Engaging: Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the first film of the Hobbit trilogy

First Night: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson

For all the sound and fury, not a great deal actually happens in this initial episode but audiences are bound to eat it up and come back for more

A long slow journey to an abrupt ending

There is a sense of sledgehammers being used to crack nuts in the first part of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy. J R R Tolkien's short 1937 novel has been turned into an enormous Wagnerian epic.

DVD & Blu Ray: Downton Abbey: Series 3 (12)

Julian Fellowes's prettier version of Upstairs, Downstairs, above, irritates in a gazillion ways, notably with its absurd script and dunderheaded plotlines.

The Red Arrows pass over the Olympic Stadium

London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony in pictures

Last night's opening ceremony has been lauded as a spectacular, if very British, success.

The real east London: an Olympic view from Hackney

Long before they even began, the London 2012 Games became - in the minds of many - deeply immersed in and reliant on corporate sponsorship. And there were many in Hackney's Haggerston Park, in east London, where thousands of locals not able to get their hands on tickets came to watch last night's Ceremony, who felt that the non-ticketed, non-sponsored party was more akin to the ideals of the original Olympics than the shindig going on just up the road in Stratford.

Comic-Con wraps after four days of pop-art indulgence

This year's 43rd annual Comic-Con festival may be over but die-hard fans of the pop-culture celebration already have their minds on next year's show.

A sponge cake in the shape of a heart? Yes, please. For £10, this cream and whole strawberry-filled treat is yours, along with as much tea as two people can drink, at Peyton & Byrne's café at London's Royal Academy, 3pm to 5pm every day. The perfect thing for a super-sweet first date – or a post- Summer Exhibition pick-me-up. Peytonandbyrne.co.uk

'Green Mile' actor Michael Clarke Duncan hospitalised

"The Green Mile" actor Michael Clarke Duncan has been hospitalised in Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for his reality TV star girlfriend said on Friday.

Black Swan

'Black Swan' lesbian sex scene led to most viewer complaints

A lesbian sex scene helped make ballet thriller Black Swan the most complained-about film last year.

DVD/Blu-ray: 21 Jump Street (15)

Two mismatched rookie cops – Jonah Hill's geek, Jenko, and Channing Tatum's handsome meathead, Schmidt – are assigned to go undercover at a high school to infiltrate a drugs ring.

Anorexic must be force-fed to save life

A High Court judge has ruled that it is in the best interests of a woman who suffers from "extremely severe" anorexia to be fed against her wishes.

Would you trust the people next door with your post?

Royal Mail wants to scrap its "while you were out" cards and leave, say, your Amazon order with your neighbour instead. So no more queueing at some dingy sorting office. Good news, right? But do you trust your neighbour not to shake or take a peak at your new boxset?

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) with Gale (Liam Hemsworth)

The Hunger Games wins four MTV movie Awards

Box-office smash The Hunger Games fought off rivals to pick-up four of the eight gongs it was nominated for at this year’s MTV Movie Awards.

Drink and be merry: Peter Dinklage in ‘Game of Thrones’

Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones, Sky Atlantic

Sandor can't decide whether to protect drippy Sansa or disembowel her. I vote for the latter

Railsea, By China Miéville

All aboard the Medes to hunt moldywarpes

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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us