Sight and Sound, November 2021

Welcome, droogs! Pour yourself a moloko and settle down with the latest issue of Sight and Sound. We turn our glazzies towards A Clockwork Orange, five decades on from the film’s release, as new research uncovers a series of letters and documents telling the story of Anthony Burgess‘s collaboration with Stanley Kubrick.

Elsewhere, Edgar Wright joins us for a conversation about Last Night in Soho, his electrifying tale of a young woman haunted by the past in present-day London, whilst Dr Jingan Young places the film alongside the storied tradition of Soho sexploitation B movies.

In advance of its world premiere as the BFI London Film Festival’s opening night gala, we explore the wild west of The Harder They Fall, hearing from director Jeymes Samuel about his star-studded, big-budget western.

And, in a packed edition, we also speak to directors Małgorzata Szumowska and Todd Haynes about their latest works, and dip into the archive for a fascinating conversation with Raoul Walsh. All this plus the latest news, reviews and all of our regular features. Real horrorshow!

Features

Kubrick and Burgess: the untold story

Kubrick and Burgess: the untold story

Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick worked together, not always harmoniously, on three film projects — A Clockwork Orange, the unmade Napoleon film, and Eyes Wide Shut. New research into the archive of the Burgess Foundation in Manchester has uncovered a series of letters and other documents, which allow us to chart their collaborations in detail. By Andrew Biswell.

Edgar Wright interviewed

About last night

In Last Night in Soho, a young woman obsessed with the 1960s finds ghostly traces of the decade start to seep into present-day London. Edgar Wright, the film’s director, talks about the snares of nostalgia, his long-term love affair with Soho, and cinema after lockdown. By Anna Bogutskaya.

+ Soho striptease clubs, sexploitation and the British B film

Last Night in Soho fits into a tradition of films set in Soho, whose strip clubs and nightclubs have offered the perfect backdrop to explore wider social transformations within Britain. By Jingan Young.

Jeymes Samuel interviewed

Hard knock life

Jeymes Samuel’s exuberant blood-spattered western The Harder They Fall offers a corrective to the whitewashed clichés of the genre’s past, with a starry cast including Idris Elba, Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield, and a soundtrack co-written by Jay-Z and the director. By Christina Newland.

+ The wild bunch

The characters in The Harder They Fall are loosely based on real-life figures from the Old West but placed in entirely fictional scenarios. Three of the actors explain what drew them to their roles.

Małgorzata Szumowska interviewed

Regarding the pain of others

One of Poland’s most acclaimed and prolific filmmakers, Małgorzata Szumowska discusses her latest film Never Gonna Snow Again, a rich and enigmatic work about healing, immigration and characters caught between the capitalist present and memories of the communist past. By Alex Ramon.

Todd Haynes interviewed

Going underground

Todd Haynes’s long-awaited documentary about The Velvet Underground presents a rich mosaic of testimonies from first-hand witnesses, exploring the radical 1960s counter-culture that produced them and their enduring influence. Haynes discusses the making of the film, restoring the band’s queerness and the theme of identity that runs through all his portraits of musicians. By Jonathan Romney.

From the archive: Raoul Walsh interviewed

From the archive: “You can’t let the audience get ahead of you.”

In this fascinating interview from almost 50 years ago, the legendary Hollywood director Raoul Walsh looks back on a career working with some of the greatest names in American film history, from Gloria Swanson and Ida Lupino to James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.

Opening scenes

Opening scenes

Report: Venice Film Festival

The lion’s share of Venice’s awards went to female filmmakers in an edition that radiated star power – including the ubiquitous Oscar Isaac – and unearthed its fair share of gems. By Nicolas Rapold.

Editors’ choice

Recommendations from the Sight and Sound team on what to see at the 2021 BFI London Film Festival.

In production: Kensuke’s Kingdom

New films by Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry, Francis Ford Coppola, Bassam Tariq and Christopher Nolan. By Thomas Flew.

News: History reclaimed at LFF

Europa, an avant-garde, anti-fascist short film by Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, which was seized by the Nazis in the 1930s, has had a long journey to its LFF premiere. By Pamela Hutchinson.

In conversation: Denis Villeneuve

The Dune director talks about his long affair with the original novel, and trying to keep an indie feel inside a blockbuster. Interview by James Mottram.

Dream Palaces: The Regal, Wadebridge

Bait director Mark Jenkin reflects on his teenage years, when Friday nights were spent misbehaving with friends and escaping from reality at a small independent cinema in north Cornwall. Interview by Thomas Flew.

Report: Hollywood’s retirement home turns 100

The Motion Picture & Television Fund, conceived by Tinseltown pioneer Mary Pickford to help struggling workers, continues to support a cast of thousands. By Christina Newland.

Obituary: Jean-Paul Belmondo, 1933-2021

We bid adieu to Jean-Paul Belmondo, the epitome of Gallic cool who became one of the biggest stars of the French New Wave. By Ginette Vincendeau.

Obituary: Michael K. Williams, 1966-2021

Remembering the career of Michael K. Williams, whose indelible turns in The Wire, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire were one of the glories of the golden age of television. By Leila Latif.

Talkies

Talkies

The long take

In a world of recurring inspirations, don’t be afraid to speak up for the remake. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Off the shelf

Is the new Dune adaptation a triumph? I’m the last person you should ask. By Jonathan Ross.

The director’s chair

British directors hardly ever make British films once they’re established. What needs to change? By Michael Winterbottom.

Cine wanderer

In Basu Chatterjee’s Delhi vs Bombay story, the dilemma is eternal: solidity or adventure? By Phuong Le.

Endings

Regulars

Editorial

Long live the real tastemakers,
whatever form they take. By Mike Williams.

Rediscovery: 15 Storeys High

The late Sean Lock’s melancholy, gritty, often surreal sitcom is a reminder of his brilliance – and of how strange comedy was once allowed to be. By Matthew Harle.

Archive TV: The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Collection

The 70s TV version of Marvel’s unjolly green giant doesn’t have a great deal in common with the slick, all-conquering film franchise we know today. By Robert Hanks.

Lost and Found: Without Pity

Alberto Lattuada’s genre-hopping drama can’t be shoehorned into the Italian post-war neorealist canon, but that doesn’t diminish its greatness. By Phuong Le.

This month in… 1951

Seventy years ago, in our October-December issue, Sight and Sound dedicated considerable space to an appreciation of the career of American documentary pioneer Robert Flaherty, who had died in July that year. Flaherty is best known for making what is regarded as the first documentary feature film, Nanook of the North (1922), which followed an Inuit family for a year; although there has been debate ever since about Flaherty’s methods and whether the film can be called documentary in the strictest sense. Director John Huston rounded off his encomium with these rousing words: “Sweet Christ, don’t let [other filmmakers] try to advance or imitate what he did, for nobody else will ever do it half so well.”

Endings: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

The close of John Cassavetes’s great 1976 crime drama can be seen as an acerbic commentary on the director’s own frustrations with striving to be an artist in a world ruled by commerce. By Hannah McGill.

Reviews

Reviews

Film

  • Cryptozoo reviewed by Thomas Flew.
  • The French Dispatch reviewed by Leigh Singer.
  • Azor reviewed by Nick James.
  • Everybody’s Talking About Jamie reviewed by Kate Stables.
  • Martyrs Lane reviewed by Josh Slater-Williams.
  • Beckett reviewed by Michael Brooke.
  • No Man of God reviewed by Jason Anderson.
  • Last Night in Soho reviewed by John Bleasdale.
  • The Djinn reviewed by Anton Bitel.
  • La Cha Cha reviewed by Clara Bradbury-Rance.
  • Never Gonna Snow Again reviewed by John Bleasdale.
  • ear for eye reviewed by Naomi Obeng.
  • The Show reviewed by Kim Newman.
  • Dune reviewed by Philip Kemp.
  • Fever Dream reviewed by Lisa Mullen.
  • Gaia reviewed by Gabrielle Marceau.
  • I Am Belmaya reviewed by Ela Bittencourt.
  • The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão reviewed by Michael Atkinson.
  • Mandibles reviewed by Adam Nayman.
  • My Little Sister reviewed by Hannah McGill.
  • The Velvet Underground reviewed by Trevor Johnston.

Television

  • Stephen reviewed by Alex Ramon.
  • Hemingway reviewed by Nick James.
  • Foundation reviewed by Kim Newman.
  • Vigil reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
  • Kevin Can F**k Himself reviewed by Hannah McGill.
  • Ridley Road reviewed by Kate Stables.

DVD & Blu-ray

  • The Fifth Horseman Is Fear reviewed by Michael Brooke.
  • Degree of Murder (Mord und Totschlag) reviewed by David Thompson.
  • Columbia Noir #4 reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
  • Johnny Guitar reviewed by Philip Horne.
  • The Psychic reviewed by Kim Newman.
  • One of Our Aircraft Is Missing reviewed by Philip Kemp.
  • L’amour braque reviewed by Michael Atkinson.
  • A Touch of Love reviewed by Trevor Johnston.
  • Illustrious Corpses reviewed by Michael Atkinson.
  • Babymother reviewed by Kate Stables.

Wider screen

  • Island treasure. Intrigued by Hou Hsiao Hsien or Edward Yang, getting your kicks from King Hu, and wondering where this new enthusiasm can take you next? An initiative by the Taiwan Film Institute is offering the tools for the job. By Tony Rayns.
  • Frisco fever. Decades before Tony Bennett left his heart there, filmmakers were falling in love with the city by the Bay. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Books

  • Dark Matter: Independent Filmmaking in the 21st Century reviewed by Henry K. Miller.
  • 1970-2018 Interviews with Med Hondo: A Cinema on the Run and On the Run: Perspectives on the Cinema of Med Hondo reviewed by Alex Fletcher.

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