Arts and Entertainment

In Runner Runner, Justin Timberlake loses a fortune playing online poker, and then flies off to confront the owner of the website, Ben Affleck. But perhaps he could have saved himself the trip if he’d watched a few poker films before logging on.

John Malkovich: 'I don't need to be liked'

John Malkovich is speaking in a tone so low and languorous it seems deliberately pitched at a single, straining pair of ears. As an actor who has used his voice to great menacing effect, it now becomes lighter and more lilting, the more exercised he gets. "Look," he enunciates softly, sitting forward in his chair like an uncoiled snake ready to strike. "I don't need to be liked."

Travel Agenda: Sydney Festival; Outdoors Show; London Bike Show; International Boat Show; Monarch Airlines

Today: Cabaret, circus, comedy and a conversation with John Malkovich: some of the treats in store at the Sydney Festival, which is getting underway. Tonight's Festival First Night features a performance from Arrested Development and a vaudeville reinterpretation of Hyde Park. The festival runs until the end of January ( sydneyfestival.org.au).

DVD: Jonah Hex (15)

Hex is an attempt to transfer the dark, revenge-fuelled DC comic series to film.

Secretariat (U)

Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh

Jonah Hex (15)

Josh Brolin stars as a bounty hunter bent on revenging the murder of his wife and child by a renegade warmonger (John Malkovich) in the aftermath of the Civil War.

John Malkovich to play serial killer in Barbican concert

The life story of Jack Unterweger – an Austrian serial killer who strangled prostitutes with their bras and became a cause célèbre after writing poetry in prison – has been compared to those of Josef Fritzl and Jack the Ripper.

Disgrace (15)

The visionary gravity of J M Coetzee's Booker-winning novel is perhaps untranslatable to the screen, but Steve Jacobs's film is a very creditable try.

Edward Seckerson: Six of the Worst

The word on the street is that "Too Close to the Sun" - a new musical by the composer who tormented us with "The Man in the Iron Mask" - has no business in the West End. How did it get there? Someone's hard-earned money unknowingly squandered. And all the while a wealth of writing talent goes unnoticed and unheard. Don't get me started.

DVD: Changeling (15)

Changeling tells the harrowing true story of single mum Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) whose son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) was kidnapped from her LA home.

One Click Wonder: Self Parody

New Channel 4 sitcom ‘Plus One’ is notable for an inspired turn from ex-boybander Duncan James, playing himself – and so joining a fine tradition of stars sending themselves up on screen with hilarious/humiliating results...

Kathy Staff: Nora Batty in 'Last of the Summer Wine' and veteran of ITV soaps

The actress Kathy Staff turned Nora Batty into a television icon. Over 35 years, in 29 series, she played the broom-wielding, humourless battleaxe in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. Nora had two targets: her henpecked husband, Wally (played by Joe Gladwin), and the shabby, woolly hat-and-wellies-wearing pensioner Compo (Bill Owen), who lusted after her and did eventually get a kiss. Nora's pursuit by Compo was a staple of most episodes. It provided wacky storylines such as the scruffy old man attempting to have his photograph taken in her bedroom and devising a complicated plan to establish her shoe size.

Pick of the picture books

A lifeline to those who consigned treehouses to the same Elysian fields as sand pits and paddling pools, Treehouses, by Paula Henderson and Adam Mornement (Frances Lincoln, £19.99) provides a fascinating account of "the earliest form of natural architecture".

The Word On...Changeling

"Throughout 'Changeling', you can feel Clint Eastwood's sense of accomplishment. There he is behind the lens, champion of women's rights, exposing injustice. What he doesn't see is that he's detracting from Christine Collins' plight by oversimplifying... Eastwood has turned the truth into a bad joke." - Joseph, imdb.com

Changeling, Clint Eastwood, 142 mins, 15<br>Four Christmases, Seth Gordon, 88 mins, 12A

A child goes missing &ndash; and so does the director

Film of the week: Changeling (15)

Clint Eastwood (142 mins) starring Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore, Devon Conti
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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

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Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

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Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

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Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

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Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

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Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

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Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

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Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

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The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

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Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

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Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

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