Brad Pitt straddles the stars in James Gray’s spectral odyssey Ad Astra. Plus the moving Syrian documentary For Sama, British-Nigerian growing pains in Shola Amoo’s The Last Tree, and Britain’s early cinema pioneer R.W. Paul
Our October issue follows Brad Pitt to the furthest reaches of the solar system, as the star plays an astronaut tasked with saving the Earth in acclaimed American director James Gray’s mysterious, visually splendid science fiction film Ad Astra. Gray tells Nick Pinkerton how his film tells a myth of man rather than a myth of the gods.
Back here on Earth, we marvel at Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateab’s For Sama (co-directed with Edward Watts), a powerful documentary made in Aleppo while the bombs fell, and when al-Kateab was a new mother.
We hail the arrival of director Shola Amoo, whose film The Last Tree, about the growing pains of a British-Nigerian boy, marks him out as an exciting new voice in British cinema.
And we travel right back to the very beginnings of cinema, with a profile of the British visionary R.W. Paul, a man who more than almost anyone foresaw the possibilities in the then new novelty of motion pictures, but has never quite received his due.
Plus regular features:
Editorial The long goodbye: our editor Nick James bids farewell
On our radar This year’s BFI London Film Festival is unveiled
Street fighting woman A martial arts expert has to save her daughter from organ-harvesting child snatchers in Furie, the highest-grossing Vietnamese movie ever. By Kim Megson.
Dream palaces: The Gimli Theatre, Manitoba Guy Maddin, the Canadian director of My Winnipeg and The Forbidden Room recalls the anarchic joys of a rural cinema of his youth.
Global discovery: A sting in the tale Honeyland, a luminous documentary about a rural beekeeper in North Macedonia, offers a powerful allegory about capitalist greed. By Graham Fuller.
Preview: Troubles in mind For a young man from Belfast, the first glimpse of Stephen Rea on screen in Neil Jordan’s Angel in 1982 caused the world to shift. By Mark Cousins.
The Numbers Once upon a Time… in Hollywood looks set to deliver Quentin Tarantino his biggest box-office success in the UK. By Charles Gant.
Films in production New projects for Steven Soderberg, Jia Zhangke, Kristen Stewart and Jordan Peele.
Obituary: D.A. Pennebaker, 1925-2019 In a series of astonishing films, the great observational documentary filmmaker created high drama from the fabric of everyday life. By Roger Graef + Tributes from Joan Churchill and Nick Broomfield
Nonfiction film: A week in utopia This year’s Flaherty Seminar pushed its participants to think about the way in which film can change the world – and vice versa. By Jemma Desai.
Primal Screen: About a boy Armando Iannucci’s new version of David Copperfield is one of many attempts to put Dickens’s favourite among his novels on screen. By Michael Eaton.
Artists’ moving image: Chronicle of a Shimmer Rainer Kohlberger’s abstract, sensedefying works, programmed into a computer rather than filmed, feel like nothing on earth. By Matt Turner.
Festivals Syros International Film Festival This celebration of cinema clings on to the utopian spirit of the earliest film festivals and makes fine use of its Greek island setting. By Kieron Corless.
Films of the month: La Flor Hard Paint
Plus reviews of: American Factory The Art of Racing in the Rain Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion The Big Meeting The Bravest The Farewell Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw For Sama For the Birds Good Boys Good Posture Hero Honeyland Judy Killer Kate! Killers Anonymous Kings The Kitchen The Last Tree Mission Mangal Mother Neither Wolf nor Dog Night Hunter Norma Ready or Not Rojo Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Sea of Shadows The Shiny Shrimps The Shock of the Future The Sun Is Also a Star UglyDolls Werewolf
Home cinema features:
The thing with leathers: Cruising Reviled on release, Cruising is both a schlocky thriller and an unsettling examination of fear and loathing among and toward gay men. Reviewed by Alex Davidson.
Revival: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Forty years after it was released, Fred Schepisi’s epic about Australian racism doesn’t seem any less relevant or powerful. Reviewed by Michael Brooke.
Nicolas Philibert: Les Films, Le Cinema Compassionate and curious, the French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert nudges us towards profound questions about our lives. Reviewed by Geoff Andrew.
Lost and found: Pola X Leos Carax’s wild romance, loosely adapted from Herman Melville, hasn’t lost its power to shock and entrance. By Beatrice Loayza.
Plus reviews of: L’Argent Crime and Punishment Daïnah la Métisse The Ear High Noon Hold Back the Dawn Insect A Kid for Two Farthings Ida Lupino: Filmmaker Collection – Not Wanted / Never Fear / The HitchHiker / The Bigamist One Deadly Summer
Television: Robert Hanks on Armchair Theatre Archive
Books: Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky) reviewed by Philip Kemp The Films of Elaine May edited by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Dean Brandum (Edinburgh University Press, ReFocus series) reviewed by Ian Mantgani The Dynamic Frame: Camera Movement in Classical Hollywood by Patrick Keating (Columbia University Press) reviewed by Nick Pinkerton
Endings The finale of Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic portrait of life in 15th-century Russia creates heartstopping suspense from the unveiling of a bell. By Nick James.