Sight & Sound: the April 2016 issue

Anarchy in the UK! Tom Hiddleston and the cast and crew of Ben Wheatley’s JG Ballard adaptation High-Rise talk class and identity – and we explore the rise of cinema’s Ballardian worldview.

Plus: down the rabbit hole of Golden-Age Hollywood with the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!; Pablo Larraín on his hushed fable of twilit deviant priests, The Club; Patricio Guzmán on the dazzling nonfiction metaphors of his latest memento mori, The Pearl Button; Sebastian Schipper on his one-take commando film feat Victoria; and coming full circle, we take an in-depth look at the uncompromising and anarchic work of Alan Clarke, a prophet more sung than seen.

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Anarchy all over again in the UK! As JG Ballard’s dystopian satire High-Rise finally reaches the screen, and the long-lost works of anti-establishment prophet Alan Clarke come to DVD, our new April issue brings together features on a wonderfully rich series of new movies that riff differently on time, memory, history and politics.

Here’s Tom Hiddleston (and colleagues) on class and identity in Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise – plus a survey of Ballardian cinema. Here are the Coen brothers, rekindling the imperial spirit of Hollywood with a wink. Here’s Pablo Larraín, venturing into the guilt-laced shadowlands of a “club of disappeared priests”, and his Chilean compatriot Patricio Guzmán, finding dazzling metaphors for political impunity in his country’s fragmented coastline. Here’s Sebasian Schipper, trying to “corner time” in his one-shot commando film feat Victoria. And here are seven pages of tribute and analysis to what made Alan Clarke one of Britain’s true greats…

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Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

In Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel of societal collapse in a 70s tower block, Tom Hiddleston plays an ordinary man forced to take sides when class tensions lead to anarchy. Here the actor reflects on issues of role-playing and identity. By Nick James.

Plus: Pulling the strings

It took producer Jeremy Thomas 40 years to bring High-Rise to the screen. Below, from the set in Northern Ireland, key members of the team discuss their role in bringing J.G. Ballard’s apocalyptic vision to life. By Neil McGlone.

Plus: Maverick to mainstream

J.G. Ballard’s work was always laden with cinematic influences, but his own impact on film culture took rather longer to be felt, emerging gradually from the margins of the avant garde. By Roger Luckhurst.


Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers

A disquieting portrait of a group of priests sequestered in a Vatican safe house to atone for their sexual crimes, Pablo Larraín’s The Club refuses to condemn its subjects outright, offering instead a compassionate, claustrophobic study of human frailty. By Mar Diestro-Dópido.


Swords and Scandals

Swords and Scandals

The Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! borrows liberally from the lives of cinematic legends in its playful recreation of Tinseltown’s 50s heyday – but while it can be fun to try to spot the references, classic Hollywood itself was a rabbit hole that makes it impossible to tell for certain where the truth begins and ends. By Pamela Hutchinson.


Night Moves

Night Moves

Shot in a single bravura 134-minute take, Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria tells the tale of a young Spanish woman on a night out in Berlin who finds herself being roped into a bank robbery, in a film whose dizzying momentum never sacrifices the nuances of character. By Jonathan Romney.


Kicking against the Pricks: The Disruptive Life of Alan Clarke

Kicking against the Pricks: The Disruptive Life of Alan Clarke

Renowned for his assaults on bourgeois values and his fierce portraits of marginalised communities, the late director Alan Clarke actually had a far wider range than he has been given credit for. His oeuvre, made largely for television, has traditionally been hard to track down but, as a forthcoming BFI retrospective reveals, his films were as inventive and uncompromising as any ever made in Britain. By Michael Brooke.


The Drowned World

The Drowned World

Turning his attention from the northern desert landscape he explored so vividly in Nostalgia for the Light to the remote archipelagos of Western Patagonia, the veteran Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán offers another dazzling poetic meditation on history, ethnography, culture and political violence in The Pearl Button. By Nick Bradshaw.




Stamina paradiso: watching long films



In the frame: All the world’s a screen

Language is no barrier to loving Shakespeare – as shown by the global popularity of his plays as a source for cinema. By David Thompson.

Listomania: Courtroom films

Object lesson: Sweet dreams

From the family-size Malteser box to Céline and Julie’s magic bonbons, confectionery is integral to the experience of movie-going. By Hannah McGill.

The five key…: Films about witches

Forget your toil and trouble, and enjoy a spell of relaxation with this coven-ready list of screen sorceresses. By Nikki Baughan.

Interview: Alice Winocour

With a film she co-wrote in the running for an Oscar and her second feature as director on release, the director of Aftershock is on a roll. By Simran Hans.

Dispatches: Guilty pleasures

There’s nothing like bunking off to go and sit in an empty cinema on a Tuesday afternoon to rejuvenate your love for film. By Mark Cousins.


The Industry

Development tale: Court

For Chaitanya Tamhane, getting his debut feature Court made was a trial – but he’s been vindicated by festival juries and the box office. By Charles Gant.

The numbers

Youth, A Bigger Splash and Italian directors at the UK box office. By Charles Gant.



Telling tales: the 2016 Berlinale

Story was king at Berlin this year, a festival whose finest films eschewed stylistic innovation in favour of novelistic ambition. By Jonathan Romney.


Wide angle

Preview: Spirit of independence

Admired by Werner Herzog among many others, Filipino director Kidlat Tahimik’s films combine playfulness with political critique. By Aaron Cutler.

Soundings: Exclusion zone

Jacques Rivette’s 1961 debut, Paris nous appartient, demonstrates the late director’s masterly orchestration of sound and music. By Sam Davies.

Primal screen: the world of silent cinema

The recent restoration of Two Timid Souls, a little seen 1928 feature by René Clair, reveals a silent masterpiece. By Pamela Hutchinson.

Artists’ moving image: Distant voices

Traumatic recent events and contested histories haunt Auto Da Fé, the new work by artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. By Laura Allsop.

Artists’ moving image: History repeating

Stan Douglas’s The Secret Agent riffs on Hitchcock and Conrad to subvert the linear progression of cinema and history. By Erika Balsom.


Our Reviews section


Films of the month

The Witch

plus reviews of

Black Mountain Poets
The Boy
The Choice
The Club
Dad’s Army
Dark Places
Eddie the Eagle
Fifty Shades of Black
The Finest Hours
Hail, Caesar!
The Here After
Homme Less
The Host
How to Be Single
Kung Fu Panda 3
Next to Her
The Ones Below
Only the Dead
The Other Side of the Door
Our Brand Is Crisis
The Pearl Button
Power in Our Hands
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Rock the Kasbah
Speed Sisters
Survival Instinct
Welcome to Me
Zoolander 2


Home Cinema features

Our Home Cinema section

Zen and the art of King Hu: A Touch of Zen

Just as martial-arts movies were being dismissed by serious critics, one Taiwanese film showed wuxia to be a source of wonderment. By Anne Billson.

Rediscovery: I Knew Her Well

Antonio Pietrangeli’s critique of 60s sexual politics explores the tensions between shifting mores and macho traditions. By Nick Pinkerton.

Lost and found: Looking for Mr. Goodbar

A tale of sex and the city in the 1970s finds itself torn between female freedom and reactionary backlash. By Christina Newland.

plus reviews of

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies
Deep Red
Kiss of the Spider Woman
Pedicab Driver
Péril en la demeure
Three films with Gérard Philipe
Rocco and His Brothers
The Southerner



The Borgias
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Romanzo Criminale – La serie



Our Books section

Terrence Malick: Rehearsing the Unexpected edited by Carlo Hintermann and Daniele Villa (Faber & Faber) reviewed by Ryan Gilbey

Delivering Dreams: A Century of British Film Distribution by Geoffrey Macnab (I.B. Tauris) reviewed by Trevor Johnston

Silent Women: Pioneers of Cinema edited by Melody Bridges and Cheryl Robson (Supernova Books) reviewed by Pamela Hutchinson



The emotional underpinning of Hitchcock/Truffaut

The overlooked amongst our Obituaries 2015

Thundercrack!: what the usher/cashier saw

Fighting for cinematic subtitles

Youth: crying handball


Our Endings section


McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Silence, snow and smoke from an opium pipe frame the death of Warren Beatty’s gambler in Robert Altman’s anti-western. By Tom Charity.



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