Sight and Sound, December 2021

Taking place over a tumultuous Christmas at Sandringham, Spencer, Pablo Larraín’s biopic of Diana, Princess of Wales is unlike any portrait of the royal family you will have seen before. It is, as Terri White writes, “a gothic horror, a ghost story, a surreal psychological thriller”, with Kristen Stewart giving a central performance that “absolutely sounds and looks like Princess Diana but, perhaps more importantly, puts a psychic echo of her on screen, makes the audience feel Diana as it pulls you inside her skin”. White and Stewart speak about the star’s transformative career, from teen fantasy-romance star to arthouse collaborator.

Elsewhere, Jane Campion speaks about The Power of the Dog, her first film in over a decade, which is typically perceptive about the myriad effects of toxic masculinity, as channeled through Benedict Cumberbatch’s rancher Phil.

As a complete retrospective of Mike Leigh’s films returns to cinemas, we sit down with the British director and avid cinephile to chart his cinematic loves and obsessions, from the 1950s to today.

Céline Sciamma returns to childhood for Petite Maman, her magical and tender look at the relationship between two eight-year-old girls. The director speaks to us about the film’s simple but striking premise and the moments lifted from her own youth.

Toyoda Toshiaki has been long overdue his UK breakthrough. This interview charts the often troubled waters of his career whilst shining a light on his cult filmmaking style.

And the Black Film Bulletin returns for another packed instalment, which looks back at the year nearing its end, and looks forward to the future, via interviews with archivists, curators, filmmakers, critics, producers and more. Jennifer G. Robinson discusses Channel 4’s ‘Black to Front’ day of programming, and an extended interview with the luminary British producer Nadine Marsh-Edwards continues.

Features

Kristen Stewart interviewed

The house of Stewart

Playing Diana is the latest twist in Kristen Stewart’s unpredictable career. Here she talks about life in public, rebellious women, and being the person who never says no. Words by Terri White. Photography by Brian Bowen Smith.

+ The life of Pablo

Spencer director Pablo Larraín on resurrecting a princess and pleasing his mother.

Jane Campion interviewed

Beasts of the western wild

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog explores the brutality and fragility of masculinity in a tale of life in the American West 100 years ago. Here she discusses #MeToo’s legacy and the freedom that comes with age and experience. By Sophie Monks Kaufman.

Mike Leigh interviewed

At the movies with… Mike Leigh

In a new regular strand in which filmmakers reflect on their favourite films, the British director looks back on the movies that sparked his passion for cinema and those that continue to inspire him. By Geoff Andrew.

Céline Sciamma interviewed

Mother of invention

Céline Sciamma’s haunting, magical Petite maman is the tale of a young girl who comes face to face with her own mother as a small child. Here the director explains why the idea captivated her with the force of ancient mythology. By Jonathan Romney.

+ Salut les filles! Girls in French cinema

Five classic French films exploring the growing pains, anarchic joy and unexpected sadness of life through the eyes of young girls.

Toyoda Toshiaki interviewed

Rebel with a cause

The cult Japanese director Toyoda Toshiaki has survived a pair of scandals that have threatened to torpedo his career – re-emerging with a series of bold, introspective works with much to say about contemporary Japan. By James Balmont.

+ Mapping Toyoda’s performers

Toyoda’s films offer easy entry points for unfamiliar viewers through their repertoire of recurring actors. With many faces recognisable from works of the Japanese New Wave of the 1990s, and the J-horror and Y2K Asia Extreme explosions, diving into this cinema canon can be as easy as changing lanes from Miike, Kitano or Sono.

Janet Leigh interviewed

From the archive: “I always give my characters a past.”

Looking back on one of the most glittering careers in post-war Hollywood, actress Janet Leigh opens up about her early days on contract at MGM and the highs and lows of working with great directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles. Interviewed in Sight and Sound, Spring 1970 by Rui Nogueira.

Opening scenes

Opening scenes

A space odyssey

The VR programme at the recent BFI London Film Festival offered a host of immersive experiences, including Asif Kapadia’s first VR film, Laika. Here the director discusses his sad tale of the dog sent into space. By Rebecca Harrison.

Editors’ choice

Recommendations from the Sight and Sound team.

In production: Cooking up a storm

New films by Peter Strickland, Wes Anderson, Joshua Oppenheimer and Jane Schoenbrun. By Thomas Flew and Isabel Stevens.

News: Keeping it real

Frames of Respresentation, the Institute of Contemporary Art’s annual festival in London, showcases the ‘cinema of the real’. By Thomas Flew.

In conversation: Hamaguchi Ryūsuke

The Japanese director of the heralded Drive My Car discusses adapting Murakami and why red was the colour of choice for his on-screen wheels. By Łukasz Mańkowski.

Preview: Foresight

Film4’s sci-fi shorts offer some new perspectives on British Black and brown communities. By Anton Bitel.

Obituary: Luis de Pablo, 1930-2021

In memory of the Spanish composer and musician, whose abstract and haunting
sound worlds were integral to the creation of Spanish art cinema. By Tom Whittaker.

Dream Palaces: Hollywood Theatre, Portland

Director of Carol and new documentary The Velvet Underground Todd Haynes talks about the history of the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon, and how its owners saved a cult video store. Interview by Jonathan Romney.

Talkies

Talkies

The long take

Wes Anderson’s faux-French paper brings visions of Bette Davis in a smoky newsroom. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Off the shelf

If Squid Game has whetted your appetite for South Korean filmmaking, a new world awaits. By Jonathan Ross.

The director’s chair

After you’ve worked hard to find your way, the only thing that matters is to take others with you. By Reggie Yates.

Cine wanderer

Chantal Akerman’s New York on film is filled with understanding of its urban choreography. By Phuong Le.

Black Film Bulletin

Black Film Bulletin

In the latest instalment of the reanimated BFB, we take stock of a tumultuous and remarkable year. Edited by June Givanni, Jan Asante, Melanie Hoyes.

2021: the year-end wrap-up

We invited a selection of talented global industry figures to look back on the challenges and opportunities of the past year, and outline their hopes for the future.

Speak Easy

In the aftermath of UK broadcaster Channel 4’s ‘Black to Front’ – its ‘all-Black’ 24-hour-long programming takeover – the BFB felt it fitting to excavate the vaults and revive our right-to-reply comment corner. In this Speak Easy, media educator and Women of the Lens Film Festival founder Jennifer G. Robinson weighs in.

The indispensable Nadine Marsh-Edwards

In the second part of our extended interview, the veteran British producer discusses her success and observes what’s changed for Black filmmakers and creatives over the past two decades.

Regulars

Endings

Editorial

In its overt unreality, Spencer feels more human and truthful than traditional biopics. By Mike Williams.

Rediscovery: Paul Wendkos

His obituaries identified him with the surfer-girl Gidget films, but that doesn’t scratch the surface of the quality, variety and weirdness of his long career in film and TV. By Kim Newman.

Archive TV: The Singing, Ringing Tree

This fairytale from behind the Iron Curtain, notorious as a source of boomer nightmares, doesn’t get less strange with the passing of the decades. By Robert Hanks.

Lost and found: Gheysar

If you think Iranian cinema begins and ends with Abbas Kiarostami, this 1969 revenge tragedy will be an eye-opener (though it does indeed begin with Kiarostami). By David Thompson.

This month in… 1973

The Winter 1973/74 issue opens on a long, fascinating interview with British director Nicolas Roeg conducted by the then editor Penelope Houston and Sight and Sound regular critic Tom Milne, their always perceptive questions eliciting fulsome responses from Roeg. This was just prior to the release of what was swiftly recognised as one of the masterpieces of British cinema, Don’t Look Now (pictured below), adapted from the Daphne du Maurier short story and starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. As autumn slips away, no better time to revisit the film’s haunting, wintry Venice-set tale.

Endings: Y tu mamá también

The finale of Alfonso Cuarón’s breakthrough 2001 Mexican road movie distils the barbed, homoerotic charge of his leads, while giving a heart-sinking sign-off about the fate of their companion. By Leigh Singer.

Reviews

Reviews

Film

  • The Card Counter reviewed Jonathan Romney.
  • No Time to Die reviewed by Kim Newman.
  • The Power of the Dog reviewed by Nicolas Rapold.
  • The Beta Test reviewed by Katherine McLaughlin.
  • Spencer reviewed by John Bleasdale.
  • Passing reviewed by Kelli Weston.
  • The Last Duel reviewed by John Bleasdale.
  • Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn reviewed by Carmen Gray.
  • Anne at 13,000 ft reviewed by Elena Lazic.
  • Rebel Dykes reviewed by Ela Bittencourt.
  • Natural Light reviewed by Pamela Hutchinson.
  • A Cop Movie reviewed by Jonathan Romney.
  • Mothering Sunday reviewed by Leigh Singer.
  • Petite maman reviewed by Jessica Kiang.
  • Drive My Car reviewed by Becca Voelcker.
  • The Mad Women’s Ball reviewed by Rebecca Harrison.
  • The Harder They Fall reviewed by Leila Latif.
  • Pirates reviewed by Alex Ramon.
  • The Green Knight reviewed by Philip Kemp.
  • Freshman Year reviewed by Tim Hayes.
  • Cry Macho reviewed by Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Television

  • Succession Season 3 reviewed by Caspar Salmon.
  • Squid Game reviewed by Anne Billson.
  • Scenes from a Marriage reviewed by Graham Fuller.
  • Alma’s Not Normal reviewed by Tara Judah.
  • Brand New Cherry Flavor reviewed by Kim Newman.
  • Reservation Dogs reviewed by Anton Bitel.

DVD and Blu-ray

  • Hungarian Masters: three films by Zoltán Fábri, István Gaál and Miklós Jancsó reviewed by Michael Brooke.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers reviewed by Robert Hanks.
  • La Traque (The Hunt) reviewed by David Thompson.
  • Early Universal Vol. 1 reviewed by Philip Kemp.
  • Celia reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
  • Gray Lady Down reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
  • Falbalas reviewed by Kate Stables.
  • The Ape Woman reviewed by Robert Hanks.
  • Skullduggery reviewed by Michael Atkinson.
  • The Cheat reviewed by Michael Atkinson.

Wider screen

  • Struggle in mind. This year has seen centenary tributes to the critic and curator Amos Vogel. But do the cinephiles who have been celebrating him really understand the lessons he was teaching and the demands he was making? By Nick Pinkerton.
  • All in the game. Peggy Ahwesh’s unclassifiable video art is as much a body of play as a body of work. By John David Rhodes.

Books

  • The Story of British Animation reviewed by Philip Kemp.
  • The World of Jia Zhangke reviewed by Tony Rayns.

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