When the film Dogtooth played for the first time to press and public at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, it was clear to everyone in the room that its maker harboured a perverse fascination with how we develop as human beings, and how that development can be manipulated to make entertainingly transgressive movies. That filmmaker was Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos, and over the intervening years he has assiduously ploughed this lively intellectual furrow with films like Alps, The Lobster, Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Favourite. This interest in brain function, learning techniques, and psychological power-plays has always remained present, and surfaces once more in his latest – and possibly greatest – work, Poor Things.
This new film is the product of a connection that was made with the famous Scottish novel by the author Alasdair Gray, about a Frankenstein-like creator and the daughter he builds and then sends out into the world. That daughter is named Bella Baxter and she is played in the film by Emma Stone. While the film is packed to the gills with pertinent questions about how our bodies function as physical tools for learning and loving, it’s powered by a central performance of such commitment that it’s hard to see how Stone could return to mainstream comedies again. It’s Lanthimos’ most ambitious film to date, an intimate epic that encompasses the gamut of human development while threading the needle between his formative strangeness and the type of release that’s central to big awards ceremonies (it already nabbed the Golden Lion at the 2023 Venice Film Festival).Order Now
In this issue, we speak to the director about his long and winding relationship with the novel and how he received Gray’s blessing to make it. We also meet the craft team behind this eye-popping marvel, and how they helped refashion an early-19th century Europe into a colourful playground of expressionist delights.
On the cover
Hamburg-based illustrator Julia Plath places Emma Stone on the slab with this amazing portrait which taps into the film’s central themes of manipulation and empowerment. Other illustrators inside the issue include Agata Samulska, Stéphanie Sergeant, Régina Dargère, Przemysław Berestko and Andrew Bastow.
In the issue
Lead review: Poor Things
Savina Petkova picks apart the subtle psychological core of Yorgos Lanthimos’ literary picaresque.
The Modern Prometheus
Hannah Strong explores the epic adventure of Poor Things’ production and creation with director Yorgos Lanthimos.
Wild Nights with Emily
Hannah Strong lauds the multifarious, awards-garlanded career of the actor Emily Jean “Emma” Stone.
Art and Craft
Leila Latif conducts a round table interview with the creative heads of department on Poor Things.
Marina Ashioti takes a trek into the past to explore the winding cinematic roots of Greece’s so-called “weird wave”.
The Wicker Woman
Will Sloan charts the journey of erotic screen empress Emmanuelle across a continent of sequels and spin-offs.
Free Brochure: Red Light / Green Light
Catch the diverse line-up for the first annual festival of radical cinema from inside the system.
In the back section
Adam Woodward goes deep with the Hollywood auteur on the precision mechanics of his new film, The Killer.
Hannah Strong meets the star-in-ascent who has delivered one of the year’s best performance as the lead in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla.
Caitlin Quinlan meets the young Spanish maestro behind the transcendent new film Samsara.
Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares
Rogan Graham talks to the writer-directors of searing new dystopian drama, The Kitchen.
Hannah Strong gets emotional with the director of one of the year’s most powerful films, All of Us Strangers.
David Jenkins talks novels and mysteries with the Argentinean director of the epic Trenque Lauquen.
David Fincher’s The Killer
Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla
Michael Mann’s Ferrari
Aki Kaurismäki’s Fallen Leaves
Wim Wenders’ Anselm
Jeymes Samuel’s The Book of Clarence
Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers
Lois Patiño’s Samsara
Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins
Daniel Kaluuya and Kibwe Tavares’ The Kitchen
Leo Leigh’s Sweet Sue
Paris Zarcilla’s Raging Grace
Thomas von Steinaecker’s Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer
Jane Giles and Ali Catterall’s Scala!
James Hawes’ One Life
Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers
William Oldroyd’s Eileen
Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron
Laura Citarella’s Trenque Lauquen
Plus, Matt Turner selects six key home ents releases for your consideration.
Also, David Jenkins writes in memory of the recently departed British filmmaker Terence Davies, and Elena Lazic sends a musical postcard from Film Fest Gent, which includes an encounter with Ryusuke Hamaguchi.
In her 4th column focusing on LGTBQ+ cinema, Sticky Gold Stars, Marina Ashioti surveys a number of recent documentaries looking at non-conformity as a mode of political activism.
Published 6 Dec 2023
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