Sight and Sound: the May 2024 issue

Hamaguchi Ryūsuke: insights on and from the Japanese auteur Plus: Mica Levi on their innovative score for The Zone of Interest – Víctor Erice interviewed about his masterful return to feature filmmaking, Close Your Eyes – a festival report from a politically charged Berlinale – remembering David Bordwell, a tireless champion of film art – and Richard Lester interviewed in 1973

5 April 2024

Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

“The emotions in Hamaguchi Ryūsuke’s films catch you unawares. They build slowly. As seemingly ordinary interactions – gatherings of family and friends, chats with work colleagues, attendance at the theatre or public meetings – placidly proceed, we may not even be entirely aware of the subterranean movement and evolution of these feelings. When you do find yourself shedding a tear or trembling with dread before one of his movies, it is rarely tied directly to a moment of drama or catharsis, such as a confrontation or a confession. Rather, it would seem that a crack has opened up at some almost indiscernible point of the film’s unfolding, and eventually – when you least expect it – the emotion wells up through it.”

— Adrian Martin on Hamaguchi Ryūsuke, for this issue’s cover feature

Features

A crack where the light gets in

A crack where the light gets in

Evil Does Not Exist, Hamaguchi’s follow-up to 2021’s twin hits Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, shows the Japanese writer-director to be one of our foremost explorers of personal encounters, and the yearnings and fears they reveal under close observation. By Adrian Martin.

Perfect harmony

Perfect harmony

Evil Does Not Exist, a portrait of a rural Japanese community battling developers, emerged from an unusual artistic collaboration. Director Hamaguchi Ryūsuke and composer Ishibashi Eiko discuss the art of the duet and explain how the film originated in a request to create images to accompany a piece of music. By Elena Lazic.

Berlinale festival bulletin

Berlinale festival bulletin

Of all the top European festivals, Berlin has been the most open to explicitly political filmmaking: no surprise, then, that this edition saw controversy about Gaza – as well as some invigorating, original films. By Thomas Flew.

The dark side of the tune

The dark side of the tune

How do you write a score for a film whose theme is the horror of Auschwitz? For Mica Levi, the composer for The Zone of Interest, who is behind some of the most formally inventive scores of recent years, the answer was profoundly challenging, and required a year in the studio with the director and editor, trying everything. By Sophia Satchell-Baeza.

David Bordwell, 1947-2024

David Bordwell, 1947-2024

One of the greatest of all contemporary critics, David Bordwell was a tireless champion of film art whose eloquent work on film style and narrative has transformed our understanding of the history of cinema. By James Naremore.

‘A film is a living organism’

‘A film is a living organism’

Víctor Erice’s first feature-length film for 30 years, Close Your Eyes is a densely allusive poetic meditation on time, memory and loss revolving around the disappearance of an actor in the midst of a film shoot. The director talks to Geoff Andrew about the genesis of the film, the personal nature of his filmmaking and his refusal to compromise.

‘I don’t find filmmaking fun’

Richard Lester’s run of films from A Hard Day’s Night in 1964 to The Bed Sitting Room in 1969 made him one of the most influential directors in English-language cinema. This interview took place in 1973 at the end of a four-year hiatus, just as Lester was preparing what would be the triumphant commercial success of The Three Musketeers.

Opening scenes

Opening story: Conflict zone

Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech, connecting The Zone of Interest to the war in Gaza, has aroused controversy, but should have surprised no one who has seen the film. By Jonathan Romney.

Preview: Rearranging Brian Eno’s life in music

The polymath – composer, producer, sound designer, ambient and electronic pioneer, visual artist, singer, writer – and Gary Hustwit, director of Eno, a game-changing documentary about him, on the radical potential of generative editing. By Sam Davies.

In production: When Chile came in from the cold

New films by Manuela Martelli, Noah Baumbach, kogonada and Celine Song. By Thomas Flew.

Report: Argentina’s new president cuts film to the bone

Javier Milei has declared war on ‘cultural Marxism’ and his new head of the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts has a mission to slash its budget and activities. But local filmmakers and citizens are fighting back. By Diego Lerer.

Obituary: Paola Taviani, 1931-2024

Born in the Tuscan town of San Miniato in 1931, Paolo Taviani was two years younger than his brother Vittorio, but they developed their passion for cinema in tandem. By Pasquale Iannone.

Talkies

The long take

In a world that prizes propriety over honesty and kindness, smuttiness is a kind of redemption. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Flick lit

After Oppenheimer, another tale of men in suits at the epicentre of history feels ripe for adaptation. By Nicole Flattery.

TV eye

It’s pure fantasy for critics to call Shōgun the new Game of Thrones, but 3 Body Problem might just fit the bill. By Andrew Male.

The magnificent ’74

Fifty years later, in Conversation with American cinema’s banner year. By Jessica Kiang.

Regulars

Editorial

With no end in sight to his screen incarnations, it’s clear that Tom Ripley is a sociopath for all seasons. By Mike Williams.

Rediscovery: Three films from Deaf Crocodile

The US label has developed an impressive slate of Central and Eastern European rarities and bizarreries, and these releases – folklore, steampunk and weird sci-fi – don’t let the standard slip. By Michael Brooke.

Lost and found: The Ghoul

In the post-Exorcist world of the mid 70s, with Hammer struggling to update itself, Freddie Francis’s period horror looked irrelevant. But can the spectacle of Peter Cushing grieving over his son’s degenerate, cannibalistic ways ever really go out of style? By Kim Newman.

Wider screen

Nicolás Guillén Landrián

A gifted artist in pursuit of an ecstatic vision of revolutionary society, the Cuban filmmaker made a series of vital short documentaries in the 1960s and 70s. After years of neglect, following his imprisonment and exile, his work is being rediscovered and restored. By Jonathan Ali

The art of resistance: the 19th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival

A celebration of political and aesthetic radicalism, the festival took liberation as its theme this year, shining a spotlight on a trio of films exploring Arabic histories of conflict and resistance. By Laura Staab.

Endings: Touchez pas au grisbi (1954)

The great French actor Jean Gabin was born to play the desolate closing scene of Jacques Becker’s film about two ageing criminals who pull off a final heist, only to find their dreams of escape brutally crushed. By Adam Scovell.

Reviews

Films

Our critics review: Hoard, Dune: Part Two, Close Your Eyes, Love Lies Bleeding, Our Body, The Trouble with Jessica, Much Ado About Dying, Kidnapped, Tiger Stripes, Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, Last Summer, Io Capitano, The Sweet East, That They May Face the Rising Sun, All You Need is Death, Opus, Monkey Man, Back to Black, If Only I Could Hibernate, Baltimore.

Blu-rays

Our critics review: Allonsanfan; Happy End; I, the Executioner; By a Man’s Face You Shall Know Him; Thelma & Louise; Closed Circuit; Vie privée; The Spider Labyrinth; Circle of Danger; Beautiful Thing.

Books

Our critics review: Not Your China Doll: The Wild and Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong, La Captive, Mädchen in Uniform.