Sight & Sound: the February 2017 issue

Silence! Martin Scorsese talks about his long-cherished passion project in an extended interview (with on-set photographs by Brigitte Lacombe), and we profile the director as film historian and advocate and abstract expressionist.

Plus Michelle Williams and Kenneth Lonergan, Howard Hughes and Warren Beatty, Kirsten Johnson, Jeff Nichols and Juan Antonio Bayona.

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With Martin Scorsese’s long-cherished passion project Silence finally out on the big screen, a two-month retrospective celebration now underway at BFI Southbank and a 40th-anniversary re-release of Taxi Driver around the corner, what better time to unveil a very special Scorsese issue? Across 20 pages, the director talks at length with Philip Horne about the influence of Catholic faith and Japanese cinema on his new film; Brigitte Lacombe photographs the director on set; Nick James presents five case studies in Scorseseian expressionist abstraction; and Ian Christie traces Scorsese’s rising authority as an advocate of cinematic history, preservation and education. 

Also this month, we talk to Michelle Williams and Kenneth Lonergan about the haunting Manchester by the Sea, Juan Antonio Bayona about his new grief fantasia A Monster Calls and Jeff Nichols about his interracial period drama Loving. Sophie Mayer unpacks one of the year’s best documentaries, Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson, and David Thomson considers the ever-strange figure of Howard Hughes in the context of Warren Beatty’s new romcom Rules Don’t Apply.

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Martin Scorsese: Catholic Tastes

Martin Scorsese: Catholic Tastes

Martin Scorsese’s 28-year quest to adapt Silence, by the great Catholic writer Endo Shusaku, has resulted in one of the director’s most personal movies. Here he discusses faith, filmmaking and his fascination with the giants of Japanese cinema. By Philip Horne, with on-set photography by Brigitte Lacombe.


An Activist in the Archives

An Activist in the Archives

Alongside his directing career, Martin Scorsese has played critical roles as an archivist, historian and teacher, advocating tirelessly on behalf of overlooked films from around the globe. By Ian Christie.


The Rules of Abstraction

The Rules of Abstraction

Some of the most memorable moments in Scorsese’s work come when he reaches beyond the merely real into realms of pure rhythm, form and colour. By Nick James.


A Winter’s Tale

A Winter’s Tale

A middle-aged loner has to face his demons when he is drawn back to his old hometown to care for his nephew, in Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan’s intricate, understated and devastating portrait of a blue collar community haunted by tragedy. By Jonathan Romney.


 ‘Risk-taking is essential’ 

Michelle Williams’s extraordinary ability to bring raw emotion to psychologically knotty dramas has assured her place as one of the finest actors of her generation. By Isabel Stevens.


Watching the Watchers

Watching the Watchers

Cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson’s poetic, meditative exploration of the moral pitfalls and complex artistry of nonfiction filmmaking, reflects on the lessons she’s learned over the past two decades as one of the pre-eminent cinematographers in American documentary. By Sophie Mayer.


Forbidden Colours

Forbidden Colours

The brutalising effects of Jim Crow legislation and the landmark battle to end the criminal sanction of interracial marriage in the US are the subjects of Jeff Nichols’s Loving, which focuses on an ordinary couple trying to get on with their lives in Virginia in the middle of the last century. By Kelli Weston.


Journey into Fear

Journey into Fear

Based on an award-winning novel that aims to help children come to terms with the death of a relative, Juan Antonio Bayona’s visually spectacular A Monster Calls is an unashamedly emotional examination of grief that never resorts to easy sentimentality. By Mar Diestro-Dópido.


The Lost Lord of Romaine

The Lost Lord of Romaine

Howard Hughes has long been a figure of fascination for filmmakers, inspiring works by the likes of Max Ophuls and Martin Scorsese. Now Warren Beatty has followed in their footsteps, finally realising his decades-old dream of playing the eccentric billionaire, in his romantic comedy drama Rules Don’t Apply. By David Thomson.




Martin Scorsese and Late Style



Our Rushes section

Our Rushes section

2017 preview: The future is bright

The real world may be a scary place, but perhaps our list of the cinematic highlights of 2017 will give you some hope to cling to. By Isabel Stevens.


Object lesson: Lifting the veil

A veil represents both the purity of the chaste bride and the promise of her sexuality – and is a symbol that has always been ripe for subversion. By Hannah McGill.


Festival: There ain’t nothin’ to it

A strong silent cinema strand at Bristol’s Slapstick Festival showcases the enduring appeal of the convention-busting flapper. By Pamela Hutchinson.


Rediscovery: Broadcast news

A recently discovered scrapbook tells the intriguing tale of the rise and fall of the Jacey cinema chain, purveyor of newsreels and sex films. By Ian Francis.


Dispatches: 17 for ’17

Not everything’s perfect in cinema, so as we survey the year ahead, it’s time to dream up a list of all the ways we could make it even better. By Mark Cousins.


The Industry

Our Industry section

Our Industry section

Development tale: T2: Trainspotting

A creative summit in Edinburgh in 2014 was the shot in the arm the Trainspotting crew needed to rescue the sequel after years in limbo. By Charles Gant.


The numbers

Review of the year and English- and foreign-language arthouse at the UK box office 2016. By Charles Gant.


Wide Angle

Our Wide Angle section

Our Wide Angle section

Artists’ moving image: Spectacular tentacular

Philippe Parreno’s installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall dissolves cinema and recreates it in marvellous new forms. By Laura Staab.


Soundings: Warp factor

They say a good film score is one you don’t notice, but Mica Levi’s score for Pablo Larraín’s Jackie doesn’t give you that option. By Sam Davies.


Primal screen: The world of silent cinema

Stage and film comedies have distorted our view of the early days of cinema – but some of them are terrific. By Bryony Dixon.


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.


Our Reviews section

Our Reviews section


Films of the month

Starless Dreams

plus reviews of

Collateral Beauty
Crash & Burn
Danny Says
Hacksaw Ridge
Holy Cow
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism
A Monster Calls
Monster Trucks
Office Christmas Party
Rogue One
Through the Wall
The Weekend
The White King
Why Him?
The Young Offenders


Home Cinema features

Our Home Cinema section

Our Home Cinema section

Uneasy riders: One-Eyed Jacks and McCabe and Mrs. Miller

With their antiheroes, subtle subversions and moral complexity, two revisionist westerns question the idea of ‘Americanness’. By Michael Atkinson.


Once upon a time in the east: Three Wishes for Cinderella

This proto-feminist take on the fairytale favourite offers a feisty cross-dressing heroine and a spoonful of sweetened socialism. By Pamela Hutchinson.


The Magic Box: The Films of Shirley Clarke

A collection of home movies, films and unfinished fragments celebrates one of the unsung greats of American independent cinema. By Michael Brooke.


Lost and found: Hard Contract

The title promises action – but this hitman tale unexpectedly turns into a heady talk-fest about love, mortality and commitment. By Tim Lucas.


plus reviews of

The Blue Lamp
Burnt Offerings
Children of Divorce
Every Thing Will Be Fine
The Asphalt Jungle/Moby Dick
The Man Between
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Pretty Poison
Private Property
Women in Love



I Didn’t Know You Cared
The Troubleshooters – Mogul



Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby (Signum Books) reviewed by Kim Newman

The Cinema Hypothesis: Teaching Cinema in the Classroom and Beyond by Alain Bergala, translated by Madeline Whittle (FilmmuseumSynemaPublications) reviewed by Nick Pinkerton

King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue by James Layton and David Pierce (Media History Press) reviewed by David Robinson



Our Endings section

Our Endings section

Arrival’s departure from its source novel

The Girl on the Train’s lack of departure from its source novel

Our films of the year: wot no savage satire?

Two against Nate Parker

Television credits’ debt to theatre

Jamaica Inn is another country




If there’s a lesson in the final scenes of Martin Scorsese’s blackly comic Mafia epic, it’s that some people never learn. By Trevor Johnston.


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