera swivelling from left to right and back, like a spectator behind the umpire’s chair at Wimbledon.

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L’Atelier review – words become weapons in Laurent Cantet’s study of a writing workshop

The Palme d’Or winner (for The Class) returns with a drama that throws together disparate aspiring writers, in a film that suggests debate can be as exciting as action

Laurent Cantet’s L’Atelier shares a highly effective central device with his 2009 Palme d’Or winner The Class: the social and economic issues of a place – in L’Atelier’s case the once-thriving port town of La Ciotat, near Marseille in the south of France – are explored through the medium of education.

Related: Oh Lucy! review – Japanese tale of office worker in love with her teacher is a little wonky

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Kristen Stewart on her directing debut: ‘The best female film-makers are compulsive freaks’

The Twilight actor is at Cannes to show Come Swim, her film about heartbreak starring a man who can’t quench his thirst

In a suite at the Hotel Majestic Barrière in Cannes, every surface heaves with haute couture. Chanel dresses spun from gossamer threads are draped along the walls and chunky, diamond-studded bracelets are scattered across the dresser. Only the suite’s occupant doesn’t seem to have received the memo. Kristen Stewart, dressed in a vest and black cargo pants, her hair in a blond crop, looks almost defiantly out of place.

But Stewart is not quite the incongruous presence she might seem at the festival. In 2014, she became the first female American actor in 30 years to win a Cesar, for best supporting actress in Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria. More recently, there was her bewitchingly odd performance in Personal Shopper, Assayas’s strange, sad, ruminative ghost story.

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Tom Hardy’s casting as Venom is a masterstroke for Sony’s superhero universe

A leading man with the skill to illuminate Eddie Brock’s twisted soul, Hardy is sure to turn the limited raw materials of this antihero into a titan of cinema

How are we supposed to take the news that Tom Hardy has been hired to play Eddie Brock, AKA the comic book antihero Venom, in a forthcoming superhero adventure for studio Sony, once and future custodian of Spider-Man on the big screen? If this were a sporting signing, it would be roughly equivalent to footballer Lionel Messi turning out for Accrington Stanley. With one mighty stroke, Sony has rendered all arguments about Venom’s unsuitability to big-screen stardom – and I’ve made quite a few of these – utterly irrelevant.

For there is something about Hardy that seems to elevate the most unwieldy of projects to the gold standard. Who would have thought that Mel Gibson could be so casually replaced as Mad Max, in 2015’s brutally minimalistic Fury Road? Or that the Batman villain Bane, a mute automaton in a dodgy gimp mask in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, could be transformed into one of the caped crusader’s greatest big-screen foes in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises?

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War Machine review – Brad Pitt goes over the top in Afghan war satire

Based on real-life events, David Michôd’s take on the war in Afghanistan plays for laughs and misses the mark

Related: War Machine: let battle commence in Netflix assault on cinema

Not funny enough to be satire, not realistic enough to count as political commentary, not exciting enough to work as a war movie, David Michôd’s supposedly Helleresque romp, released on Netflix, is an imperfect non-storm of unsuccess.

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The Florida Project review – poverty and joy in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom

Sean Baker, director of the iPhone movie Tangerine, steps up to a whole new level with this life-affirming story of a six year old living in a Florida motel


Ken Loach and Tex Avery never had a chance to collaborate on a film together, but the manic, high-energy and ultimately heartbreaking social drama The Florida Project more than suffices.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales review – Cap’n Jack’s panto’s back

There are a few new faces but not many new ideas in the fifth instalment of the increasingly becalmed Disney franchise

Given the sorry fate of other projects derived from Disney theme-park attractions – The Country Bears (2002), The Haunted Mansion (2003) – it’s astonishing that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise should have remained financially seaworthy through four passable-to-indifferent features. With Pirates 5 (subtitled Dead Men Tell No Tales in the US, and Salazar’s Revenge in a number of other countries) the cracks in the hull become unignorable.

Orlando Bloom has pleaded for reduced participation, handing his sextant to on-screen offspring Brenton Thwaites; Skins alumna Kaya Scodelario inherits Keira Knightley’s corsets. The series, in other words, has entered its Muppet Babies or Scrappy-Doo phase, with all the pop-cultural heft that implies.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer review – Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman slay it in taboo horror

A bizarre, disquieting tale from The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos, with Farrell as a heart surgeon with a baffling friendship with a 16-year-old boy

Yorgos Lanthimos’s taboo horror The Killing of a Sacred Deer moves with a somnambulist’s certainty along its own distinctive spectrum of weird. It’s an intriguing, disturbing, amusing twist on something which in many ways could be a conventional horror-thriller from the 1970s or 1980s, or even a bunny-boiler nightmare from the 90s. There is a strident orchestral score, nightmarish fish-eye shooting angles, down low and up high, and people walking along corridors in such a way that makes forward movement feel like slo-mo falling.

The plot concerns a handsome, successful professional man and his beautiful wife and family, all of them coming apart at the seams in the face of a voodoo menace. This is a movie which has a clearer, straighter sense of shape and purpose - and seems to me to be therefore more successful - than his widely admired previous picture, The Lobster, which ran out of ideas well before the end.

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Oh Lucy! review – Japanese tale of office worker in love with her teacher is a little wonky

Feature film debut from Atsuko Hirayanagi, which stars a rueful Josh Hartnett as the teacher, doesn’t quite overcome its short-film origins


Travel broadens the mind, of course, but also carries attendant risks. Sudden exposure to fresh cultures, new experiences can leave the tourist feeling windblown and confused, pitching from the initial giddy euphoria towards a full-blown nervous collapse; a danger to themselves and those in the immediate vicinity – particularly if the vicinity is a high cliff on the Pacific coast. Such is the fate of wonky Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima), the lost wanderer at the heart of Atsuko Hirayanagi’s similarly skittish Oh Lucy!. Setsuko hugs the film and the film hugs her back. And together they inch towards the cliff edge.

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Rich man’s world? How ageism caught up with middle-aged movie men

It used to be female actors who disappeared mid-career, but Meryl Streep is cruising into her late 60s while Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp flounder

Two movie star careers blighted by scandal, divorce and riotous, almost maniacal overspending and excess: it’s been both high comedy and cautionary tale to watch the simultaneous dissolution of Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt over the last year.

Brad, as we know, got kicked out of the house last year by a properly furious Angelina Jolie. At the time, I wondered if Stoner Brad would ever grace our screens again. He’s been back lately, speaking candidly about how he’s jettisoned the booze and bong-hits in a GQ interview, but time will only tell whether he’ll be able to turn that good grace into box-office hits. Like his pal Clooney, he still can’t boss an opening weekend (see: Allied, Tomorrowland).

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Cannes 2017 day five: Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, Dustin Hoffman – in pictures

It’s day five at the Cannes film festival, with the big premieres including The Meyerowitz Stories, How to Talk to Girls at Parties and Redoubtable

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Happy End review – Michael Haneke’s satanic soap opera of pure sociopathy

The Austrian director returns to many of his classic themes in a stark, unforgiving and gripping satire on the European bourgeois and the people who serve them

Related: Napalm review – Claude Lanzmann's gripping account of erotic encounter in North Korea

It hardly needs saying that the adjective in the title is about as accurate as the one in Haneke’s Funny Games. Happy End is a satirical nightmare of haute-bourgeois European prosperity: as stark, brilliant and unforgiving as a halogen light. It is not a new direction for this film-maker, admittedly, but an existing direction pursued with the same dazzling inspiration as ever. It is also as gripping as a satanically inspired soap opera, a dynasty of lost souls.

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Napalm review – Claude Lanzmann’s gripping account of erotic encounter in North Korea

The veteran documentary-maker revisits a romantic interlude during a visit to North Korea in the 1950s, and the result is self-indulgent but undeniably fascinating

We are living through a mini-boom in documentaries about North Korea. Film-makers are getting into Pyongyang to shoot – clandestinely, semi-clandestinely and on various pretexts – those vast statues and eerie cityscapes. Werner Herzog’s Into the Inferno suggested the North Koreans’ defensive mindset had something to do with living in the shadow of a volcano, Mount Paektu. Norwegian director Morten Traavik told the extraordinary story of how obscure Slovenian art-rockers Laibach became the first Western band to play North Korea. Alvaro Longorio’s The Propaganda Game argued that North Korea is a zombie state, kept alive by the duplicitous interests of great powers, and Ross Adam and Robert Cannon’s The Lovers and the Despot is about the staggering true story of how in late 70s the movie-mad North Korean leader Kim Jong-il actually kidnapped a South Korean director Shin Sang-ok and his wife Choi Eun-hee, and forced them to work in his industry.

Related: How to Talk to Girls at Parties review - Nicole Kidman goes peroxide punk in messy sci-fi caper

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War Machine: let battle commence in Netflix assault on cinema

It has already seized prime-time TV territory. Now Netflix has cinema in its crosshairs – with War Machine, a big-budget battle movie starring Brad Pitt. Director David Michôd outlines the plan

Netflix’s new feature film is a big deal in many ways. Called War Machine, it combines the star power of Brad Pitt and the indie credibility of David Michôd, the director of Animal Kingdom. It boasts big themes: the absurdity of war and the ambition of men. Based on The Operators, a book about controversial US army general Stanley McChrystal, the film takes place on a big scale, across Afghanistan and along the corridors of power in DC. An investment in the range of $60m also makes it Netflix’s biggest-budget feature to date. Most of all, though, War Machine is big on expectation: this is the film that could change the industry for ever.

“We knew early on that we were making the kind of movie that doesn’t really get made by the studios any more,” says Michôd. That “we” refers to Michôd, his star Pitt, and the team at Plan B, Pitt’s production company. In 2015, they signed over distribution rights to Netflix in exchange for, says Michôd, “the ability to make films that are unusual and risky with the resources to do it properly”.

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How to Talk to Girls at Parties review – Nicole Kidman goes peroxide punk in messy sci-fi caper

Kidman channels Toyah Wilcox - not to mention Dick Van Dyke - as part of an extravagantly muddled adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s aliens v punks short story

Related: The Meyerowitz Stories review - Ben Stiller ups his game in an entertaining daddy-issues comedy

It’s 1977. Punk-rock lands on humdrum Croydon like some alien invasion, contaminating the kids and spooking the mutton-chopped oldies who are all busy gearing up for the Queen’s jubilee. It’s in the school and out on the estates. It’s upstairs in the bedroom, spinning records on a turntable. And yet, in Croydon at least, the arrival of punk appears to have coincided with a still-more dangerous visitation – that of a cult of intergalactic space-cannibals. In the darkness of the basement gig it’s hard to tell which tribe is which.

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