Search Results: Adam Nayman

Freaks (Zach Lipovsky & Adam Stein, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman Too grim for a straight-up YA audience and too goofy to be taken too seriously, Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s Freaks at leads owns its curious at-oddsness: it’s a weird, scrappy, palpably Canadian mutant that’s actually more likeable for not quite passing as mainstream fare. That earnest-misfit ethos begins with its seven-year-old…
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Pyewacket (Adam MacDonald, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman The hands-down winner of the TIFF 2017 “Google the title to understand it” award, Pyewacket finds Adam MacDonald—who came to the festival in 2014 with a tough, impressive little thriller called Backcountry—swapping generic models, trading survivalist realism for occult-tinged horror. It’s a lateral move, and also not an improvement (albeit one that’s…
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Trespass Against Us (Adam Smith, UK) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman In a film filled with significant canines—from an accidentally immolated mutt to a prize police-unit sniffer to a redemptive purebred puppy—Michael Fassbender’s hangdog eyes are best in show: after all, acting Shame is right in our hero’s wheelhouse. As Chad, a reckless, criminally-inclined traveller caught somewhere between his firebrand father’s (Brendan Gleeson)…
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TIFF 2015 | I Smile Back (Adam Salky, US)—Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman “Do you want to hear about the daddy issues or the drugs?” queries Laney (Sarah Silverman) to her doctor on the first day of rehab; 28 days later, she’s had ample time to talk (and think) about both, but it’s unclear as to whether or not she’s been healed. Because Laney is…
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TIFF 2014 | The Editor (Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy, Canada) — Midnight Madness)

By Adam Nayman The Editor could have used one. Much like the previous Astron-6 production Manborg, this passionately scrawled love letter to Argento, Fulci et al makes a fetish of both its cheapness and its knowingness, neither of which seem very endearing after a while (let’s say about 30 minutes, to be generous). Co-director Adam…
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TIFF 2014 | Backcountry (Adam McDonald, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman The obvious point of reference for Adam McDonald’s feature debut is The Edge, except that there’s (more) sexual chemistry between the two leads. (Sorry, Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.) Stubbly Jeff Roop and springy Missy Peregrym star as a city couple who make the (possibly, but no spoilers here) fatal mistake of…
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Cinema Scope 78 Table of Contents

*The Land of the Unknown: Roberto Minervini on What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? By Jordan Cronk. “Poetry floats up in my memory like sailboats in the fog”:Alexei German’s Khrustalyov, My Car! By Daniel Witkin. With Forever Presence: Jonathan Schwartz (1973-2018). By Max Goldberg. *Soft and Hard: Claire Denis on High Life. By Adam Nayman.
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Cinema Scope 77 Table of Contents

*The Land of the Unknown: Roberto Minervini on What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? By Jordan Cronk. “Poetry floats up in my memory like sailboats in the fog”:Alexei German’s Khrustalyov, My Car! By Daniel Witkin. With Forever Presence: Jonathan Schwartz (1973-2018). By Max Goldberg. *Soft and Hard: Claire Denis on High Life. By Adam Nayman.
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Cinema Scope Issue 93 | Table of Contents

Alice Diop on St Omer, Tod Field on Tár, Antoine Bourges on Concrete Valley and more features, reviews and free articles. Subscribe or buy an issue and help us reach 100.
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Cinema Scope Issue 92 | Table of Contents

Interviews with Kelly Reichardt, Cyril Schäublin, Olivier Assayas. Features, Columns and more.
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Take These Broken Wings: Kelly Reichardt on “Showing Up”

“We thought we were writing a film that was partly comedic in tone. I can find a lot to laugh at with liberal arts while still believing liberal arts are super-important. Some of the situations in Showing Up are comical, but the people aren’t stereotypes—we really tried to stay away from that.”
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TIFF 2022 | Nightalk (Donald Shebib, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman A baffling yet not altogether unenjoyable exercise in late style, Nightalk finds the now-84-year-old Don Shebib working—incongruously to say the least—in Brian De Palma mode. An early dream sequence set on a hurtling TTC subway car and featuring a lurking, faceless assailant evokes the ambient psychosexual menace of Dressed to Kill (1980);…
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TIFF 2022 | Until Branches Bend (Sophie Jarvis, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman A lot of peaches were harmed in the making of Sophie Jarvis’ Until Branches Bend, in which an Okanagan Eden gets infested from the inside-out. After discovering a mysterious bug inside some recently picked fruit, Robin (Grace Glowicki) raises the alarm with her boss and finds herself ostracized by a community whose…
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TIFF 2022 | A Gaza Weekend (Basil Khalil, Palestine/UK) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman “The virus can’t tell the difference between Jews and Arabs,” exclaims a character early on in A Gaza Weekend, giving British-Palestinian director Basil Khalil’s wearyingly zany plague comedy a low-calorie humanistic thesis statement. The idea that the Gaza would, by nature of its enclosure, represent a safe harbour in the midst of…
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TIFF 2022 | Subtraction (Mani Haghigi, Iran/ France) — Platform

By Adam Nayman It’s typical for the makers of thrillers to conceptualize themselves into a corner; what distinguishes veteran Iranian director Mani Haghigi’s work in Subtraction is what he does once he’s got his own back against the wall. About halfway through the film, it’s confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that married, pregnant…
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TIFF 2022 | The Kingdom Exodus (Lars Von Trier, Denmark) — Primetime

By Adam Nayman Where Lars von Trier once stood in front of his goofy hospital Gothic—literally appearing onscreen in a tuxedo during each episode’s end credits to recap the action and flash his shit-eating, Danish-scum-of-the-earth grin—Exodus finds him stepping into the background. Casting himself wizard-like as the proverbial man behind the curtain (aka The Boss…
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TIFF 2022 | Fixation (Mercedes Bryce Morgan, Canada/US/Germany) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman Reality, said that 21st-century media guru Nathan Fielder, is what you make of it, and the villainous headshrinker in the Sudbury-shot Fixation advocates what can only be called a Fielderian methodology. Entrusted with a disturbed client who can’t remember her violent crimes (or the reasons for them)—and who is facing a potentially…
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TIFF 2022 | Other People’s Children (Rebecca Zlotowski, France) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman Call her The Best Person in the World: dedicated teacher, doting daughter, supportive sister, and successfully, sexily single in the City of Lights, Rachel (Virginie Efira) lives a semi-charmed kind of life, punctuated by irised-in transitions that remind us we’re watching a breezy French festival movie. Every so often, her kindly gynecologist…
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TIFF 2022 | Queens of the Qing Dynasty (Ashley McKenzie, Canada) — Wavelengths 

By Adam Nayman  Published in Cinema Scope #90 (Spring 2022) Intense duets are at the centre of Ashley McKenzie’s cinema. Her 2016 debut Werewolf portrayed a pair of emotionally conjoined drug users, juxtaposing devotion and addiction as two sides of the same coin. In her follow-up, Queens of the King Dynasty, which recently premiered in…
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TIFF 2022 | Nanny (Nikyatu Jusu, US) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman A horror movie so elevated it rises above any pressing need to be scary, Nikayatu Jusu’s Nanny concerns a Senegalse woman, Aisha (Anna Diop), who takes a well-paid gig as a semi-live-in caregiver for a wealthy New York couple. Her employers are, obviously, less perfect than they seem: the  family’s SUV-sized refrigerator,…
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Cinema Scope Issue 91 | Table of Contents

Interviews Wippet Good: A Conversation Between Don McKellar and David Cronenberg on Crimes of the Future by Lawrence Garcia, Don McKellar Send in the Clowns: Qiu Jiongjiong on A New Old Play by Shelly Kraicer Gross Anatomy: Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor on De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Blake Williams Features Endless Night: Dark Glasses…
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Hit the Road (Panah Panahi, Iran)

Many years ago, I sat down for a festival screening of an Iranian film next to another local Toronto critic whose pugnacious reputation preceded him. Unsolicited and not-so-rhetorically, he asked me if the long scenes of rural driving native to so many of that country’s arthouse exports were—and here I am quoting from memory—somehow equivalent to the action scenes in Hollywood releases. It wasn’t a serious question, of course, just a bit of sarcastic saber-rattling before the lights went down.
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Cinema Scope Issue 90 Cover

Cinema Scope Issue 90 | Table of Contents

Interviews Tales from the Unama’ki Hospital: Ashley McKenzie on Queens of the Qing Dynasty by Adam Nayman  Pointing the Moral Index Finger: Ruth Beckermann on Mutzenbacher by Darren Hughes Not on the Lips: Claire Denis on Avec amour et acharnement by Jordan Cronk Bravo, Richie: Ulrich Seidl on Rimini by Giovanni Marchini Camia Features I Know…
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Tales from the Unama’ki Hospital: Ashley McKenzie on Queens of the Qing Dynasty 

Intense duets are at the centre of Ashley McKenzie’s cinema. Her 2016 debut Werewolf portrayed a pair of emotionally conjoined drug users, juxtaposing devotion and addiction as two sides of the same coin. In her follow-up, Queens of the King Dynasty,which recently premiered in Berlin’s Encounters competition,a young psychiatric patient and her volunteer caregiver form a codependent relationship with shifting emotional and power dynamics.
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Cinema Scope Issue 89 | Table of Contents

Interviews Show Biz Kids: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza by Adam Nayman  What Lies Beyond: Michelangelo Frammartino on Il buco by Jordan Cronk Features Higher Power: Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta and the Legacy of Nunsploitation by Christoph Huber Too Good at Goodbyes: The Souvenir Part II and Joanna Hogg’s Cinema of Memory by Katherine Connell The…
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Show Biz Kids: Paul Thomas Anderson on Licorice Pizza

By Adam Nayman Paul Thomas Anderson loves start-up entrepreneurs and fly-by-night schemes: you could run a straight line between There Will Be Blood’s (2007) oil magnate Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Punch-Drunk Love’s (2002) humble toilet-plunger impresario Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) just as easily as you could imagine the latter signing up for one of…
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Cinema Scope Issue 88 Table of Contents Issue 87: Table of contents Cinema Scope Issue 86 Table of Contents Cinema Scope Issue 85 Table of Contents Issue 84 Table of Contents Cinema Scope 83 Table of Contents Cinema Scope 82: Table of Contents Cinema Scope 81 Table of Contents Cinema Scope 80 Table of Contents…
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Copy of Cinema Scope Online

Toronto International Film Festival This is a regularly updated web supplement to the print version of Cinema Scope. In the magazine, we have a limited amount of space to pack the world of Cinema As We Know It in. This is a Canadian film magazine based in Toronto, and that’s an important part of the…
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Cinema Scope Issue 88 Table of Contents

Interviews I Remember Everything: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria by Jordan Cronk Do the Hustle: Sean Baker on Red Rocket by Blake Williams Cartooning Unlimited: Dash Shaw on Cryptozoo and Discipline by Sean Rogers Features To Sir, with Love: Maria Speth’s Mr. Bachmann and His Class by Michael Sicinski Next Stop Eternity Peter Tscherkassky’s Train Again and…
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Revising Revisionism—Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel

“This is the unwieldy version of the movie,” said Quentin Tarantino on the Pure Cinema podcast in June about his new 400-page novelization of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019). “Unwieldy” is indeed the right adjective for QT’s new make-work project, and it’s also probably the last word on his creative sensibility.
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TIFF 2021 | Sundown (Michel Franco, Mexico)

By Adam Nayman The indefatigable Michel Franco is back on his grind with Sundown, a companion piece to last year’s accomplished or objectionable (depending on who you ask) New Order. Both films—one a thriller, the other a character study, both set in the director’s native Mexico—could  broadly be said to be about “wealth inequality.” Careful…
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TIFF 2021 | The Wheel (Steve Pink, USA)

By Adam Nayman From the director of both Hot Tub Time Machine movies (there was a sequel, remember) comes a probing, emotional relationship drama. “What if it doesn’t work?” asks Albee (Amber Midthunder) about the step-by-step, relationship-saving experiment proposed by her husband Walker (Taylor Gray), and the only thing really pressurizing the 83 more or…
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TIFF 2021 | The Middle Man (Bent Hamer, Norway/Germany/ Denmark/Canada)

By Adam Nayman Tapped for a spectacularly thankless civil service gig in a dilapidated Ontario backwater, Frank (Sverre Hagen) interviews for the job in front of a panel that includes Don McKellar and Paul Gross. The Canadiana couldn’t be thicker, but as writer-director Bent Hamer actually hails from historic Sandefjord, Norway—a one-time Viking stronghold and…
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Issue 87: Table of contents

Alexandre Koberidze, Dasha Nekrasova,Radu Jude, Amalia Ulman, Monte Hellman, TV or not TV, Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen, Azor, New Order, Siberia
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New Order (Michel Franco, Mexico/France)

“Mexico’s upper classes are asking for trouble,” Michel Franco told Variety last fall. With New Order,trouble has found them. The deep-crimson dress selected by prosperous newlywed Marianne (Naian González Norvind) for the lavish post-wedding party at her family’s spotless steel-and-glass estate is couture at its most ominous; don’t look now, but there will be blood.
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Cinema Scope Issue 86 Table of Contents

The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2020 Interviews *En plein air: Denis Côté on Hygiène sociale by Jordan Cronk *The Primacy of Perception: Ramon & Silvan Zürcher on The Girl and the Spider by Blake Williams Learning to Swim: Dominik Graf on Fabian – Going to the Dogs by Christoph Huber Hollywood Ending: Jim Cummings…
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Cinema Scope Issue 85 Table of Contents

FEATURES The Play for Tomorrow: Steve McQueen’s Small Axe by Michael Sicinski The Crowd is Dead, Long Live the Crowd! by Erika Balsom All the Fountains of the Great Deep: Artavazd Pelechian’s La Nature by Phil Coldiron Minority Report: Armond White Wants to Make Spielberg Great Again by Adam Nayman F for Fake: Mank by Andrew Tracy…
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Minority Report: Armond White Wants to Make Spielberg Great Again

By Adam Nayman The “About the Author” section of Armond White’s new critical anthology does not disappoint. In the space of four short paragraphs, White is identified as “esteemed, controversial and brilliantly independent” as well as “The Last Honest Film Critic in America”; his résumé comprises “auspicious tomes” that are “essential for anyone who loves…
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Issue 84 Table of Contents

INTERVIEWS *The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno By Mark Peranson *Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna By Jordan Cronk FEATURES *A Pierce of the Action: On Claudine and UptightBy Andrew Tracy *I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending ThingsBy Adam Nayman *Open Ticket: The Long, Strange…
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I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending Things

“It’s all planned, but it isn’t thought out,” wrote Pauline Kael in her review of A Woman Under the Influence (1974), a nifty bit of critical jiu-jitsu turning John Cassavetes’ much-theorized—and, during Kael’s reign at The New Yorker, much-derided—technique of spontaneous improvisation within a dramatic framework against him.
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TIFF 2020: Point and Line to Plane (Sofia Bohdanowicz, Canada)

By Adam Nayman The sterile, corkscrew expanse of the Guggenheim is a concrete geometric presence in Point and Line to Plane, which takes its title from a 1947 book of art theory by Wassily Kandinsky and is punctuated by images of his abstract canvases, as well as those of his lesser-known predecessor Hilma af Klint.…
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TIFF 2020: Rules for Werewolves (Jeremy Schaulin-Roux, Canada)

By Adam Nayman Having not read Kirk Lynn’s 2015 novel about a feral cult of squatters, I can’t say if Rules for Werewolves qualifies as a proper adaptation or a literary riff in miniature: the snaky long take narrating the desecration of a sprawling but sterile suburban mansion unfolds in sync to the author’s ramblingly…
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TIFF 2020: Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman, US/Canada)

By Adam Nayman The title character of Canadian director Emma Seligman’s feature debut is technically the 18-month-old blonde moppet sired by affluent nebbish Max (Danny Deferrari) and his shiksa-goddess wife Kim (Dianna Agron), a miniature avatar of assimilation yelping up a storm amidst a company of black-clad mourners. Symbolically, though, the title refers to tousled,…
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TIFF 2020: Still Processing (Sophy Romvari, Canada)

By Adam Nayman “A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film, blocked before the furnace of the projector,” intones Alexandra Stewart in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (1983), testifying to the essential fluidity of time versus the fixity of photography. Marker’s point seems to be that to disproportionately privilege still images, in cinema as…
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TIFF 2020: Violation (Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Dusty Mancinelli, Canada)

By Adam Nayman If you believe that the worst thing a movie can do is pass unnoticed, then Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s Violation might be for you. Deliberately taking its formal and tonal cues from certain filmmakers occupying the endurance-test wing of the art/grindhouse—specifically the cabin-in-the-woods incarnations of Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier—Violation…
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TIFF 2020: Inconvenient Indian (Michelle Latimer, Canada)

By Adam Nayman Toronto’s Fox Theatre plays itself in Inconvenient Indian, which opens by sending Thomas King—author of the 2012 critical study that give the film its title and rhetorical spine—to the cinema. Sitting in the dark before clips from Nanook of the North, a man watches a movie, and the critic must acknowledge that…
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TIFF 2020: Every Day’s Like This (Lev Lewis, Canada)

By Adam Nayman The one direct allusion to assisted suicide in Every Day’s Like This is filtered through movie madness: discussing a potential date for the euthanasia of their terminally ill matriarch, a father and his two young-adult children agree that it would be best not to do it before the Oscars. Lev Lewis’ mournful…
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TIFF 2020: Beans (Tracey Deer, Canada)

By Adam Nayman “Fuck you,” whispers 12-year old Beans (Kiawentiio) to her reflection in the mirror, a playful gesture of self-deprecation that’s also a rehearsal for external clashes. It’s July 1990 in Oka, and if a preteen Mohawk girl is going to get through a summer of standoffs in one piece—or fit in with the…
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TIFF 2020: As Spring Comes (Marie-Ève Juste, Canada)

By Adam Nayman Metaphor blooms in As Spring Comes, which reconfigures a frosbitten ice-fishing shack into a literal hothouse. Sheltered inside with her lover in what seems to be a mutually understood ritual, a young woman photogenically mutates—evolves? reverts?—from fauna to flora. Typically, a little magic realism goes a long way, and thankfully, French-Canadian director…
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TIFF 2020: The Archivists (Igor Drljaca, Canada)

By Adam Nayman A significant change of pace for Bosnian-Canadian filmmaker Igor Drljaca after a run of Balkan-themed hybrid fictions and docs, the sci-fi-inflected The Archivists concerns a trio of future-shocked musicologists trying to reconstruct an I-Love-the-’80s hit, using improvised instruments in an abandoned country home. The theme is the durability and necessity of art…
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TIFF 2020: Akilla’s Escape (Charles Officer, Canada)

By Adam Nayman A weary, wary weed dealer with decades on his odometer, Akilla (Saul Williams) operates self-effacingly under cover of the Toronto night; staring down the barrel of a gun aimed by Jamaican gangbanger Sheppard (Thamela Mpumlwana), he decides to try to save a wayward boy who could be his mirror. The structural gimmick…
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The Math of Love Triangles: Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Trigonometry

The most arresting image in the new BBC Studios series Trigonometry (airing in the US this summer on HBO Max and in Canada on CBC Gem) comes in the fifth episode, when restaurateur Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira), in the middle of a difficult Nordic honeymoon getaway with her new husband Kieran (Gary Carr), goes on an evening field trip to see the Northern Lights. As Kieran sulks back at the hotel, she gazes up at a display that imbues the uncanny sensation—for the character, as well as the audience—of a planetarium-show special effect despite its you-are-there authenticity.
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Cinema Scope 83 Table of Contents

Interviews The Land Demands Your Effort: C.W Winter (and Anders Edström) on The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) by Mark Peranson DAU. Diary & Dialogue. Part One: A Living World by Jordan Cronk As If We Were Dreaming It: Christian Petzold’s Undine by James Lattimer The Math of Love Triangles: Athina…
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Cinema Scope 82: Table of Contents

Interviews A State of Uncertainty: Tsai Ming-liang on Days by Darren Hughes New Possible Realities: Heinz Emigholz on The Last City by Jordan Cronk This Dream Will Be Dreamed Again: Luis López Carrasco’s El año del descubrimiento by James Lattimer Out of the Inkwell: Kim Deitch on Reincarnation Stories by Sean Rogers Features Impresión de un…
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Long Live the New Flesh: The Decade in Canadian Cinema

Let’s get it right out of the way: by any non-subjective metric—which is to say in spite of my own personal opinion—the Canadian filmmaker of the decade is Xavier Dolan, who placed six features (including two major Competition prizewinners) at Cannes between 2009 (let’s give him a one-year head start) and 2019, all before turning 30. Prodigies are as prodigies do, and debating Dolan’s gifts as a transnational melodramatist and zeitgeist-tapperis a mug’s game, one that I’ve already played in these pages.
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Cinema Scope 82: Editor’s Note — Best of the Decade

And so goes the decade, and perhaps all of humanity as we know it—it was fun while it lasted. As a supplement to the Top Ten lists published here, which semi-scientifically summarize the privately expressed preferences of our regular contributors, I decided to do something a little different to glance back at the past ten years. By the time of publication you can find numerous examples of excellent writing on all of the films in our decade-end list, both in previous issues of Cinema Scope and also in other publications, in print and online, on the occasion of revisiting the past ten bountiful years in cinema.
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Cinema Scope 81 Table of Contents

Interviews Anything Is Possible: Josh and Benny Safdie on Uncut Gems by Adam Nayman A Concept of Reality: Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral by Daniel Kasman Fairytales and Freudian Females: A Conversation with Jessica Hausner by Jordan Cronk Features They Are All Equal Now: The Irishman’s Epic of Sadness by Robert Koehler I Shall Be Released: Amazing…
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Anything Is Possible: Josh and Benny Safdie on Uncut Gems

At this point, the Safdies are young masters of their own aesthetic, which was in formation at the time of Daddy Longlegs but felt more fully realized in Heaven Knows What:a roving, probing, pulsating audiovisual weave that doesn’t so much privilege pace over clarity as locate one in the other. Their movies can be exhausting, enervating, and even annoying (and Sandler, to his credit, achieves genuine annoyance in many passages here), but they’re never confusing, and the lucidity of their storytelling—which never wavers even when their characters have no earthly idea what they’re doing—has become one of contemporary American cinema’s true and distinctive marvels.
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Cinema Scope 80 Table of Contents

Interviews  No God But the Unknown Pietro Marcello and Maurizio Braucci on Martin Eden by Jordan Cronk I See a Darkness: Pedro Costa on Vitalina Varela by Haden Guest and Mark Peranson Naked in Paris: Nadav Lapid on Synonyms by Robert Koehler Features Natural Wonders: The Films of Jessica Sarah Rinland by Darren Hughes Woman…
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Golden Eighties: J. Hoberman’s Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan

The news cycle waits for no one, not even J. Hoberman. Opening up the former Village Voice critic’s new book Make My Day—the conclusion, following The Dream Life and An Army of Phantoms, of his “Found Illusions” trilogy, which traces the intersection of Hollywood fantasies and American political reality in the transformative decades after World War II—on the same day that The Atlantic published an article detailing Ronald Reagan’s appalling comments to Richard Nixon about the members of a Tanzanian delegation to the United Nations in 1971, I couldn’t help but lament the anecdote’s lack of inclusion in Hoberman’s otherwise comprehensively withering mock-hagiography of the 40th Commander in Chief.
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Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi, US) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman With five minutes to go in Jojo Rabbit, I laughed out loud. One of the actors (not one of the famous ones) got off a good line reading, and my response, fully audible and totally involuntary, filled me with shame. (I actually apologized to my seatmate, who will remain nameless but successfully…
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Color Out of Space (Richard Stanley, US) — Midnight Madness

By Adam Nayman The stories of H.P. Lovecraft teem and crawl with terrifyingly malleable creations, yet paradoxically resist cinematic adaptation; more than most weird tales, they exist to be beheld in the mind’s eye. Richard Stanley’s go at Lovecraft’s 1927 chestnut “The Color Out of Space” eschews the original’s turn-of-the-century setting and repertorial framing device…
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Clifton Hill (Albert Shin, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman Good thrillers live or die by their specifics, and Clifton Hill is nothing if not precise about its tourist-trap environment (the Canadian side of Niagara Falls) and its inhabitants, including trashy gambling addicts, possibly psychopathic land developers, French-Canadian husband-and-wife tiger-trainers, and—if you hadn’t already heard—David Cronenberg emerging like Ursula Andress (except fully…
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Tammy’s Always Dying (Amy Jo Johnson, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman Tammy’s also always yelling—and cursing, and drinking, and threatening suicide, and making a messy spectacle of herself in public and private. That’s just who Tammy is, and it’s also just the sort of movie that Tammy’s Always Dying is trying to be: a smile-through-tears comedy-drama about the need to hold our loved…
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Guest of Honour (Atom Egoyan, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman The subtext of Atom Egoyan’s latest mid-late-career work is that you shouldn’t be mean to people online—a plaint that looks retrospectively prophetic in light of the film’s Venice reception, which included an attempted murder in the pages of Variety. Suffice it to say that Guest of Honour is not nearly so bad…
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Waves (Trey Edward Shults, US) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman With Waves, Trey Edward Shults goes for broke; another way to put it is that he’s writing cheques that his filmmaking can’t cash. Even leaving aside the question (which I’m assuming will be asked at some point by somebody not otherwise participating in a standing ovation) about a white filmmaker aggressively melodramatizing…
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Sea Fever (Neasa Hardiman, Ireland/Sweden/Belgium/UK) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman You learn something new every day: for instance, I didn’t know that redheads were considered bad luck on the open seas, hence the chilly reception for bookish ginger Siobhán (Hermione Corfield) aboard the trawler that’s hosting her solo marine-biological expedition. (“You need to get your hands dirty,” says a supervisor, foreshadowing plenty…
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Castle in the Ground (Joey Klein, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman The swift, ruinous descent from normalcy into substance abuse is hardly a subject lacking for cinematic treatment, and Joey Klein’s Castle in the Ground offers one more. In terms of casting, this Sudbury-set feature is above reproach, juxtaposing sad-eyed Henry (Alex Wolff, already an old hand at being put through the physical…
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The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, US) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman That Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe mutually lose their shit over the duration of The Lighthouse is not a spoiler: sequestered together off the coast of Nova Scotia in a lighthouse (also not a spoiler) with little more than a pot to piss in (and there is a lot of pissing in…
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The Vast of Night (Andrew Patterson, US) — Midnight Madness

By Adam Nayman The more things change, the more they stay the same, and the conspiracy-minded 1950s resonate in a zeitgeist in which everything feels accessible and occluded at the same time. Between the suspicious suicide of Jeffrey Epstein and its ostensible connections to the making of Eyes Wide Shut (and the death of Stanley…
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Good Work: Lev Lewis, Yonah Lewis, and Calvin Thomas’ Spice It Up

By Angelo Muredda Spice It Up screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Thursday, August 15 as part of MDFF Selects: Presented by Cinema Scope and TIFF. “Spice what up?” a film professor played by Cinema Scope’s own Adam Nayman asks with disinterest early in Lev Lewis, Yonah Lewis, and Calvin Thomas’ smart and puckishly funny…
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Cinema Scope 79 Table of Contents

Cinema Scope Issue 79 with Features including .. Truth and Method: The Films of Thomas Heise by Michael Sicinski, Thinking in Images: Scott Walker and Cinema by Christoph Huber, 58th Venice Biennale, Cannes and DVD Reviews.
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The Hottest August (Brett Story, Canada/US)

It is, it seems, the End of the World as We Know It. Forty-two years after R.E.M. wrote the West’s definitive apocalypse-now anthem, the song’s essentially optimistic subtext has become even more sharply double-edged; its parenthetical proviso can be interpreted as much as a sign of denial as resignation, a means of keeping any anticipatory psychic torment at bay.
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Audrey II: Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell’s MS Slavic 7

Canadians don’t do sequels. Or at least we don’t do them that often: Don Shebib went Down the Road Again again in 2011, and Bruce McDonald got the band back together for Hard Core Logo 2 (2010); commercially oriented hits like Fubar (2002) and Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) have been profitable enough to justify follow-ups.
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Soft and Hard: Claire Denis on High Life

By Adam Nayman  There is a shot of an infant being carried by its father in Claire Denis’ L’intrus (2004) that may be the most rapt and tender image of its kind I’ve ever seen in a film. The first ten minutes of the director’s new High Life offer an extension and an elaboration of…
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Cinema Scope 76 Table of Contents

INTERVIEWS *Teller of Tales: Mariano Llinás on La Flor by Jordan Cronk *Everything Transitory Is But an Image: Andrea Bussmann on Fausto by Josh Cabrita and Adam Cook A Banished Life: Ying Liang on A Family Tour by Clarence Tsui. *Mass Ornaments: Jodie Mack on The Grand Bizarre by Blake Williams FEATURES *Tous les garçons…
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Tous les garçons et les filles: Philippe Lesage’s Genèse and Les démons

By Adam Nayman On the basis of Les démons (2015) and his latest film Genèse—I haven’t caught up yet with Copenhague, a Love Story (2016) or his documentaries—Saint-Apagit-born writer-director Philippe Lesage is already one of the strongest stylists in Canadian cinema, cultivating, in collaboration with the gifted cinematographer Nicolas Canniccioni, a distanced, gliding camera style…
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The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan, Canada/UK) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life: that’s the thesis (and arguably the most expensive-to-license hook, assuming friend-of-the-director Adele offered hers for free) in Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. A famously troubled production that fired one of its two biggest stars via Instagram and betrays scars of that…
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High Life (Claire Denis, Germany/ France/US/UK/Poland) — Gala Presentations

By Adam Nayman There is a shot of an infant being carried by its father in Claire Denis’ L’intrus that may be the most rapt and tender image of its kind I’ve ever seen in a film. The first ten minutes of High Life are an extension and an elaboration of that shot, observing Monte…
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The Front Runner (Jason Reitman, US) —Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman The second movie in as many award-season cycles to feature scenes depicting the inner workings of The Washington Post, The Front Runner stakes out its distance from Steven Spielberg by painting even charter members of the fourth estate as carrion-scarfing jackals; (insanely) cast as Ben Bradlee, Alfred Molina cynically justifies his newspaper’s…
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Duelles (Olivier Masset-Depasse, Belgium/France) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman Or, Bad Mamans. There’s a genuinely intriguing idea at the centre of Duelles, in which a pair of suburban mothers as well-manicured as their respective lawns engage in an escalating game of psychological warfare (and worse) in the wake of a tragedy that, in the eyes of the suffering party, could not…
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Destroyer (Karyn Kusama, US) — Platform

By Adam Nayman Playing a weathered LAPD lifer in Destroyer, Nicole Kidman looks like she’s been Dragged Across Concrete; her Erin Bell is the kind of hard-driving, harder-drinking detective who sleeps in her clothes in her car and flips off superiors at the scene of the crime. In other words, she’s a cliché, and if…
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Firecrackers (Jasmin Mozzafari, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman It’s a town full of losers and they’re pulling out of there to win: that’s the premise of Jasmin Mozzafari’s Firecrackers, which expands the director’s 2013 short of the same name into a conspicuously stylish, intermittently impressive debut that feels very much of the moment in young Canadian cinema, like a faster,…
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Assassination Nation (Sam Levinson, US) — Midnight Madness

By Adam Nayman The red, white and blue split-screen that showcases the horny, house-partying girls of Assassination Nation is the first—and maybe best—bit of neo-Godardian gamesmanship in Sam (son of Barry) Levinson’s state-of-the-union horror comedy. Suffice it to say that there are more plausible candidates to make satire great again than the guy who directed…
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Rojo (Benjamin Naishtat, Argentina/Brazil/France/ Netherlands/Germany) — Platform

By Adam Nayman The De Palmia-ish split diopter shot in the opening sequence of Rojo is an allusion that also suggests its own distinctive usage. Positioning the camera just behind the balding pate of small-town lawyer Claudio (Dario Grandinetti), as he gazes angrily at a long-haired restaurant patron who’s taken his reservation, uncomfortably aligns us…
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Cinema Scope 75 Contents

INTERVIEWS Apt Pupil: Bi Gan on Long Day’s Journey Into Night By Blake Williams I Like America and America Likes Me: An Interview with Lars von Trier By Mark Peranson The Morals of Nature: Lee Chang-dong on Burning By Jordan Cronk FEATURES Exchange Rate: The Silent Partner at 40 By Adam Nayman Transgressions in the…
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Exchange Rate: The Silent Partner at 40

By Adam Nayman “I think Toronto is a wonderful town, smart and up to date, just like a good American city…makes me feel like I’m back home in Cleveland.” These words, spoken by a “Mr. Chester Vanderwick” (an apparently authentic Midwesterner, although I’ve always thought he looks and sounds like a bad actor) sum up…
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Cinema Scope Magazine

Cinema Scope 74 Contents

INTERVIEWS *Paul Schrader: Deliberate Boredom in the Church of Cinema. By Alex Ross Perry. Community/Theatre: A Conversation with Stephen Cone. By Blake Williams. *Whatever Happened to Lizzie Borden? By Christoph Huber. Let Art Flourish, Let the World Perish: Morgan Fisher on Another Movie. By Jordan Cronk FEATURES *“You Never Heard of Code-Switching, Motherfucker?”: Joseph Kahn’s Bodied. By…
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The Uses of Disenchantment: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water

By Adam Nayman Accepting the Golden Lion at Venice for The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro magnanimously offered this piece of advice to young filmmakers: “Have faith in whatever you have faith in.” This bit of winner’s-circle tautology was surely not meant to be condescending. As with his fellow awards-ceremony-orator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s observation at…
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Issue 73 Table of Contents

Interviews Sightsurf and Brainwave: Blake Williams’ PROTOTYPE by Michael Sicinski In the Shadow of the Magic Kingdom: Sean Baker on The Florida Project by Adam Cook Giving Credibility to the Universe: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani on Laissez bronzer les cadavres by Christoph Huber Features The Uses of Disenchantment: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of…
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Issue 72: Table of Contents

Interviews *The New Workout Plan: Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse  by Adam Nayman Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse by Adam Nayman *Inner and Outer Space: Wang Bing Talks About Mrs. Fang by Daniel Kasman and Christopher Small *The Land of Terrible Legends: Narimane Mari on Le fort des fous by Jordan Cronk Add…
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The New Workout Plan: Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse

By Adam Nayman William K.L. Dickson’s Sandow (1894) is a three-part documentary study of the Prussian muscleman Friedrich Wilhelm Muller, who adopted the more flamboyant nom de plume after he dodged the draft and joined the circus. Sandow’s placement on undergraduate film studies curriculums the world over owes to its unique historical value: it was…
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The Carter Effect (Sean Menard, Canada/USA) — TIFF Docs

By Adam Nayman Filming Drake (billed as a “rapper/actor,” in a nod to his Degrassi stint) in front of some dinosaur skeletons at the Royal Ontario Museum is the wittiest touch in Sean Menard’s barely feature-length, sure-to-be-bought-for-television account of Vince Carter’s tumultuous tenure with the Toronto Raptors, not that said tumultuousness is really given its…
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The Children Act (Richard Eyre, UK) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman Ian McEwan specializes in preposterous plots, and The Children Act is as contrived as anything in his posh, voluminous, award-winning repertoire. (I don’t have an official number, but I’m guessing this is something like the 85th film made from one of his novels). Shortly after receiving a your-job-or-our-marriage ultimatum from her perennially…
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The Lodgers (Brian O’Malley, Ireland) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman Things creak in The Lodgers, a painfully genteel Irish horror movie haunted by the spirits of superior ghost stories, from The Innocents to The Others. It’s not that director Brian O’Malley is unaware of (or not duly reverent to) the old-dark-house tradition that he’s working in, it’s just that he doesn’t add…
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Bodied (Joseph Kahn, USA) — Midnight Madness

By Adam Nayman Or: Do the Wrong Thing. The protagonist of Joseph “Look What You Made Me Do” Kahn’s Eminem-produced 8 Mile satire (scripted by Toronto-area rapper Kid Twist) is a slim, shady grad student writing a dissertation on the subaltern subversiveness of clandestine rap battles. After some encouragement from a legendary (black) rapper—who tells…
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Suburbicon (George Clooney, USA) — Galas

By Adam Nayman On paper (where it was doubtlessly first written, probably with a typewriter, 30 years ago) Joel and Ethan Coen’s script for Suburbicon evokes sinister, postwar domestic melodramas like Shadow of a Doubt and Bigger Than Life. On screen, as directed by George Clooney, it evokes—or, more accurately, pilfers, poorly and to no…
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Three Peaks (Jan Zabeil, Germany/Italy) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman Three Peaks opens with a man and a child struggling to hold a conversation underwater in a fancy resort swimming pool; it’s a witty visual pun pointing to submerged motivations and difficult intergenerational communication. Jan Zabeil’s film is filled with such touches, and as they add up, you could be forgiven for…
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Valley of Shadows (Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen, Norway) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman The other clog doesn’t drop for a good long time in Valley of Shadows, a half-enchanting, half-enervating Norwegian feature whose director tries to have his horror tropes and transcend them too. That it takes Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen a while to really indicate what kind of movie he’s making could be taken as…
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