News Allan Umscheid, owner of Yards By Al in Lawrence, Kan, feels the bitter wind and catches drifting snow on his face as he runs a snow blower early morning

With Arctic winds plummeting temperatures to  -50C, much of North America has shut down as authorities warn of the life-threatening freeze

Leslie Nielsen: Actor best known for ‘Airplane!’ and the ‘Naked Gun’ and ‘Police Squad’ film and television series

Leslie Nielsen spent years as a journeyman actor, a reliable but bland leading man on television and in films who would be best remembered now for his role as a space-ship captain in the cult science-fiction film Forbidden Planet (1956) had he not been cast in Airplane!, the hilarious pastiche of disaster movies that revealed a delightfully droll and unexpected flair for comedy and made him a major star. The American Film Institute lists Airplane! as one of the 10 best comedies, and in its list of 100 memorable quotes, at No 79 is the exchange in which Nielsen is asked, "Surely, you can't be serious?" and replies, "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley." He said later: "I thought it was amusing, but it never occurred to me that it was going to be a trademark."

Unstoppable: Disaster movies that are a runaway success

As Unstoppable goes on release, Geoffrey Macnab explores the thrill an out-of-control train brings to the screen

US turns to king of the disaster movie for its happy ending

The American government may be turning to Hollywood in its desperate search for an end to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, but even if the director involved is James Cameron no one is assuming a happy ending.

2012 (12A)

Roland Emmerich, 158 mins

Spoofs? Don't make us laugh

The latest crop of parody films has marred the genre

Album: Patterson Hood, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs), Ruth St Records/ATO

The Drive-By Truckers' creative mainspring springs no surprises on his debut solo album, Murdering Oscar (and other love songs) carrying on where the DBTs' magisterial 2008 album Brighter Than Creation's Dark left off.

Disaster Movie (12A)

Disaster Movie isn't so much a film as an insult to cinema-goers everywhere. I know I should really ignore a product which is nothing more than a splinter scraped from the bottom of the Hollywood barrel, but it's the second film its writer-directors have had out this year. The guilty parties are Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the same dud duo who excreted Date Movie, Epic Movie and March's Meet the Spartans, and for sheer crappiness they've excelled themselves: their latest soul-sapping "spoof" is rightly ranked on imdb.com as the worst film ever.

Theatrical turn from the heroic lead

If Hurricane Gustav is turning into a real-life version of a Hollywood disaster movie then Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans, has cast himself firmly in the role of heroic lead male.

Flood, ITV<br/>Midnight Man, ITV<br/>Shrink Rap, More 4<br/>Clarissa and the King's Cookbook, BBC4

The Thames rose and we watched, helpless, as writers' careers sank: ITV had a week of disasters, and James Nesbitt as a reporter fighting dark forces did little to turn it round

10,000 BC (12A)

Roland Emmerich's junk epic promises an odyssey "into a mythical age of prophecies and gods, when spirits rule the land and mighty mammoths shake the earth" – which sounds like a Spinal Tap concept album but plays more like a junior and less gory version of Apocalypto.

Cloverfield, 15

Monster takes Manhattan, as posted on YouTube: It has shaky footage, jerky cuts, no stars, and you barely see the creature causing all the terror. But believe the hype: this is a truly scary movie

Joel Hirschhorn

Oscar-winning songwriter with Al Kasha

Good Scene / Bad Scene

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Ashton Kutcher speaking at Human Rights Watch's Voices For Justice dinner in November 2013
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Jane Merrick rides on a Micro Scooter through St James's Park, on November 18, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.
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American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
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‘The Graduate’, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, was directed by Nichols in his purple period
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US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager