Arts and Entertainment

Gary Barlow has expressed his bewilderment after another of his acts was axed from The X Factor last night.

Film: The Big Picture: Flintlock and two smoking barrels

PLUNKETT & MACLEANE (15) DIRECTOR: JAKE SCOTT STARRING: ROBERT CARLYLE, JONNY LEE MILLER, LIV TYLER, KEN STOTT 101 MINUTES

Going Out: film the mask of zorro (pg)

The Mask of Zorro (above) is refreshing after a summer dominated by soulless, special-effects-driven blockbusters. In this sweeping, gleefully old-fashioned swashbuckler, the actors and the stunt artistes are the stars, not the backroom boys and their computers. A dignified Anthony Hopkins and a spirited Antonio Banderas are the ageing Zorro, masked defender of the oppressed, and the Mexican outlaw he moulds into his successor respectively. And in a star-making turn, Catherine Zeta Jones plays the film's sultry heroine, whose encounter with Banderas in a stable combines swordplay with seduction. Martin Campbell (Goldeneye), meanwhile, directs with a sure hand, only indulging in overkill (and arguably contextually dubious imagery) at the end. Under his deft guidance, a much-loved hero is thrillingly reborn.

Scotland's big adventure

Suddenly, it's not risible to wear Highland dress - it's a vibrant expression of the mood of a nation feeling at one with itself

Bond business makes a killing out of Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan has been confirmed as the most profitable ever James Bond after his new film Tommorow Never Dies topped ticket sales of $140m (pounds 84m) world-wide since opening 10 days ago.

Where angels fear to tread

He'll never play the chisel-jawed leading man but Alan Cumming has a misfit's charm, a sideline in writing, an Olivier... and the gall to accept a big part in the new Spice Girls film.

People thought Stephen Unwin was mad to move to Crewe. They don't think so now

"A few years ago I had a show on at the Royal Court Upstairs, and I remember thinking, I know everybody in the audience here," says Stephen Unwin who, shortly after that experience, took over the ailing, Crewe-based touring company Century Theatre in 1993. "People thought I was mad," he admits with an ill-concealed glint of triumph. His company, refashioned and re-named English Touring Theatre, has been raking in the plaudits ever since.

box-office charts

TOP 10 UK

Who checks the plug on our TV?

Product placement in movies is an old story, but it's still banned on British television. Or is it? Meg Carter reports

To: Albert Cubby Broccoli Producer of: 'Goldeneye' From: Admiral Sir Miles Messervy RN (Retd) Ref: Cdr. James Bond (007)

Without wishing to disparage the valiant and patriotic efforts of my successors to the post of "M", I feel that this latest effort of yours, to wit Goldeneye, serves mainly as a reminder of a phrase once dropped into the public consciousness by a Miss Carly Simon, that "nobody does it better".

buy me: Bond watch

Question: How does a secret agent tell the time?

TICKET OFFER: GOLDENEYE

You know the name... you know the number... Yes, that most famous secret service agent is back, and to celebrate the launch of Talking Pages' Hotline to the Movies (0800 600 900), they are offering you the chance to be among the first to see this latest Bond adventure. To mark the launch, Talking Pages are sponsoring the celebrity premiere of Goldeneye, starring Pierce Brosnan (above), at the Odeon Leicester Square on 22 November.

Never mind the quality, feel the pitch

The new Bond film is four weeks away, but already the publicity machine has hit top gear. For, as the people in P&A know, you want good word-of-mouth before the movie opens and ruins it all. By Beth Porter

One hundred years of exhilaration

THE CRITICS RADIO

RLS and the lore of an ass : THE CRITICS : Radio

IN FRANCE, towards the end of 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson acquired a small donkey called Modestine. With her, he wrote, invoking the Psalms, he would set off on his travels "out of which if I do not make a book, may my right hand lose its cunning ". Travels with a Donkey was the famous result, but Stevenson was already the author of at least 600 letters. Alan Cumming has been Reading Aloud (R4) tiny selections of them, written in the 18 months before the purchase of Modestine: they are a joy.

Theatre / Willkommen: Robert Hanks and Edward Seckerson on the London revival of Cabaret

It's faintly disturbing to be told, on entering the Donmar, that you can take plastic glasses only into the auditorium, and then to find that the night-club style tables have all been screwed to the floor. I mean, are they expecting trouble here?
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