Selected writing

The ‘Challengers’ Boys Are Making Everyone Horny for Big Ears

Italian director Luca Guadagnino knows how to frame beautiful bodies, and they are rarely as beautiful as in his latest, Challengers. Zendaya’s neverending limbs float through the air to the beats of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” and sweat drips through necks and chests and abs alike, making the toned bodies of both Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist glisten under the unforgiving sun of the small town where they face each other in a tennis match that will crown a winner in more ways than one.

If you are a h

There Is Only Movement – On Ratcatcher and the Cinema of Lynne Ramsay

Children have a slippery grip on reality and an even slipperier grip on memory. What a cruel thing, then, that childhood recollections are the invisible hands moulding the sensitive clay on the kiln of adulthood, shaping a coming of age that makes or breaks the person that will come.

Cruel, too, are the muddy waters that envelop the body of young Ryan Quinn, blocking air from pumping through his small lungs. His body is buried in a tiny coffin while mourners battle both tears and the putrid sti

Romeo AI Juliet: Bertrand Bonello on the beauty in The Beast • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine

It’s 2044 and society has found a nifty solution to stop human emotions from leading to conflict and lack of productivity: to eliminate them altogether. For those willing to conform to the rules of this frigid world, all it takes is to step into a bathtub full of a black goo reminiscent of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and take a disorienting trip through memory lane, purging the body and mind from recollections that might reignite strong emotions. Bertrand Bonello’s adaptation of Henry James

Andrew Scott Is Wasted in Netflix’s Stylish But Empty Ripley

The first time Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott) lays eyes on a Caravaggio painting is while on a visit to a Neapolitan church with his new friend and budding painter Dickie (Johnny Flynn). Hanging mightily atop the altar, “The Seven Acts of Mercy” casts a spell on the man, whose eyes traverse the artwork with an awe akin to hunger. It is no coincidence that this is the first meeting between Ripley and Caravaggio, and even less of a coincidence that the Italian painter acts as a running thread throughou

Caption This: the subtitling champions working to make festivals, screenings and global cinema more accessible • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine

Sundance’s first entirely virtual edition in 2021 awarded Siân Heder’s CODA with the US Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic plus accolades for Directing, Audience and the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble cast. The coming-of-age film about the only hearing member of a deaf family began its groundbreaking run during the festival, going on to win top prizes at major awards and eventually taking the Oscar for Best Picture in 2022, with Troy Kotsur becoming the first Deaf actor to win the Oscar for Best Suppor

British Production Sector Regains Its Swagger After Strike Hiatus: ‘Demand Is Going to Be Ramping Up’

Despite being significantly hit by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in 2023, U.K. film studios and production facilities are looking to pick back up where they left off after a record-breaking year for film and high-end television production spend in 2022.

When asked what the industry can expect in terms of business in the year ahead, Samantha Perahia, head of production U.K. at the British Film Commission, says she feels positive that demand “is going to be ramping up.”

She continues, “We alread

Sandra Hüller on Speaking Out Against Fascism, Scrapped ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ Sex Scene and Oscar Nomination: ‘I Find Myself Giggling in the Morning’

The line sprawling along the corridors and staircases of De Doelen, the heart of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, alerted passersby that there was a star in town. The actor in question? German thesp Sandra Hüller, at the festival to support Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest” and to give an in-depth talk about her career and latest projects.

Hüller, who landed her first Oscar nomination for best actress last week for Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” said she is “definitely no

Fantastique Cinematheque: Kleber Mendonça Filho on preserving Brazilian movie-palace memories with Pictures of Ghosts • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine

Brazilian filmmaker (and Letterboxd member) Kleber Mendonça Filho’s latest is a moving ode to his hometown of Recife—not to mention the third most popular documentary of our 2023 Year in Review. Split into three chapters, Pictures of Ghosts follows Filho’s formative years in the family apartment that would come to feature in many of his works, including 2012’s Neighboring Sounds, passing through the city’s historical cinemas and concluding with a touching musing on movie-palace culture and the v

Arab Cinema Steps into Genre to Tell Authentic and Diverse Stories as Audience Appetite for Horror and Fantasy Grows

The third edition of the Red Sea Film Festival, wrapping Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, felt like a direct response to a burning question from executives and investors present at the festival’s market arm last year: Could Saudi Arabia step out from drama and comedy and head into genre filmmaking? The answer offered by the festival, it turns out, was a resounding yes.

“Arabs are closer to fantasy than the Western world,” director Yasir Al-Yasiri told Variety of this year’s Red Sea Film Festiv

Medusa and neon-lit churches turned political headquarters

When Anita Rocha da Silveira’s piercing suspense Medusa began its festival run at the prestigious Director’s Fortnight sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival in July of 2021, Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the President of Brazil. The country still found itself in deep mourning for the thousands who lost their lives to COVID-19, with many citizens blaming the haunting number of victims (which currently sits at a staggering 700 thousand) on Bolsonaro’s loose grip on the public policies around isolation

Nobody Cares: good, scrappy Canadian Matt Johnson on respecting nerds in BlackBerry • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine

“No donuts this time?” asks Canadian director Matt Johnson when we meet in Glasgow two weeks after our first encounter in Berlin, post-world premiere of his latest feature BlackBerry. The first half of our interview happened at lunchtime, and I brought a bubbly pink box of fresh donuts in tow. When we meet again, my hands are empty, much to Johnson’s disappointment. So contagious is Johnson’s excitement for the things he loves, he will often punctuate carefully considered descriptions of texture

Rachel Weisz and Alice Birch: 'Siblings can be close, but this is a whole other level of codependency'

Rachel Weisz and Alice Birch: ‘Siblings can be close, but this is a whole other level of codependency’

Actress and producer Rachel Weisz and writer Alice Birch lift the lid on their reimagining of David Cronenberg's chilling twin thriller.

Red hooded robes, gynaecological gadgets resembling torture devices and a deep plunge into the bowels of folie à deux – David Cronenberg’s 1988 psychological horror Dead Ringers is firmly nested in the cult collective consciousness, with the stylised tale of

Past Lives – first-look review

Celine Song's feature debut is a tender exploration of multiethnic romance, complimented by nuanced performances from Greta Lee and John Magaro.

“You dream in a language I can’t understand,” Arthur (John Magaro) tells Nora (Greta Lee) when commenting on how she only sleep talks in Korean. The two are nested in the comfort of their marital bed, where long unspoken reservations can come out at last, the tender openness of their communication a testament to the loving nature of the relationship.

Toying with Disobedience: Guillermo del Toro and friends on bringing Pinocchio to life • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine

It’s the end of a long day of press junket interviews and, still, Guillermo del Toro speaks to me as if he has just sprung out of bed, an electric generosity that would be hard to believe if it were anyone else. The Mexican filmmaker is glistening with the adrenaline of the impending London Film Festival world premiere of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, a film fifteen years in the making. Much like what happened with Andrew Dominik’s long-time passion project Blonde, Netflix stepped in to make d

The Hanging Sun review: a frigid Norwegian thriller

At the height of the Norwegian summer, there are days when the sun never sets. This phenomenon – labelled the ‘midnight sun’ – lends its name to the 2015 Jo Nesbø novel on which Francesco Carrozzini’s drama The Hanging Sun is based. It also resonates in the permanent exposure that highlights the play on darkness and light at the centre of this story about an emotionally tortured man seeking refuge in a land where night never comes.

The man in question is John (Alessandro Borghi), the son of a r

‘Pacifiction’ Director Albert Serra on Political Correctness, ‘Boring’ Fiction: ‘The Most Radical Thing I Do Is Not Care About Success’

Cutting through roaring laughter, Spanish director Albert Serra said: “Why are you laughing?! I am serious!” The reaction of the audience was the natural byproduct of Serra’s staple candidness, which he brought to the International Film Festival Rotterdam during an in-depth talk about his career and methodology delivered earlier this week.

The director measured no words when speaking about the difficulties of working with actors (“They all have bad taste!”), the vulgarity of films such as “Tria

Aftersun Programme Notes

Spoiler warning: these notes are best read after viewing the film. They contain discussion of plot and character details.

‘Memory is a slippery thing; details are hazy, fickle. The more you strain, the less you see. A memory of a memory endlessly corrupting itself,’ said Scottish director Charlotte Wells in a brief statement upon the American release of Aftersun, her feature debut. Within the same statement, Wells shares two complimentary photos of her and her father, sitting opposite one anoth

Charlotte Wells: 'Adults are locked in the roles that they perform for kids'

Charlotte Wells: ‘Adults are locked in the roles that they perform for kids’

The Scottish filmmaker behind breakout indie Aftersun explains the complex process of portraying memory in cinema.

Cinema is rooted in the exploration — and manipulation — of memory. This notion feels ever true in Charlotte Wells’ directorial debut Aftersun, a quietly devastating portrayal of a summer holiday shared by a young girl and her father (played beautifully by rising star Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Cori

Blonde film review: A 'hellish rereading of the Marilyn myth'

Blonde marks Dominik's first foray into fiction since his 2012 neo-noir Killing Them Softly. In the decade since, the filmmaker has worked closely with Australian singer and songwriter Nick Cave, capturing his life and creative process in two different documentaries: 2016's One More Time with Feeling and This Much I Know to be True, released earlier this year. The creative partnership between Dominik, Cave and Cave's long-time contributor, Warren Ellis, bears bountiful fruits in Blonde, the seco

Festival Report: Venice 2022

From Don’t Worry Darling to Don DeLillo, Timothée Chalamet to timely documentaries, Rafa Sales Ross offers her take on all the buzz from the Lido.

Nestled in the isle of Lido, the Venice Film Festival has dedicated the past few years to solidifying itself as a major player in the fall-festival circuit. It had always had the prestige, but director Alberto Barbera has managed to turn the festival into a major launchpad for streamers looking to make a splash in the awards season. This year, Netfli

Film | Film Features | Be Free: The Morose and Joyful Harold And Maude At 50

A pair of impeccably polished shoes comes down a regal wooden staircase. The camera takes its time, refraining from even introducing us to the figure as his feet savour each and every step, the joyful beat of Cat Stevens’ 'Don’t Be Shy' playing in the background. “Don't wear fear or nobody will know you're there. Just lift your head, and let your feelings out instead,” Stevens sings with a levity that feels unreachable, just as the man steps onto a stool and kicks it from under his feet.

Just a

The films showing sex workers in a new light

Pretty Woman helped bring conversations about sex work to the mainstream, but has been widely criticised in its approach to the subject. Vivian's trajectory is constructed with the single goal of having the audience root for her to ultimately abandon sex work – any other outcome would be deemed tragic. The way out, of course, is presented in the form of Edward, a rich, white, older man who is unable to resist the urge to rescue her. "You could be so much more," he tells Vivian as the two lay in

Quentin Dupieux and the Unexpected Comfort of Absurdism

A tyre with an unstoppable quench to kill, a man on a mission to become the only person in the world to wear a jacket, a film producer on a frenzied quest to find the best groan of pain ever heard by man, an unusual group of superheroes led by a sexually hyperactive rat… There are no limits to the creative chaos that lies within the mind of French director Quentin Dupieux.

It was at age 19 that Dupieux bought his first synthesiser, kickstarting a passion that would lead him to a career in elect
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