Arts and Entertainment

Could Japanese Godzilla beat American Godzilla? And how big is the Starship Enterprise? At last, some answers...

$200m buys a lot of water

WATERWORLD Kevin Reynolds (12)

VIDEO RELEASES Never trust a video by its cover

Two new titles this month come packaged in dual covers, a practice that crops up in the video industry whenever it's thought that a touch more raunch might boost a title's chances. In some cases, the alternative covers are employed to target a specific audience. For example, Tartan Video's simultaneous rental / retail release of the excellent Mexican vampire film Cronos (£15.99) has one cover for the buyers - a moody black- and-white shot - and one for the renters - a brightly coloured design depicting a naked woman leaning heavenwards. The fact that there are no naked women in the movie doesn't seem to have deterred Tartan from going for the loins.

CINEMA / Arnie in almost-human shock

THESE DAYS only two things are certain in movies: death and James Cameron's grosses. Imagine your life depended on making a hit. (If you already do this, you are running a Hollywood studio.) Your first phone call should go to Cameron, even before Spielberg. He has everything it takes to make a blockbuster: the smartness to second-guess the market; the boldness to dare - but not too far; the logistical and leadership skills of a Field Marshal; the intelligence to know better; the ruthlessness not to care. All of Cameron's hits have started from beguiling ideas - science fiction bumps into philosophy in The Terminator's speculations on time-travel - which are then bludgeoned into submission by hi-tech special effects. Following the pattern, his new film, True Lies (15), flirts with thoughts about spying and split personality, before settling

Epic film triumphs after costs go nuclear

THE OPENING in Britain of True Lies, the latest coupling of sinew with cinema, rekindles a question that has been niggling at Hollywood's finer minds. How on earth did the movie, one of the season's big hits in America, come to cost such an astronomical sum?

FILM / Consider this a disaster: Adam Mars-Jones is stunned by the new Schwarzenegger vehicle, True Lies, 'an explosion in a script conference'

Every now and then there comes a film with the power to bring criticism to its knees, whimpering. Such a film is the opposite of a masterpiece, nothing so humble as a failure but an astounding condensation of everything that can go wrong with a project. True Lies, the new Arnold Schwarzenegger action adventure, is just such a reverse classic or anti-paragon.

Jill Tweedie: a woman of sparkling wit

JILL TWEEDIE has died, aged 59. She was an emblem for all that was best about the early years of the women's movement. She reflected the excitement, energy and optimism of liberal feminists who were prepared to argue their case with wit and humour, and at the same time retain affection and concern for the poor male creatures who needed to modify their ways. Not for her the stridency of radical feminists who were to split the sisterhood and set back the cause.

Woman charged over murders

WENDY Davies, 18, of South Belfast, was remanded in custody by Belfast magistrates yesterday, charged with aiding and abetting the murder, by persons not before the court, of Mark Rodgers and James Cameron, council binmen shot dead on 26 October. She was also charged with possessing a sub-machine

CINEMA / Too many kicks, and not enough punch

JEAN-CLAUDE Van Damme sounds like a curse from the Low Countries, and that's a pretty fair summary of his acting too. Like Steven Seagal, he started in karate, martial arts having replaced the Method as the Hollywood leading man's schooling. His early films were cheap but effective: ruthless kick-boxing extravaganzas, in which his lines could fit on a karate block. Van Damme turned down an offer from the Paris Opera Ballet to train as a dancer, and there was a balletic beauty to his kicks to the head. He couldn't put his foot in his mouth because he was too busy putting it in other people's.

FILM / Between the devil and the deep blue sea: Kevin Jackson on the release of James Cameron's director's cut of The Abyss, with a restored 28 minutes of footage. Plus Nowhere to Run and I Was On Mars

REVIEWERS who give away the endings of films can be held indefinitely under the Prevention of Spoilsports Act (1922) and with some justice. However, since it would be virtually impossible to describe how James Cameron's new director's cut The Abyss: Special Edition (12) differs in any substantial way from the regular old Abyss without mentioning its last half-hour, the risk of legal action must be taken. Readers who missed it four years ago, or who happen not to have heard rumours about what was really lurking down in that deep-sea trench, are advised to skip several paragraphs to the title Nowhere to Run.

FILM / Death and the maiden

ALIEN3 (18) sets the seal on an extraordinary series of films, mainstream entertainment firmly in the tradition of I-can't-bear-to-look-but-I-can't-look-away which nevertheless touch on some incongruously ambitious themes. While, say, Tim Burton's Batman films sacrifice the dynamism of their genre to the look but not the reality of art cinema, first-time director David Fincher's Alien3 delivers images of an often extraordinary beauty without letting the adrenalin level of its narrative drop much below the maximum.
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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
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By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

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Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
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The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes