In our December issue we sit down for a chat with with one of the most exciting and fascinating actors of the day, Adam Driver, who has rocketed to global fame in the Star Wars franchise only a few short years since first appearing in his breakout role in Lena Dunham’s Girls.
In a landscape of dispiritingly symmetrical and blandly interchangeable leading men, notes our writer Nick Pinkerton, Driver is a refreshingly different presence, one who stands out for his crooked handsomeness, his relaxed onscreen naturalism and for possessing that increasingly rare of virtues – an honest-to-goodness voice, deep and mellow and without the nasal twang of so many of his contemporaries.
It’s that natural, offbeat quality makes Driver the perfect onscreen foil for American indie cinema godfather Jim Jarmusch, whose beautifully gentle, observant and deadpan funny new film Paterson sees Driver play a poetry-writing bus driver in the eponymous small New Jersey town with which he shares his name. Star Wars may have put Driver on the cusp of serious movie stardom but, he tells Pinkerton, his only real game-plan is to work with great directors – his next role is in Martin Scorsese’s eagerly awaited film Silence, which comes out in the new year. “Once you get a taste for really good directors”, Driver admits, “you just want to only do that.”
To accompany our interview with Driver, Geoff Andrew catches up with Jarmusch, who gives the lowdown on capturing poetry through cinema, the lie that you should never work with animals or children and the pleasure he had working with Driver and his Paterson co-star Golshifteh Farahani. They also discuss Jarmusch’s other new film out in UK cinemas this month, Gimme Danger, a documentary about The Stooges, whose iconic lead singer Iggy Pop has, says Jarmusch, “not settled into anything. He’s still hungry in the most beautiful way.” Much like the director himself, then.
If Paterson celebrates the importance of quiet, everyday creativity, then Abel Gance’s monumental silent epic Napoleon is – both in subject and form – a chronicle of ambition of an altogether grander scale. As Gance’s epic is released by the BFI into UK cinemas and for the first time on DVD and Blu-ray, Paul Cuff charts the extraordinary story of the film’s production – and of the decades-long efforts to reconstruct it from surviving prints, and reveals a magnificently gripping tale of single-mindedness and megalomania to compare with the emperor himself.
The grand sweep of history also provides the focus of writer Peter Morgan’s latest project The Crown, a $100-million, ten-part series for Netflix that charts the story of the royal family from Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s marriage. Morgan has been fêted for his remarkable ability to animate the personal conflicts behind historical events but, he tells Trevor Johnston, the broad canvas offered by the series format has offered thrilling new opportunities.
We turn to Japan for two of this month’s features, as Nick Bradshaw talks to the man sometimes hailed as Miyazaki’s heir, Shinkai Makoto, about his film Your Name, a time-bending teenage body-swap romance that confirms his status as Japanese anime’s big new thing. And Jasper Sharp surveys the films of Kurosawa Kiyoshi, whose many genre experiments all share a fascination with the dark, invisible forces at work beneath the surface of things – an obsession Kurosawa revisits in his latest feature out this month, Creepy.
Elsewhere, Sight & Sound Editor Nick James talks to co-directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne about their latest film The Unknown Girl, which borrows the structure of a classic detective story for the tale of a doctor determined to uncover the identity of a dead woman, and Angelica Jade Bastién peers through the shadows at American film noir, and finds a genre that has always had a complex relationship with people of colour. But, Bastién argues, noir’s coolness, style and unmistakable milieu have always been heavily indebted to black culture.
We review all of the month’s new cinema releases, including the Amy Adams-starring sci-fi Arrival, Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Clint Eastwood’s Sully, explore the fascinating documentaries of Japanese filmmaker Ogawa Shinsuke, and have an audience with 99-year-old black British actor Earl Cameron, whose feature debut Pool of London – made back in 1951 by Basil Dearden – is released on Blu-ray this month.
All this plus the month’s essential new film books and DVDs, news and events, and much more besides…