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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried