To be frank – the past six months have felt like a horror story. As much as the British government has tried to convince us we can battle Covid with a pinch of the ol’ Blitz spirit, living through a global pandemic is rough going. Even for those of us who haven’t been sick, grappling with this unprecedented period of confinement and disruption has been hard on our physical and mental health.
I saw my mum for the first time since March last week and it felt very strange not to be able to give her a hug. As we wandered around the (still fairly quiet) streets of Soho, I pointed out all the cinemas and screening rooms I haven’t set foot in since March. It wasn’t quite the ghost town of the spring, but in the autumn drizzle, things still looked fairly bleak.
But we do, at least, still have the movies. Back when Covid was still something most of us didn’t really know much about, I saw Josephine Decker’s Shirley at Sundance (the first and last festival of 2020 for me!) and fell under its spell. This beguiling psychodrama, inspired by Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel of the same name, takes inspiration from the life and work of American novelist Shirley Jackson, an uncompromising creative force who revolutionised the genre of horror and challenged perceptions about the place of female authors in literature. For my money: it’s one of the best films you’ll see all year.
The film – which is more fiction than fact – sees the incomparable Elisabeth Moss play Jackson, and Michael Stuhlbarg on wonderfully reprehensible form as her husband Stanley Hyman. The couple welcome newlyweds Fred and Rosie Nemser (Logan Lerman and Odessa Young) into their home as Fred takes up a teaching position alongside Stanley at the nearby Bennington College, but soon the couples’ lives become hopelessly entwined, and Shirley and Rosie develop a mutual fascination.
We’re delighted to bring you our tribute to this gorgeous beast of a film – but also, we’re delighted to be back more generally. When we produced and released our Food & Film issue, it was a scary time to be a print magazine dedicated to film (or scarier than usual, anyway).
Things still seem uncertain, but movies will be back, even if it takes a little while, and in putting together this new issue, we’ve been floored by the wealth of talent 2020 has to offer in spite of everything, not to mention the generosity of the folks we interviewed for this issue.
Of course, there’s Josephine, Elisabeth and Michael, but we’ve also got interviews with Charlie Kaufman, Miranda July, Nia DaCosta, Ben Wheatley, Sope Dìrísù, Godfrey Channing Peoples and Antonio Campos. Now that’s a dream dinner party line-up.
So we hope you enjoy discovering everything that the Shirley issue has to offer – and whether you’re a loyal subscriber or new to LWLies, thanks for supporting what we do.