Abby McEnany: ‘When guys dream of lesbians, they’re not thinking of me’

The comics buzzy, semi-autobiographical TV show Work in Progress is also her first time on a TV set and at the age of 51, she calls it a fairytale come true The opening scene of new comedy series Work in Progress sees Abby McEnany trying to bring back wassup. The second sees her announcing her potentially imminent suicide to her therapist: Im gonna kill myself in 180 days, if things dont get better. Work in Progress is not only McEnanys first TV series but its the first time shes been on a professional set. And with this original, melancholic comedy, she is setting the bar high. Its autobiographical traits McEnany plays Abby, and is a self-described fat, queer dyke are …

The 50 best films of 2019 in the US: 31-50

Our countdown continues with Mike Lees masterful history lesson, a groundbreaking lesbian romance and a gripping study of Diego Maradona. Well reveal more every weekday 31 Loro The film Paolo Sorrentino was born to direct and Toni Servillo born to star in didnt quite live up to that billing, but this Silvio Berlusconi biopic is still a masterly and fascinating take. Read the full review. 32 Peterloo Large-canvas history lesson from Mike Leigh, outlining the events surrounding the notorious Peterloo massacre in 1819 at a meeting calling for voting reform. Read the full review 33 Amazing Grace Transcendent Aretha Franklin. Photograph: Amazing Grace Film, LLC Had Aretha Franklin approved of Sydney Pollacks transcendent 1972 documentary, it doubtless would have shown …

Facing facts: how memoir movies are finally showing the ugly truth

From Honey Boy to Marriage Story, semi-autobiographical movies have provided artists with a way of dealing with their inner demons Shia LaBeouf doesnt come off looking so good in his critically approved festival hit a regrettable preponderance of overly adulatory biopics produced in cooperation with their own subjects. But recent months have also proven that when the person in question does the work of writing their own warts-and-all story instead of merely approval-stamping someone elses sanitized version, the results can be therapeutic in their bracingly unflattering honesty. On occasion ugly, often difficult, and utterly real, these quasi-autobiographies feel like high-wire storytelling without the safety net of metaphor or allegory and with all the danger and immediacy of stakes the comparison …

David Mitchell: I have no reason to have these apocalyptic musings

He has a happy home life, two sitcoms on the go and a new book in the offing so why is the comedian still so crotchety? An empty canteen trailer on a sports field in Chiswick is the rather sterile setting for my interview with a collection of his columns from the past three years, Mitchell has reached a more macro-scale judgment. His ire is aimed not at film-set canteens but at the world at large, or at least the British part of it. In his opinion, he writes, Britain is now a country where things are generally getting worse. Thats not an exceptional observation. Perhaps the majority of people, Robert Webb (whos actually a couple of years older), like …

Flea on life before the Chili Peppers: ‘I grew up running around naked’

The bassists new autobiography lifts the lid on a difficult, violent childhood and a conflicted relationship with Anthony Kiedis In his new memoir, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea recalls a Halloween night of genuine horror. At 13, he was trick-or-treating with friends when word spread through his neighborhood that a madman was firing a gun randomly in the street. The terrified kids scattered to find safety in their homes, but when Flea approached his parents house he noticed that all the front windows had been blown out and debris strewn all over the lawn. Once inside, he found his step-father, Walter, with blood smeared over his face and torso, a smoking pistol dangling by his side. He was the …

Find Me by Andr Aciman review an intriguing sequel to Call Me by Your Name

Chance encounters hint at great romance, and Oliver dreams of Elio, in a stylised yet frustratingly unrealistic novel of love In Richard Linklaters film Call Me By Your Name, Andr Acimans 2007 novel that became an Oscar-winning film, and it begins in the same way as Linklaters movie, but rather than the protagonists being a couple of twentysomethings, Samuel and Miranda have a greater disparity between their ages. The former, the father of the young pianist Elio from the earlier novel, is at least 30 years older than the latter. Its a brave conceit in 2019, when any suggestion of impropriety between an older man and a younger woman is generally given short shrift, but theres no touching or hand-holding …

Shredded Trump documents and spy games: Ronan Farrow’s biggest scoops

Farrows new book Catch and Kill draws in many powerful figures in politics and media and offers shocking revelations Ronan Farrows book Farrow alleges. The shredding allegedly took place after the Wall Street Journal the Daily Beast disclosed, has hired lawyers on three continents to try to block publication of Farrows book. Weinstein, who is set to go on trial on criminal rape charges in January, has also denied any non-consensual sexual activity. Spy games Catch and Kill describes in gripping detail the lengths to which Weinstein and his lawyers went to keep tabs on Farrow. Through the long denial in which he has said the sexual encounter in Sochi, and the affair that ensued, was mutual and completely consensual. …

Out of space: Star Wars Resistance has gay characters, Disney says

Producers confirm that Orka and Flix in the animated childrens series are first queer couple in the franchise The animated childrens series Star Wars Resistance may not be the most popular thread of the long-running franchise, but its the first in the universe to harbour two gay characters. Disney producers confirmed on Monday what fans had already surmised, that two characters in the series, Orka and Flix voiced by Jim Rash and Bobby Moynihan respectively were a queer couple. Executive producers Athena Portillo, Justin Ridge, and Brandon Auman spoke to the podcast the 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Disney has made moves to include more rounded queer characters in its films, with Tessa Thompsons Valkyrie slated to …

Id ask my mum: why do you drink? Andie MacDowell on childhood and Hollywood

She learned responsibility young, caring for her mother then became a stunningly successful model and screen star. The actor talks about ageing on screen, why she eschews drugs, and her pride in her daughters acting careers Andie MacDowells career as a successful model, who went on to become a successful actor, almost ended before it began. It was 1979, in the middle of the Studio 54 era, when she moved to New York. She was 21 years old, had just been signed by the Elite model agency and appeared to have the world at her feet. But she soon wanted to go back to her home town. There was a lot of cocaine around, she says. I had a small …

You Are Already Having Sex With Robots

Henry the sex robot is the “mind” of a “woman” trapped in the “body” of a “man.” When you talk to Henry, you’re really talking to the artificial intelligence database Realbotix developed for its female predecessor, Harmony. To masculinize Henry, Realbotix founder and CEO Matt McMullen and five other “robot heads” sit with Henry doing R&D, which amounts to chatting Henry up. “Henry, how was your day?” McMullen asks. “Just fine, baby,” Henry says. “But when are you going to take me out to dinner?” The humans all look at each other. “That didn’t sound quite right,” McMullen says, and the others agree. The language database they’re developing for Henry shouldn’t include soliciting nights out on the town. “Sometimes Henry …

From Baba Yaga to Hermione Granger: why we’re spellbound by ‘witcherature’

Vengeful, seductive, feminist, misogynist … witches have appeared in many forms in literature. Now a new generation of novelists are falling under their spell A witch is a woman who has too much power. Or, to quote the novelist #MeToo world, where Donald Trump a fan of the term witch-hunt is US president, it is really no surprise that female writers are examining the role of the witch in new ways. Since Trumps election, which inspired mass spell-casting by thousands of resistance witches (the selection of judge Circe, Millers reimagining of the story of the witch from the Odyssey. Shortlisted for the Womens prize and soon to become an HBO series, the novel sees Circe, a victim of rape, turn …

Fight and flight: how Glow continues to show women at their best and worst

In the third season of Netflixs consistently entertaining comedy series about female wrestlers, characters are allowed to be messy in and out of the ring In the opening scene of season three of Glow, the Netflix comedy about a group of misfit actors who end up becoming female wrestlers, an interviewer speaks with the co-leads Debbie and Ruth about their shows exciting move to Las Vegas. Both women are dressed as their respective wrestling personas, Liberty Bell, the beautiful all-American girl defending the USA and Zoya the Destroyer, her slinky nemesis from Soviet Russia. True to their parts, Liberty Bell delightedly extols the wonders of Vegas while Zoya complains that the glitzy town is a revolting display of capitalism. Then, …

Une Femme Douce review Bresson’s transcendent reflection on marriage

The French directors 1969 spectacle about the wife of a pawnbroker who kills herself is still difficult, devastating and captivating 50 years on Rfilm of the same name by Sergei Loznitsa in 2017). It was his first colour film, and the colours themselves appear muted and darkened, as if from a neglected church tapestry. Dominique Sanda plays Elle, the delicate young wife of a pawnbroker (that ominous Dostoevskian trope) who takes her own life by jumping from the balcony of their handsome Paris apartment, leaving no suicide note or explanation. The eerily calm widower Luc (Guy Frangin) his face set in the mask of suppressed emotion that he wore throughout their unhappy marriage explains the course of their relationship to …

Sleater-Kinney: Music has always been the playground of mens sexuality

The feminist punks new album, produced by St Vincent and inspired in part by a Rihanna song, is their most expansive yet. So why did their drummer just quit the band? By now, we know reunion culture is a con. The brief excitement of seeing a favourite band re-form is swiftly tempered by watching them resentfully trot out the hits and confront their mortality. Plus, the past is no longer a novelty but our perpetual groundhog day of recycled franchises and rebooted brands. Which is why Sleater-Kinneys surprise return, in 2015, nine years after they went on hiatus, was so refreshing. Not content to rehash old glories, the feminist punks had a brilliant new album, the riotous, new wavy No …

How we made Moon by Sam Rockwell and Duncan Jones

We were concerned the audience wouldnt know which clone was which. We talked about using a wig, but I stole Ratso Rizzos cough for the sick clone Duncan Jones, director I wanted Sam Rockwell to play the villain in Mute, a film I later made for Silent Running, Kevin Spacey, their look. While we were working on it in London, we ordered so much food from Mexicali on Fulham Road that we ended up using their takeaway boxes for Sams space rations. We built the moon base as a full 360-degree set and we would seal the cast and crew in at the start of the day. That set gave us confidence, though it cost close to a third of …

Swinging 60s surrealist Penny Slinger: ‘Collectors thought I came with the art’

She made psychic dolls houses, erotic wedding cakes and full-frontal collages. But the world wasnt ready for her powerful personal visions. Is Lady Picasso about to get her dues? Penelope Slinger has never done anything by halves. She remembers drawing her first really accomplished picture in 1952, when she was four and a half. It was of her parents completely naked. They were terribly proud but too embarrassed to show their friends. Then, when she was nine, she was expelled from her Surrey convent school for waving a sanitary towel out of a bus window. A child psychologist informed her parents that she wasnt mad, she was simply an artist, and they should do what they could to support her. …