Sight & Sound: the October 2015 issue

The Female Gaze: we aim to write women back into film history by championing 100 female-directed hidden gems that have been forgotten or unfairly overlooked, with contributions from Jane Campion, Greta Gerwig, Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert, Agnès Varda, Tilda Swinton and more.

Plus Brian Helgeland on his Kray Twins drama Legend and David Thomson on Tom Hardy, Jacques Rancière on Pedro Costa’s Horse Money, Diego Lerer on set with Lucrecia Martel and Nanni Moretti on his Mia Madre.

See all the features in our ongoing Women on Film coverage.

Just because there are intolerable gender disparities in the cinema doesn’t mean there aren’t triumphs and treasures of female-made film art. Sadly the dominance of male-led movies extends to the conversation about cinema too, and so what is already deprecated further recedes from view. 

Our Female Gaze project aims to challenge official film history by writing female directors back into it. In our October special issue we champion 100 hidden gems directed by women who have been forgotten or unfairly overlooked; the contributors include Jane Campion, Greta Gerwig, Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert, Agnès Varda, Tilda Swinton, Allison Anders, Carol Morley, Sarah Gavron and many more critics, while the films range from across the last century, and from around the world. 

Extending the theme, Mark Cousins decries the presumption of female disenfranchisement across the history of cinema, which draws a veil over the actually existing heritage of female filmmaking around the world. “Young directors should be taught about Pirjo Honkasalo and Larisa Shepitko, like they’re taught about Richard Leacock and Tarkovsky,” he writes.

Ruth Lingford looks at the fading of women’s voices from the animation world over the past two or three decades, while Virginie Selavy profiles the women blazing a back-alley trail in the world of horror cinema. And Diego Lerer visits the set of the first film in seven years from Lucrecia Martel (The Holy Girl, The Headless Woman), one of the leading lights of the Argentinian New Wave, as she tackles her first costume film in the form of an adaptation of the classic Argentinian novel Zama, set in 18th-century Paraguay.

Elsewhere in this issue, Nick James talks to director Brian Helgeland about his new take on the increasingly mythical London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray – both played by Tom Hardy, whose chameleon-like genius David Thomson appraises.

And speaking of violence and myth, French philosopher Jacques Rancière talks us through the latest from Portuguese master Pedro Costa, Horse Money, set across two floors of a Lisbon hospital whose lift “plays the role of Charon’s ferry between… on the one hand the subterranean labyrinth belonging to the kingdom of death and on the other the corridors of an ordinary hospital where society treats those who it has exhausted or mutilated.” 

And in our last feature Geoff Andrew talks to Italian great Nanni Moretti about his recent Cannes Competition entry Mia Madre, an autobiographically inspired portrait of a film director living with the impending death of her mother.

All this and more…

 

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Features

The Female Gaze: 100 Overlooked Films Directed by Women. Over 20 pages we celebrate a selection of remarkable works by female filmmakers that have unjustly slipped from public view, in the hope we can correct their place in film history and help them find a wider audience. Introduction by Isabel Stevens.

The Female Gaze: 100 Overlooked Films Directed by Women. Over 20 pages we celebrate a selection of remarkable works by female filmmakers that have unjustly slipped from public view, in the hope we can correct their place in film history and help them find a wider audience. Introduction by Isabel Stevens.

+ Ou​t of the shadows

In the late 80s female animators were shaping the future of the form – but since then women’s voices have faded from the industry. By Ruth Lingford.

+ Bloody-minded women

For years typecast in horror films as victims and scream queens, women are moving behind the camera in ever-increasing numbers. By Virginie Sélavy.

 

The Brothers Grim

The Brothers Grim

The legacy of the Kray twins has haunted every British gangster flick since the late 60s, fuelling a rash of films marked by tired scripts and mockney clichés, but Legend, directed by the American Brian Helgeland, rejuvenates the genre with an enthralling take on the story. By Nick James.

+ Looking for Mr. Ha​rdy

Tom Hardy’s chameleon-like genius as an actor is so compelling that he needn’t have stopped at playing the Kray twins – he could easily have taken on the role of their mother too. By David Thomson.

 

A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

A self-absorbed filmmaker has to come to terms with the impending death of her aged mother in Nanni Moretti’s drama Mia madre, a fine return to form for the director which features a savagely funny turn from John Turturro as a showboating film star. By Geoff Andrew.

 

The Ghost Road

The Ghost Road

With his latest film, Horse Money, Pedro Costa builds on the mythic qualities of In Vanda’s Room and Colossal Youth to offer a complex meditation on history and memory, colonisation and revolution, and the plight of society’s poor and dispossessed. By Jacques Rancière.

 

Another Place Another Time

Another Place Another Time

Seven years after her last film, The Headless Woman, Lucrecia Martel is back at work on another chronicle of existential uncertainty with an adaptation of Zama, a classic Argentinian novel about a civil servant waiting for his life to change in late 18th-century Paraguay. Diego Lerer visits the set.

 

Regulars

Editorial

Male and female auteurs and the ‘anxiety of influence’.

 

Rushes

Our Rushes section

Our Rushes section

In the frame: Variety parade

Almost a quarter of a century after London’s much-loved Scala cinema closed, its spirit lives on in the Scalarama festival. By Danny Leigh.

Listomania: Hip-hop films

Object lesson: Card tricks

Even in the digital age, the business card clings on – often less a proof of identity than a hint that something needs proving. By Hannah McGill.

The five key…: Director biopics

With Pasolini, Abel Ferrara joins a burgeoning tradition of directors celebrating the lives and work of fellow filmmakers. By Michael Brooke.

Preview: the BFI London Film Festival

Our Festivals section

Our Festivals section

Huge variety is always on offer at the LFF but this year looks potentially more bountiful and audience-friendly than ever. By Nick James.

Dispatches: Assuming that they’re there

Yes, women get pushed to the margins of the film business – but there are great women filmmakers out there, and always have been. By Mark Cousins.

 

Festival

Locarno: applying the brakes

Famous for discovering new talent, the Swiss resort this year became an advert for the joys of rediscovery. By Neil Young.

 

The industry

Our Industry section

Our Industry section

Development tale: Everest

The producers of a true-life epic about the deadly ice storm of 1996 had some miniature mountains of their own to climb. By Charles Gant.

The numbers: The Salt of the Earth and foreign-language documentaries at the box office

Brewster: Box office actually

The British film industry is not nearly as London-centric as people think – but the capital’s gravitational pull is still a problem. By Ben Roberts.

 

Wide angle

Our Wide Angle section

Our Wide Angle section

Profile: Marguerite mon amour

As scriptwriter, director, star, Marguerite Duras created a unique, poetic body of film. Why, then, do we see her work so rarely? By Thirza Wakefield.

Soundings: History woman

From hardcore to hair metal to gutter punk, Penelope Spheeris’s Decline trilogy dissects LA’s post-punk music scene. By Nick Pinkerton.

Primal screen: The world of silent cinema

Whether adding colour or whitewashing scandal, the feminine touch was essential to early Hollywood. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Artists’ moving image: Marx and recreation

The scale of this year’s Biennale swamped its political intentions, but some artists remembered that revolution could be fun. By John Beagles.

Profile: The Excavator

Intellectually sophisticated, moving between documentary and fiction, the films of Louis Henderson grapple with big ideas. By Sukhdev Sandhu.

Our Reviews section

Our Reviews section

Reviews

Films of the month

Irrational Man
Macbeth
Miss Julie
Pasolini

plus reviews of

Absolutely Anything
Alive Inside
American Ultra
The Bad Education Movie
Brothers
Containment
The Dance of Reality
Death of a Gentleman
En équilibre
Escobar: Paradise Lost
La Famille Bélier
Fantastic Four
The Gift
A Girl at My Door
Horse Money
How to Change the World
Infini
Just Jim
Legend
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Marc Quinn: Making Waves
The Messenger
Mia madre
Misery Loves Comedy
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
99 Homes
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King
Pixels
Pleasure Island
The Pyramid Texts
Ricki and the Flash
Straight Outta Compton
A Syrian Love Story
Tangerines
3½ Minutes
Vacation
A Walk in the Woods
The World of Astley Baker Davies
Zombie Fight Club

 

Home Cinema features

Our Home Cinema section

Our Home Cinema section

Shock and gore: Les Yeux sans visage / Eyes without a Face

Franju’s famously idiosyncratic take on the horror genre faces up to disfigurement and blends violence with visual poetry. By Tony Rayns.

Technical: True colours

Glaringly bright televisions rarely show movies as their makers intended. Dedicated film fans, please adjust your sets. By David Mackenzie.

Lost and found: Girl Stroke Boy

The arrival of an androgynous ‘girlfriend’ throws a middle-class couple into chaos in this early exploration of LGBT issues. By Alex Davidson.

plus reviews of

The Adventures of Gerard
Films starring Richard Attenborough
Cruel Story of Youth
Here Is Your Life
The Maggie
Pickup on South Street
Run of the Arrow
The Town that Dreaded Sundown
Varieté
Vivre sa vie

 

Television

The Avengers: Series 5
The Game
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Quatermass

 

Books

Our Books section

Our Books section

This New Noise: The Extraordinary Birth and Troubled Life of the BBC by Charlotte Higgins (Guardian Books/Faber) reviewed by Robert Hanks.

Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema by Tom Gunning, Giovanna Fossati, Joshua Yumibe and Jonathon Rosen (Amsterdam University Press) reviewed by Bryony Dixon.

The Birth of a Nation by Paul McEwan (BFI Film Classics/Palgrave) reviewed by Pamela Hutchinson.

The Magic Screen: A History of Regent Street Cinema edited by Elaine Penn (University of Westminster) reviewed by Henry K. Miller.

 

Letters

Young Aphrodites: no mere sex film
Scope 50 and how ‘drivel’ gets distributed
Uta Erickson/Artemidia Grillet, elective personas and trashed reputations
Robert Ryan the great
Ongoing failures of DVD distribution

 

Our Endings section

Our Endings section

Endings

Picnic

Daring in its time, Joshua Logan’s Picnic might look flawed and a little dated to modern viewers – but its perfect closing shot survives. By Andrew Bienen.

 

 

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