News

Outlook Champagne bonuses, Christmas cracker competitions, "Grand in your Hand" contests: welcome to the wacky world of Lloyds bank's staff incentive plans.

David Fincher with 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' star Rooney Mara in Stockholm

The anti-social network: Why David Fincher is the perfect man for 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'

Need a severed head in a box? He's your man. Not sure if rape and murder are appropriate for a blockbuster? Let David Fincher convince you. James Mottram meets the owner of Hollywood's darkest mind, as he takes on the US remake of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Box-office sales surge as theatre defies downturn

Box office takings at London's theatres have bounced back from a winter slump thanks to a string of big productions and star performers.

Culture Club: Horrible Bosses

Readers review this week's big film

Leading article: A king for all seasons

The quintessential actor, Samuel Johnson once said, is "a fellow who claps a hump on his back... and cries, 'I am Richard the Third'." Interesting then that Kevin Spacey, playing Richard III at the Old Vic, sports a hump which our critic describes as "brutally disfiguring".

On the frontline in the battle of the sexes

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's first West End play, 'Belongings', will confirm her as an exciting new talent, says Alice Jones

My secret life: James Ellroy, author, 62

My parents were ... good-looking LA arrivistes. They were ill-suited for parenthood, so I'm not surprised that I turned out to be both as troubled and gifted as I am.

Album: Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson, Gift (Topic)

The cover photo – of mother's and daughter's bangled hands clasped together – tells its own story, of folk and family traditions passed along the line.

Gary Newbon: The usual suspects but watch out for Holland

Sadly England will not win the World Cup. Reachinng the quarter-finals would be decent, making the semis, would be very good.

Also showing

Ditch, Old Vic Tunnels, London

Two minutes' walk from Waterloo Station and a little, graffiti-covered door in a side wall grants you access to a starkly different world. Cold, smelling of mould, and resounding to the thunder of the trains hurtling overhead, this massive underground labyrinth of high, vaulted brick tunnels forms a magical space that has been commandeered by the Old Vic's artistic director, Kevin Spacey, as a subterranean arena for non-profit theatre pieces and art works.

DVD: The Men Who Stare at Goats, For retail & rental (Momentum)

Jon Ronson's book about the Pentagon's secret experiments in psychic combat has been turned into a film in the most unsatisfying possible manner.

DVD: The Men Who Stare At Goats (15)

Jon Ronson's droll and troubling exposé of the US military's bizarre practices – which included forming an experimental unit that employed paranormal techniques (such as killing goats by just staring at them) to train a legion of "Jedi warriors" – has been adapted into this weak satire.

DVD & Blu-ray: Moon (15), Duncan Jones (97 mins)

Duncan "David Bowie's son" Jones's low-fi sci-fi, which features no sex, very little violence or budget and ostensibly one actor (Sam Rockwell), is a cerebral delight. Sam Bell (Rockwell), like ET, just wants to go home; three years working on the dark side of the Moon with only Kevin Spacey's creepy voice, as spaceship computer, Gerty, will do that. Sam's suffering hallucinations and headaches and a near-fatal accident lands him in the infirmary. He awakes to find a younger version of himself stalking his bed. Jones's intelligently constructed, distinctly retro film borrows from the best – Silent Running, Alien, Blade Runner, Solaris, Dark Star and Outland – and is the best kind of paranoia movie, with unfussy dialogue, a heightened sense of isolation and corporate wickedness to the fore.

A frightening 24 hours for thespians

On Halloween night an eclectic bunch of actors and writers gathered in the auditorium of London’s Old Vic theatre preparing to write, rehearse and perform six plays in 24 hours to raise cash for charity.

Album: Various artists, Freedom, Rhythm & Sound, (Soul Jazz)

As with previous Gilles Peterson compilations, there's a few tracks here that make you wonder whether he listened all the way through, but once past the dodgy vocals and workaday vamps, this two-CD collection of revolutionary US funky free-jazz contains real goodies.

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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
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
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
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

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BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
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Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

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Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride