Sight and Sound: the April 2024 issue

Denis Villeneuve on Dune: Part Two and doing justice to Frank Herbert’s grand vision Plus: Radu Jude on Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World – Maestro and composers in film – Robot Dreams and children’s cinema – Sean Price Williams and Nick Pinkerton on The Sweet East – Louise Brooks and G.W. Pabst

28 February 2024

Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound, April 2024

“What makes Dune so interesting is Frank Herbert’s level of sophistication and detail, how he describes every last element of each ecosystem, all the different flora and fauna, the tiny, perfectly realised details of every different culture. Especially the Fremen culture of the desert, all their different techniques of survival in that environment – it’s all so beautiful and poetic. But you have to just surf on the top of that, just give a glimpse of it; there’s no way to bring all that to the screen.”

— Denis Villeneuve, speaking to S&S for our cover feature

Features

Sands of time

Sands of time

The challenges posed by the epic scale and byzantine plot twists of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels have seen filmmakers from Ridley Scott to Alejandro Jodorowsky left stranded in quicksand. As Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two reaches UK screens, Roger Luckhurst outlines the history of the books and their troubled screen adaptations and explains how the Canadian director has finally done justice to the writer’s grand vision.

Denis Villeneuve interviewed

“The story is not done yet”

Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve reminisces about his days as a hardcore teenage fan of Frank Herbert’s source novels, explains why he sought inspiration for the film in Road Runner cartoons and outlines his hopes and ambitions for the final part of the trilogy. Interview by Roger Luckhurst.

Once upon a time in the East

Once upon a time in the East

Sean Price Williams’s picaresque satire, written by critic Nick Pinkerton and featuring a career-making performance by Talia Ryder, reaches far back into American history, and far out into new comic realms, to create an arthouse film that appeals well beyond an arthouse audience. By Henry K. Miller.

Adventures in mini moviegoing

Adventures in mini moviegoing

Films made for children are too often the poor, neglected orphans in critical discussions of cinema, treated as an inevitably candy-coloured, emotionally simplified toy version of the real thing. But the best filmmakers know that children are quick-witted, dark and complicated creatures – and they make movies to match. By Isabel Stevens.

Agent provocateur

Agent provocateur

Romanian director Radu Jude’s viciously barbed latest work Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World offers a piercing satire for our times, one that takes aim at work alienation, the toxic world of social media, the state of the image economy and the normalisation of hate culture. By Jonathan Romney.

Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, which explores the life and loves of Leonard Bernstein, joins a rich tradition of cinematic portraits of composers. David Thompson picks up the baton to examine how convincingly the world of classical music has been portrayed on the big screen.

Pabst and Lulu

From the archive: Pabst and Lulu

Pandora’s Box star Louise Brooks recounts in her own words the story of the film that made her a cinema icon, outlining the ‘mysterious alliance’ she shared with its tough-minded director, G.W. Pabst, and kicking back at the moralists who condemned their dazzling portrait of the tragic decline and fall of showgirl Lulu.

Opening scenes

Opening scenes

Trans films in the spotlight as BFI Flare returns

The 38th edition of the London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival will platform inspiring and thoughtful stories of trans lives, including Elliot Page’s subtle family drama Close to You and Levan Akin’s Istanbul-set Crossing. By Ben Walters.

In production: All about Steve

Paul Mescal on Richard Linklater’s Merrily We Roll Along and Andrew Haigh on a new Colm Tóibín adaptation.

In conversation: Kevin Macdonald

The director discusses his unvarnished account of a divisive fashion legend in High & Low: John Galliano. Interview by Hannah McGill.

In focus: The lost daughters

Tunisian documentary Four Daughters explores how two teenage girls were lost to radicalisation from the point of view of their mother, using actors alongside family members to tell the story. By Rachel Pronger.

Festival: Sundance

Steven Soderbergh and Jesse Eisenberg make a splash alongside a host of strong documentaries in Park City. By Nicolas Rapold.

Talkies

Talkies

TV eye

Beneath the comedy and action in Mr. & Mrs. Smith lies something dark and subversive. By Andrew Male.

The long take

The historian Cari Beauchamp revolutionised our understanding of early Hollywood. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Flick lit

No one is safe from Percival Everett’s satire in his electrifying 2001 source novel for American Fiction. By Nicole Flattery.

Editorial

Regulars

Editorial

British culture deserves better screen representation. Michael Sheen and Adam Curtis have found a way. By Mike Williams.

Rediscovery: Black Zero

A raw description of Stephen Broomer’s Blu-ray label – dedicated to giving wider circulation to Canadian avant-garde filmmaking – doesn’t do justice to the rich, strange worlds it opens up. By Sophia Satchell-Baeza.

Archive TV: Roobarb… and Custard: The Complete Collection

Peer long enough into the abyss of mid-century British comic surrealism that spawned the Goons and Monty Python, and a hyperactive animated green dog will peer back. By Robert Hanks.

Lost and found: Grandeur nature

An era that can put Barbie at the top of the box-office charts and the centre of the discourse is surely ready for a proper revival of Luis García Berlanga’s Franco-era comedy about a dentist’s obsessive relationship with his inflatable doll lover. By Kat Ellinger.

Wider screen

Kinoteka Polish Film Festival

The 22nd edition of the festival finds the Polish industry in rude health, with recent work by Agnieszka Holland and Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert alongside restorations of classic films by Walerian Borowczyk and Krzysztof Kieślowski. By Michael Brooke.

Rooms with a view

‘The Tell-Tale Rooms’, a touring exhibition of paintings, sculptures, animations and VR film by Eden Kötting, authored with her father Andrew, offers an entertaining and celebratory encounter with otherness. By John Beagles.

Endings: Housekeeping (1987)

The quietly triumphant close of Bill Forsyth’s adaptation of Marilynne Robinson’s novel sees its dreamy misfits throw off the shackles of conformity and make a break for freedom. By Imogen Sara Smith.

Reviews

Reviews

Film

Our critics review: The Delinquents, The Teachers’ Lounge, Robot Dreams, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, Monster, Red Island, Disco Boy, Copa 71, Drift, Four Daughter, Pornomelancholia, High & Low: John Galliano, Banel & Adama, Drive-Away Dolls, The New Boy, Silver Haze, Shoshana, The Origin of Evil, Shayda, The Settlers, Memory.

DVD & Blu-ray

Our critics review: Showing Up, Goodbye & Amen, The Man Who Had Power over Women, The Village Detective: A Song Cycle, Dazed and Confused, Jinnah, Impossible Object, The Roaring Twenties, Black Tight Killers, The Sting of Death.

Books

Our critics review: The Last Action Heroes, Todd Haynes: Rapturous Process.