Author Archives: Nosheen Iqbal

Why Fences should win the best picture Oscar

Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer-winning play about race, family and dysfunction is real, raw and deserves recognition

Troy Maxson could have been a contender. He was, in his mind, destined for the Major League had his career not been cut down by racism. His ambition thwarted, he went on to become a garbage collector trying to eke out an honest, quiet living with his family in a Philadelphia suburb. His trajectory was a lesson in realising the limits placed on his life by the colour of his skin, a bitter knowledge that he doesn’t so much imbue upon his sports-mad son Cory as he does suffocate and stifle him with it.

In its way, Fences is 2017’s perfect Oscar bait following the whitewash of last year’s ceremony. Here is an adaptation of a prizewinning play written by the canon’s most celebrated African American playwright without a single white character, that is about and for showing black lives matter. August Wilson famously refused to let his Pulitzer-winning piece be adapted for screen by a non-black film-maker (when he was alive, he also insisted no major productions of his work be staged by white directors) and it’s under Denzel Washington’s respectful custody that the project has made it to the screen.

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Shah Rukh Khan: ‘My success is all down to the women I’ve worked with’

He’s a Bollywood hero and the world’s biggest movie star, and in his new film he plays a rumpled sage. He talks about his desire to make people happy, why he’s got no friends, and what he tells his children about religion

Shah Rukh Khan says he knew Donald Trump would win. He watched the presidential debates while he was in Europe, but was at home in Mumbai to watch the election. He gave up when Florida swung red. “There’s always been a cycle for liberalism, intellectualism and populism,” he says. “I think the cycle has turned around the world. Here was somebody who was speaking the language the populists believe in, and maybe now is the time for that populist point of view.”

But isn’t what he generously calls populism an umbrella for racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia and entrenched inequality, I ask. Khan won’t be drawn.

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Lupita Nyong’o: ‘Art is political in whatever way you slice it’

Since 12 Years A Slave, the actor has landed roles in Star Wars and The Jungle Book and dined with the Obamas. Now she’s playing the mother of a chess prodigy in Queen of Katwe

Lupita Nyong’o is, rumour suggests, a nightmare. Difficult. Cold. Prone to making heavy demands. She also quite famously won an Oscar for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, her first film straight out of Yale School of Drama, just three years ago. So, you might expect a degree of monstrous entitlement, but the buzz spreading through the London film festival seems exaggerated, even by industry standards. Chatshow clips – Jimmy Kimmel and The Ellen Show, old episodes of Conan O’Brien and Letterman – offer no evidence of brattiness.

Related: 12 Years a Slave – review | Peter Bradshaw

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American Honey’s Sasha Lane: ‘I’m exhausted by people – I want to be alone so bad’

Picked by Andrea Arnold out of a Florida beach crowd, Lane gives a raw and wild performance as a teenage runaway in American Honey. She talks about her troubled childhood – and why she identified so strongly with her vulnerable character

Sasha Lane was 19, on spring break from Texas State University and partying in Florida when she was spotted by Andrea Arnold. The director, then 53, had just lost her lead actor for a film that was due to start shooting within weeks. Among the tens of thousands of students getting trashed and showing off on Panama City beach, the dreadlocked and tattooed Lane stood out. Arnold convinced her to perform an impromptu audition and, one month later, the teenager dropped out of college to shoot American Honey.

“I’m really impulsive,” Lane explains, quietly sipping from a Starbucks cup, thumbs curled inside the sleeves of her black hoodie. “I literally put my suitcases in Andrea’s car when my friends left and I stayed in a different state for a week. We connected. I can relate to her but at the same I was all: ‘I really hope you don’t fuck me over, I’m really trying to see you as a human, don’t fuck with me.’ I warned her.”

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Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones: ‘The US is the most depressed nation in the world and I blame comedians’

She’s a 6ft ball of energy who slogged away on the comedy circuit for 25 years before landing Saturday Night Live and then Ghostbusters. She talks about wanting to be the new Eddie Murphy and why ‘crazy-wild-big’ laughs matter

Leslie Jones is sick of smart comics. She can’t bear the sort of standups who tell stories rather than jokes, the kind who make audiences think rather than belly laugh. “They fucking suck. If I wanna learn, I’ll go to school. Don’t teach me, make me fucking laugh. I’m tired of clapping and saying: ‘Ha ha, that’s so clever.’”

Jones, 49 years old and 6ft tall, is immovable. Her big break didn’t come from the club circuit she faithfully plugged away on for 25 years, but from US comedy institution Saturday Night Live. She was originally hired as a writer by SNL creator Lorne Michaels in 2014 and promoted to cast member within a year, with the words: “You’re everything we weren’t looking for.”

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‘I want to do extreme damage’: Harmony Korine’s third coming

He has spent 20 years making lurid, provocative films like Kids, Gummo and Spring Breakers. Now Harmony Korine is trying to do the same with oil painting. The enfant terrible talks fatherhood, crack addiction, and getting beaten up for laughs

In 1998, five years after his first screenplay Kids was shot by Larry Clark and released to international outrage and acclaim, Harmony Korine spent a year deliberately getting himself punched in the face. He was battered to the ground and stomped on by a succession of strangers – orthodox Jew, black lesbian, Arab taxi driver – in an attempt to provoke and film “every demographic” into beating him up. The project was supposed to be a comic homage to his hero Buster Keaton – the only rule being that Korine wasn’t allowed to throw the first punch. Eventually a London bouncer working the door at Stringfellows snapped Korine’s ankle in two, gave him concussion and got him arrested. The film, Fight Harm, was aborted.

“I was pretty whacked out,” he admits. “To get myself to a point where I was making those things, I really had to lose myself. And in the process, I lost myself. Looking at the footage as I was making it, I always thought it was funny but everyone else looked horrified and never laughed. That’s when I kind of paused it.”

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Miss You Already director: Only 4% of films made by women make it. Why?

The director’s debut film Thirteen was lauded by critics and she broke box office records with Twilight. Now she’s back with Miss You Already and talks about female friendship, convincing Dominic Cooper to play Toni Colette’s husband, and Hollywood’s problem with women

Catherine Hardwicke is dabbing her eyes when I arrive; the journalist before me has made her cry. His wife, like the central character in Hardwicke’s new film, Miss You Already, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and the similarities between their lives, she tells me, “are spooky”. I suppose, out loud, that Hardwicke might expect to be stopped quite often now with heart-rending true-life stories. Cancer, after all, is an illness as pervasive as it is tragic and her film yanks hard for the audience’s heartstrings (the screening I go to offers a pack of pink tissues on the armrest of every seat, in the hope of mopping up tears from the attendant hacks).

Miss You Already gives us cancer through the fairy-lit lens of a lifestyle mag. This is luxe London about two best friends – brash, vampy Milly (Toni Colette) and staid, boho Jess (Drew Barrymore) – dealing with life and death together in the most literal sense: Jess becomes pregnant while Milly undergoes chemotherapy. It’s a rare example of a film acing the Bechdel test scene after scene where two female characters talk to each other about things other than their relationships with men. Its writer, Morwenna Banks, lost three close female friends to breast cancer and the experience compelled her to write a version of this film as a play for Radio 4. Dropped in the Saturday Drama slot, Goodbye aired in the autumn of 2013, with a starry British cast including Olivia Colman, Natascha McElhone, John Simm and Alison Steadman.

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Dev Patel: ‘I didn’t know what I was getting myself into’

The global success of Slumdog Millionaire thrust the schoolboy (and his girlfriend Freida Pinto) into the limelight. But has fame been good to him? Seven years on, he talks break-ups, beards and typecasting. Portraits: Paul Farrell. Styling: Aradia Cro… Continue reading

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Patricia Arquette: ‘There’s a lot of pressure on actresses to look strange and unrealistic’

The Oscar-tipped star of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood talks about women in Hollywood, feminism and ageing Continue reading…
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Saam Farahmand: the light fantastic

Why is the video director for Cheryl Cole and Klaxons filming people dancing when drunk?If you were making a reality show called The Only Way is Shoreditch, you would want to have aimed your camera at an innocuous white booth in Hoxton Square last mont… Continue reading

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Russell Tovey: why I’m leaving Being Human (and loving Him & Her)

Former History Boy is also the man who might have been Tintin but what he really wants is ‘the career of Julie Walters. As a man’One part facial elastics to two parts yappy bounce, interviewing Russell Tovey is a bit like grilling Scooby-Doo. Sitting i… Continue reading

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The roles of their lives

For Mark Rylance, it’s Rooster in Jerusalem. For Alison Steadman, it’s Bev in Abigail’s Party … leading actors on the parts they will never escapeMark RylancePlays Johnny “Rooster” Byron in Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth, which opened at the Royal Cour… Continue reading

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