A little rain must fall: the tragic secret of a musical movie masterpiece

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a life-enhancing 60s sensation, is about to enrapture a new generation of filmgoers Voguish director Damien Chazelles pick for the greatest movie ever made isnt his masterwork La La Land, or even Citizen Kane. Its The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Chazelle claims to have watched this New Wave classic more than 200 times, and regards his own not-quite-Oscar-winning 2016 musical as a Jacques Demys entirely sung-through phenomenon. It wasnt love at first sight. Initially, Demys film, with its strange operatic style, threw me for a loop, says Chazelle. On its debut in 1964, it provoked a similarly perplexed response. Yet it went on to win the Palme dOr and five Oscar nominations; it pulled in more than …

Keira Knightley: Iraq was the first time Id been politically engaged

The actor talks about Official Secrets, in which she plays Katharine Gun, the whistleblower who tried to stop the Iraq war The role of Katharine Gun in Official Secrets is played by Keira Knightley. Earlier this summer, a few weeks before her second child was born, Knightley, 34, sat down and talked exclusively to the Observer about why she took the part, and why she felt she believed that the film was coming out at a timely moment. Did you spend much time with Katharine to prepare for the part?Not a huge amount. I had lunch with her, and she came to the set once. I really liked her. Gavin Hood, the director, had said he didnt want a characterisation …

The fantasy world of pre-wedding photos: inside China’s billion-dollar industry

The black-and-white wedding photos of couples married in China used to resemble ID cards. Now a much more elaborate tradition is emerging, writes Jenny Valentish The photographer and his crew sit outside the tank, grinning. Beauty, how long can you hold your breath under water? one calls out to the sopping wet woman in the wedding gown. A moment later, he addresses the groom-to-be: Handsome, when you dive down, just suck your tummy in a bit. Your bum as well. Its not the most romantic scenario but the end results post-Photoshop are stunning. As is a custom in modern-day Only Photo is a pre-wedding photography studio in an industrial park just out of Shanghai, with three floors of old world …