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August 2017 Sight & Sound August 2017 Sight & Sound

A Dunkirk special A Dunkirk special
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In our August issue we sit down with the most successful British filmmaker of our time, Christopher Nolan, to discuss his latest film, the World War II epic Dunkirk. The film may plunge viewers into the bloody heart of the epic rescue of Allied troops from France at the start of the war, but as Nolan explains to Nick James, he was determined to frame it as a tale of suspense and survival, not a traditional war film. “To me, the element of it that was most fascinating and distinctive was the race against time.” Nolan explains. “[We decided to] approach the film as a suspense thriller, as a story of survival rather than a war film. We’re trying to put the audience into the boots of soldiers on that beach or into the cockpit of the Spitfire flying above it, putting them on a boat coming over to assist with the evacuation”.

Nolan discusses the great classics of suspense cinema that influenced his approach and talks about the great physical challenges that come with making a film on the scale of Dunkirk. Having shot Dunkirk entirely on large-format 65mm stock, and programmed a season of classic films playing throughout July at BFI Southbank, all shown on 35mm prints, Nolan reaffirms his commitment to the vital importance of the physical medium for cinema.

Alongside our interview with Nolan himself, James Mottram speaks to two of the director’s closest collaborators, his longterm producer and partner Emma Thomas and DP Hoyte van Hoytema about the particular challenges of making the film.

Where Dunkirk is a physical, action-based take on suspense, Sofia Coppola’s gauzy, dream-like The Beguiled, a feminine reinterpretation of Don Siegel’s 1971 film about a wounded soldier taken in by a group of women at a Southern boarding school during the American Civil War, takes a more interior, psychological approach. Coppola talks to Jessica Kiang about working with Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell, about the controversy the film has aroused and about the fairytale aspects of the story.

Like Coppola, Jane Campion is another director whose work has long focused on the lives of female characters, something particularly evident in her acclaimed multi-part television crime drama Top of the Lake. As Top of the Lake returns for a second series on the BBC this summer, following the detective character played by Elisabeth Moss from New Zealand to Sydney, and revealing the city’s dark underbelly of prostitution and the exploitation of immigrant women as sex workers, Isabel Stevens talks to Campion and Moss about their work together, while Hannah McGill profiles Moss, one of the most exciting and eminently likeable stars at work today, who has shone in complex roles with a feminist edge one from The West Wing to The Handmaid’s Tale to Top of the Lake.

If Moss is very much the actor for our times, then the great Jean-Pierre Léaud, whose appearance as a 14-year-old in Francois Truffaut’s New Wave-launching debut The 400 Blows in 1959 granted him instant screen immortality, was the defining face of the cinematic upheavals of the 1960s. But time waits for no one, a fact reflected in Léaud’s performance as the ailing Sun King in director Albert Serra’s latest film The Death of Louis XIV – a film that offers both a quasi-documentary portrait of the actor’s own frailty and a poignant reflection on mortality for all those who have watched him growing up on screen. As the film is released in UK cinemas, Jonathan Romney speaks to the great icon of French cinema about his life and career, and also hears from Serra on why he likes to encourage a little confusion on set.

Finally in this month’s features, Nick Bradshaw speaks to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras about her new film Risk, about Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Assange may present himself as a crusader for radical transparency, but as Bradshaw finds and Poitras confirms, the portrait of him that emerges from Risk, the result of years that the filmmaker Poitras spent shadowing him, is notable for its murkiness and ambiguity.

Elsewhere in the issue Andrew Male talks to Kasper Collin, director of a new film about jazz great Lee Morgan, and James Mottram talks to writer and comedian Kumail Nanjiani about the trauma behind his new romcom The Big Sick. In our Wide Angle section Robert Koehler hails the phenomenal rise of Latin American film, Pamela Hutchinson reports from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and Esther Leslie surveys the dizzying, shocking animations of Jordan Wolfson.

We also review all the month’s new theatrical releases, including Terrence Malick’s Song to Song and the post-apocalypse suspense-horror It Comes at Night, and survey the best of the new Blu-ray and DVD releases, and the most interesting new film books of the month, including a new volume on the life of Ava Gardner.

All this and much more besides.

In our August issue we sit down with the most successful British filmmaker of our time, Christopher Nolan, to discuss his latest film, the World War II epic Dunkirk. The film may plunge viewers into the bloody heart of the epic rescue of Allied troops from France at the start of the war, but as Nolan explains to Nick James, he was determined to frame it as a tale of suspense and survival, not a traditional war film. “To me, the element of it that was most fascinating and distinctive was the race against time.” Nolan explains. “[We decided to] approach the film as a suspense thriller, as a story of survival rather than a war film. We’re trying to put the audience into the boots of soldiers on that beach or into the cockpit of the Spitfire flying above it, putting them on a boat coming over to assist with the evacuation”.

Nolan discusses the great classics of suspense cinema that influenced his approach and talks about the great physical challenges that come with making a film on the scale of Dunkirk. Having shot Dunkirk entirely on large-format 65mm stock, and programmed a season of classic films playing throughout July at BFI Southbank, all shown on 35mm prints, Nolan reaffirms his commitment to the vital importance of the physical medium for cinema.

Alongside our interview with Nolan himself, James Mottram speaks to two of the director’s closest collaborators, his longterm producer and partner Emma Thomas and DP Hoyte van Hoytema about the particular challenges of making the film.

Where Dunkirk is a physical, action-based take on suspense, Sofia Coppola’s gauzy, dream-like The Beguiled, a feminine reinterpretation of Don Siegel’s 1971 film about a wounded soldier taken in by a group of women at a Southern boarding school during the American Civil War, takes a more interior, psychological approach. Coppola talks to Jessica Kiang about working with Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell, about the controversy the film has aroused and about the fairytale aspects of the story.

Like Coppola, Jane Campion is another director whose work has long focused on the lives of female characters, something particularly evident in her acclaimed multi-part television crime drama Top of the Lake. As Top of the Lake returns for a second series on the BBC this summer, following the detective character played by Elisabeth Moss from New Zealand to Sydney, and revealing the city’s dark underbelly of prostitution and the exploitation of immigrant women as sex workers, Isabel Stevens talks to Campion and Moss about their work together, while Hannah McGill profiles Moss, one of the most exciting and eminently likeable stars at work today, who has shone in complex roles with a feminist edge one from The West Wing to The Handmaid’s Tale to Top of the Lake.

If Moss is very much the actor for our times, then the great Jean-Pierre Léaud, whose appearance as a 14-year-old in Francois Truffaut’s New Wave-launching debut The 400 Blows in 1959 granted him instant screen immortality, was the defining face of the cinematic upheavals of the 1960s. But time waits for no one, a fact reflected in Léaud’s performance as the ailing Sun King in director Albert Serra’s latest film The Death of Louis XIV – a film that offers both a quasi-documentary portrait of the actor’s own frailty and a poignant reflection on mortality for all those who have watched him growing up on screen. As the film is released in UK cinemas, Jonathan Romney speaks to the great icon of French cinema about his life and career, and also hears from Serra on why he likes to encourage a little confusion on set.

Finally in this month’s features, Nick Bradshaw speaks to documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras about her new film Risk, about Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Assange may present himself as a crusader for radical transparency, but as Bradshaw finds and Poitras confirms, the portrait of him that emerges from Risk, the result of years that the filmmaker Poitras spent shadowing him, is notable for its murkiness and ambiguity.

Elsewhere in the issue Andrew Male talks to Kasper Collin, director of a new film about jazz great Lee Morgan, and James Mottram talks to writer and comedian Kumail Nanjiani about the trauma behind his new romcom The Big Sick. In our Wide Angle section Robert Koehler hails the phenomenal rise of Latin American film, Pamela Hutchinson reports from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and Esther Leslie surveys the dizzying, shocking animations of Jordan Wolfson.

We also review all the month’s new theatrical releases, including Terrence Malick’s Song to Song and the post-apocalypse suspense-horror It Comes at Night, and survey the best of the new Blu-ray and DVD releases, and the most interesting new film books of the month, including a new volume on the life of Ava Gardner.

All this and much more besides.

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SKU SSAUGUST17

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