Where do we go from here? After a year of isolation and lockdowns, it’s a question on most of our lips – but will we press our answers while we have the chance?
Adam Curtis’s compendious new series Can’t Get You out of My Head, subtitled ‘An Emotional History of the Modern World’, offers a steep, giddy ride through how we got here – a time of many crises including, in his telling, a fatalistic mood amongst too many, after all the clashes and calamities of the twentieth century, that radical reform and democratic control are dangerous mirages.
So he tells Nick Bradshaw in an extensive conversation ranging across the role of ideas and emotions in history, his quarrel with erstwhile radicals in the cultural world, and the ways and means of his crazy-quilt film constructions mixing his voiceover assertions, sublime pop music and montages of mad metaphors from the far reaches of the BBC archives.
As well as talking us through a selection of those images, Curtis also offers us his own guide through ten films that capture the mood of their times – from Stalker to Scream 2 to The Souvenir.
Also in this issue, Lee Isaac Chung discusses belief, migrant experience and his new film Minari, a semi-autobiographical portrait of Korean-American farmers in 1980s Arkansas, with Violet Lucca.
Bryan Fogel and Ryan White talk Jonathan Romney through their contemporary docu-thrillers The Dissident and Assassins, about the recent murders of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Kashoggi and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s exiled half-brother Kim Jong-nam.
J. Hoberman essays the history of the film maudit – the ‘cursed film’ – in the context of Richard Kelly’s infamous Donnie Darko follow-up Southland Tales (and we single out 11 key films maudit).
Legendary Studio Ghibli co-founder and producer Suzuki Toshio talks to Alex Dudok de Wit about the studio’s next steps for the world of CGI and streaming distribution – not least Miyazaki Goro’s forthcoming Earwig and the Witch.
And from our archive, Tony Rayns visits the set of Wong Kar-Wai’s Fallen Angels just as his defining 1990s breakthrough Chungking Express was taking the Wong worldview to the world.