News Tom Hanks in the 2000 film Castaway

In a story similar to the plot of the film Castaway starring Tom Hanks, Jose Ivan was found on the atoll having floated 8,000 miles from Mexico

How to gatecrash

The Knack: Dennis Pennis invites you to party the night away, with not an invite to your name

Every dog will have his day

The practical, sloppy shoes that always remind you of grandad are making a comeback in bold, new hues

STAYING IN: A CRITICAL GUIDE: NEW VIDEOS

Apollo 13 (PG). The sole redeeming feature of this disastrous disaster movie was a gut-quaking Dolby-soundtrack launch sequence, which was loud enough to shake the popcorn from your hands. On the small screen, the picture is robbed even of that fleeting pleasure. The director Ron Howard manages to take one of the most potentially terrifying episodes in the history of space travel - when a hitch left the Apollo 13 craft suspended above the Earth, and the lives of its crew (Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton) hanging in the balance - and turn it into a tepid TV movie. (If only it really were one: you long for the brief reprieve of a garish commercial.) Where themes of patriotism jeopardised by the struggle for survival might have surfaced, the screenwriters revert to jingoistic impulses; stoicism replaces any whiff of existentialist terror; and instead of friction between the astronauts, we get that vacuum of personality that seems to open up wherever Tom Hanks, the eunuch of modern cinema, lays his hat. In this anaesthetised atmosphere, some of the supporting cast are pleasantly jazzy on the eye and ear: Gary Sinise is compelling as the one who got away - at first aggrieved, then relieved, awkwardly so, at having been left behind. But as a director, Howard is an anti-lifeforce, a vampire; he sucks films dry of tension and opportunity. He and Hanks are perfectly matched - they make everything bland. It's not all their fault. Even on the basic technical level, Apollo 13 fails dismally (look out for an unforgivable error in the early scene where Hanks is gawping at the Moon). Hollywood, we most definitely have a problem.

A mission out of control

CINEMA

Here's to nerd power

APOLLO 13 Ron Howard (PG)

The film director Ron Howard is riding high on the back of Apollo 13. But where on earth is he going?

Journalists covering the Apollo space project discovered, often to their great frustration, that the humans involved in it were hard to fathom. Brave and talented people were, quite literally, reaching for the moon, but scarcely a single one of them seemed capable of explaining exactly why.

Bringing Apollo back home

Learn all about one of the space race's worst disasters - from the comfort of your PC screen.

Cinema: How Kevin Costner blew it

'Waterworld' is in big trouble, but the career of its star has been in decline for years. Quentin Curtis reports on an accident waiting to happen

Space movies: the next generation

'2001' made space travel look effortless and simple. With 'Alien' it became dirty and beset by bad industrial relations. Now 'Apollo 13' has added something new: disaster.

In defence of modern love

Health minister John Bowis recognises gay people's needs

Gump: the movie that didn't inhale

The Oscars

OSCAR RESULTS IN FULL

The Oscars

NETWORK : `I'd just like to say thank you ...'

Phil Reeves proposes a night at the Oscars

Get ready to be beautiful

It's Oscars time: worship, adore, and haggle for the party invitation, writes Phil Reeves

FILM : An Academy of dunces

Who will walk away with the Oscars next week? In Hollywood, the bets are on. Phil Reeves considers the odds
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?