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

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
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Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
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Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

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