Writing

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

‘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

Grieving Guillermo Del Toro Debuts ‘Pinocchio’ in London One Day After His Mother’s Death: ‘This Was Very Special for Her and Me’

After a 14-year uphill battle, Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro was finally able to share his dream project with an audience as “Pinocchio” (officially titled “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”) had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.

Taking the stage before the premiere, del Toro spoke of his connection to the story: “I saw the film as a kid and it’s a film that bonded me with my mom for an entire life. It affected me because Pinocchio saw the world the way I saw it. I was a lit

Blonde Heartbreaker: Andrew Dominik completes his Marilyn Monroe project • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine

Blonde broke Andrew Dominik’s heart. Four summer Olympics, a global pandemic, two Popes, a British Queen and a King separate the New Zealand-Australian filmmaker from first falling in love with Joyce Carol Oates’ eponymous best-selling novel in 2008 and the world premiere of his magnum opus at the 79th Venice Film Festival in 2022. The relationship between the director and his precious source material has been a sinuous, often cruel one. An ever-elusive mistress, Blonde escaped the filmmaker tim

Saint Omer – first-look review

This deeply nuanced treatise on the tragedy of motherhood marks the extraordinary feature debut of Alice Diop.

Th film Saint Omer, which premiered in the 2022 Venice Film Festival competition, is built around its clever handle on notions of suppression: suppression of information; feelings; certainty. Lauded documentarian Alice Diop’s first foray into fiction filmmaking carefully curates what is shown and what is not, as it toys with the viewer’s expectations by delaying character introductions

Surface review: a show as superficial as its title

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In 2017, HBO’s hit series Big Little Lies furthered the appeal of the traditional whodunnit by enticing viewers into the uber-private bosom of the privileged American neo-WASP. The show ushered in a new era for the sleek, elevated psychological TV thriller, opening the floodgates to a vast offering of not only whodunnits but howdunnit

Programme Notes: Parallel Mothers

When they meet again, Cecilia, Janis’ daughter is a fast-growing toddler and Janis holds a crushing secret. Ana no longer sports the anxiety-ridden face of a teenager, her long brown hair now turned into a blonde spiked pixie. It is clear she is not the same woman she was at the maternity ward, and, soon, Janis finds out why: Anita, Ana’s daughter, died suddenly of a crib death - one day, her brain simply forgot how to breathe.


Brought together once more, the women now root themselves in one

What Scared You, Mum? The Open Wounds of Petite Maman — Girls on Tops

What if we could meet our mothers before they became mothers? How did they become the people who raised us, and how did we change them? Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman asks quiet, tender questions of enormous scope – and prompted one writer to have all the conversations with her mum that she couldn’t have when she wanted to. Rafaela Sales Ross writes a letter on mothers, daughters, and generational wounds. It’s been almost a decade since we last spoke. How odd. Has time flown by for you, too? At t

In praise of Robert Redford’s Ordinary People

In a year of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director went to Robert Redford’s Ordinary People, an intimate look into a WASP family slowly disintegrating under the heavy blanket of loss. Forty years after its initial release, there is still much to be appreciated in Redford’s somewhat radical portrait of mental illness.

“Why do things have to happen to people? It isn’t fair,” complains Conrad (Timothy Hutton), the 18-

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