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Chloé Zhao’s distinctive new feature shows life among South Dakota’s star bronco riders, who play themselves in a kind of heightened documentary

Chinese-born film-maker Chloé Zhao had her debut feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes two years ago, and she returns to this sidebar with another absorbing indie-realist slice of Americana: a tale of cowboys, bull riders and bronco riders in South Dakota. It’s a sombre study of the risks they face and stoically accept, and could even be seen as a terrifying parable of the shortness of life. In many ways, The Rider feels like an expanded, loosened and more impressionistic version of something very much more overtly crafted by, say, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry or Annie Proulx.

Yet Zhao’s approach is different. This is a movie using non-professionals playing versions of themselves, and under Zhao’s patient, unintrusive directorial eye they appear to be inhabiting a kind of heightened documentary. Dialogue scenes and wordless sequences roll easily by, and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious narrative direction. And maybe the movie could have done with clipping 10 minutes or so from the running time, and with being edited to give it more conventional focus. Yet that would be to sacrifice something of its honesty, authenticity and flavour. You have to let it grow on you.

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Paul Thomas Anderson’s sly and subversive romance presents us with a tortured male creative genius but surprises us with what’s in store for him

“For the hungry boy,” scribbles a boarding-house waitress on a note of paper, before handing it back to her bewitched customer, after he orders an over-full English breakfast that could feed several men. So begins Paul Thomas Anderson’s glistening, magnificent Phantom Thread, and it’s a moment of rare, blithe sexiness in his oeuvre: a light little flirt-note – were the film set half a century later, it might be signed off with a smiley face – that sets in motion a far darker, more perverse and conflict-riven romance than most would expect from such breezy beginnings.

Related: Phantom Thread review – Daniel Day-Lewis bows out in style with drama of delicious pleasure

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John Connors won best actor at the Irish Film and Television Awards recently for his role in Cardboard Gangsters. His speech addressed a number of issues including discrimination against Travellers, suicide and how creativity saved his life and has been watched over 1 million times on Facebook alone. He speaks with Guardian journalist Iman Amrani about class, his journey into acting and what he plans to do next.

Warning: contains strong language

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the ROI, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

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The Skin of Others explores the meeting between Douglas Grant, an Indigenous activist and first world war veteran, and the famous Australian author Henry Lawson which took place at Lawson’s north Sydney home in 1921. Drawing from papers left behind by Percy Cowan, the short film uses dramatic re-creation, archival stills and animated backdrops to bring the meeting to life. The film is the latest in the Present Traces series of films from Macquarie University, based on archive material 

Watch more from the Present Traces series

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Ever since Bambi’s mother was shot, cinema has been teaching young audiences about mortality. Pixar’s new blockbuster, Coco, is the most sobering yet

Walt Disney could not deal with funerals. Where possible, he avoided attending them – if they proved inescapable, his mood would darken for hours afterwards. The whole subject of mortality appalled him. Before he died in 1966, he would tell his daughter Diane he wanted no funeral at all. He should, he insisted, be remembered only as he had been in life, a wish that takes on a certain poignancy given the world then spent half a century speculating about his place in a cryogenic freezer.

Strange, too, that so many of the films he made said so much about death. For generations, children’s movies – and Disney movies most of all – have been breaking the very worst of bad news to the young, arriving under cover of a U certificate to reveal the random cruelty and finality of it all. The hunter’s gunshot that left Bambi motherless rings out into the present day. Just a few recent additions to the Disney graveyard would include the noble Mufasa, slain during The Lion King, poor Ellie Fredriksen passing on in the opening sequence of Up, and the royal couple whose drowning kickstarts Frozen. Peer beneath the cowl of the Grim Reaper and you will surely find a pair of mouse ears.

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Tonya Harding’s difficult life, filled with domestic violence and struggle, is played for laughs in an uneven biopic that never really scratches the surface

Long before Frozen, those of us who were American girls in the mid-90s lived and breathed a different icebound battle of good and evil. Every morning in the winter of seventh grade, I was hungry to read the newspaper for more details in the war between Nancy Kerrigan, America’s smooth-haired brunette sweetheart and her frizzier blonde nemesis, Tonya Harding.

Related: I, Tonya review – scattershot skating biopic offers flawed, foul-mouthed fun

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The rabbit’s time at the top is over, while A Quiet Place holds steady along with a new Polish action movie

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The streaming giant has pulled its films out of competition at this year’s Cannes festival, leaving both sides feeling vindicated

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If you told a time-travelling film critic from, say, 2005 that today’s industry headlines are being dominated by a fierce corporate feud between the Cannes film festival and home entertainment upstart Netflix, they’d be pretty well baffled. Times have changed fast, though faster for Netflix, founded in 1997, than for Cannes – now in its 71st year – which has happily clung on to a classically prestigious model of cinematic art and exhibition, where discerning audiences gather in large, dark halls to watch, venerate and occasionally denigrate the visions of leading international auteurs.

It’s a model vigilantly guarded not so much by Cannes’s own directors as by the cinema exhibitors of France, who have thus far safeguarded themselves from the economic threat of streaming culture with rigid protectionist laws – notably one that imposes a three-year gap between a film’s theatrical opening and its surfacing on video on demand (VOD) services. Extreme by most countries’ measures, the regulations are particularly unsuited to the business model of Netflix, which prefers to simultaneously release its original films – including two Cannes competition titles last year, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories – online and in a token number of cinemas, if any at all.

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Verne Troyer, who at 2ft 8in was one of the world’s shortest men, racked up 30 film credits in a career spanning 24 years

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This adaptation of Willy Vlautin’s novel about lost souls saddled with a fading racehorse gets lost out on the range – but you end up rooting for it

Lassie came home and Willy was freed but the omens aren’t looking good for Lean on Pete, the imperilled racehorse at the centre of Andrew Haigh’s heart-rending creature feature. Pete, we soon learn, is overworked and past his prime, destined to be sold south for slaughter as soon as he loses his next race. And while Disney might conspire a happy ending for this horse, it’s likely that British-born Haigh has a different destination in mind.

Flushed with the homegrown success of Weekend and the brilliant 45 Years, Haigh’s first American-set picture fairly wallows in hardship and misery, almost to a fault. It proceeds to cut Pete loose, point him towards the desert and then drags its anxious audience along for the ride.

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The Swedish director of Force Majeure and Palme d’Or winner The Square, starring Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West, on the folly of screen violence and finding drama in the oddities of human behaviour

Ruben Östlund is the rugged adventurer of Swedish film, the man who came down from the mountain to sun himself by the Med. I first meet the director on a posh restaurant terrace at the Cannes film festival. He’s easy to spot among the immaculate diners, perched at a corner table and clasping a mug of coffee as though to keep his hands warm. Östlund is bearded and rumpled and reeks of the outdoors – a child of nature come to gatecrash high society. He says he loves the Alps; he loves to ski. He spent most of his 20s shooting extreme sport videos. “Then I got bored of resorts. Too many lift queues.”

I think the ski slope’s loss might be cinema’s gain. Or possibly he’s just swapped one extreme sport for another. Östlund’s latest film, The Square, crash-landed on the festival as a last-minute addition, still warm from the editing suite (and would later make off with the all-important Palme d’Or). It’s a lovely, freewheeling piece of work – a comedy that starts out as a satire on modern art and then jumps the fence to embrace the whole world, riffing on themes of public space and personal responsibility. The film’s title refers to a utopian free zone that is marked out on the street...

As the film of Testament of Youth hits cinema screens, the daughter of its author, Vera Brittain, talks about growing up in the shadow of the ghosts of the first world war

One of Baroness Williams’s earliest memories is the clacking of her mother’s typewriter. Her mother, Vera Brittain, would retreat to her study in the family’s Chelsea home at 10 each morning, having already dealt with the day’s correspondence and bills. She would then spend the next seven hours writing the book that would make her famous.

“I was firmly told not to interrupt her between 10 and five, unless there was an extreme reason why,” says Williams as she sits at one end of a conference table in her Westminster offices, with a copy of that day’s Guardian and a cup of instant coffee in front of her. “Even as quite a young child, I’d say I sort of understood it.”

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The story of Carlton Pearson, a man of the church who was labelled a heretic, is told in Netflix’s provocative new drama. Its director and real-life subject discuss its relevance

The words don’t come naturally out of his mouth, which is surprising because – for the bishop – that’s all words usually do.

“I’m an atheist who is a theist,” he chuckles. “I still believe in God but not ‘a’ God or ‘the’ God. Just God.

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Fast and Furious actor suffered major burns and trauma injuries when Porsche he was travelling in crashed in LA, coroner says

Paul Walker, the star of the Fast and Furious film franchise, died after the car he was in crashed at a speed of more than 100mph and burst into flames, according to the coroner's report released on Friday.

Walker, 40, was found dead along with his friend and financial adviser Roger Rodas on 30 November in a burnt-out Porsche Carrera GT in Los Angeles.

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This gripping documentary tells an almost unbelievable tale about a man who conned club after club into funding his lifestyle as a football star in Rio

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This is a fascinating documentary from British film-maker Louis Myles about someone who in the 80s and 90s became a legend in the world of Brazilian football. Someone whose pure outrageousness was hiding in plain sight. His rackety career tells you a lot about human nature and people’s willingness to be fooled; about a media that saw its job simply as cheerleading; and about the Enronised nature of celebrity. It reminded me weirdly of The Talented Mr Ripley, or Bart Layton’s classic The Imposter, in that it’s about a sociopath and parasite. It is by turns bizarre, funny and desperately sad. It’s also about something too poignant to be toxic masculinity – more like rancid masculinity; masculinity that has gone off, like old milk left out of the fridge.

Our antihero is Carlos “Kaiser” Henrique Raposo, now in his mid-50s, a former footballer from Brazil. He says his nickname is a respectful tribute to his playing resemblance to the German football star Franz “Der Kaiser” Beckenbauer, but it seems more likely that it’s because Kaiser was a brand of beer. For approximately 20 years, in the 1980s and 90s, Kaiser was employed as a footballer by a number of top Rio de Janeiro clubs. But he...

Hollywood couple who married in 2011 announce they are having their first child together

Rachel Weisz has revealed she is expecting her first child with husband Daniel Craig.

Weisz, 48, told the New York Times: “I’ll be showing soon. Daniel and I are so happy. We’re going to have a little human. We can’t wait to meet him or her. It’s all such a mystery.”

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  • Furst played naive fraternity member Kent ‘Flounder’ Dorfman in 1978 hit
  • Subsequent roles included Vir Coto in sci-fi series Babylon 5

Stephen Furst, who played naive fraternity pledge Flounder in the hit movie Animal House, has died of complications from diabetes, his family said on Saturday. He was 63.

Furst died on Friday at his home in Moorpark, California, north of Los Angeles, said his son, Nathan Furst.

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The visual artist reveals how her installation Turbulent built a community among the Iranian diaspora in New York, and expressed her feelings for her homeland

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In 1998, a photographer who made New York her home following the Iranian revolution decided to make her first video installation. Parted from her family for 12 years, absent from the place she grew up in, Shirin Neshat sought out a team of exiled Iranian artists to create a piece that would indulge her nostalgia for traditional music and poetry. The resulting conceptual work, Turbulent, presented ideas rooted in folk culture that commented on women’s isolation in contemporary Iran, and on the creation of art itself.

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In buying Fox, Lucasfilm and Pixar, the film studio is on the way to controlling the movie universe - drawing parallels to Avengers’ evil overlord Thanos

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Unless you’ve been living in a communications black hole for the past decade, you’ll know that the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of Marvel’s strategic 10-year comic-book movie masterplan, bringing together the whole stable of superheroes for a blockbuster to bust all blocks. The movie itself is about another masterplan: bad guy Thanos is trying to acquire the all-powerful “Infinity Stones”. If he gets them all, and puts them in his shiny fancy-dress glove – sorry, “Infinity Gauntlet” – he can “wipe out half the universe” with a snap of his fingers.

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Search Party’s Alia Shawkat falls for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in this occasionally daring but ultimately exhausting 24-hour love story

Writer Mike White and director Miguel Arteta have quietly become one of the most effective yet underrated double acts working in independent film. They’ve created a string of nuanced, darkly funny, usually female-centric films and even one TV show, starting in 2000 with uncomfortable stalker comedy Chuck & Buck. Since then they’ve given Jennifer Aniston her best role to date in The Good Girl, gifted us with the criminally short-lived Laura Dern HBO show Enlightened, and most recently delivered Beatriz at Dinner, one of the sharpest films to tackle the current fractured state of the US.

Related: 'I'm not a quirky 17-year-old any more': what Arrested Development's Alia Shawkat did next

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