Our October issue follows Brad Pitt to the furthest reaches of the solar system, as the star plays an astronaut tasked with saving the Earth in acclaimed American director James Gray’s mysterious, visually splendid science fiction film Ad Astra. Gray tells Nick Pinkerton how his film tells a myth of man rather than a myth of the gods.
Posted to subscribers and available digitally 2 September
On UK newsstands 5 September
Back here on Earth, we marvel at Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateab’s For Sama (co-directed with Edward Watts), a powerful documentary made in Aleppo while the bombs fell, and when al-Kateab was a new mother.
We hail the arrival of director Shola Amoo, whose film The Last Tree, about the growing pains of a British-Nigerian boy, marks him out as an exciting new voice in British cinema.
And we travel right back to the very beginnings of cinema, with a profile of the British visionary R.W. Paul, a man who more than almost anyone foresaw the possibilities in the then new novelty of motion pictures, but has never quite received his due.
In James Gray’s Ad Astra Brad Pitt plays an astronaut who travels to the furthest reaches of the solar system to track down his father in a bid to save the Earth. Here the director explains why he created a sci-fi tale that tells a myth of man rather than a myth of the gods. By Nick Pinkerton.
+ The man who would be king
Brad Pitt’s coronation as Hollywood’s golden boy in the early 1990s was soon complicated by a series of darker, more complex roles that challenged his status as heir apparent to Robert Redford. By Anne Billson.
Filmed as the bombs fell in Aleppo, often with her infant daughter in her arms, Waad al-Kateab’s For Sama is an unmissable, harrowing document of the war in Syria from the point of view of those who suffer most. By Jason Burke.
+ “Every minute was important”
Waad al-Kateab discusses the perils of filming inside Aleppo and why she feared every day might be her last, while British co-director Edward Watts explains his part in the making. By Isabel Stevens.
If anyone recognised the true potential of animated photography to become more than a passing novelty, it was Robert Paul, whose visionary role in the history of British cinema – alongside his wife Ellen – remains profoundly undervalued. By Ian Christie.
Shola Amoo explains how he sought to confound audience expectations in his semiautobiographical The Last Tree, the tale of a British-Nigerian boy who leaves an idyllic life with foster parents in the English countryside to join his birth mother on a London council estate. By Will Massa.
The long goodbye: our editor Nick James bids farewell
On our radar
This year’s BFI London Film Festival is unveiled.
Street fighting woman
A martial arts expert has to save her daughter from organ-harvesting child snatchers in Furie, the highest-grossing Vietnamese movie ever. By Kim Megson.
Dream palaces: The Gimli Theatre, Manitoba
Guy Maddin, the Canadian director of My Winnipeg and The Forbidden Room, recalls the anarchic joys of a rural cinema of his youth.
Global discovery: A sting in the tale
Honeyland, a luminous documentary about a rural beekeeper in North Macedonia, offers a powerful allegory about capitalist greed. By Graham Fuller.
Preview: Troubles in mind
For a young man from Belfast, the first glimpse of Stephen Rea on screen in Neil Jordan’s Angel in 1982 caused the world to shift. By Mark Cousins.
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood looks set to deliver Quentin Tarantino his biggest box-office success in the UK. By Charles Gant.
Films in production
New projects for Steven Soderberg, Jia Zhangke, Kristen Stewart and Jordan Peele.
Obituary: D.A. Pennebaker, 1925-2019
In a series of astonishing films, the great observational documentary filmmaker created high drama from the fabric of everyday life. By Roger Graef.
+ Tributes from Joan Churchill and Nick Broomfield
Nonfiction film: A week in utopia
This year’s Flaherty Seminar pushed its participants to think about the way in which film can change the world – and vice versa. By Jemma Desai.
Primal Screen: About a boy
Armando Iannucci’s new version of David Copperfield is one of many attempts to put Dickens’s favourite among his novels on screen. By Michael Eaton.
Artists’ moving image: Chronicle of a shimmer
Rainer Kohlberger’s abstract, sensedefying works, programmed into a computer rather than filmed, feel like nothing on earth. By Matt Turner.
Syros International Film Festival
This celebration of cinema clings on to the utopian spirit of the earliest film festivals and makes fine use of its Greek island setting. By Kieron Corless.
Films of the month
plus reviews of
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion
The Big Meeting
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
For the Birds
The Last Tree
Neither Wolf nor Dog
Ready or Not
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Sea of Shadows
The Shock of the Future
The Sun Is Also a Star
Home cinema features
The thing with leathers: Cruising
Reviled on release, Cruising is both a schlocky thriller and an unsettling examination of fear and loathing among and toward gay men. Reviewed by Alex Davidson.
Revival: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
Forty years after it was released, Fred Schepisi’s epic about Australian racism doesn’t seem any less relevant or powerful. Reviewed by Michael Brooke.
Nicolas Philibert: Les Films, Le Cinema
Compassionate and curious, the French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert nudges us towards profound questions about our lives. Reviewed by Geoff Andrew.
Lost and found: Pola X
Leos Carax’s wild romance, loosely adapted from Herman Melville, hasn’t lost its power to shock and entrance. By Beatrice Loayza.
plus reviews of
Crime and Punishment
Daïnah la Métisse
Hold Back the Dawn
A Kid for Two Farthings
Ida Lupino: Filmmaker Collection – Not Wanted / Never Fear / The HitchHiker / The Bigamist
One Deadly Summer
Robert Hanks on Armchair Theatre Archive
Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky) reviewed by Philip Kemp
The Films of Elaine May edited by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Dean Brandum (Edinburgh University Press, ReFocus series) reviewed by Ian Mantgani
The Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classical Hollywood by Patrick Keating (Columbia University Press) reviewed by Nick Pinkerton
Paul Schrader’s prognosis for cinema – in 1993
Rescuing A Damsel in Distress
More bright fright films
Steve Ditko-esque Spidey business
Penny Slinger’s beauty
The finale of Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic portrait of life in 15th-century Russia creates heartstopping suspense from the unveiling of a bell. By Nick James.