BY Chloe Stead in Opinion | 08 MAR 24

Editor’s Picks: A Dazzling Screen Adaption of ‘Dune’

Other highlights include Calla Henkel’s second novel and an awards season film podcast by Vanity Fair

BY Chloe Stead in Opinion | 08 MAR 24

Frieze Editor’s Picks is a fortnightly column in which a frieze editor shares their recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.

Dune: Part Two (2024)

Neither a fan of sci-fi nor of fantasy, I wasn’t expecting to be so enraptured by Dune, Denis Villeneuve’s dazzling screen adaption of Frank Herbert’s epic 1965 novel. Centred on a group of noble families at war over a precious natural resource, Dune was long thought to be untranslatable due to its convoluted plot: think Game of Thrones (2011–19) in space. Yet, Villeneuve has succeeded where other directors, including Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch, famously came up short. Part of this has to do with the fact that Warner Brothers were clearly willing to spend some serious cash – Dune: Part Two reportedly cost US$190 million – to create a truly stunning world for actors of the moment, Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, alongside a scene-stealing supporting cast, to run around in.


Villeneuve directed the equally good-looking Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and some of that film’s neon-soaked sets have clearly inspired his depiction of Arrakis, the burnt-orange desert planet on which Dune takes place. While the first film received good reviews, some viewers (hi dad) were disappointed by the fact that it felt like it ended as soon as it got going. In Part Two, however, all the preamble pays off in the form of a satisfyingly complete story arc that still leaves audiences excited about the possibility of Villeneuve taking on the second book in the six-part series.

Calla Henkel, Scrap (2024)

Lots of artists have written novels but few have transitioned from well-respected (if not especially well-known) artist to mainstream novelist quite as quickly as Calla Henkel. Her debut, Other People’s Clothes (2021), was a beach read in the best way possible: well-paced and unpretentious, it managed to adhere satisfyingly to the thriller genre without succumbing to its clichés. Henkel’s second novel, Scrap, sees a reclusive, true-crime-obsessed bookmaker take on a scrapbooking job for the mother of a rich family.

Calla Henkel, Scrap, 2024, book cover. Courtesy: Hodder & Stoughton

Like Other People’s Clothes, it features a queer, somewhat delusional artist who gets accidently embroiled in a murder. However, where Henkel’s first novel was clearly inspired by her own experiences as an American exchange student in Berlin, with a sprinkling of the Amanda Knox story, Scrap sees her create a completely unique and delightfully preposterous narrative that surprises up until the last page.

Little Gold Men

Like all the best podcasts, ‘Little Gold Men’ feels like hanging out with smart friends, except these friends are Vanity Fair staffers who visit all the international film festivals and have an encyclopaedic knowledge of awards seasons past. Every week, David Canfield, Rebecca Ford, Richard Lawson and Katey Rich discuss the best in new cinema with an eye to the Oscars, which, although it takes place over one evening in March, is really a battle that plays out all year.

But, even if you aren’t an awards-season nerd, there are still lots of reasons to listen to ‘Little Gold Men’, especially if, like me, you live for insider tips. I particularly love the dispatches from Cannes, Venice, Toronto and the like, which offer on-the-ground reviews of films that are so fresh they sometimes don’t even have distribution yet.

Main image: Denis Villeneuve, Dune: Part Two, 2024, film still. Courtesy: Warner Bros. Pictures

Chloe Stead is assistant editor of frieze. She lives in Berlin, Germany.