As ever, January is the Janus-faced edition where we look forward and back at the same time. And this year’s, more than ever, proves to be about the moving image in transition, from our cover feature – Ang Lee’s 3D CGI-fest Life of Pi, whose dazzling visuals could only have been achieved with digital technology – to resistance to the demise of analogue films at the Viennale festival, and indeed in the debate pages of our magazine. This month’s Sight & Sound Interview is with genius photographer/filmmaker William Klein, and we celebrate 90 years of prince of the underground Jonas Mekas, with help from Jim Jarmusch, Peter Kubelka, Ken Jacobs, Chantal Akerman and Malcolm Le Grice.
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The issue’s sub-theme, meanwhile, is forms of psychological disturbance – whether it’s the sisterly blood feud in the revived What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, the dilemma of finding enough homicidal types in Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths or the strange powers of the drifter in Bruno Dumont’s Hors Satan.
Of course, January also means a moment’s pause to survey and reflect on the year just gone; this edition showcases 50 international critics’ 2012 highlights, from Amour (and Alps, and The Act of Killing, and Avengers Assemble) to, well, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. And our hive’s ‘top’ film of the year? It might be analogue film projection’s last gasp…
COVER FEATURE: The Sea Inside
In bringing to the screen the magic realism of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Ang Lee has set himself his most complex technical challenge yet, finds Roger Clarke.
PLUS visual-effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer and production designer David Gropman on how it was done.
It may be a coincidence, but the seeming demise of film as we know it has coincided with a poll result that enshrines films that cast their eyes back over the history of cinema. Our 2012 year-in-review survey, introduced by Nick James.
Murder He Wrote
Nick James talks to London-Irish playwright-turned-director Martin McDonagh about Seven Psychopaths, his blackly comic follow-up to In Bruges, while Ryan Gilbey charts the unhappy fates of other screenwriter characters in the movies.
The Devil, Possibly
Bruno Dumont’s sixth feature Hors Satan completes the director’s quest to find the sacred in grim everyday reality. By David Jenkins.
Jonas Mekas: Film as Life
The godfather of avant-garde film turns 90 this month. His life and work are celebrated by Amy Taubin plus Chantal Akerman, Ken Jacobs, Jim Jarmusch and Peter Kubelka.
There Will Be Blood
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is one of cinema’s most challenging depictions of womanhood, says Hannah McGill.
The S&S interview: William Klein
To coincide with a retrospective at Tate Modern, the Brooklyn-born filmmaker and photographer discusses his life and work with Brian Dillon.
Dan Callahan finds hidden depths to Doris Day’s wholesome persona.
Hannah McGill on diamonds, fashion and Molly Ringwald.
Mark Cousins on the hidden treasures of Albanian cinema.
Charles Gant on how Dustin Hoffman came to direct Quartet.
Charles Gant on Skyfall’s huge success at the UK box office.
David Locke on the UKFC’s P&A Fund.
Geoffrey Macnab talks to Amanda Berry, CEO of BAFTA.
Nick Bradshaw reports from Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX.
Lydia Papadimitriou on a strong and defiant Thessaloniki festival.
Kieron Corless reports from the Viennale in its 50th-anniversary year.
Miguel Gomes on the neglected cinema of Portuguese filmmaker Manuel Mozos.
Adrian Martin rediscovers Anna, a 1970s Italian film rescued from the vaults.
Olaf Möller examines the work of Argentina’s Narcisa Hirsch.
Frances Morgan on East Africa’s veejays and film ‘explainers’.
Pamela Hutchinson explores the relationship between silent cinema and the internet.
Brad Stevens wonders if Abel Ferrara is being punished for his absence of postmodern posturing.
Neil Brand remembers William Wellman’s little-seen silent Beggars of Life.
Neil Young and Gabe Klinger discuss whether there is a future for celluloid projection in the digital age.
Films of the month
Life of Pi
West of Memphis
Other new releases reviewed in this issue
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Confessions of a Child of the Century
Here Comes the Boom
The Joy of Six
Life Just Is
Love Crime/Crime d’Amour
The Man with the Iron Fists
Neil Young Journeys
Rise of the Guardians
Safety Not Guaranteed
Silent Hill: Revelation
Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II
When Santa Fell to Earth
You Will Be My Son
Nick Pinkerton revisits Fritz Lang’s masterful early works.
Pamela Hutchinson examines the long shadow cast by Battleship Potemkin on the British documentary movement.
Michael Atkinson explores Japanese studio Shochiku’s fleeting foray into pulp horror.
Other DVD reviews
The Colditz Story
Films by Victor Erice
Gate of Hell
Films by Kim Kiduk
London on the Move: British Transport Collection Volume 10
Long Day’s Journey into Night
The Films of Marcel Pagnol
Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
Films by Jacques Tati
This is Cinerama
A Trip to the Moon
The Human Jungle
Maison Close – Series 1
Philip Kemp dips into a compendium of essays about Ealing Studios.
Ashley Clark assesses a readable, if routine, study of Spike Lee.
Brad Stevens admires an exhaustive overview of Donald Cammell’s Performance.
Ian Christie appraises a history of the rise of colour films in the UK.
Tony Leung’s enigmatic cameo at the very end of Wong Kar-wai’s Days of Being Wild marks a turning point in the director’s career.
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