Sight & Sound: the May 2020 issue

Break-out time: remembering Mathieu Kassovitz’s explosive debut La Haine, the film that turned French urban bust to boom, on its 25th anniversary. 

Plus contemporary banlieu tensions in Ladj Ly’s Les Miserables, Damien Chazelle’s Netflix jazz series The Eddy, Mark Cousins’s new history of female filmmaking and David Thomson on acting’s wrong turn.

In print and digital from 6 April 2020. Buy a print issue, get the digital edition or .

A message to our readers: we’re here to stay

Brought to you from under home quarantine conditions, our May issue revisits the break-out thrills of Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine on its 25th anniversary, with the director himself looking back at his fizzing depiction of French urban discord. 

“It takes generations to make people change,’ he tells Kaleem Aftab. “You inspire the kids. I get 15-year-old kids coming up to me every day talking about the film. I’m very proud of that. Because that’s what you want when you’re a director, you want to inspire, and to know that your movie is not forgotten.” 

We also explore contemporary banlieu tensions in Ladj Ly’s debut Les Miserables, and the hard truths of a present-day French jazz club in Damien Chazelle’s new series The Eddy. Mark Cousins introduces us to his history of female filmmaking Women Make Film, and David Thomson essays the enigmatic numbness and alienation of the modern style of film acting.

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Viva Haine

Twenty-five years after Mathieu Kassovitz’s incendiary portrait of disaffected youth La Haine burst on to the screen, the director talks to Kaleem Aftab about the powerful legacy of the film, what he stole from the great directors and why Spielberg needs to turn down the music in his films.

+ The art of the steal

Mathieu Kassovitz on graffiti culture, stealing from Scorsese and Scarface, and thinking in black and white.

+ Predicting a riot

Kaleem Aftab on Do the Right Thing and La Haine.

+ The sound and the fury

Steph Greene on rap, reggae and resistance in La Haine.


“Film is a tool. It changes things.” 

An explosive tale of police brutality and racial tensions on the margins of French society, Ladj Ly’s gripping Les Misérables revisits life in the Parisian banlieues 25 years after La Haine. Here he talks to Elena Lazic about fighting to create a space for filmmaking outside the country’s often insular mainstream channels.

+ Good cops, bad cops

Three actors on playing the policemen in La Haine.


What is happening to acting? What has acting done to happening?

As viewers grew more sophisticated in the 1950s and cottoned on to the artifice at the heart of all movies, they started to wise up to self-important attempts by actors to reflect emotional truth. But as acting evolved and performances grew more enigmatic, a numbness crept into them – the origins of a seductive culture that feels lifelike but now threatens to displace life itself, writes David Thomson.


Swingtime in Paris

Netflix drama The Eddy, featuring two episodes by La La Land director Damien Chazelle, punctures the romantic myths of jazz culture by exploring the gritty reality of the lives of musicians and staff in a club in modern-day Paris. Jonathan Romney tunes in.

+ All that jazz

Ten key jazz films to watch.


Women with a movie camera

The 14-hour documentary Women Make Film explores the art of cinema through a compilation of clips from some of the world’s greatest films. Its director, long-time S&S contributor Mark Cousins, explains the project’s genesis and picks ten images that highlight the full range of its eclectic treasures.





Physical media after the pandemic



Our Rushes section

Our Rushes section


Covid-19 in focus: Freeze frame

Like every other part of life, the business of making and showing films has been disrupted in extraordinary ways – and nobody knows what the future will bring. By Guy Lodge.


The Covid-19 numbers: The coronavirus effect

With UK cinemas shut, and a nation of couch potatoes glued to Netflix and Curzon at home, the way people watch films may be changing forever. By Charles Gant.


Covid-19 in focus: The new virtual reality

Rather than cancel, Denmark’s nonfiction film festival CPH:DOX pivoted in mere days to an extensive online presentation. By Nick Bradshaw.


#MeToo: Fury road

Can film and television, which have so long thrived on using the pain of women for entertainment, find a way of treating it honestly? By Rebecca Liu.

+ System failure

Kitty Green on The Assistant.


Interview: Up close and personal

For actors and crew, filming sex scenes can be – who knew? – a deeply uncomfortable experience. Enter the intimacy coordinator. By Christina Newland.


Obituary: Max von Sydow, 1929-2020

The actor who gambled with Death in Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 The Seventh Seal energised both arthouse and blockbuster cinema. By Michael Brooke.

Dream palaces: Filmoteca di Catalunya, Barcelona

The Fire Will Come director Oliver Laxe recalls a miraculous screening of Ordet and explains why viewers must always watch films with their skin. 


Rising star: Mariana Di Girolamo


Soundings: Electronic dreams

Fatima Al Qadiri’s score for Mati Diop’s contemporary ghost story Atlantics feels like folksong, and it feels like the future. By Frances Morgan.


Festivals: Berlinale 2020

This year’s Berlinale, the first under new leadership, was an understated affair, but there were unmistakable signs of promise. By Jessica Kiang.

+ 5 Berlin discoveries


Global spotlight: Tehran taboo

Presenting awards to persecuted Iranian filmmakers may make Western juries feel good, but what else does it achieve? By Ehsan Khoshbakht.


Our Wide Angle section

Our Wide Angle section

Wide angle


Primal screen: Across the century

The year 1920 marked the beginning of modern cinema, with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari the most famous among a host of remarkable films. By Bryony Dixon.

+ 12 film highlights of 1920




Films of the month

Our Reviews section

Our Reviews section

The Assistant
Promising Young Woman

plus reviews of 

Brahms: The Boy II
County Lines
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Dream Horse
Family Romance, LLC.
Fantasy Island
Finding the Way Back
The Hunt
The Invisible Man
It Must Be Heaven
Krabi, 2562
The Lady in the Portrait
Love Sarah
The Photograph
The Roads Not Taken
Saint Maud
Sonic the Hedgehog
Who You Think I Am
Why Don’t You Just Die!


Home cinema features 

Our Home Cinema section

Our Home Cinema section


London particulars: Sunday Bloody Sunday

John Schlesinger’s drama about a bisexual love triangle is both a post-Swinging London period piece and curiously modern. By Nick James.


Rediscovery: Hammer Volume Five: Death and Deceit

A new collection of swashbucklers and spy flicks shows a surprisingly unhorrifying, even thoughtful side of Hammer Films. By Trevor Johnston.


Streaming: The great indoors

Cinemas may be in lockdown, but with a host of streaming sites offering films old and new, there’s never any reason to be bored.


Lost and found: High Tide

Gillian Armstrong’s fourth feature is a revelatory portrayal of complex, flawed women, and an Australian classic. By Graham Fuller.


plus reviews of

Antonio Gaudí
Beat the Devil
Beyond Therapy
Buster Keaton: 3 Films Volume 2
Cyrano de Bergerac
The Elephant Man
Pink Films Vol. 1&2
Secret Friends


Archive television

Robert Hanks on The David Susskind Archives (Interview with Nikita Krushchev, Interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Truman Capote Tells All)



Our Books section

Our Books section


She Found It at the Movies: Women Writers on Sex, Desire and Cinema edited by Christina Newland (Red Press) reviewed by Nikki Baughan

Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar by Oliver Craske (Faber & Faber) reviewed by Andrew Robinson



Our Endings section

Our Endings section

We, Parasite

Derek Jarman and the art of nature

Berwick Kaler down the years

Dark Waters livestock corrected

Our Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher westerns timeline corrected

Covid-19 and dream palaces

Covid-19 and H.P. Lovecraft





The Portrait of a Lady

The conclusion of Jane Campion’s 1996 adaptation subverts the idea of the kiss as the fulfilment of female destiny and screen romance. By Alex Ramon.


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