“Riz Ahmed’s two most recent films (Mogul Mowgli, Sound of Metal) see him give not only the best performances of his career, but the standouts of the past year full stop,” writes Kaleem Aftab in his profile of the British multi-hyphenate. From this vantage point of critical acclaim, Ahmed reflects on his career, his heritage and their intersections.
Featured in our March 2021 issue are some of the best and brightest of independent filmmaking. Standing shoulder to shoulder alongside Ahmed are Chloé Zhao, director of indie triumph Nomadland, the team behind Black Panther drama Judas and the Black Messiah, and self-proclaimed minimalist Mads Mikkelsen.
With 2020 well and truly behind us, we look forward to our most hotly anticipated films and TV series of 2021, including new films by Terence Davies and Ruben Ostlund. The Farewell director Lulu Wang shares her memories of the Aero Cinema in LA, whilst Guy Lodge ponders the position of movie theatres in the age of VOD.
Looking back, we explore the late 19th-century origins of cinema, director Mike Dibb’s career, the Arts Labs of 60s and 70s London, we remember the lives of Barbara Shelley, Joan Micklin Silver and Michael Apted… and close with the final moments of Hal Hartley’s Trust.
In recent years, despite his successes, Riz Ahmed has felt a sense of disconnect, unable to recognise himself in some of the characters he was playing. With Sound of Metal set for release, he talks to Kaleem Aftab about confounding expectations, being true to his heritage and his dazzling career.
+ Renaissance man
Riz Ahmed beyond the screen.
+ Sound and vision
Director Darius Marder on working with Riz Ahmed and the sound of Sound of Metal.
Ain’t got no home in the world anymore
Chloé Zhao’s sublime Nomadland follows a woman forced to join the US’s new economic nomads, eking out a living on the road. Zhao talks to Graham Fuller about the film, and tapping into the old pioneer spirit.
+ Hard travelin’: Hoboes and wanderers in US cinema
Power to the people
Judas and the Black Messiah, director Shaka King’s powerful drama about the life and death of the charismatic young Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in the late 1960s, rightly keeps its focus on the collective struggle over any attempt to make an icon of its central figure. Nicholas Russell talks to King about the film, and about staying true to Panther Party principles.
+ Daniel Kaluuya on playing Black Panther leader Fred Hampton
+ LaKeith Stanfield on playing FBI informer William O’Neal
“I’m a minimalist”: The dramatic stillness of Mads Mikkelsen
From pushers and psychopaths to loving fathers and slapstick jokers, the mesmerising star of Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round has built a career of thrilling variety. Ryan Gilbey talks to him, and to the directors who know him best, about dance, drama, dynamism and vulnerability
+ Mads Mikkelsen and Thomas Vinterberg on Another Round’s triumphant final dance
From the archive: Cagney and the mob
In this profile from our May 1951 issue, the legendary critic Kenneth Tynan reflects on the extraordinary career and charisma of James Cagney, Hollywood’s original gangster, who blurred the line between hero and villain and so invented a vital onscreen archetype whose influence has echoed through cinema history.
+ Raiser of whirlwinds: Kenneth Tynan
Lost in the dream
2021: The most anticipated films and TV series to look out for
The 25 films we hope will hit cinemas in 2021. By Thomas Flew, Devika Girish, Jonathan Romney and Isabel Stevens.
+ Devika Girish talks to director Terence Davis about his latest project – a film about Siegfried Sassoon.
+ Pamela Hutchinson picks small-screen highlights for the year ahead.
+ Thomas Flew hears from Ruben Ostlund about his forthcoming foray into the world of the super-rich.
Opinion: Stream on
As more and more films bypass cinemas to be released on digital platforms, what does this mean for the future of filmmaking? By Guy Lodge.
+ Warner Bros directors on the studio’s plan to stream all its 2021 films.
Dream Palaces: Aero Cinema, Los Angeles
The director of The Farewell Lulu Wang discusses the value of shared cinema experiences and explains why art makes us human.
Obituary: Barbara Shelley: 1932-2021
Though she is known above all for her Hammer Horror roles, there was far more to this intelligent, dedicated actor. By Jonathan Rigby.
+ Screenwriter and actor Mark Gatiss on Barbara Shelley.
Obituary: Joan Micklin Silver: 1935-2020
The director blazed a trail for female filmmakers in the US, creating a number of bona fide classics in her formidable career. By Carrie Rickey.
Tribute: Michael Apted: 1941-2021
The eclectic British director is lauded for his Up documentaries, but don’t overlook his little-seen 1970s crime thriller The Squeeze. By Neil Young.
+ Director Paul Greengrass on Michael Apted.
Primal screen: In the beginning
Everyone knows that the Lumière brothers invented cinema, right? Well, up to a point: the story is more complicated than that. By Peter Domankiewicz.
Ways of filming: Mike Dibb in profile
Mike Dibb’s films about art and thinking, made for mainstream television, are considerable works of art in themselves. By Matthew Harle.
Experimental film and video: Laboratory conditions
In London in the late 60s and early 70s, the Arts Labs were hothouses for innovation that might hold lessons for filmmakers today. By David Curtis.
Films of the month
Andrei Konchalovsky dramatises the hushed-up 1962 Novocherkassk massacre in the monochrome style of its time. Reviewed by Michael Brooke.
Tyler Taormina’s beguiling debut centres on a ritualistic prom-like ceremony whose effects reverberate through the protagonists’ lives. Reviewed by Ryan Gilbey.
plus reviews of
Television of the month
Russell T. Davies’s “beautifully gay” series creates an evocative, personal time capsule of an 1980s London beset by the Aids crisis – it’s the first great British series on the subject. Reviewed by Alex Davidson.
plus reviews of
Home cinema features
Domesticated goddess: Marlene Dietrich at Universal 1940-1942
A new box-set shows how Marlene Dietrich set about taming her own exotic image to become more appealing to the American public. Reviewed by Christina Newland.
Rediscovery: Mothra/The H-Man/Battle in Outer Space
The monster films that came out of Toho studios from the 50s onward, once dismissed in the West, seem ever more delightful and sane. Reviewed by Alex Davidson
Lost and Found: Incident at Oglala
The late Michael Apted’s little-seen documentary about a shooting on a Lakota reservation is a typically humane outcry against injustice. By Neil Sinyard.
Archive television: Hullabaloo – The Complete Series
Reviewed by Robert Hanks.
plus reviews of
- Blue Sky
- Le cercle rouge
- Devil in a Blue Dress
- The Great Buster – A Celebration
- Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Calling Dr. Death/Weird Woman/Dead Man’s Eyes/The Frozen Ghost/Strange Confession/Pillow of Death
- The Masque of the Red Death
- Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea
- The Weird and Wonderful World of Ujicha: Violence Voyager
- Burning Buddha Man
Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film by Helen O’Hara (Robinson/Hachette) reviewed by Pamela Hutchinson.
The War against the BBC: How an Unprecedented Combination of Hostile Forces Is Destroying Britain’s Greatest Cultural Institution… And Why You Should Care by Patrick Barwise and Peter York (Penguin) reviewed by Robert Hanks.
- Small Axe: Wonderful TV, not wonderful cinema
- The ranking rigour of film podcasts
- Okabe Michio: an omitted obituary
- The final films of Boris Karloff
- This Angry Age: a lost treasure
- ‘The International Film Magazine’, now featuring TV!
The final moments of Hal Hartley’s 1990 indie black comedy see reality intrude on the closed world inhabited by its misfit protagonists. By Josh Slater-Williams.
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