“There are no films quite like Paul Verhoeven’s” writes Brazilian critic turned director Kleber Mendonça Filho in our latest issue. Mendonça Filho, a longtime admirer of the Dutch filmmaker, visited the set of Verhoeven’s latest, Benedetta, his film about a 17th-century lesbian nun, back in 2018 and couldn’t resist the opportunity to sit down with him when Sight and Sound asked if he’d like to interview Verhoeven. The two discuss Verhoeven’s early years growing up in Holland during WWII, the different phases of his 50-year career as he moved between Europe and Hollywood, and how movie directors today need to look to Eisenstein.
Elsewhere in this issue: Robert Eggers reflects on The Northman; Christopher Frayling recalls Doris Day giving her first career interview; Liv Ullmann looks back on the films that inspired her; Molly Haskell explores a host of current films – among them The Worst Person in the World, The Lost Daughter, Bergman Island – that put motherhood under the microscope.
All of this, plus an archive interview with slapstick legend Buster Keaton, the view from Ukraine’s film archive, all the latest news and reviews and much more…
Director Kleber Mendonça Filho visited Verhoeven’s set in 2018 to watch him shoot Benedetta, his tale of a 17th-century lesbian nun. The pair caught up for Sight and Sound to discuss the film and look back over the Dutch filmmaker’s formidable 50-year career.
Grim up north
Robert Eggers’ bold Viking drama The Northman is carefully researched, exquisitely crafted and beautifully shot, but does it risk glorifying violence and war? By Jonathan Romney.
To bear or not to bear?
Books have often explored complex issues of maternity, but films on the subject have been few and far between. With a host of movies now addressing questions of motherhood, Molly Haskell asks whether cinema is finally catching up. By Molly Haskell.
At the movies with… Liv Ullmann
The great Norwegian actor and director talks to Hannah McGill about solo cinema-going, the genius of Ingmar Bergman and the sights and sounds of the films that have stayed with her. Introduction and interview by Hannah McGill.
‘I’m no rebel’
Already a household name in Belgium and France, Virginie Efira is gaining international attention for her starring role in Benedetta. Here she talks about working with Paul Verhoeven, finding herself through film and the changing landscape for actresses over 40. By Catherine Wheatley.
Doris Day: “I don’t even like apple pie.”
She had never given a career interview before, but in 1989 Christopher Frayling managed to get an invitation to speak to her in California. Looking back from her centenary year, he recalls his encounter with the plain-talking Hollywood legend, who died in 2019.
From the archive: Buster Keaton interviewed
In this candid interview from the mid-1960s the great Buster Keaton looks back over his incredible career, sharing fascinating insights into his technique behind and in front of the camera. Interviewed in Sight and Sound, Winter 1965-66. By John Gillett and James Blue.
Inside Ukraine’s film archive
The world has been thrown into shock and disarray by Russia’s invasion of the country. But alongside the military resistance, local film archivists are playing their part in saving Ukrainian culture, through film preservation and screenings in metro stations. By Isabel Stevens.
Recommendations from the Sight and Sound team.
In production: Rejtman rides again
Argentinian film director Martín Rejtman speaks to Thomas Flew about his latest project – a documentary about riders for delivery apps.
News: Bogdanovich’s Last Picture Show
The unbelievable but true story of an auteur’s lost and butchered film, eBay and a superfan. By Thomas Flew.
In conversation: Laura Wandel
The director tells us how her Cannes winner Playground digs deeply into child psychology. Interview by Jonathan Romney.
Dream palaces: Kino Armata, Kosovo
Kosovan writer-director Blerta Basholli, whose film Hive is in UK cinemas now, talks about watching Titanic in the shadow of war and the struggle to keep public cinema alive at home. Interview by Carly Mattox.
The documentary festival offers unique perspectives to a curious and committed audience. By Matt Turner.
Obituary: Roger Graef
Adapting the observational methods of Direct Cinema to fly-on-the-wall television, Graef was a documentary pioneer who strove to demystify the world and give the audience open access to his subjects. By Nick Bradshaw.
Obituary: William Hurt
Hurt brought a cerebral intensity and charm to leading roles in Body Heat, The Big Chill, Broadcast News and his Oscar-winning turn in Kiss of the Spider Woman. By David Parkinson.
The long take
Beyond Jane Campion, women in film have had their eye on westerns for more than 100 years. By Pamela Hutchinson.
Body horror, violence and the sprawl of 1990s Warsaw litter an unnerving Żuławski film. By Phuong Le.
If we insist on playing a preposterous game of choosing top tens, I have to ask: why not eleven? By David Thomson.
It’s Paul Verhoeven’s world.The rest of us are just living in it. By Mike Williams.
Rediscovery: Louis Feuillade
Adored by the surrealists, imitated by Fritz Lang, the master of elaborately plotted serial thrillers of crime, espionage and revenge is rarely out of fashion for long. By Tony Rayns.
Archive TV: Play for Today Volume 3
The latest batch contains some of the most popular films from the BBC’s flagship drama strand, and some salutary pictures of life on the margins of 1970s Britain. By Robert Hanks.
Lost and Found: Ping Pong
This warm comedy underlines how rare films about the Chinese-British experience are – and makes you wonder why there aren’t more of them. By George White.
We revisit Chris Petit’s beguiling list of cinematic obsessions from 1993.
This month in… 1991
May 91 was a bountiful and wide-ranging issue, featuring Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, The Silence of the Lambs, Mark Kermode on ‘Misery’, Jeanette Winterson on Ingmar Bergman and much more.
Endings: The Passion of Anna
Ingmar Bergman’s devastating 1969 portrait of the faltering love affair between a haunted widow and a recent divorcé strips back the layers until nothing is left but solitude. By Noel Hess.
- Compartment No. 6 reviewed by John Bleasdale.
- The Batman reviewed by Kim Newman.
- Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood reviewed by Alex Dudok de Witt.
- Benedetta reviewed by John Bleasdale.
- Happening reviewed by Catherine Wheatley.
- Murina reviewed by Carmen Gray.
- True Things reviewed by Rebecca Harrison.
- Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle reviewed by James Lattimer.
- Turning Red reviewed by Thomas Flew.
- The Metamorphosis of Birds reviewed by Naomi Obeng.
- Playground reviewed by James Lattimer.
- A Night of Knowing Nothing reviewed by Ben Nicholson.
- The Outfit reviewed by Philip Kemp.
- Deep Water reviewed by Beatrice Loayza.
- Small Body reviewed by Pamela Hutchinson.
- Casablanca Beats reviewed by Nick Bradshaw.
- Kimi reviewed by Kambole Campbell.
- Prayers For the Stolen reviewed by Maria Delgado.
- Ennio: The Maestro reviewed by Alex Ramon.
- You Are Not My Mother reviewed by Katie McCabe.
- Gangubai Kathiawadi reviewed by Naman Ramachandran.
- Slow Horses reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
- Pachinko reviewed by Leigh Singer.
- Anatomy of a Scandal reviewed by Kate Stables.
- The Andy Warhol Diaries reviewed by Nicole Flattery.
- Mood reviewed by Leila Latif.
- The Dropout reviewed by Ben Walters.
DVD & Blu-ray
- The Camera Is Ours: Britain’s Women Documentary Makers reviewed by Hannah McGill.
- Voices reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
- Virgin Witch reviewed by Kim Newman.
- Jazz on a Summer’s Day reviewed by Ehsan Khoshbakht.
- Coach to Vienna reviewed by Peter Hames.
- Rediscovery: Louis Feuillade reviewed by Tony Rayns.
- Archive TV: Play for Today Volume 3 reviewed by Robert Hanks.
- Pale Flower reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
- Sylvia Kristel 70s Collection reviewed by David Thompson.
- The Bitter Stems reviewed by Robert Hanks.
- Repeat Performance reviewed by Michael Atkinson.
- ’Round Midnight reviewed by Kate Stables.
- Lost and Found: Ping Pong reviewed by George White.
- Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven’s Gate and the Price of a Vision reviewed by Peter Tonguette.
- Researching Historical Screen Audiences reviewed by Bryony Dixon.
- DWOSKINO: The Gaze of Stephen Dwoskin reviewed by Sophia Satchell Baeza.