Jason Anderson

TV or Not TV | The Politics of Dancing: Adam Curtis’ Can’t Get You Out of My Head

By Jason Anderson / April 5, 2021

With the arrival of any new Adam Curtis film comes a deluge of coverage, commentaries, analysis, harangues, point-counterpoints, fact checks, further-reading lists, and good old-fashioned snark spread across an ever-expanding plethora of platforms. The resulting cacophony makes one of the fundamental appeals of Curtis’ practice—his seeming ability to wrest a temporary sense of order and coherence from a dense matrix of ideas, factoids, fragments, and audiovisual ephemera from deep within the BBC archive that otherwise threatens to feel as disordered and disorienting as everyday life—seem all the more valuable.

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Screenlife’s What You Make It: Thoughts on Searching, Profile, Unfriended: Dark Web, and Cam

By Jason Anderson / March 26, 2019

It’s one of the most cunning ironies in Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam (2018) that just beyond the edges of the screen that dominates the protagonist’s existence is… another frame. It’s one of those chintzy, gilded affairs that an earlier generation of art enthusiasts used to spruce up velvet Elvis paintings, Margaret Keane knockoffs, and other garage-sale treasures; you’d also find them around mirrors in hotels you never visit twice.

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Touch Me I’m Sick: Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell

By Jason Anderson / September 28, 2018

By Jason Anderson The phony magazine cover glimpsed in the early moments of Her Smell may not have the same heady metatextual allure as that of so many journals invented out of whole cloth and newsprint for narrative purposes, like the must-read issues of Dorgon and Kill Weekly on the newsstands in Blade Runner (1982)…

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Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry, US) — Platform

By Jason Anderson / September 10, 2018

By Jason Anderson Published in Cinema Scope 76 (Fall 2018)   The phony magazine cover glimpsed in the early moments of Her Smell may not have the same heady metatextual allure as that of so many journals invented out of whole cloth and newsprint for narrative purposes, like the must-read issues of Dorgon and Kill…

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The Tesla World Light (Matthew Rankin, Canada) — Short Cuts

By Jason Anderson / September 7, 2017

By Jason Anderson Published in Cinema Scope 71 (Summer 2017) International devotees of Canuck pop-cultural arcana may pride themselves on knowing every single line that Drake ever uttered on Degrassi: The Next Generation, but there’s another treasure that Canadians thus far have been able to keep for themselves. These are the Heritage Minutes, a series…

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Electroshock Therapy: Matthew Rankin on The Tesla World Light

By Jason Anderson / June 22, 2017

By Jason Anderson International devotees of Canuck pop-cultural arcana may pride themselves on knowing every single line that Drake ever uttered on Degrassi: The Next Generation, but there’s another treasure that Canadians thus far have been able to keep for themselves. These are the Heritage Minutes, a series of government-made, bilingual 60-second shorts for television…

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The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Juho Kuosmanen, Finland/Sweden/Germany) — Discovery

By Jason Anderson / September 7, 2016

From Cinema Scope #67 (Summer 2016) By Jason Anderson Of all the fleet-footed scenes in The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, the one that best demonstrates the virtues of Juho Kuosmanen’s debut feature may be the first press conference sequence. Though the event’s ostensible purpose is to hype the fight that takes place at…

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Failure Hasn’t Spoiled Him Yet: Alan Zweig Succeeds in Spite of Himself

By Jason Anderson / December 21, 2015

By Jason Anderson Alan Zweig’s Hurt is steeped in failures, not all of them belonging to the film’s unholy trainwreck of a subject, Steve Fonyo. In 1984, four years after a similarly valiant effort by Terry Fox that won the hearts and minds of the nation, the 18-year-old cancer survivor from Vernon, B.C. began a…

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TIFF 2015 | Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino, Canada)—Discovery

By Jason Anderson / September 4, 2015

By Jason Anderson Originally published in Cinema Scope 63 (Summer 2015). Almost 90 per cent of Canada is uninhabitable. Of those who live in the rest, the overwhelming majority live within 500 miles of the US border. So maybe it’s not so surprising that the nation’s filmmakers—themselves largely clustered in the same few square miles…

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Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino, Canada)

By Jason Anderson / June 23, 2015

By Jason Anderson Almost 90 per cent of Canada is uninhabitable. Of those who live in the rest, the overwhelming majority live within 500 miles of the US border. So maybe it’s not so surprising that the nation’s filmmakers—themselves largely clustered in the same few square miles of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal—regard the hinterlands with…

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It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, US) 

By Jason Anderson / March 26, 2015

By Jason Anderson Understandably reluctant to give a more specific appellation to the ever-morphing threat that imperils the teenage characters in his insidiously unnerving thriller It Follows, David Robert Mitchell tends to stick with “the It” in interviews. Given his second feature’s wealth of John Carpenter references, however—a heritage it shares with Adam Wingard’s The…

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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, Sweden)

By Jason Anderson / December 18, 2014

By Jason Anderson Filmmakers have a variety of reasons for enlisting non-professionals for their casts, but often what they seek is a rude, unvarnished vitality that actors can only simulate. Roy Andersson, however, works hard to dull any such spark from his chosen performers. First among his favoured tactics is the makeup that leaves their…

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Pacifico’s Heights: Simone Rapisarda Casanova on The Creation of Meaning

By Jason Anderson / September 16, 2014

By Jason Anderson Simone Rapisarda Casanova says that there is a Borges story so deeply embedded in his brain that only a lobotomy could remove it. Such a surgery would be suitably Borgesian in and of itself, but he should be safe from it in the meantime. The story, he explains, is “The Aleph,” a…

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TIFF 2014 | Merchants of Doubt (Robert Kenner, US) — TIFF Docs

By Jason Anderson / September 7, 2014

By Jason Anderson There’s a wealth of valuable and urgent info in Robert Kenner’s study of how business and ideological interests—and, of course, the Koch brothers, the favourite boogeymen of American liberals—create the illusions of debate and doubt over such issues as climate change in the media arena when none ought to exist. At the…

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TIFF 2014 | Cut Snake (Tony Ayres, Australia) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Jason Anderson / September 6, 2014

By Jason Anderson Though the title of Tony Ayres’ slow-burn thriller is borrowed from an Australian expression for a wild and crazy sort of fella, any potentially phallic connotations cannot be considered accidental. In fact, Ayres ultimately depends too heavily on Cut Snake’s most carnal element—a relatively novel re-ordering of the typical sexual dynamics between…

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TIFF 2014 | Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley, US) — Special Presentations

By Jason Anderson / September 5, 2014

By Jason Anderson It’s too much to expect a heroic final-quarter-Hail-Mary moment for Hal Hartley. Though arguably the most distinctive and promising of the original Sundance kids, he has already spent too many years chasing past glories as his amalgam of Godardian irony and existential burlesque lost all spark, form and purpose. Nevertheless, there’s something…

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TIFF 2014 | Fires on the Plain (Tsukamoto Shinya, Japan) — Wavelengths

By Jason Anderson / September 3, 2014

By Jason Anderson Few things bode less well on paper (or at least a page of the TIFF program book) than the prospect of the director of Tetsuo: The Iron Man and A Snake of June adapting Japanese literature’s most famous anti-war novel, a book that already yielded an equally venerated, Criterion-sanctioned film version by…

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TIFF 2014 | What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, New Zealand) — Midnight Madness

By Jason Anderson / September 3, 2014

By Jason Anderson Less a spinoff of HBO’s well-loved Flight of the Conchords than a large step up by the New Zealand co-writing, -directing and -starring team of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi after their terminally twee Eagle vs. Shark and too-cute coming-of-age tale Boy, What We Do in the Shadows invites us to into…

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TIFF 2014 | Waste Land (Pieter Van Hees, Belgium) — Vanguard

By Jason Anderson / September 1, 2014

By Jason Anderson City streets come a lot meaner than those of Brussels. Indeed, at one point in this initially intriguing but increasingly turgid Belgian thriller, the central homicide detective played by Jérémie Renier gets razzed about the city’s murder rate, which is puny by the standards of the cops in Seven, Bad Lieutenant and…

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TIFF 2013 | October November (Götz Spielmann, Austria)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Jason Anderson / September 3, 2013

By Jason Anderson Though hardly as adventurous (or merciless) as some of his Austrian peers, Götz Spielmann nevertheless created two bracing portraits of adults behaving badly in Antares and Revanche, his two most celebrated features. And just as the former film was smart enough to skirt many of the clichés of the “Hey-these-miserable-people-are-all-connected!” mode that…

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TIFF 2013 | Asphalt Watches (Shayne Ehman & Seth Scriver, Canada)—Vanguard

By Jason Anderson / September 3, 2013

By Jason Anderson Full credit goes to Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver for making a national portrait that thoroughly rejects the heartwarming dictums of CBC radio producers, government tourist officials, and any other purveyor of folksy Canadiana. An ultra-lo-fi animated travelogue based on a cross-Canada hitchhiking trip that the pair took in 2000, Asphalt Watches…

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Black, White, and Giallo: Forzani & Cattet’s The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears

By Jason Anderson / August 28, 2013

By Jason Anderson Any viewer in need of a primer on the semiotics of the giallo film will be well-served by the opening moments of The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears. In commencing their second full-length effort after their similarly arresting debut Amer (2009), the Belgian husband-and-wife team of Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet…

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Terrible Beauty: Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas’ The Oxbow Cure

By Jason Anderson / August 22, 2013

By Jason Anderson Though feelings of fear and pain are palpable in almost every moment of The Oxbow Cure, a curious sense of exhilaration cuts through the frigid dead. Maybe that’s due to the co-directors’ Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas’ possible realization that they’ve managed to do something uncommonly brave within a Canadian system that…

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Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh, US)

By Jason Anderson / June 26, 2013

By Jason Anderson For all the delight it takes in displaying the hard, shiny surfaces of its celebrity subject’s beloved “Austrian rhinestones,” the luxury automobiles he buys on a whim, and gilded crap of every variety, Behind the Candelabra reserves its most ardent attention for a certain array of body parts. Indeed, three of them…

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No Sound Is Innocent: Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio

By Jason Anderson / December 16, 2012

By Jason Anderson A cunningly crafted, slyly satirical, and deeply unsettling tale of a movie sound engineer losing his grasp on reality amid the obsolete tools of cinema’s analogue age, Berberian Sound Studio immediately takes a place near the top of a very short list of feature films that prioritize matters (and mysteries) of sound…

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Lost in the Moment: Peter Mettler on The End of Time

By Jason Anderson / September 11, 2012

After travelling through such far-flung sites as Detroit, Hawaii, India, and the geek-tacular labyrinth that is CERN’s Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Peter Mettler’s latest documentary finally leaves the material world altogether, arriving at a ripping pool of sounds and images that rates as the most splendiferously trippy sequence of the filmmaker’s career. Yet there’s…

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Analogue Dreams: Panos Cosmatos’ Beyond the Black Rainbow

By Jason Anderson / June 14, 2012

By Jason Anderson For Panos Cosmatos’ Beyond the Black Rainbow to take such a slow and tortuous path into wider circulation seems oddly appropriate for a movie that seems not only anachronistic but downright atemporal. After escaping a rift in the space-time continuum in order to premiere at the Whistler festival in late 2010, it…

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Canada’s Top Ten 2011: The Roundtable

By cscope2 / January 5, 2012

We’ve already discussed the majority of the features on this year’s Canada’s Top Ten list in some form or another in the pages of Cinema Scope or on Cinema Scope Online, many during our TIFF coverage. But as it’s still the time of year when film culture is obsessed with lists—writing them, reading them, arguing…

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The Re-Invention of Dreams: Martin Scorsese’s Hugo

By Jason Anderson / December 2, 2011

By Jason Anderson For a director to craft a movie that could inspire young viewers to become filmmakers themselves was a well-worn ambition long before the making of Super 8. But leave it to Martin Scorsese to trump J.J. Abrams by fashioning a slice of pure incandescent wonder that’ll have tykes telling their parents they’d…

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A Marriage Made in Heaven: Stuart Staples on Tindersticks’ Claire Denis Film Scores

By Jason Anderson / June 28, 2011

By Jason Anderson “The most beautiful sound next to silence.” That was the appropriately evocative motto for ECM, the vanguard jazz and new classical label much admired by audiophile aesthetes partial to Ärvo Part cantos and Bang & Olufsen components. Yet this phrase applies equally well to the music that Tindersticks have made for six…

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The Important Element of No Reason: The Mad World of Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber

By Jason Anderson / March 12, 2011

By Jason Anderson The scene begins as a tableau familiar from a million movies about killers on lonely desert highways. Their khaki-coloured subordinates visible as heat-hazy shapes in the background, two serious-looking men in sheriff uniforms cast their gazes down at something below the edge of the frame. By rights, they should be looking at…

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Currency | Putty Hill (Matthew Porterfield, US)

By Jason Anderson / December 17, 2010

By Jason Anderson There’s an ocean between what used to be Fontainhas and what remains Putty Hill. But watching Matt Porterfield’s second feature—named after the Baltimore suburb where the film takes place, and where the director was raised—it’s hard not to feel like both places could share the same decrepit corner of the world, even…

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Interviews | I Think We’re Alone Now: Denis Côté Splits the House in Curling

By Jason Anderson / September 21, 2010

By Jason Anderson Parka-wearing specks in a quintessentially Canadian landscape, a father and daughter hike through blowing snow along the side of a rural highway. A police car stops and an officer asks them why they’re not driving, a reasonable question given the harshness of the weather. (His other questions are less reasonable, prefiguring the…

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Spotlight | Les amours imaginaires (Xavier Dolan, Canada)

By Jason Anderson / June 18, 2010

By Jason Anderson Though Justin Bieber beats out all other contenders when it comes to starting riots at shopping malls, Canada has developed a surprising new forte for producing well-coiffed young media sensations who seem to travel everywhere accompanied by adoring crowds. Alas, the Canadian reporters who eagerly disseminated the news of the lusty response…

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Interviews | Heaven and Hell: L’enfer d’ Henri-Georges Clouzot

By Jason Anderson / December 16, 2009

By Jason Anderson So many noble quests for cinema’s lost arks, holy grails, and doomed farragoes yield less than we might have imagined. Yet the astonishing sight of the late Romy Schneider’s shimmering skin is only one of the many wonders discovered in the tantalizing wreckage of L’enfer d’ Henri-Georges Clouzot. Though 15 hours of…

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Spotlight | Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, US)

By Jason Anderson / September 1, 2009

By Jason Anderson Besides offering travel opportunities for the lazy, agoraphobic and/or chronically under-funded, cinema confirms our ideas about what the world’s supposed to look like. As soon as a site appears on screen, we place it somewhere in our mental geography, depending on whether we read it as familiar or novel, developed or developing,…

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Interviews | My Liverpool: Terence Davies’ Of Time and the City

By Jason Anderson / September 1, 2009

By Jason Anderson Terence Davies may have escaped Liverpool in 1973 but he’s never gotten very far away from home. Indeed, the relationship between the director and his birthplace has been as stormy, protracted, loving, and bitter as any great romance gone sour. In the early shorts that would later comprise The Terence Davies Trilogy…

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Features | The Art of Not Seeing: On Blindness and blindness

By Jason Anderson / August 31, 2009

By Jason Anderson In With Borges, his memoir about spending several years in the ‘60s as a reader for the elderly writer after meeting him in a Buenos Aires bookshop, Alberto Manguel fondly describes one of their occasional forays to the cinema. By then, Borges—who lost his vision due to a genetic condition—had been completely…

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