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Films such as Leave No Trace that profess to be about an alternative way of life have more in common with the suburbia of The Truman Show than they seem

When I see a movie about people trying to live alternative lifestyles, I think of the travel agency Jim Carrey visits in The Truman Show, with its alarming poster of an airliner getting struck by lightning, accompanied by the slogan: “IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!” A similar deterrent seems to be in operation whenever people reject conventional ways of living in the movies. More often than not, the parents go crazy, the kids are screwed up and you come out of the cinema thinking: “Well, I’m glad I didn’t try that!”

For all its merits, Debra Granik’s latest film Leave No Trace can’t help but agree. It’s the story of a father and teenage daughter who live off-grid in the middle of a national park. Despite their minimal carbon footprint, it is not exactly a sustainable lifestyle: they are evicted by the authorities; dad (Ben Foster) is a traumatised war veteran who can’t cope with “civilisation”; daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) discovers what she’s been missing – like friends.

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Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Rihanna head up a gender-swapped take on Ocean’s Eleven that suffers from an absence of tension

One of the many joys of Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 remake of heist caper Ocean’s Eleven was the experience of watching an auteur, whose work had previously existed primarily in the independent sphere, take charge of a splashy, star-packed studio film. The crackling sexual tension and snappy dialogue of his 1998 thriller Out of Sight gave us a clue that he would be a steady hand with such material but still, his ability to deliver such a dizzyingly entertaining blockbuster on such a large scale came as a warm surprise.

Related: Hereditary review – Toni Collette is outstanding in brilliant fear machine

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From a toolkit inspired by Asia Argento to a feminist tattoo parlour, BFI’s Women With a Movie Camera summit offered inspiration – and a call to action

Ava DuVernay may not have been at the BFI Southbank in London this weekend, but her films and her words were. Not to mention the number of people walking around with her name emblazoned on their chests. The film-maker’s assertion that “activism is inherently a creative endeavour” was quoted more than once from the stage at the Woman With a Movie Camera summit. And it’s an idea that works just as well forwards and backwards. For many women in the film industry, simply creating can be an act of disruption or activism in itself.

The theme of the day, which included panels, presentations and performances, and took over all four screens of the BFI Southbank, was power – and how to change the unbalanced power dynamic in the creative industries. In that light, it was a disappointment that activist and model Munroe Bergdorf, booked as the event’s keynote speaker, was unable to attend. While signatories of an online petition had objected to a trans woman having a platform at the event, the speakers and organisers of the summit signalled their support of her invitation, standing on stage together when she was due to speak, in a gesture of solidarity, to applause from the audience. “Her words would have set the tone for reclaiming the BFI as an inclusive space with radical...

Studio says unauthorized commercial activity needs to be halted but fans liken move to Dementors sucking the joy out of fun

Warner Bros is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the US, saying it is necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun. Festival directors say they will change the events into generic celebrations of magic.

Related: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review – thrilling Broadway transfer is magic

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Jennifer Fox’s devastating memoir, pitching her teenage self’s ‘erotic awakening’ against her adult view of sex abuse should be widely available

From film festival sensation to streaming channel content: it’s a swift, cinema-skipping trajectory that more and more outstanding films are taking these days, and one I’ve discussed often in this column. But the downshift in screen size for The Tale, an emotional gut-punch now streaming at Sky-owned NowTV, feels especially notable in this regard – a case of a potentially era-defining film entrusted to the unpredictable hands of online distribution.

The first narrative film by the accomplished documentary-maker Jennifer Fox, The Tale was the uncontested toast of a low-key Sundance film festival in January, inspiring the most impassioned reviews out of the snowy Utah hills, as well as some of the fiercest deal-making. The excitement was understandable: by virtue of unplanned timing as well as its own candid, considered storytelling, Fox’s deeply personal work was instantly hailed as a defining film of the #MeToo era.

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Ari Aster’s horror triumph feeds off suppressed fear that we cannot escape our biological fate – leaving audiences unnerved

  • Warning: contains spoilers

On the face of it, Hereditary is a slice of silly supernatural hokum replete with the threadbare tropes of the genre. However, Ari Aster’s debut scarer has nonetheless struck a nerve: it seems to linger in the minds of those who see it. Why?

Many horror films (Blair Witch, The Babadook, It Follows) jog the Jungian subconscious to tickle merely fanciful fears. Others (Carrie, Don’t Look Now, Get Out) dare to touch upon real-world terrors. Often, it’s the latter whose spectres persist.

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The release of two critically panned films about criminals with fascinating backstories highlight the difficulties of adapting theatrically villainous characters

In death as in life, John Gotti’s a hard guy to pin down. The John Travolta-led biopic simply titled Gotti entered US theaters over the weekend, in the culmination of a long journey fraught with mishaps. The initial plan was a release straight to video back in December, until distributor Lionsgate decided to abandon ship 10 brief days before the slated release, throwing the film’s future into jeopardy. Lionsgate sold the rights back to the producers and left them to land a new benefactor, which they found in Vertical Entertainment (the same label that will quietly shepherd Billionaire Boys Club, the film containing what will in all likelihood be Kevin Spacey’s final leading performance, through multiplexes this August) and, in an inexplicable first, overnight phenom ticket retailer MoviePass. This new deal came together in time for the world premiere last month at the Cannes Film Festival, where press screenings were unceremoniously cancelled at the last moment, leaving only an exclusive gala premiere few critics were permitted to attend. As ever, nothing sticks to the Teflon Don.

Related: The eight most criminally awful things about John Travolta's Gotti

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From crumbling mansions to newlyweds buying a bargain fixer-upper, architecture in films holds the perfect backdrop for generational anxieties

If there’s a supernatural estate agency in the afterlife, the ghost’s dream home would probably be something like the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. It was built in 1884 by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the rifle fortune and, legend has it, she was told by a medium that it had to accommodate the spirits of those killed by her late husband’s guns. Thus, she employed an army of builders to continually extend the house for 40 years to no particular plan. You couldn’t wish for anything spookier: stained glass, odd-shaped roofs and turrets, corridors and staircases that lead nowhere, doors that open on to nothing. It makes no sense at all.

Before you say: “Someone should make a movie out of that!” they already have. It was called Winchester. Starring Helen Mirren, it came out last year and was rubbish. But the point is, by accident or design, houses are the scariest places of all. The movies know this very well. Just as old houses are adaptable to modern lifestyles, so haunted-house stories have accommodated our generational anxieties. And just as we prefer not to think about who lived (and died) in our house before we moved in, so haunted-house movies find a way of tapping into older, deeper fears. “When we go home and shoot the bolt on the door, we like to think we’re locking trouble...

The Divergent star puts in a career-best performance, while director Baltasar Kormákur keeps interest levels up on this fact-based lost-at-sea adventure

Call her Tami. Some years ago (never mind when in the 1980s precisely) having little or no money in her purse, and nothing particular to interest her in San Diego, she thought she would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. And does she have a story for you!

Related: Upgrade review – gory techno-thriller offers cautionary confusion

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Film producer emerges from the 1st precinct in Manhattan smiling and in handcuffs. He has been charged with rape, a criminal sex act, sexual abuse and sexual misconduct for alleged incidents involving two women, after he earlier surrendered to authorities.

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The HyperNormalisation director believes that the traditional documentary has failed to explain truths about the real world. Instead, he says, we should look to fiction for answers…

Related: Hypernormalisation: Adam Curtis plots a path from Syria to Trump, via Jane Fonda

To be honest, I find the best documentary reporting these days in things that don’t really classify as documentaries. Things like South Park, movies like The Big Short and American Honey, and the This Is England series. They are all about portraying the real world but they do it in ways that are surprising and imaginative. They make you look at things in new ways. Whereas traditional documentaries seem a bit stuck. I think this has happened because most of them have been moved off TV and into the art house cinema circuit. As a result they tend to play to what their audience already know – reinforcing their beliefs. Like the fact that bankers are bad. Or climate change threatens the world.

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Hollywood film producer arrives at a New York police precinct in Manhattan where he is expected to face charges involving at least one of the women who have accused him of sexual assault, Lucia Evans. It is the first criminal case to be brought against Weinstein since the revelations about him erupted last October and sparked the #MeToo movement

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Nina Gold’s role is invisible, and yet her taste has shaped much of what we watch on film and TV

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Full of rollerskating Wall Street Bankers, tabloid fixtures and postwar frivolity, a new documentary reveals the social backdrop of the famous club

Related: Studio 54: heady daze of disco decadence – in pictures

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Ocean’s 8 and Hotel Artemis are the latest films to use far-fetched technology to progress plots

Screenwriters in a jam can hit a new panic button. It’s the switch on the nearest 3D printer. This nifty new technology, which took its first substantial silver screen bow in 2006’s Mission: Impossible III, has surfaced in three recent motion pictures. And in each case not a moment too soon. It’s enough to make you think there’s a contraption somewhere in the Hollywood hills that spits out storytelling solutions.

Related: Hotel Artemis review – Jodie Foster fixes criminals in scrappy sci-fi curio

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Susan Williams gives first interview since her husband’s death last year and reveals the actor had a debilitating brain disease called Lewy body dementia

When comedian Robin Williams hanged himself in his California home in August 2014, the news of his death was met with incomprehension around the world.

The factors behind his suicide have been speculated upon endlessly as colleagues and friends of Williams came forward to allege that depression contributed to his severe mental state. But on Tuesday, his widow Susan set the record straight.

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Saw writer Leigh Whannell teams up with Blumhouse, the company behind hits Get Out and Split, for a mixed bag of slick tricks and gruesome silliness

It’s always unnerving to walk out of a movie and be confronted by real-world news mirroring the events that just played out in the theater. But it’s rarely as specific or dystopian as scrolling past a breaking bulletin on a fatal self-driving car crash directly after watching such an occurrence on screen.

Related: Anon review – Andrew Niccol’s killer-hacker thriller suffers from identity theft

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Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner are among the stars in a relentlessly funny film about a no-holds-barred game of tag that follows a group of friends into adulthood

“Hunting season.” That’s how a man described the annual month-long game of tag he’s played with his high school buds for decades. For over 25 years, his gang has hidden behind cars, set up stings and cloaked themselves in disguised just for the thrill of saying: “You’re it.” One guy even got tagged at his dad’s funeral. It’s a true story – the Wall Street Journal profiled the dudes in 2013 – and you can write the scene that comes next. A Hollywood executive spots the headline, grabs the phone and barks: “Get me Ed Helms.”

Related: Superfly review – a sleek, swaggering blaxploitation remake

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Harvey Weinstein arrived at a court in New York on Tuesday, walking with a limp, to plead not guilty to rape and criminal sex act charges.  Last week a grand jury indicted the former film mogul on charges involving two women. Weinstein later posted bail for $1m.

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The actor and long-time critic of Donald Trump receives a standing ovation at Sunday night’s Tony awards in New York after attacking the US president on stage at Radio City Music Hall

De Niro receives ovation for speech at Tony awards

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