With the passing barely a month apart of George Romero and Tobe Hooper, Stephen King towers larger than ever over the terrain of horror cinema. As the BFI Southbank marks the writer’s 70th birthday with a season of his films, we comb the dizzying array of King’s screenplays and adaptations – from Carrie and The Shining to Children of the Corn, The Dead Zone, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist and this year’s Gerald’s Game – for the key to his influence on popular American culture. Roger Luckhurst considers the ways in which King’s art resonates with modern notions of trauma and resilience, while Kelli Weston overlays King’s stories on the classical archetypes of fairytale.
Posted to subscribers and available digitally 1 September
On UK newsstands 5 September
From horror to desire: can female writers learn to loosen their critical corsets and express their own sexual attraction – perhaps taking a lead from new currents in nonfiction literature? “While men and women both get pleasure from looking at beautiful film stars, women really have something to gain by fully expressing that pleasure,” argues Christina Newland. “Real life has enough of those limitations. Women should be given the room to be both analytical and effusive, to hungrily gaze and to contemplate what that hunger means.”
One of this year’s standout documentaries, winner of a Storytelling Grand Jury award at the Sundance Film Festival, Yance Ford’s Strong Island rakes over the traumas and clichés behind family-wrenching murder of the filmmaker’s brother 20 years ago, and the impunity for his killer. As Robert Greene explores how Ford’s “self-aware, penetrating and uniquely crafted documentary performance creates rare pathways for understanding,” Ford details how he designed the film to appeal on two frequencies, both as an affirmation to minority audiences familiar with the experience it articulates and as a provocation to complacent white liberals.
Plus Darren Aranofsky discusses his confounding Mother; Hanif Kureishi shines a positive light on Peter Sellers’ Indian characters; Mark Cousins on Jeanne Moreau; Maysaloun Hamoud on her In Between; American artist Kevin Jerome Everson; Josef von Sternberg’s first and last films on Blu-ray; vintage Indian silent drama Shiraz; golden-oldies film broadcaster Talking Pictures TV; the link between capitalism and slasher films; Insyriated, The Work, The Road to Mandalay and all this month’s releases; the Locarno Film Festival; and the ending of Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay!
The shifting concerns of Stephen King’s monumental output over the past four decades provide a detailed map of the insecurities of the post-war American psyche, a distinctive mythos captured in a dizzying array of adaptations, from the auteur visions of Stanley Kubrick to low-budget video nasties. By Roger Luckhurst.
+ Tales from the dark side
In his reliance on archetypal characters caught in epic battles between good and evil, Stephen King has made a career of reworking story structures taken directly from the world of fairytales. By Kelli Weston.
Even by the standards of Darren Aronofsky, a director who has made a career out of defying expectations, Mother! – the tale of a woman trying to create a dream family home in the face of disturbances by a series of strange guests – is a thoroughly confounding experience. By Trevor Johnston.
Female critics are wary of acknowledging their own desire when writing about films for fear of being thought unprofessional, but the experience of ogling men on screen, and then openly discussing it, is a subversive joy that allows for critical honesty and challenges centuries of the male gaze. By Christina Newland.
Strong Island, Yance Ford’s wrenching documentary about the killing of his brother by a white mechanic in 1992 and the shattering effect it had on his family, presents a savage indictment of injustice, confronting viewers with tough questions about their own complicity in racial stereotyping. By Robert Greene.
The Indian characters Peter Sellers plays in The Millionairess and The Party are, on a very basic level, grotesque constructs – but they also harbour an unwitting depth and complexity, showing a sly subversion in portraying mixed-race relationships in a positive light. By Hanif Kureishi.
Teens, tech and the future of the moving image/movies
BFI London Film Festival highlights
Interview: The invisible life
Maysaloun Hamoud’s feature debut In Between shows aspects of Palestinian life within Israel that are both rarely seen and very familiar. By Abbey Bender.
The Big Sick and Girls Trip and US comedies with majority non-white lead roles at the UK box office. By Charles Gant.
Industry: Golden oldies
Talking Pictures TV offers UK viewers a treasure trove of the kind of classic cinema that was once a staple of the terrestrial schedules. By Andrew Male.
Dispatches: Jeanne genie
The late Jeanne Moreau’s magnetic screen charisma and anarchic sensibility proved a powerful draw for the great mid-century auteurs. By Mark Cousins.
Locarno: Young at heart
At 70 years old, the Locarno festival is barely showing its age – it remains adventurous, expansive and confident. By Kieron Corless.
Preview: Getting it done
The American artist Kevin Jerome Everson makes films that hover between close observation and abstraction, politics and poetry. By Elena Gorfinkel.
Primal screen: Cross-border appeal
A new restoration of a silent epic opens a window on Indian filmmaking – and shows that 1928 was a good year for a Shiraz. By Bryony Dixon.
Point of view: Dark, satanic
In an age of exploitation, perhaps only exploitation movies can show us what’s happening – only horror movies will reveal the true horror. By Mark Steven.
Films of the month
The Road to Mandalay
plus reviews of
Back to Burgundy
Bending the Arc
The Dark Tower
The Emoji Movie
The Glass Castle
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
In the Last Days of the City
Journey Through French Cinema
Kills on Wheels
The Limehouse Golem
The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
On Body and Soul
On the Road
The Reagan Show
Wolf Warrior II
Home Cinema features
In my beginning is my end: The Salvation Hunters / The Case of Lena Smith (fragment)
+ The Saga of Anatahan
The release of Josef von Sternberg’s rarely seen first and last films shows the continuities in a remarkable career. By Pamela Hutchinson.
Rediscovery: Every Picture Tells a Story: the Art Films of James Scott
In a body of work made about and in collaboration with artists, James Scott hinted at the British New Wave that never was. By Henry K. Miller.
Lost and found: Demon Lover Diary
Joel DeMott’s account of the making of a no-budget horror flick is a bitingly funny lost classic of documentary history. By Isabel Stevens.
plus reviews of
Marion Davies films: The Bride’s Play / Beauty’s Worth / When Knighthood Was in Flower
The Love of a Woman
The Mourning Forest
The Sinbad Trilogy: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad / The Golden Voyage of Sinbad / Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
The Tree of Wooden Clogs
Charles Dickens at the BBC
Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale by Andy Murray (Headpress)
+ We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale edited by Neil Snowdon (P.S. Publishing) reviewed by Tim Hayes
The Cinema of Ozu Yasujiro: Histories of the Everyday by Woojeong Joo (Edinburgh University Press) reviewed by Alexander Jacoby
Dolly Tree: A Dream of Beauty by Gary Chapman (Edditt Publishing) reviewed by Pamela Hutchinson
Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and Experimental Film in the 1970s edited by Sue Clayton and Laura Mulvey (I.B. Tauris) reviewed by Henry K. Miller
Two Cheers for Hollywood: Joseph McBride on Movies by Joseph McBride (Hightower Press) reviewed by Geoff Andrew
Cool bande Luc: the comic with-it-ness of Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
British broadcast television’s dereliction of cinephiles versus the golden years, part 94
The limits of arthouse cinema screenings versus rural streaming salvation, part 95
Plot spoilers and metropolitan critical presumption, part 96
Dunkirk, so loud
Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille Blu-rays, so geolocked
Mira Nair’s stunning debut exploring the lives of Indian street children carries the narrative’s rich ambiguity through to its final scene. By Alex Dudok de Wit.