Paramount Pictures Share New Elton John ‘Rocketman’ Featurette

Sir Elton John has condemned the removal of homosexual scenes from his biopic Rocketman in Russia.

Critics in Russia have claimed that scenes depicting sexual acts and kissing between men have been cut from the film.

Following reports that footage was cut from the biopic, Sir Elton has said that the latest incident displays how “cruelly unaccepting” some people can be over issues of love.

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We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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The star and the filmmakers behind the biopic have called the situation a “sad reflection of the divided world we still live in”.

Sir Elton has history with Russia, warning about threats to gay rights in the nation, and receiving a call from Vladimir Putin.

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ShapeCreated with Sketch.Best films of 2019 (so far)

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ShapeCreated with Sketch.Best films of 2019 (so far)

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1/35 Good Boys

Lined up against some of this year’s other more heartfelt offerings, including Booksmart, Good Boys offers further proof that putting a little humanity in our comedy always gets the best results.

2/35 The Favourite

“Macabre and fraught though The Favourite gets, this isn’t so much a film about sex or power as it is about plain mischief. It’s a hilarious, buffoonish pleasure, right down to the sets and costume design, and a breeze to spend 120 minutes with.” Christopher Hooton Fox Searchlight Pictures

3/35 Beautiful Boy

“Casting Chalamet as Nic was a very clever move. The young actor from Call Me by Your Name and Lady Bird has a natural charm and charisma. He still engages an audience’s curiosity and sympathy even when his behaviour is at its most selfish and erratic.” Geoffrey Macnab Amazon Studios

4/35 The House by the Sea

“Guédiguian’s storytelling style is deceptive. At first, it seems as if this is low-key social realism in the Dardennes or Ken Loach mould, albeit set on the French Riviera. Gradually, though, we realise how stylised and theatrical his approach really is.” Geoffrey Macnab

5/35 Stan & Ollie

“Director Jon S Baird, whose previous film was scabrous Irvine Welsh adaptation Filth, wrings every last drop of pathos he can from his material. This is very much a case of the tears of the clowns.” Geoffrey Macnab Entertainment One

6/35 Vice

“Vice is bravura storytelling. McKay isn’t only taking us through Cheney’s life and career but is giving us a whistle stop tour through US politics from the Nixon administration almost right to the present day.” Geoffrey Macnab Annapurna Pictures

7/35 Can You Ever Forgive Me?

“Playing Lee Israel, McCarthy manages something very special: she makes a character who is odd, obnoxious, difficult and alcoholic seem lovable and even heroic. The rest of the world is at fault, not Lee.” Geoffrey Macnab Fox Searchlight Pictures

8/35 Green Book

"Green Book flatters the audience about its own good sense and tolerance. It deals with racism and homophobia but still has a fairytale, fantasy feel to it. Whatever humiliations Don endures on their road trip, we know no real harm will ever come to him as long as Tony is at his side.” Geoffrey Macnab Universal Pictures

9/35 Velvet Buzzsaw

“The golden age of bonkers horror movies is gloriously evoked by Netflix’s latest feature length presentation. Beginning as a satire of the arts world, Velvet Buzzsaw swiftly and gleefully descends into a savage splatter-fest, smeared in paint, viscera and garishly-bright blood.” Ed Power Netflix

10/35 If Beale Street Could Talk

“The setting is New York in the 1970s. Anyone who has watched Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver knows this was an era of violence, corruption and sleaze on a monumental level, but [Barry] Jenkins somehow makes the city seem like a modern-day Eden.” Geoffrey Macnab Annapurna Pictures

11/35 All Is True

“Written by Ben Elton and directed by its star Kenneth Branagh, the film plays so fast and loose with the playwright’s final years that they needn’t have bothered fitting Branagh with a prosthetic nose – accuracy is clearly not the priority here.” Alexandra Pollard Sony Pictures Classics

12/35 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is the doomed progeny of a celebrated genius – brilliant but slightly stunted by the knowledge they will never live up to their predecessor.” Clarisse Loughrey Warner Bros. Pictures

13/35 Piercing

“Nicolas Pesce’s sleek and stylish horror comedy is repulsive and funny by turns. In adapting Ryu Murakami’s cult novel, Pesce strikes just the right balance between humour and Grand Guignol-style shock tactics.” Geoffrey Macnab Universal Pictures

14/35 Capernaum

"The best moments here are remarkable. Labaki elicits an astonishing performance from her young lead. He’s an irrepressible figure with such an inbuilt sense of moral decency the film seems upbeat and optimistic, even at its darkest moments.” Geoffrey Macnab Sony Pictures Classics

15/35 The White Crow

"Ralph Fiennes combines thriller elements with poetic flashbacks to ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev’s childhood and keeps a tight focus on the dancer. When he is most at risk, Nureyev makes decisions with his artistic future more in mind than his personal safety. As Fiennes reminds us again and again in what is his best film yet as a director, the 'white crow' will do anything to put himself in the limelight, the one place he is convinced he belongs." StudioCanal

16/35 Border

"Border reverses the perspective taken by most other horror films. In more conventional genre fare, Tina and Vore would be portrayed as malevolent outsiders, but in the world conjured up by director Ali Abbasi, the humans are the monsters. Tina is the innocent – a visionary who hardly understands her own powers but who can sense human venality and corruption wherever it appears." TriArt Film

17/35 Fighting with My Family

"Certain scenes feel very trite and predictable but the film gets you in a choke hold early on and won’t let you go. It is far more gripping than its subject matter might suggest. Who ever would believe a story about a wrestling family from Norwich could have quite such heart and resonance?" James Field

18/35 Us

"Doppelgangers abound in Jordan Peele’s weird, creepy and ingenious new horror film. As in his Oscar-winning 2017 feature Get Out, Peele leavens matters with ironic humour but the joking becomes increasingly uncomfortable once the main characters come face to face with dark shadows of themselves which wish them extreme harm." AP

19/35 Avengers: Endgame

"The Avengers cycle comes to a rich and very satisfying conclusion with Endgame, surely the most complex and emotional superhero movie in Marvel history. At 181 minutes, this is a veritable epic, but with so many characters and plot strands, it fully warrants its lengthy running time." AP

20/35 Eighth Grade

"It’s a rare and precious feeling when a film completely dismantles you. Eighth Grade – the directorial debut of US comedian Bo Burnham – breaks down every delusion we have about ourselves and burrows deep into those parts we’ve made such an effort to lock away. You may cry. You may shudder as every awkward social interaction that’s kept you up at night replays in your head all at once. You may feel the sharp pain associated with those moments when you feel completely isolated from the world. Burnham may have crafted a simple story about the most ordinary of teenage girls, but it speaks with the emotions of a true cinematic epic." A24

21/35 Vox Lux

"Natalie Portman gives her fiercest, most memorable performance since Black Swan in Brady Corbet’s enjoyably subversive satire about a troubled pop star whose loss of innocence mirrors the fall from grace of the US itself. Portman’s character, Celeste, is certainly one of the most objectionable figures she has played: a pampered, hard-drinking drug-taking “floozy” whose appearance and high-handed behaviour rekindle memories of Liz Taylor and Joan Crawford at their monstrous worst." Neon

22/35 High Life

Robert Pattinson gives one of his most striking performances as Monte, the death-row criminal in outer space, tricked into making a voyage described at one stage as a “class-one suicide ride”. The former Twilight star makes his shaven-headed, gaunt-faced character seem hyper naturally sensitive and feral at the same time. A24

23/35 Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is as uplifting a film as you will see all year. It’s a concert movie filmed over two nights and featuring Aretha Franklin, the “first lady of soul”, performing gospel standards in a church in Los Angeles in 1972, with a huge backing choir and an enthusiastic congregation. Neon

24/35 Aladdin

Disney’s live-action remake of its 1992 animated feature is a rip-roaring, old-fashioned matinee-style spectacle that turns out far better than we had any right to expect. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

25/35 Booksmart

“Olivia Wilde is a visually inventive director, who keeps the tempo here so brisk that we hardly notice how glib the storytelling sometimes becomes. We can tell exactly how the film will end, but it still feels original both in its screwball energy and in the deft way it continually reverses stereotypes and gender clichés.” Geoffrey Macnab Annapurna Pictures

26/35 Late Night

“Late Night is a caustic satirical comedy that turns into an unlikely tearjerker. It’s by turns snide and uplifting, and often very funny too. Its writer/producer/star Mindy Kaling makes vicious observations about the inanity, narcissism and corruption of the mainstream US media at the same time as she celebrates the professionalism of many of those who work within it. The film has a glorious performance from Emma Thompson and a very sly one from Kaling. Thompson is at her most imperious as Katherine Newbury, a legendary entertainer, the only female in a male-dominated field, but one whose career is beginning to slide.” Geoffrey Macnab Amazon Studios

27/35 Gloria Bell

“Gloria Bell is somewhat exhausting – both unbearably intimate and at a constant remove – but it is endlessly pulled back into focus by Moore, who has a firm understanding of the delicate balance between contentment and yearning, joy and pain, recklessness and spontaneity. In a remake that could have felt indulgent in the hands of people less skilled, she more than justifies its existence.” Geoffrey Macnab Curzon

28/35 Toy Story 4

"The brilliance of the new film lies in the surefooted way it caters both for children too young to have seen its predecessors and for adults who’ve grown up (or grown older) watching the previous instalments. It takes some kind of genius for the Pixar animators to give such a searing emotional charge to a story in which one of the main characters is a single use plastic spork retrieved from the trash." Pixar/Disney

29/35 In Fabric

Curzon Artificial Eye

30/35 The Flood

"Perhaps The Flood isn’t quite the urgent, profound film a crisis of this scale deserves, but in a culture where refugees are so rarely shown any empathy in mainstream media, maybe this is the film we need right now."

31/35 Midsommar

"Ari Aster's follow-up to Hereditary serves up much of the same: it’s a break-up movie wrapped up in pagan horror. It’s also bound to be one of this year’s most memorable films, proving that Aster is far from a one-hit wonder." A24

32/35 The Lion King

"The Lion King is undoubtedly a technological marvel that, much like Avatar, will come to be viewed as a milestone in special effects history, yet it’s just as interesting to see how all this innovation has been employed." AP

33/35 Varda by Agnès

"For a film that’s almost entirely narrated by Agnès Varda's own voice, it doesn’t feel driven by ego, but by pure intellectual and emotional curiosity."

34/35 Animals

"Animals treats its subjects with patience and generosity. You’ll find no life lessons here. Its main characters are free to pursue their desires, to whatever end."

35/35 Blinded by the Light

"Blinded by the Light offers not only a reminder of Springsteen’s lyrical genius, but of how he’s always served as a beacon for the disenfranchised." Warner Brothers
>

1/35 Good Boys

Lined up against some of this year’s other more heartfelt offerings, including Booksmart, Good Boys offers further proof that putting a little humanity in our comedy always gets the best results.

2/35 The Favourite

“Macabre and fraught though The Favourite gets, this isn’t so much a film about sex or power as it is about plain mischief. It’s a hilarious, buffoonish pleasure, right down to the sets and costume design, and a breeze to spend 120 minutes with.” Christopher Hooton Fox Searchlight Pictures

3/35 Beautiful Boy

“Casting Chalamet as Nic was a very clever move. The young actor from Call Me by Your Name and Lady Bird has a natural charm and charisma. He still engages an audience’s curiosity and sympathy even when his behaviour is at its most selfish and erratic.” Geoffrey Macnab Amazon Studios

4/35 The House by the Sea

“Guédiguian’s storytelling style is deceptive. At first, it seems as if this is low-key social realism in the Dardennes or Ken Loach mould, albeit set on the French Riviera. Gradually, though, we realise how stylised and theatrical his approach really is.” Geoffrey Macnab
>

5/35 Stan & Ollie

“Director Jon S Baird, whose previous film was scabrous Irvine Welsh adaptation Filth, wrings every last drop of pathos he can from his material. This is very much a case of the tears of the clowns.” Geoffrey Macnab Entertainment One

6/35 Vice

“Vice is bravura storytelling. McKay isn’t only taking us through Cheney’s life and career but is giving us a whistle stop tour through US politics from the Nixon administration almost right to the present day.” Geoffrey Macnab Annapurna Pictures

7/35 Can You Ever Forgive Me?

“Playing Lee Israel, McCarthy manages something very special: she makes a character who is odd, obnoxious, difficult and alcoholic seem lovable and even heroic. The rest of the world is at fault, not Lee.” Geoffrey Macnab Fox Searchlight Pictures

8/35 Green Book

"Green Book flatters the audience about its own good sense and tolerance. It deals with racism and homophobia but still has a fairytale, fantasy feel to it. Whatever humiliations Don endures on their road trip, we know no real harm will ever come to him as long as Tony is at his side.” Geoffrey Macnab Universal Pictures
>

9/35 Velvet Buzzsaw

“The golden age of bonkers horror movies is gloriously evoked by Netflix’s latest feature length presentation. Beginning as a satire of the arts world, Velvet Buzzsaw swiftly and gleefully descends into a savage splatter-fest, smeared in paint, viscera and garishly-bright blood.” Ed Power Netflix

10/35 If Beale Street Could Talk

“The setting is New York in the 1970s. Anyone who has watched Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver knows this was an era of violence, corruption and sleaze on a monumental level, but [Barry] Jenkins somehow makes the city seem like a modern-day Eden.” Geoffrey Macnab Annapurna Pictures

11/35 All Is True

“Written by Ben Elton and directed by its star Kenneth Branagh, the film plays so fast and loose with the playwright’s final years that they needn’t have bothered fitting Branagh with a prosthetic nose – accuracy is clearly not the priority here.” Alexandra Pollard Sony Pictures Classics

12/35 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is the doomed progeny of a celebrated genius – brilliant but slightly stunted by the knowledge they will never live up to their predecessor.” Clarisse Loughrey Warner Bros. Pictures
>

13/35 Piercing

“Nicolas Pesce’s sleek and stylish horror comedy is repulsive and funny by turns. In adapting Ryu Murakami’s cult novel, Pesce strikes just the right balance between humour and Grand Guignol-style shock tactics.” Geoffrey Macnab Universal Pictures

14/35 Capernaum

"The best moments here are remarkable. Labaki elicits an astonishing performance from her young lead. He’s an irrepressible figure with such an inbuilt sense of moral decency the film seems upbeat and optimistic, even at its darkest moments.” Geoffrey Macnab Sony Pictures Classics

15/35 The White Crow

"Ralph Fiennes combines thriller elements with poetic flashbacks to ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev’s childhood and keeps a tight focus on the dancer. When he is most at risk, Nureyev makes decisions with his artistic future more in mind than his personal safety. As Fiennes reminds us again and again in what is his best film yet as a director, the 'white crow' will do anything to put himself in the limelight, the one place he is convinced he belongs." StudioCanal

16/35 Border

"Border reverses the perspective taken by most other horror films. In more conventional genre fare, Tina and Vore would be portrayed as malevolent outsiders, but in the world conjured up by director Ali Abbasi, the humans are the monsters. Tina is the innocent – a visionary who hardly understands her own powers but who can sense human venality and corruption wherever it appears." TriArt Film
>

17/35 Fighting with My Family

"Certain scenes feel very trite and predictable but the film gets you in a choke hold early on and won’t let you go. It is far more gripping than its subject matter might suggest. Who ever would believe a story about a wrestling family from Norwich could have quite such heart and resonance?" James Field

18/35 Us

"Doppelgangers abound in Jordan Peele’s weird, creepy and ingenious new horror film. As in his Oscar-winning 2017 feature Get Out, Peele leavens matters with ironic humour but the joking becomes increasingly uncomfortable once the main characters come face to face with dark shadows of themselves which wish them extreme harm." AP

19/35 Avengers: Endgame

"The Avengers cycle comes to a rich and very satisfying conclusion with Endgame, surely the most complex and emotional superhero movie in Marvel history. At 181 minutes, this is a veritable epic, but with so many characters and plot strands, it fully warrants its lengthy running time." AP

20/35 Eighth Grade

"It’s a rare and precious feeling when a film completely dismantles you. Eighth Grade – the directorial debut of US comedian Bo Burnham – breaks down every delusion we have about ourselves and burrows deep into those parts we’ve made such an effort to lock away. You may cry. You may shudder as every awkward social interaction that’s kept you up at night replays in your head all at once. You may feel the sharp pain associated with those moments when you feel completely isolated from the world. Burnham may have crafted a simple story about the most ordinary of teenage girls, but it speaks with the emotions of a true cinematic epic." A24
>

21/35 Vox Lux

"Natalie Portman gives her fiercest, most memorable performance since Black Swan in Brady Corbet’s enjoyably subversive satire about a troubled pop star whose loss of innocence mirrors the fall from grace of the US itself. Portman’s character, Celeste, is certainly one of the most objectionable figures she has played: a pampered, hard-drinking drug-taking “floozy” whose appearance and high-handed behaviour rekindle memories of Liz Taylor and Joan Crawford at their monstrous worst." Neon

22/35 High Life

Robert Pattinson gives one of his most striking performances as Monte, the death-row criminal in outer space, tricked into making a voyage described at one stage as a “class-one suicide ride”. The former Twilight star makes his shaven-headed, gaunt-faced character seem hyper naturally sensitive and feral at the same time. A24

23/35 Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is as uplifting a film as you will see all year. It’s a concert movie filmed over two nights and featuring Aretha Franklin, the “first lady of soul”, performing gospel standards in a church in Los Angeles in 1972, with a huge backing choir and an enthusiastic congregation. Neon

24/35 Aladdin

Disney’s live-action remake of its 1992 animated feature is a rip-roaring, old-fashioned matinee-style spectacle that turns out far better than we had any right to expect. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
>

25/35 Booksmart

“Olivia Wilde is a visually inventive director, who keeps the tempo here so brisk that we hardly notice how glib the storytelling sometimes becomes. We can tell exactly how the film will end, but it still feels original both in its screwball energy and in the deft way it continually reverses stereotypes and gender clichés.” Geoffrey Macnab Annapurna Pictures

26/35 Late Night

“Late Night is a caustic satirical comedy that turns into an unlikely tearjerker. It’s by turns snide and uplifting, and often very funny too. Its writer/producer/star Mindy Kaling makes vicious observations about the inanity, narcissism and corruption of the mainstream US media at the same time as she celebrates the professionalism of many of those who work within it. The film has a glorious performance from Emma Thompson and a very sly one from Kaling. Thompson is at her most imperious as Katherine Newbury, a legendary entertainer, the only female in a male-dominated field, but one whose career is beginning to slide.” Geoffrey Macnab Amazon Studios

27/35 Gloria Bell

“Gloria Bell is somewhat exhausting – both unbearably intimate and at a constant remove – but it is endlessly pulled back into focus by Moore, who has a firm understanding of the delicate balance between contentment and yearning, joy and pain, recklessness and spontaneity. In a remake that could have felt indulgent in the hands of people less skilled, she more than justifies its existence.” Geoffrey Macnab Curzon

28/35 Toy Story 4

"The brilliance of the new film lies in the surefooted way it caters both for children too young to have seen its predecessors and for adults who’ve grown up (or grown older) watching the previous instalments. It takes some kind of genius for the Pixar animators to give such a searing emotional charge to a story in which one of the main characters is a single use plastic spork retrieved from the trash." Pixar/Disney
>

29/35 In Fabric

Curzon Artificial Eye

30/35 The Flood

"Perhaps The Flood isn’t quite the urgent, profound film a crisis of this scale deserves, but in a culture where refugees are so rarely shown any empathy in mainstream media, maybe this is the film we need right now."

31/35 Midsommar

"Ari Aster's follow-up to Hereditary serves up much of the same: it’s a break-up movie wrapped up in pagan horror. It’s also bound to be one of this year’s most memorable films, proving that Aster is far from a one-hit wonder." A24

32/35 The Lion King

"The Lion King is undoubtedly a technological marvel that, much like Avatar, will come to be viewed as a milestone in special effects history, yet it’s just as interesting to see how all this innovation has been employed." AP
>

33/35 Varda by Agnès

"For a film that’s almost entirely narrated by Agnès Varda's own voice, it doesn’t feel driven by ego, but by pure intellectual and emotional curiosity."

34/35 Animals

"Animals treats its subjects with patience and generosity. You’ll find no life lessons here. Its main characters are free to pursue their desires, to whatever end."

35/35 Blinded by the Light

"Blinded by the Light offers not only a reminder of Springsteen’s lyrical genius, but of how he’s always served as a beacon for the disenfranchised." Warner Brothers

A statement from Sir Elton and the Rocketman filmmakers to the Press Association says: “We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today.

“Paramount Pictures have been brave and bold partners in allowing us to create a film which is a true representation of Elton’s extraordinary life, warts and all.

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“That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.

“We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.”

Russian film critic Anton Dolin said on Facebook that “all scenes of kisses, sex and oral sex between men have been cut”.

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The film stars Taron Egerton as Sir Elton, with Bodyguard star Richard Madden as his former lover and manager John Reid.

Additional reporting by agencies