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Sight & Sound: the April 2017 issue

Why Kristen Stewart is the star for our times: we profile and interview the star of Personal Shopper, Certain Women (and Twilight). Plus Paul Verhoeven and the debate over Elle, Anna Biller on The Love Witch, Cristian Mungiu on Graduation, Jacques Becker and a wide look at Indian cinema.

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She’s our James Dean: our April issue explores how Kristen Stewart has graduated from Panic Room and the Twilight saga to become what writer Graham Fuller calls “not only an actor for the moment, but the actor” – and why her beautifully neurotic, introverted underplaying, for directors from Ang Lee, Woody Allen and Walter Salles to Kelly Reichardt (in this week’s Certain Women) and Olivier Assayas (mid-March’s Personal Shopper) makes her cinema’s prime conduit to this decade’s mood of cosmic dread.

In a rich month for new movies, we also talk to Stewart about working with Assayas, to Paul Verhoeven about working with Isabelle Huppert on his perverse and subversive thriller Elle (and argue the toss over its gender politics), to Cristian Mungiu about his latest movie Graduation – an incisive portrait of Romania’s current corruption – and to Anna Biller about her magically erotic fable The Love Witch.

And looking back, we endeavour to up the appreciation of French auteur Jacques Becker – as well as whet your appetite for a year of Indian cinema, looking well beyond the poles of Satyajit Ray and Bollywood.



Distress Signals

Distress Signals

Kristen Stewart’s acute portrayals of restless, troubled women feel at times as if they are channelling a wider spirit of modern dread – something Olivier Assayas has tapped into in his second collaboration with the actor, his enigmatic ghost story Personal Shopper. By Graham Fuller.


+ Falling into the moment

At last year’s Cannes, where Personal Shopper premiered, Kristen Stewart talked about anxiety, audience expectations and the art of acting with Matthias Greuling and James Mottram.


Darkness Visible

Darkness Visible

Isabelle Huppert gives one of the most riveting performances of her career in Paul Verhoeven’s incendiary Elle, refusing to play the victim in a challenging, twisty thriller that seeks to subvert the expectations of the traditional revenge drama. By Nick James.


+ Crossing the line

Despite the critical acclaim for Elle, a fierce debate has erupted over its sexual politics. Here one critic defends the film as a razor-sharp portrait of the patriarchal society we live in, while another condemns it as an unsavoury misogynist fantasy.


The Dutch Master

The Dutch Master

Paul Verhoeven’s early Dutch-language films introduced the motifs that would come to define his cinematic universe, from humiliated men and ironic violence to strong, objectified women. By Craig Williams.


A World Within: The Other Indian Cinema

A World Within: The Other Indian Cinema

Indian cinema can sometimes be lazily presented as a straight choice between Satyajit Ray and Bollywood – but as an extensive BFI season makes clear, the subcontinent produces an extraordinarily rich and diverse selection of films, not least in its booming independent sector. By Meenakshi Shedde. 



A woman uses magic potions to help find the man of her dreams in Anna Biller’s exquisitely realised fable The Love Witch. Here the director explains why many critics have misunderstood the film and why comparisons with Russ Meyer drive her crazy. By Kim Morgan.


Matters of Principle

Matters of Principle

A doctor’s moral world view is put to the test when an event that threatens his daughter’s future reluctantly persuades him to exploit his position to pull strings with the authorities, in Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation, a subtle, timely portrait of the endemic corruption blighting Romanian society. By Nick James.


Jacques Becker: the Elusive Auteur

Jacques Becker: the Elusive Auteur

Jacques Becker directed three indisputable classics and inspired the devotion of the Cahiers crowd, yet his place in film history seems oddly insecure – some of his best films hardly known, their skill and prescient outlook underappreciated. By Ginette Vincendeau.




Bob Rafelson, alive, alive oh!



Our Rushes section

Our Rushes section

In the frame: A stitch in time

The enigmatic relationship between movie costumes and time is the focus of the 10th Fashion in Film Festival. By Pamela Hutchinson.


Object lesson: Shear indulgence

Sharp, shiny, frequently wielded by women – is it any wonder scissors appeal to shrinks, and to filmmakers? By Hannah McGill.


Interview: Growing pains

Jenny Gage’s All This Panic is a poetic, bittersweet fly-on-the-wall documentary portrait of a group of girls growing up in Brooklyn. By Anna Coatman.


Rediscovery: Shadow dancer

Hollywood’s ingrained racism deprived Jeni LeGon of a great dance career – but now she has inspired a brilliant novel. By Pamela Hutchinson.


Dispatches: Xanadu on the Potomac

As we struggle to understand Trump’s America, we can look to one great filmmaker who seemed to prophesy it over and over. By Mark Cousins.


The Industry

Our Industry section

Our Industry section

Development tale: The Lost City of Z

Director James Gray needed more than a little of his lead protagonist’s obsessive determination to get his tale of Amazon exploration made. By Charles Gant.


The numbers

Toni Erdmann and European foreign-language comedies at the UK box office. By Charles Gant.



Our Industry section

Our Industry section

Berlin: places of the hart

The Berlinale was a patchy affair – but that includes patches of style, tenderness and hilarity, as well as several deer. By Nick James.


Rotterdam: Dutch courage

Rotterdam has shown admirable tenacity in sticking to its founding principles as a showcase for films you won’t find at other festivals. By Tony Rayns.


Wide Angle

Our Wide Angle section

Our Wide Angle section

Opinion: Mystical magery tour

Even in secularised times, God is still a big presence in the movies – but these days He’s moving in mysterious ways. By Nick Pinkerton.


Soundings: The music of the fears

When horror films seek to overstep limits of taste and expectation, why do so many soundtracks play the same old tune? By Joseph Stannard.


Primal screen: The world of silent cinema

There is more to silent film and to deafness than a straightforward absence of sound. By Bryony Dixon and Pamela Hutchinson.


Profile: Melting pot

The films of Rita Azevedo Gomes, filled with layers, paradoxes and poetry, reinforce a conception of cinema built on friendship. By Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin.


Archive: Reeling in the years

Cuba’s newsreels, newly restored, offer a remarkable record of state propaganda – but also of exciting, innovative filmmaking. By Olaf Möller.


Artists’ moving image: Landscapes of feeling

Laida Lertxundi’s short, self-reflexive, enigmatic and intensely beautiful fimls read like subtexts to stories waiting to be told. By Erika Balsom.


Our Reviews section

Our Reviews section


Films of the month

Free Fire
The Lost City of Z
The Salesman

plus reviews of

The Age of Shadows
All This Panic
Another Mother’s Son
The Chamber
The Creeping Garden
A Cure for Wellness
Don’t Knock Twice
The Eyes of My Mother
Fifty Shades Darker
Fist Fight
Get Out
The Great Wall
John Wick: Chapter 2
The Lego Batman Movie
The Love Witch
Man Down
The Olive Tree
Personal Shopper
P.S. Jerusalem
Rules Don’t Apply
Shut In
A Silent Voice
The Space Between Us
Viceroy’s House


Home Cinema features

Our Home Cinema section

Our Home Cinema section

The destruction of innocence: Two Films by Lino Brocka

Two rare restorations remind us of the power of Lino Brocka, who railed against political corruption and the exploitation of the poor. By Alex Davidson.


Mother’s ruin: Mildred Pierce

The tale of an ambitious woman’s rise and fall, this Joan Crawford showcase is a cold-hearted weepie cloaked in classic noir. By Pamela Hutchinson.


Head trip: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Four decades ago, Sam Peckinpah’s weird and wild revenge thriller baffled the critics… Now its weaknesses look like strengths. By Andrew Male.


Lost and found: Sandra

Sibling secrets and buried memories make for a troubled homecoming in Visconti’s ‘decadent’ family drama. By Pasquale Iannone.


plus reviews of

Bunny Lake Is Missing
The Best of Cinerama & Cinerama’s Russian Adventure
Cover Girl
The Crying Game
The Glass Shield
A Man for All Seasons
The Man from Laramie
Memories of Underdevelopment
The Sicilian Clan
Someday My Prince Will Come / Philip and His Seven Wives
The Spring River Flows East 



Robert Hanks revisits Galton and Simpson comedy and Probation Officer volume one



Jean Renoir: A Biography by Pascal Mérigeau (RatPac Press/Running Press) reviewed by Nick Pinkerton

Abbas Kiarostami and Film-Philosophy by Mathew Abbott (Edinburgh University Press) reviewed by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Partners in Suspense: Critical Essays on Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock edited by Steven Rawle and K.J. Donnelly (Manchester University Press) reviewed by Neil Sinyard

Flesh and Excess: On Underground Film by Jack Sargeant (Amok Books) reviewed by Neil Mitchell



Our Endings section

Our Endings section

Up with the digital resolution

More Nell Shipman biography

Early female British cinematographer Lizzie Le Blond

Lightbulbs in Stalker

Hidden Figures’ human calculators



Trouble in Paradise

Ernst Lubitsch’s exemplary craft was rarely displayed with greater elegance than in the finale of this delightful comedy. By Adrian Martin.


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