It’s easy to complain about Hollywood’s general lack of diversity and a hard-bitten unwillingness to divert resources towards original storytelling. Following a banner year for new, non-franchise, non-superhero hits (cf Baby Driver, Girls Trip, Get Out, Split, Dunkirk), maybe 2018 could be the turning point where original dreams are accepted as hard creative currency. You don’t really need to tell this to Guillermo del Toro, as this is a well he’s be drinking from since the early ’90s and his assured, grotesque debut feature, Cronos.
De Toro isn’t so much a rogue dissident within an impenetrable corporate structure – this is the only game he plays. Even his so-called “franchise” movies – Blade II and a pair of Hell Boy films – playfully elude categorisation. His new work as a cine-literate love story ripped from the dog-eared pages of classic Hollywood.
The Shape of Water is set in 1963 and tells of a mute cleaning lady who happens across a captive monster in the government facility whose floors she mops. Dark powers are at work in the background to suppress this inter-species romance, and any mode of behaviour that might be considered subversive. In many ways, the film is it’s own lush hymn to idiosyncratic thinking.
In this issue…
The Monster Squad
A conversation with master fabulist Guillermo del Toro. He talks The Shape of Water, Classic Hollywood and his offers his definition of what a monster is.
Sally Hawkins has quietly become one of Britain’s greatest screen actors. We trace her path from Brit scene-stealing to hushed stardom.
Female Beasts (And Where Not to Find Them)
The iconic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast has assumed many guises over the last century. But why is the brute always a man?
A five-essay dossier exploring the concept of existing outside the pack in cinema. Including work by James Luxford, Thomas Hobbs, Manuela Lazic, Beth Web and Elena Lazic.
Mime Over Matter
A conversation with chameleonic actor Doug Jones about life caked under make-up. Illustrated with Guillermo del Toro’s original designs.
Christina Newland’s regular column on the intersections between clothing and film tackles the allure of red shoes.
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