From The Magazine

Cinema Scope Issue 90 Cover

Cinema Scope Issue 90 | Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / March 22, 2022

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 

By Adam Nayman / March 21, 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 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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Pointing the Moral Index Finger: Ruth Beckermann on Mutzenbacher

By Darren Hughes / March 21, 2022

Mutzenbacher, her twelfth feature and winner of the Best Film prize in the Encounters program at the 2022 Berlinale, is an unabashed provocation that dusts off a notorious, century-old pornographic text to interrogate masculinity and the strange, hand-wringing Puritanism of our modern age. As with all subjects that fall under her gaze, Beckermann observes sex, shame, desire, fear, fantasies, and transgression with a concentrated stare and a wry smile.

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Waking Dreams: On the Films of Mikhaël Hers

By Lawrence Garcia / March 21, 2022

In all art there seems to be some principle of recurrence related to the repetitions of nature that conditions our sense of time—not just the passage of the seasons, but also the cycles of light and darkness, of waking and sleeping life. The films of Mikhaël Hers are no exception, though as with most any artist, he has his predilections.

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Don’t Look Now: The Righteous Evolution of Adam McKay

By Angelo Muredda / March 21, 2022

he room,” Adam McKay played the more comfortable role of American comedy’s slouchy, politically savvy older brother. Improbable as his progressive-daddy glow up of the past few years might seem, the Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder, former Saturday Night Live head writer, and Academy Award-winning writer-director planted the seed of his transformation early in his predominantly unserious comedy fare.

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CS90 Editor’s Note: Top Ten of ’21

By Mark Peranson / March 21, 2022

Every single one of the films listed in this year’s top ten premiered at a film festival in 2021, in particular, either Berlin (four), Cannes (both six in Official Selection and two in Quinzaine), or Venice (two). And not only did all the films premiere at festivals, but every single one of them also had a theatrical release in North America (or, in the case of Hong Sangsoo and a few others, will have one in 2022; as typical of recent years, 12 months cannot conceivably contain the Hong output for said year). 

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Film/Art | Out of the Blue and Into the Black: Derek Jarman’s Dead Souls Whisper 

By Andrea Picard / March 21, 2022

Undoubtedly, the most referenced colour in the history of art has been the colour blue; it is perhaps also the most magnificent. From its invention by the ancient Egyptians, to the painted parchment in medieval Psalters, through Renaissance brocades and vast perspectival grids defined by winsome skies to those manufactured by James Turrell via artificial light or real ones enhanced and framed like sculptures, blue has the undeniable lure and power of a paradoxical emotion: to excite yet appease.

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Deaths of Cinema | Print the Legend: Peter Bogdanovich, 1939–2022 

By Will Sloan / March 21, 2022

One time I was leaving Jack Ford’s house because I had a present I wanted to deliver to John Wayne. I told Ford, “It’s Duke’s birthday, I’m going over to give him a book.” “Eh?” he said. Sometimes Ford liked to pretend he was hard of hearing. So I repeated: “It’s Duke’s birthday, I’m going over to give him a book.” “Eh?” he said again. “It’s Duke’s birthday, I’m going over to give him a book.” Then a long pause. Ford says, “Duke’s already got a book.”

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Circumstantial Encounters

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / March 21, 2022

My pandemic home-viewing choices are invariably and inescapably matters of chance and accident—basically, what turns up and when. In different ways, all of the dozen items discussed below are examples of what I mean.

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Festivals: Berlin | A Little Love Package (Gastón Solnicki, Austria/Argentina)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / March 21, 2022

What was until very recently relegated to the safe and spectacular distance of the big screen is now getting uncomfortably closer to the comfortable lives of those who would have never thought to endure, in their lifetimes at least, pandemics, war, and misery. Solnicki’s film is not so much an antidote to this new, creeping reality, but to the loss of sensitivity upon which it is premised.

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Festivals: Sundance | Spaceship Down

By Robert Koehler / March 21, 2022

Sundance is the only major film festival in at least North America, and quite possibly the world, to create a section dedicated to the experimental/avant-garde and then turn around and destroy that section’s mission. The section is called New Frontiers, which used to be Sundance’s safe harbour for experimentation and, even if on rare occasions, non-narrative work. That was before the invasion of VR, which now has a near-monopoly on the section.

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Festivals: Berlin | A Flower in the Mouth (Éric Baudelaire, South Korea/France/Germany)

By Deragh Campbell / March 21, 2022

Screening in this year’s Berlinale Forum, Éric Baudelaire’s unique take on Luigi Pirandello’s 1923 short play The Man with the Flower in His Mouth assumes the form of  a diptych: the first part is an observational documentary of Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer, the world’s largest flower market in the Netherlands; the second, a fictional, more explicit adaptation of Pirandello’s text, a conversation taking place over an evening in a Paris bar.

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Nitram (Justin Kurzel, Australia)

By Michael Sicinski / March 21, 2022

Shortly before the close of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, word began to circulate that a very successful, cash-flush US distributor had snagged the rights to Nitram, the fifth feature film by Australia’s Justin Kurzel. Although the film didn’t seem to make much of an impression upon its Croisette premiere, the Spike Lee-led jury took notice of Nitram’s star, Caleb Landry Jones, giving him a somewhat unexpected Best Actor prize.

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The Tale of King Crab (Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis, Italy/France/Argentina)

By Jay Kuehner / March 21, 2022

Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis expand and deflate, by slyly cinematic means, upon a tradition of racconti popolari and fiabe.

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Cinema Scope Issue 89 | Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / January 4, 2022

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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Higher Power: Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta and the Legacy of Nunsploitation

By Christoph Huber / January 4, 2022

The pear of anguish is a medieval torture instrument, whose spoon-like metal segments spread at the turn of a screw in its centre. Also known as the “choke pear” because it was often applied to the victim’s mouth, it could be inserted into any orifice.

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Too Good at Goodbyes: The Souvenir Part II and Joanna Hogg’s Cinema of Memory

By Katherine Connell / January 4, 2022

By Katherine Connell Joanna Hogg chases authenticity. Her reluctance to call “Cut,” instead letting a scene’s action carry on via languid takes, static camerawork, and unscripted dialogue, reflects her intuitive sense of how small but telling slips within the typically dull cadences of British upper-middle-class social chatter can reveal roiling undercurrents of feeling. Yet while…

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The Flower and the Braided Rope: Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog

By Michael Sicinski / January 4, 2022

By Michael Sicinski Formalist though I may be, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate any given film from its association with Netflix. This is especially the case during awards season, as Netflix is throwing away obscene amounts of money on tacky gift boxes for critics and Academy members. The lavishly illustrated catalogues that depict every…

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In a Year of Six Kostrovs

By Christopher Small / January 4, 2022

“The fact that at one time there was a camera in front of some people, which made them act in a certain way, and everything they may have thought or said or done at that time no longer has any importance. It is dead and gone; the only thing that counts is what remains, and what remains is a crystallization of it…It’s the moment when you pass from the stage of raw recorded reality into the dimensions of a film…”

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El Gran Movimiento (Kiro Russo, Bolivia/France/Qatar/Switzerland)

By Jay Kuehner / January 4, 2022

By Jay Kuehner The tacit assumption of the “city symphony” is of a metropolis invariably harmonious, conducive to and cooperative with the machinations of both camera and director, the coalescence of an industrial apparatus. Kiro Russo’s native La Paz defies any such arrangement in El Gran Movimiento, which channels the inherent dissonance and manifest disparity…

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A Night of Knowing Nothing (Payal Kapadia, India/France)

By Erika Balsom / January 4, 2022

The sleep of reason produces monsters—or so said Francisco Goya, who used the phrase as the title of an aquatint published in 1799. The words appear as if etched into the side of a desk, atop of which a male figure slumps in slumber. From behind him, the menace comes: bats, owls, and cats emerge from the darkness with petrifying gazes, crowding around the man.

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Outside Noise (Ted Fendt, Germany/South Korea/Austria)

By Lawrence Garcia / January 4, 2022

In 1984, the American philosopher and art critic Arthur C. Danto articulated a theory of the end of art. His claim—entirely distinct from declarations of the death of art—was not that art would no longer continue to be produced, but rather that there was no longer any “special way works of art have to be.”

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CS89 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / January 4, 2022

An editor’s note is a safe space that is wholly devoted to allowing me to write about that which I want, and I did consider coming up with some words on the most impressive moving-image event for me in 2021—which, of course, is Peter Jackson’s jaw-dropping The Beatles: Get Back, the Out 1 of music documentaries (release the 40-hour Jackson cut!).

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Film/Art | Musique concrète: Lucy Raven at Dia

By Phil Coldiron / January 4, 2022

We begin in the air, a weightless gaze toward a mountained horizon. After some seconds, the camera descends, dropping beneath ground level, replacing the sky with a sheer face of pale earth. It settles, establishing a new ground. This movement is typical of Lucy Raven’s frequently drone-based camera throughout Ready Mix, the single-channel video which comprises the core of her presentation at the Dia Art Foundation’s newly renovated Chelsea location.

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Deliveries of Smart Dialogue by Dieterle and Others

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / January 4, 2022

fantasies by William Dieterle that I’ve seen is how literary they are. This adjective often has negative connotations in this North American neck of the woods, apparently because “literary” and “cinematic” are supposed to be antithetical—though clearly not for Orson Welles, nor for Godard, who devoted his first piece of film criticism to defending Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and virtually ended his 2 x 50 Years of French Cinema (1995) with his appreciative survey of literary texts that (for him) were an essential part of cinema, “from Diderot to Daney.” 

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The Tragedy of Macbeth (Joel Coen, US)

By Robert Koehler / January 4, 2022

Why do Macbeth? As a dare, to confront the challenge of one of Shakespeare’s most problematic plays? To “beat it into submission,” as Sir Laurence Olivier once put it? To face and overcome the curse of “the Scottish Tragedy?” Kurosawa Akira came up with an original answer in Throne of Blood (1957), which was to transfer the play’s medieval Scotland setting to feudal Japan and explore its theme of the fatal hubris of ambition as a means of reflecting, 12 years after the end of the Pacific War, on the folly of Japanese imperial ambitions.

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The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark)

By Beatrice Loayza / January 4, 2022

Desire tends to figure as a destructive force in the work of Joachim Trier. Anders (Anders Danielson Lie), the protagonist of Oslo, August 31 (2011), is a recovering drug addict who, by the end of the film, slips back into his old ways after a day of morale-crushing confrontations with his past.

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Exploded View | Ken Jacobs’ Blonde Cobra

By Chuck Stephens / January 3, 2022

The secret title of this valediction is, “Watching a bootleg rip of a Blu-ray of Ken Jacobs’ 1963 Blonde Cobra with the subtitles on.” (The very prospect sounds like science fiction to these aging ears, yet here we are.) It’s a typically short scribble, a polluted dream of purity, this time about the greatest nunsploitation film of the American avant-garde, and as usual, it’ll all be over almost as soon as it begins.

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Show Biz Kids: Paul Thomas Anderson on Licorice Pizza

By Adam Nayman / December 21, 2021

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

By Cinema Scope / September 22, 2021

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

By Adam Nayman / September 20, 2021

“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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The Tsugua Diaries (Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes, Portugal)

By Robert Koehler / September 20, 2021

2020 may go down as The Year From Hell, but at least it gave us The Tsugua Diaries. Rudely interrupted by the COVID pandemic in proceeding with not one, but two productions—Savagery and Grand Tour—Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes opted to do exactly the opposite of what everyone, including undoubtedly the Portuguese Film Commission, expected: they went and made a movie, deciding, just like the NBA, to create a bubble environment (at a farmhouse compound near the Atlantic coast) and hope for the best.

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France (Bruno Dumont, France)

By Lawrence Garcia / September 20, 2021

the seven years since P’tit Quinquin, it has become impossible to continue tagging Bruno Dumont with the longstanding clichés of Bresson criticism. Epithets like “ascetic,” “severe,” “punishing”—already limited descriptors of his first two works, La vie de Jésus (1997) and L’humanité (1999)—have only become more obviously incapable of describing Dumont’s recent films, from the carnivalesque contortions of Ma Loute (2016) to the musical extremes of his Jeanne d’Arc movies.

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Ahed’s Knee (Nadav Lapid, France/Israel/Germany)

By James Lattimer / September 20, 2021

might leave a bigger scar. The Kindergarten Teacher (2014) and Synonyms (2019) already flirted with autobiography, but his fourth feature pushes forward into full autofiction, sending a director named Y. (Avshalom Pollak) to the Arava desert for a screening of one of his films, only to discover that open discussion of its content is frowned upon.

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Titane (Julie Ducournau, France/Belgium)

By Phil Coldiron / September 20, 2021

The erotic history of the car in cinema extends back nearly to the dawn of the medium: there’s Chaplin, in 1914, asserting in his first film that he’s a more enticing view than the soapbox derbies at the Kid Auto Races (no engines yet).

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Cannes 2021: L’empire contre attack

By Mark Peranson / September 20, 2021

France this past July, the answer is a resounding “no.” And thankfully it was a sweltering summer, for if an event like the one Cannes mounted was to take place mostly with indoor dining, the film world would see numbers the size of Florida.

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Trouble Up North: Dennis Hopper’s Out of the Blue

By Kate Rennebohm / September 20, 2021

While parental absence is a key trope of so many of the Spielberg(ian) youth films of 1980s Hollywood cinema—not only E.T. (1982), but also The Outsiders (1983), Explorers (1985), The Goonies (1985), Stand by Me (1986), The Monster Squad (1987), et al.—the aloneness of the young protagonists is always more a matter of narrative pretext than actual subject.

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To Sir, with Love: Maria Speth’s Mr. Bachmann and His Class

By Michael Sicinski / September 20, 2021

way through uncertain, liminal spaces. At the same time, the documentary marks a sharp turn in Speth’s filmmaking approach, something all the more notable given the remarkable consistency of her first four films.

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I Remember Everything: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria

By Jordan Cronk / September 20, 2021

Memoria arrives amidst a flurry of activity for the 51-year-old Thai filmmaker. In addition to the feature and the book, there’s Night Colonies, his contribution to the omnibus project The Year of the Everlasting Storm (which also premiered at Cannes); a solo exhibition of his video and installation work at the IAC Villeurbanne; and a career-spanning retrospective at FIDMarseille, where the director was on hand just days after Cannes to receive the festival’s Grand Prix d’Honneur.

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Next Stop Eternity: Peter Tscherkassky’s Train Again and the Love Story of Railroads and Film

By Christoph Huber / September 20, 2021

Peter Tscherkassky’s 20-minute film Train Again unearths some new materialist marvels while expanding on those typically Tscherkasskian sensations the Austrian filmmaker achieves through the technique of contact printing, in which found footage is copied by hand, frame by frame, onto unexposed film stock.

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Night Raiders (Danis Goulet, Canada/New Zealand)

By Katherine Connell / September 20, 2021

apocalyptic cityscape backdrops an anti-authoritarian alliance between two characters from traditional Cree stories (Wesakechak and Weetigo). Goulet’s first feature, Night Raiders, not only returns to the realm of dystopia, but also shows the degree to which its creator’s interest in the genre goes beyond the use of futuristic settings as a mere aesthetic surface.

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Exploded View | Suzan Pitt

By Chuck Stephens / September 20, 2021

Suzan Pitt’s Asparagus took four. A handcrafted surrealist masterpiece and in every sense a labour of l’amour fou, the extraordinary Asparagus—in a which a femme sans visage takes pleasure in her garden and shares the bounty of her unearthly delights with a mesmerized audience, all before performing fellatio on an alchemical assortment of possibilities—was animated and assembled between 1974 and 1978.

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Issue 88 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / September 20, 2021

After a year’s hiatus from the Croisette, we’re back with our first ever fall issue devoted to Cannes, which took place in July in the middle of a pandemic, in case you forgot. Because it was summer and travel was permitted, I followed the many, many movies I saw at Cannes with a relaxing vacation on a COVID-free, beach-heavy island, where the only film I watched was, appropriately, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old.

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Heroines, Heroes, Dogs, Filmmakers

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / September 9, 2021

The way the Internet Movie Database tells it, two pairs of writerly brothers worked with Josef von Sternberg on his first talkie, Thunderbolt (1929), recently released on a Kino Lorber Blu-ray (with a knowledgeable audio commentary by Nick Pinkerton that I’ve so far only sampled). Charles and Jules Furthman are both credited for “story,” though Jules, the younger of the two, gets a screen credit for the actual script; Herman J. Mankiewicz is credited for “dialogue,” while his younger brother, Joseph L., is credited for “titles.”

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Issue 87: Table of contents

By Cinema Scope / June 15, 2021

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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Siberia (Abel Ferrara, Italy/Germany/Mexico/Greece/UK)

By Michael Sicinski / June 15, 2021

Abel Ferrara is a changed man. While the evidence suggests that this is very good news for Ferrara himself and his immediate family, it could result in a minor schism in the manner in which his films are received. For most of his career Ferrara has been the subject of a Romantic cult that glorified his legendarily self-destructive behaviour, and often read this (literal) lawlessness as an integral part of his renegade creative vision.

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New Order (Michel Franco, Mexico/France)

By Adam Nayman / June 15, 2021

“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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Azor (Andreas Fontana, Switzerland/France/Argentina)

By Jay Kuehner / June 15, 2021

Mark Twain’s quote that virtue has never been as respectable as money could easily delineate the sumptuously sordid habitat limned in Azor, except that it’s precisely the kind of wisdom that the film’s wealthy habitués and their attendant financiers might invoke with complacent irony from within their insulated milieu of smoky parlours, agapanthus-lined lobbies, manicured hippodromes, and dutifully swept piscinas.

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Exploded View | Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen’s Psychomontage No. 1

By Chuck Stephens / June 15, 2021

People get naked, lips are smacked, groping ensues; macroscopic pondlife lick and suck, bomber pilots release their loads. In ten neurotic minutes, the movie climaxes again and again. Come-on, or plain comedy? Evocative of Ovid, or an altogether obvious joke? Take it off! Take it all off! Take my associative montage…please!

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TV or Not TV | Neutrality is Not an Option: Raoul Peck’s Exterminate All the Brutes

By Robert Koehler / June 15, 2021

In the fourth and final episode of Exterminate All the Brutes, Raoul Peck declares in his commanding voiceover narration, “The very existence of this film is a miracle.” Those are mighty big words for a filmmaker to say about his own work—it’s hard to imagine even the always self-impressed Godard making such a statement—but by the end of Peck’s grand yet accessible essay film, the viewer can’t argue.

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Deaths of Cinema | Monte Hellman: The Art of Going Nowhere

By Haden Guest / June 15, 2021

The late Monte Hellman had a great run in the late ’60s and early ’70s directing an unusual series of low-budget films whose surface resemblance to popular genre pictures belied a smoldering ambition to forge a distinctly American mode of art cinema.

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Remembering Women: Claudia von Alemann’s Blind Spot

By Erika Balsom / June 15, 2021

Cherchez la femme, they say. It sounds nice, but what this expression actually means is that woman is the root of all (male) problems, always to blame. Claudia von Alemann’s extraordinary Blind Spot (Die Reise nach Lyon, 1980), recently restored by the Deutsche Kinemathek in cooperation with the Institut Lumière, is a rare film that puts the pursuit of a woman at its heart—not so that she can be punished, not so that a man’s troubles can be explained, but so that her achievements might be rescued from oblivion and might, in the process, change another woman’s life.

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Common Sense Connoisseur: The Critical Legacy of Bertrand Tavernier

By Christoph Huber / June 15, 2021

The two most cherished film books in the pile on my bedside table are in a language my command of which is rudimentary at best. But since both Jacques Lourcelles’ Dictionnaire du Cinéma – Les Films as well as Jean-Pierre Coursodon and Bertrand Tavernier’s 50 ans de cinéma américain have never been translated from French into either English or German, I gladly make do, filling the gaps with a mixture of autodidactic guesswork and occasional dictionary consultation, which for all its drawbacks has proved to be a viable method.

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“I prefer, where truth is important, to write fiction:” On Radu Jude

By Phil Coldiron / June 15, 2021

In the name of the popular, delighting in reduction and obviousness, a boring assertion: the common ground of every film movement christened a “new wave” over the last 70 years has tended toward revision, a self-conscious desire to provide a true image of the people in opposition to the distorted picture given by whatever relevant iterations of official culture. The banality of this claim can be measured by the volume of cant and platitude produced in support of it, often by the artists themselves. There is, I hope, little need to rehearse these arguments regarding realism, myth, and so on. Who today can help but squirm when faced with the phrase “true image of the people?”

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Can’t Get You Out of My Head: Dasha Nekrasova on The Scary of Sixty-First

By Gabrielle Marceau / June 15, 2021

Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was, ostensibly, a film that couched a meditation on the mundane topic of marriage and mistrust in mysterious extravagances (operatic orgies, hints of the occult, dream logic). Watching it now, it’s abundantly clear that the film is actually most trenchant in its treatment of class, corruption, and the sexual penchants of an invincible, monied elite (embodied by Sydney Pollack).

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It Happened One Night: Alexandre Koberidze on What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?

By Jordan Cronk / June 15, 2021

Just past the midpoint of Alexandre Koberidze’s What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? the narrative pauses for a five-minute montage of children playing European football on the blacktop of a fenced-in basketball court. Accompanied by Gianna Nannini’s 1990 FIFA World Cup anthem “Un’estate italiana,” the scene, which plays out entirely in slow motion, is at once part and parcel of this highly musical film’s many interludes and the most conspicuous of its untold number of narrative culs de sac.

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Editor’s Note: Cinema Scope Issue 87

By Mark Peranson / June 15, 2021

Perhaps it’s premature to proclaim “Cinema is back!” to quote a certain French festival director, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that it never went away. Even though theatres are only now reopening in many countries (at the time of writing indoor cinemas remain closed in Toronto, unfortunately), I dare say that over the past year we were all exposed to more moving images (and alcohol) on a regular basis than at any other moment in human history…some of it, yes, not exactly cinema as we are used to defining it.

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Brief Encounters: Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy

By Beatrice Loayza / June 15, 2021

Sprawling, intimate conversations are crucial in the dialogue-driven films of Hamaguchi Ryusuke, but that which remains concealed—simmering behind a strategic facade, sheepish deception, or playful pretense—can be just as revealing. Consider the pivotal dinner conversation that takes place after a communication workshop in the 317-minute Happy Hour (2015), when Jun (Kawamura Rira) suddenly discloses the shocking news of her upcoming divorce trial and owns up to her infidelity to her callous husband

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Cinema Scope Issue 86 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / April 5, 2021

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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The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2020

By Cinema Scope / April 5, 2021

1. Days (Tsai Ming-liang) 2. The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) (C.W. Winter and Anders Edström) 3. The Year of Discovery (Luis López Carrasco) 4. The Last City (Heinz Emigholz) 5. Lovers Rock (Steve McQueen) 6. The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sangsoo) 7. Malmkrog (Cristi Puiu) 8. DAU. Degeneration (Ilya…

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Gag Orders: The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Judas and the Black Messiah

By Andrew Tracy / April 5, 2021

Bobby Seale makes a cameo of sorts midway through Judas and the Black Messiah, as Martin Sheen’s porcine J. Edgar Hoover—checking in personally on the progress of the FBI’s campaign against Chicago Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya)—is shown an artist’s sketch of the BPP’s national chairman gagged and shackled in the courtroom during the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. This revolting spectacle understandably serves as the mid-film dramatic highpoint of The Trial of the Chicago 7, when the repeated, suitably indignant demands by Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) to serve as his own defense counsel in the absence of his hospitalized lawyer—and presiding judge Julius Hoffman’s (Frank Langella) incredible refusal to grant this right, instead directing that Seale’s defense should be undertaken by the representatives for the other defendants—ultimately lead to him being bodily removed from the courtroom by marshals and returned in chains. That image of a defiant Black man, forcibly silenced and immobilized in a hall of American justice, became one of William Burroughs’ “frozen moment[s] at the end of the newspaper fork,” when everyone—including those who would applaud it—can see what they’re being fed.

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The Primacy of Perception: Ramon & Silvan Zürcher on The Girl and the Spider

By Blake Williams / April 5, 2021

Near the midpoint of The Girl and the Spider—Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s overdue, much anticipated follow-up to their masterful debut feature, The Strange Little Cat (2013)—a character launches into another of the Zürcher brothers’ distinctive anecdotal monologues. Mara (Henriette Confurius), who is as close as this film gets to a protagonist, describes for her neighbour, Kerstin (Dagna Litzenberger-Vinet), an incident that occurred the previous day between herself and her newly ex-roommate (and perhaps ex-girlfriend) Lisa (Liliane Amuat). “I was in my room while Lisa was on the toilet,” she recounts. “She asked me to bring her a roll of toilet paper. Instead of giving it to her, I walked past the door from left to right, from Lisa’s point of view.” The image cuts to the scene while she recalls it, privileging us with a more objective account of the incident: a fixed shot showing Mara stand up from her desk, grab a package of toilet paper, and march past the door, her arms outstretched like a zombie.

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Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, US)

By Angelo Muredda / April 5, 2021

Entering Riz Ahmed in the disability cosplay sweepstakes as a young drummer coping with hearing loss, Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal originated as a lightly meta vehicle for husband-and-wife sludge-metal duo Jucifer to be directed by Derek Cianfrance, with whom Marder co-wrote The Place Beyond the Pines (2012). That the final result is more surprising than the rote uplift narrative suggested by its edifying logline is a testament to both Ahmed’s cagey intensity…

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Exploded View: Steina & Woody Vasulka

By Chuck Stephens / April 5, 2021

Icelandic filmmaker Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir’s extraordinarily warming 2019 documentary The Vasulka Effect, about the protean Euro-hippies and rightfully dubbed “grandparents of video art,” Steina and Woody Vasulka, was exactly the movie I needed to see this winter. Awash in Nordic echoes even as it confronts the modern realities of art-gallery politics and the history of America’s visual-arts fringes, it’s a mythical origin story that’s actually true, all about ancient heroes and ravaging time.

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Canadiana | Reading Aids: The Good Woman of Sichuan and Ste. Anne

By James Lattimer / April 5, 2021

When navigating the as-yet-unknown films of a festival program, nationality still provides a persuasive point of reference for some, a feeling underlined by the proud declarations issued by national funding organizations, promotional bodies, or particularly partisan members of the press once titles have been announced. This year’s reduced Berlinale Forum lineup also invites tenuous lines of this kind to be drawn (two films from Argentina, two films from Canada!), although the three Franco-German co-productions shot elsewhere say far more about how films are made in 2021.

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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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DVD | Reclaiming the Dream: Joyce Chopra’s Smooth Talk

By Beatrice Loayza / April 5, 2021

Her reflection comes as a revelation. In the safety of her bedroom, Connie (Laura Dern), the 15-year-old protagonist of Joyce Chopra’s 1985 feature debut Smooth Talk (recently released on a Criterion Blu-ray), adjusts her new halter top in the mirror, its strings crisscrossed down the middle of her chest to hang limp over her exposed midriff. The camera observes her in profile as she spins and arches her back, her gaze glued to the supple body in the reflection, luxuriating in her new possession.

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En plein air: Denis Côté on Hygiène sociale

By Jordan Cronk / March 25, 2021

No mere pandemic film (the script was largely written in 2015), Côté’s latest instead turns our current circumstances into a means for reflection, analysis, and confrontation with the very tools and convictions that have made him into one of contemporary cinema’s most prolific and unclassifiable directors. At a time when the very concepts of serious-minded filmmaking and theatrical exhibition are being called into question by streaming giants and IP managers with zero investment in the sustainability of the art form, Côté proposes that what’s needed if the cinema is to survive is not a reckoning with the notion of what is or isn’t a movie, but a re-engagement with the tenets of an author-driven cinema, achieved on its own unique terms.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth: Fern Silva’s Itinerary

By Michael Sicinski / March 25, 2021

Fern Silva’s films cannot be described as ethnography, personal/mythopoeic film, or essay filmmaking, although they often partake of all of those modes. Though his films are rooted in particular places and cultural spheres, they assiduously avoid the rhetorical or declarative traps of typical nonfiction filmmaking. Instead, they envelop the viewer in a diffuse but concrete ambiance, conveying the palpability of land and water, the weight of the air surrounding hills and trees. They represent a doubled physicality—the world as unavoidably there, inseparable from the cinematic substrate of 16mm filmmaking itself—and the result is a hybridized form of documentary “fiction,” in the classical Latin sense. Silva’s films are made, formed in the interface between reality and those human and mechanical processes that bring it into being.

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Modern Mabuse: On Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales

By Josh Cabrita / March 25, 2021

I suppose now is the time to justify why I thought it worthwhile to begin a piece on Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales (2006), whose Cannes cut has recently been released for the first time on home video courtesy of Arrow, with this exegesis of Lang’s final film. It’s not just that both Thousand Eyes and Southland Tales involve obscure conspiracy plots, take place in highly controlled and policed societies (the post-Nazi German surveillance state and the post-Patriot Act US, respectively), or examine complex information and transportation systems.

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Editor’s Note: Cinema Scope Magazine Issue 86

By Mark Peranson / March 25, 2021

Is pandemic cinema a trend? Sure, because it ain’t a genre, and, one day—like a miracle—it will disappear. Pandemic cinema is appealing because anything can be pandemic cinema, and indeed everything now is. We can turn anything into PC because that’s what we desire, thanks in no small part to a culture that has fully accepted conspiratorial thinking. In this issue, though, there are films covered that one can point to as expressing something that hits on the contemporary condition and sticks—films that are mainly interior (people trapped in enclosed spaces, people’s lives subjected to strict regulation, both of which apply to the latest from the Zürcher brothers, The Girl and the Spider), or exterior (people expressing our collective will to be free of said enclosed spaces or ideologies and roam free, as in Dominik Graf’s Fabian), or both (Denis Côté’s Hygiène sociale, the ur-pandemic text, a term I use just to raise the hackles of its author).

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Sundance 2021: In the Year of COVID

By Robert Koehler / March 25, 2021

Now that the cinema world was a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, what movies would be done and available? Would anything premiering be worth a damn after sitting on the shelf for nearly 12 months? Were the good movies being held back in the hope that actual festivals would kick back into gear by, oh, late spring? (Hope springs eternal.) That last question was the one that really mattered, one that pestered the fall festivals of 2020 to a degree but which has now come down hard on festivals in early 2021, as the feeling (is it just a feeling?) grows that the pandemic is coming to the beginning of the end.

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A Glitch in the Matrix (Rodney Ascher, US)

By Gabrielle Marceau / March 25, 2021

In 1977, Philip K. Dick gave a speech titled “If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others,” in which he revealed that many of his dystopian novels weren’t the products of his imagination or dreams, but came from recovered memories of actual alternate worlds. Dick was entirely sincere, and this realization plagued him. Footage of this speech (and of Dick’s skeptical French audience) punctuate Rodney Ascher’s A Glitch in the Matrix, which explores the psychological and cultural impacts of that moment when science fiction seeps into our reality.

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I Thought I Was Seeing Palestinians: On Kamal Aljafari

By Kaleem Hawa / January 6, 2021

By Kaleem Hawa At the end of Kamal Aljafari’s latest film, An Unusual Summer, the Palestinian filmmaker recalls a memory from his childhood, centred on the communal garden outside of his home in the city of Ramlah, a 30-minute drive southeast of Tel Aviv: As a child I spent summerclimbing the fig treefilling straw baskets…

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Cinema Scope Issue 85 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / December 22, 2020

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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The Play for Tomorrow: Steve McQueen’s Small Axe

By Michael Sicinski / December 22, 2020

By Michael Sicinski One of the best known of Steve McQueen’s early video works is Deadpan (1997), a four-minute, 35-second loop in which the artist simultaneously places himself in harm’s way and in film history. The piece is a recreation of the famous Buster Keaton stunt from Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) in which the façade…

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The Crowd Is Dead, Long Live the Crowd!

By Erika Balsom / December 22, 2020

By Erika Balsom for RMC 1.  It was a total coincidence and yet it felt freighted with meaning: when I returned to the cinema at the end of August after months of suffering with the small screen, the first two films I saw began with crowd scenes.  The streets of London were eerily empty as…

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All the Fountains of the Great Deep: Artavazd Pelechian’s La Nature

By Phil Coldiron / December 22, 2020

By Phil Coldiron Artists who write clearly about their work run a serious risk: that they will be taken at their word. In much of contemporary art this dynamic has descended to the point that the work, the sensuous object, functions as little more than an illustration of the artist’s statement, a vestigial offering to…

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Minority Report: Armond White Wants to Make Spielberg Great Again

By Adam Nayman / December 22, 2020

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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F for Fake: Mank

By Andrew Tracy / December 22, 2020

By Andrew Tracy “I am very happy to accept this award in the spirit in which the screenplay was written—which is to say, in the absence of Orson Welles,” snarks Gary Oldman’s Herman Mankiewicz in the recreated newsreel that caps off Mank, as he receives the Best Screenplay Oscar he acrimoniously shared with Welles for…

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Beginning (Dea Kulumbegashvili, Georgia/France)

By Lawrence Garcia / December 22, 2020

By Lawrence Garcia Beginning opens with a sermon on the Old Testament tale of Abraham and Isaac, delivered to a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Georgia’s predominantly Orthodox Christian Caucasus region. Just as the preacher, David (Rati Oneli), starts to expound on its implications regarding belief, the Kingdom Hall is firebombed by unseen attackers, transforming the…

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The Calming (Song Fang, China)

By Courtney Duckworth / December 22, 2020

By Courtney Duckworth Inertia implies stillness, but more precisely it means that without intervention any body resists change. The word conjures ceaseless motion as much as it does stasis—someone who cannot go on, or someone who can do nothing else. Something of this semantic tension imbues The Calming, writer-director Song Fang’s ascetic second feature. Lin…

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Genus Pan (Lav Diaz, Philippines)

By Jesse Cumming / December 22, 2020

By Jesse Cumming Marking Lav Diaz’s return to Venice four years and two features after winning the Golden Lion for the nearly four-hour The Woman Who Left, Genus Pan has invited easy jokes about its relative brevity by Diaz standards, clocking in as it does at a relatively efficient 156 minutes—even though it is, in fact,…

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Her Socialist Smile (John Gianvito, US)

By Jordan Cronk / December 22, 2020

By Jordan Cronk In a year when even the most perfunctorily political film has been deemed newly relevant, it’s a 58-minute observational documentary from 2007 that, by quietly surveying the United States’ progressive past, points most perceptively to the struggle that has faced the American Left since long before 2020. A history of violence and…

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Editor’s Note Cinema Scope Magazine Issue 85

By Mark Peranson / December 22, 2020

The idea of a festival as a firewall seems to be stating the obvious, but 2020 has answered the question: what if you throw a film festival and nobody shows up?

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There Are Not Thirty-Six Ways of Showing a Man Getting on a Horse (Nicolás Zukerfeld, Argentina)

By Devika Girish / December 22, 2020

By Devika Girish The films of Nicolás Zukerfeld pit images against words, staging wily games of onscreen meaning-making. Literary miscellanea often spur the ambulatory narratives of the Argentine director’s works: a mysterious letter opens into two Rashomon-esque views of a street encounter in the short La distancia entre las cosas (2008); annotated articles and battered…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: The Importance of Not Being an Auteur

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / December 22, 2020

By Jonathan Rosenbaum Teaching an online course on Agnès Varda at the School of the Art Institute this fall for 39 students has put me in regular touch with Criterion’s superb 15-disc Blu-ray box set The Complete Films of Agnès Varda, every week. The packaging reminds me in some ways of the handsome 78 rpm…

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Exploded View | Michael Snow’s Cover to Cover

By Chuck Stephens / December 22, 2020

By Chuck Stephens When I was young, people spoke of immorality.All the things they said were wrong are what I want to be. Over, under, sideways, down, (Hey!)  I bounce a ball that’s square and round. When will it end? —The Yardbirds, 1966 Scrutable curio and irresistible objet, Michael Snow’s 1975 “artist’s book” Cover to…

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Nomadland (Chloe Zhao, US)

By Robert Koehler / December 22, 2020

By Robert Koehler A passage in Jessica Bruder’s book Nomadland describes the unlikely birth and hard death of the life of Empire, a mining town in northwest Nevada. “In 1923,” Bruder writes, “laborers established a tent colony on the site of what later became the town. By some accounts, Empire boasted the longest continuously operating…

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Hillbilly Elegy (Ron Howard, US)

By Darren Hughes / December 22, 2020

By Darren Hughes In his 1892 inaugural address, governor William MacCorkle warned that in the coming years West Virginia would find itself occupying the same “position of vassalage” that Ireland held in relation to England, and for similar reasons: “But the men who today are purchasing the immense areas of the most valuable lands in…

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Issue 84 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / September 22, 2020

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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The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno

By Mark Peranson / September 22, 2020

“The night scares me so much,” confesses a courageous Yazidi pre-teen girl to a therapist, remembering the period when she and her younger sister were captured by ISIS. Anyone who was seen crying would be killed, they were told; it turned out to be a vacant threat, but the sisters were still beaten, and now they are attempting to exorcise their memories by drawing pictures of them. Does it help? We never find out.

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Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna

By Jordan Cronk / September 22, 2020

There’s a point in nearly every Nicolás Pereda film when the narrative is either reoriented or upended in some way. In the past this has occurred through bifurcations in story structure or via ruptures along a given film’s docufiction fault line. Pereda’s ninth feature, Fauna, extends this tradition, though its means of execution and conceptual ramifications represent something new for the 38-year-old Mexican-Canadian filmmaker.

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I Lost It at the Movies: Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind and I’m Thinking of Ending Things

By Adam Nayman / September 22, 2020

“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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Open Ticket: The Long, Strange Trip of Ulrike Ottinger

By Michael Sicinski / September 22, 2020

One of the most surprising things about Ulrike Ottinger’s new documentary Paris Calligrammes is how accessible it is. Some cinephiles may be familiar with Ottinger based on an 11-year period of mostly fictional productions that were adjacent to the New German Cinema but, for various reasons, were never entirely subsumed within that rubric. Others are quite possibly more aware of her later work in documentary, in particular her commitment to a radical form of experimental ethnographic cinema.

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A Pierce of the Action: On Claudine and Uptight

By Andrew Tracy / September 22, 2020

By Andrew Tracy In his Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes identified two elements at work in the act of viewing photographs. On one level was what he labelled the studium, which he defines as a sympathetic interest on the part of the viewer, “a kind of general, enthusiastic commitment, but without special acuity…To recognize the studium…

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The Home and the World: Three Films by Ruchir Joshi

By Jesse Cumming / September 22, 2020

In a recent article published in advance of the restoration and rerelease of his work, filmmaker and writer Ruchir Joshi detailed the context for creative Indian documentary in the late ’80s, just as he was developing his practice:

Independent documentary makers tended to attempt only two or three kinds of non-fiction films: Films commissioned by NGOs, “activist” films around a social or political issue about which the filmmaker felt passionately, and films to do with culture, usually traditional craft or performance.

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Chums at Midnight: On Hopper/Welles

By Alex Ross Perry / September 22, 2020

Presented as a “new” documentary of which Orson Welles is the credited director, Hopper/Welles is at once less and more than whatever would accurately befit that pithy description.

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Issue 84 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / September 22, 2020

As this strangest of years plods not-so-merrily along, so as well do we, much lighter in the pocketbook but with all the resilience of an army of Mulans. (I think that metaphor makes sense, as I cannot currently afford to pay $30 to see a Disney film on Disney+ on my Apple computer).

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Books | Molto Bene: The Life and Deeds of a Selfless Egomaniac

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 22, 2020

Carmelo Bene always had very little to do with the provincial history of Italian cinema and its self-congratulatory antics. “Culturally I’m not Italian, but Arab,” he told Jean Narboni in an interview for Cahiers du cinéma in 1968, reclaiming his geo-historical lineage while simultaneously denying the existence of a national culture. Born in the “ethnic mayhem” of Otranto—“a most religious bordello, a centre of culture and tolerance to bring together Islamic, Jewish, Turkish, and Catholic confluences”—Bene dedicated his life to the manic deconstruction of any form of identity, including his own.

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Global Discoveries on DVD | Presumptions & Biases

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / September 22, 2020

We already know from his imaginary conversations with his very own “Orson” in The Eyes of Orson Welles (2019) that the presumptions of Mark Cousins respect no natural boundaries apart from those of his own hubris.

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Exploded View | Artificial Paradise

By Chuck Stephens / September 22, 2020

As I type this, it’s 2:00pm in northeast Los Angeles, middle of the afternoon: the sky is brown with smoke, air conditioners are walking off the job, and last night I could barely breathe. Yesterday, it was 113 degrees in parts of northeast LA; the mountains and forests around us are on fire. “Just another day in paradise,” as the most seasoned Angelenos have become all too accustomed to gritting their smiles and facetiously confessing.

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The Inheritance (Ephraim Asili, US)

By James Lattimer / September 22, 2020

The role of past insights in (still) present-day struggles is at the heart of The Inheritance, a playful, erudite, and boundary-blurring examination of what performing Black theory, literature, music, and testimony in a contemporary Philadelphia commune might set in motion.

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Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg, UK/Canada)

By Mallory Andrews / September 22, 2020

If it’s true that Brandon Cronenberg sought to cheekily poke fun at his father David’s needle-phobia in his first film (Antiviral, 2011), it feels like parts of Possessor might have been engineered specifically to make my skin crawl.

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The Math of Love Triangles: Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Trigonometry

By Adam Nayman / July 4, 2020

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

By Cinema Scope / June 23, 2020

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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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 / June 23, 2020

Though the process of watching the onset of life’s end yields gut-wrenching moments, some recorded, some reconstructed, it makes little sense to extract one scene from the whole picture, as the film’s ultimate strength lies in its refusal to privilege, well, anything: an image of a tree means as much as a visit to an onsen, three people walking in the dark, a farmer hoeing her land, or a black screen with no image at all, only an intricately composed soundscape (as the quote introducing the film reads, “Until the moment you are dead you can still hear”). Make no mistake: though mortality is front and centre, this is a salute to the possibilities provided by cinema, a celebration of life.

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DAU. Diary & Dialogue. Part One: A Living World

By Jordan Cronk / June 23, 2020

At the press conference for the premiere of DAU. Natasha at this year’s Berlinale, director Ilya Khrzhanovsky pre-empted questions regarding the controversial methods involved in the realization of his 14-year passion project—collectively known as DAU—by contrasting the experiences of his actors with the everyday lives of their Soviet-era characters. “All the feelings [depicted in the film] are real,” he said, “but the circumstances are not real in which these feelings happen.

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In Search of the Female Gaze

By Erika Balsom / June 23, 2020

The trope of a woman removing her glasses to suddenly reveal her great beauty is as familiar as it is eye-roll-inducing. She never looks that different, but her status as an erotic object changes immediately and immensely. A classic example is Dorothy Malone as a bookstore clerk in The Big Sleep (1946), but more recently there is Rachel Leigh Cook descending the stairs to the saccharine sounds of “Kiss Me” in She’s All That (1999). Give up your active gaze, this convention seems to say, and you will be alluring.

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Live(stream) and In Person: Watching Zia Anger’s My First Film in the Age of Quarantine

By Jessica McGoff / June 23, 2020

Zia Anger’s My First Film is a lot of things: a cinema-performance art hybrid, a confrontation with traditional modes of film production and distribution, a radical reclamation of the narrative regarding what it means to be a female artist, and, now, a livestream rather than a live performance.

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Cinema Scope 83: Editors Note

By Mark Peranson / June 23, 2020

When the history of 2020 is written, if we make it that far, the disruption of the usual mechanisms of exhibition, production, and distribution of cinema will (rightly) appear as a footnote, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are more important crises to manage, but here’s not the place to deal with them in any satisfying way. If the last issue appeared just as COVID-19 was locking us all indoors, this one is born as people are emerging onto the streets, not to head back to normalcy, but to express anger.

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Film/Art | The People United Will Never Be Defeated: Igor Levit’s Hauskonzerts

By Shelly Kraicer / June 23, 2020

One usually looks to art galleries and film festivals for a sense of what’s on the avant-garde edge of sound-and-image art. For these pandemic-laden months, with galleries and cinemas shuttered, something extraordinary is happening in the most tradition-bound art, Western classical music—or Western art music, as I prefer to call it. It’s not just Levit, though he stands at the head of an astonishingly vital set of online streaming sessions. Events like Bang on a Can Marathon, Music Never Sleeps, and performers as disparate as the Berlin Philharmonic, veteran pianist Angela Hewitt, and young pianist Tiffany Poon are inventing pathways to experience, communally and distanced. All from an art form that has been declared dead long before the “death of cinema” became a thing.

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TV or Not TV | Ozark’s America and the Rise of the Longform

By Robert Koehler / June 23, 2020

By Robert Koehler “Why do I have this feeling that it’d be better off if you were dead?” Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) says this to Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) in their first encounter inside a public-park washroom in Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams’ longform series, Ozark. As one of the notorious Langmores—a clan of (mostly)…

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Global Discoveries on DVD | Diverse Kinds of Do-it-Yourself Subterfuge, Mainly American

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / June 23, 2020

Well before the coronavirus pandemic kicked in, I’d already started nurturing a hobby of creating my own viewing packages on my laptop. This mainly consists of finding unsubtitled movies I want to see, on YouTube or elsewhere, downloading them, tracking down English subtitles however and whenever I can find them, placing the films and subtitles into new folders, and then watching the results on my VLC player. The advantages of this process are obvious: not only free viewing, but another way of escaping the limitations of our cultural gatekeepers and commissars—e.g., critics and institutions associated with the New York Film Festival, the New York Times, and diverse film magazines (including this one), not to mention the distributors and programmers who pretend to know exactly what we want to see by dictating all our choices in advance.

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Exploded View | No President (Jack Smith, 1967-1970)

By Chuck Stephens / June 23, 2020

White faces, black flesh, an enormous tusk, a bug-eyed succubus, holes in the plaster, acrid marihuana, vinyl exotica, a Christmas tree: these are the articles constituted. One nation, overexposed, with feather boas and liberation for all. Metamorphosis: tear gas wafts through the roses. And now here we are again, with the end of the Sixties just another Ludovico loop. But is the underground on top of things? At least, at last, No President (reconstituted by filmmaker Jerry Tartaglia) is on Vimeo. Hail to the grief.

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Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Eliza Hittman, US)

By Courtney Duckworth / June 23, 2020

One May evening, I dipped into a Twitch stream in search of a fresh current. Within the weird undertow of quarantine, there is a new lustre to these live events, which mark unfixed days with a fixed hour—a dupe for the transient communion gone from cinemas that now lie empty. Some 200 of us “gathered” for a program, co-presented by Screen Slate and Electronic Arts Intermix, of short works from Cecelia Condit, a singular scrambler of feminine tropes and fairy tales since the ’80s. New to me among them was last year’s We Were Hardly More than Children, an oneiric memoir.

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Blood Quantum (Jeff Barnaby, Canada)

By Mallory Andrews / June 23, 2020

The hook is intriguingly straightforward: in Blood Quantum, an infectious zombie disease spreads through the world, save for the residents of a Mi’kmaq community along the Québec-New Brunswick border who appear to be immune to the undeadly virus. In the post-apocalyptic remnants of their town, Sheriff Traylor (Michael Greyeyes) and his deputies guard the boundaries of their land against the violent hordes of “Zeds.”

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There Can Be a Better World: The 2020 Images Festival

By Cayley James / June 23, 2020

In Toronto, where film festivals have become something of a cottage industry (with over 150 operating on an annual basis), it’s particularly hard not to feel the cruel irony of the present moment. Festivals remain one of the last holdouts for appreciating films in a public setting in the face of the steady march of streaming and VOD; now, they are faced with the stark choice of either postponing their events entirely, or, as with Images, pivoting to an online model that strikes at their very raison d’être.

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Cinema Scope 82: Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / March 20, 2020

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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A State of Uncertainty: Tsai Ming-liang on Days

By Darren Hughes / March 20, 2020

There’s no exact precedent for the long creative collaboration between Tsai Ming-liang and Lee Kang-sheng. In 1991, as the story goes, Tsai stepped out of a screening of a David Lynch movie and spotted Lee sitting on a motorbike outside of an arcade.

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New Possible Realities: Heinz Emigholz on The Last City

By Jordan Cronk / March 20, 2020

The Last City, the new film by Heinz Emigholz, begins with a confession. “And it was a straight lie when I told you that I had an image that could describe the state of my depression,” admits a middle-aged archaeologist to a weapons designer (played, respectively, by John Erdman and Jonathan Perel, who were previously seen in Emigholz’s 2017 film Streetscapes [Dialogue] as a filmmaker and his analyst). “I made that up.” Part reintroduction, part recapitulation, this abrupt admission sets the conceptual coordinates for a film that, despite its presentation and the familiarity of its players, is less a continuation of that earlier work’s confessional mode of address than a creative reimagining of its talking points.

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This Dream Will Be Dreamed Again: Luis López Carrasco’s El año del descubrimiento

By James Lattimer / March 20, 2020

Luis López Carrasco’s dense, devious El año del descubrimiento confirms his reputation as Spain’s foremost audiovisual chronicler of the country’s recent past, albeit one for whom marginal positions, materiality, everyday chitchat, and the liberating effects of fiction are as, if not more, important than grand historical events.

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Long Live the New Flesh: The Decade in Canadian Cinema

By Adam Nayman / March 20, 2020

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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Best of the Decade: Jodie Mack

By Sofia Bohdanowicz / March 20, 2020

The rigorous and vibrant visual rhythms of Jodie Mack’s cinema were first impressed upon me in 2009, when I premiered a short film at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in a section titled “Feminist Travelogues.” I was fortunate to have been programmed alongside Jodie, who was screening a 28-minute stop-motion animation musical epic titled Yard Work Is Hard Work (2008). During the screening I sat completely dazzled as I watched an intimidating wall of meticulously cut images pulled from catalogues perform intricate designs, which, in combination with acrobatic camera movements and an original soundtrack, told an allegorical story of the disillusionment of married life. I was overcome by the film: I found that it was suffused with an aura of isolation and defeat; it was impressively impenetrable.

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Best of the Decade: Corneliu Porumboiu

By Antoine Bourges / March 20, 2020

In Porumboiu’s films, I see a connection to the use of “factual” elements in my own work. I often work with non-actors and have used re-enactments of what may seem like insignificant administrative protocols in a few of my films. In one particular instance, while interviewing a caseworker for a film project in Toronto, I came upon a type of document I had not seen before: a court referral for a man who was charged for refusing to appear in court after being caught stealing.

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Best of the Decade: Jean-Luc Godard

By Andrea Bussmann / March 20, 2020

I initially wanted this piece to be about a writer—after all, are not images and words inseparable, delicately intertwined?—but I was gently nudged to stay focused on the image side of things. The task itself seemed like an impossible process of elimination, however, one that was finally alleviated only when I recalled the opening quotation published in this magazine in the article about my film Fausto (2018):

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Best of the Decade: Sergei Loznitsa

By Atom Egoyan / March 20, 2020

I first encountered Sergei Loznitsa’s work at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. Though I was busy watching student films and shorts as president of the Cinefondation jury, I found some time to steal away and watch some other work in the Official Selection. Loznitsa’s feature My Joy was in Competition.

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Best of the Decade: Jafar Panahi

By Hugh Gibson / March 20, 2020

What would Harry Lime say about today? It feels like the time of the Borgias, but without the Renaissance. Oppression, trauma, and war are omnipresent—and that’s just on my list of the decade’s top films, which includes reflections on the scars left by conflicts past (Christian Petzold’s Transit, 2018; Miyazaki Hayao’s The Wind Rises, 2013; Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War, 2017), portraits of traumatized soldiers (Laurent Bécue-Renard’s Of Men and War, 2014; Valeska Grisebach’s Western, 2017; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, 2012), and works that bear witness to atrocities (Wang Bing’s Dead Souls, 2019; Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, 2012,and The Look of Silence, 2014).

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Cinema Scope 82: Editor’s Note — Best of the Decade

By Mark Peranson / March 20, 2020

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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Sundance: Power and Fear in Park City

By Robert Koehler / March 20, 2020

Sundance equals power, and for a good reason: get your movie into the lineup, and you have an excellent chance of securing distribution in the US, a better chance by far than at any other festival. This means that it’s the supreme gateway, and despite or because of this fact, Sundance’s audiences are among the most conservative and rearguard in the international festival world.

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Second Thoughts & Double Takes

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / March 20, 2020

I find it astonishing, really jaw-dropping, that Midge Costin’s mainly enjoyable Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019),available on aUK DVD on the Dogwoof label, can seemingly base much of its film history around a ridiculous falsehood: the notion that stereophonic, multi-track cinema wasinvented in the ’70s by the Movie Brats—basically Walter Murch, in concert with his chums George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola—finally allowing the film industry to raise itself technically and aesthetically to the level already attained by The Beatles in music recording.

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Exploded View | For a Cameraless Cinema: Making Images Move: Handmade Cinema and the Other Arts

By Chuck Stephens / March 20, 2020

By Chuck Stephens “That photography is not a prerequisite for handmade cinema’s production means that we can more easily come to view how artists used a variety of materials—not only paint, but also rain, oil, or electricity—as well as other media, technologies, and practices where cameras might be avoided, in order to pursue the goal…

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Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov, Russia)

By Michael Sicinski / March 20, 2020

Kantemir Balagov’s debut feature Closeness (2017) garnered significant attention on the festival circuit, for reasons both positive and negative. Primarily a look at an insular Jewish community in a small town in the north Caucasus, the film institutes a tragedy that tests the bonds of immediate versus extended family.

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And Then We Danced (Levan Akin, Sweden/Georgia/France)

By Katherine Connell / March 20, 2020

From drag performances to ballroom extravaganzas, booming club sequences to solitary swaying, queer cinema has often depicted moments of yearning or self-actualization through dance: think, for instance, of the erotic and essayistic function it serves in Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston (1989),Edward and Gaveston’s spotlit slow dancing in Derek Jarman’s Edward II (1991), the adolescent hero’s furious romp through back allies and rooftops in Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot (2000),or the sublime hotel dance party to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in Céline Sciamma’s Bande des filles (2014).

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Discrete Charms: Rotterdam’s Tiger Short Competition

By Phil Coldiron / March 20, 2020

By Phil Coldiron We still have not found a satisfactory way to show new short films. The approach taken for the shorts competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam—to treat ticketed programs as minimally thematic clusters of individual screenings, separated by a brief question and answer session with the filmmaker if present (and most were)—argues,…

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Impresión de un cineasta: On the Films of Camilo Restrepo

By Jay Kuehner / March 20, 2020

The title of Camilo Restrepo’s breakout short film, Impressions of a War (2015), suggests the anomalies inherent in conceiving of a historical portrait of modern Colombia. A war is not typically thought of as something that leaves an impression; rather, it maims, disables, obliterates, defaces, violates. Nor does its legacy register as a mere impression: the cumulative trauma amounts to nothing less than an indelible scar, both corporeal and psychological, that exceeds reason, conciliation, and memory.

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Cinema Scope 81 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / December 29, 2019

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

By Adam Nayman / December 29, 2019

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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They Are All Equal Now: The Irishman’s Epic of Sadness

By Robert Koehler / December 29, 2019

Since cinema is moving toward television, and since the MCU generation is trying to actually tussle with a good fella like Martin Scorsese, and since all of this is wrapped around a cultural moment steeped in glorious contradictions, the timing of The Irishman couldn’t be more perfect.

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Far from Paradise: Nina Menkes’ Queen of Diamonds

By Erika Balsom / December 29, 2019

By Erika Balsom Diamonds are sharp and hard, rich in myth and violence, soaked in desire, totally under the putrid spell of money. They are, in other words, a lot like Las Vegas—especially as it appears in Nina Menkes’ searing 1991 film Queen of Diamonds. Across 75 taut minutes, Sin City’s fabulous hedonism recedes from…

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Garden Against the Machine: Ja’Tovia Gary’s The Giverny Document

By Michael Sicinski / December 29, 2019

By Michael Sicinski Ja’Tovia Gary’s filmmaking is all to some extent grappling with the question of identity, particularly its precariousness in an often hostile world. Early films such as Cakes Da Killa: No Homo (2013) and An Ecstatic Experience (2015) explore the complex histories of African-American life, in particular the role of art and storytelling…

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Collective (Alexander Nanau, Romania/Luxembourg)

By Jay Kuehner / December 29, 2019

By Jay Kuehner As the opening credits of Alexander Nanau’s Collective rolled at a screening at TIFF, a fellow critic leaned to me and whispered, in a mantra-like tone, the name of an indelible Chinese documentary: Karamay. The implied message was tacitly understood: that Xu Xin’s colossal 2010 work on the aftermath of the eponymous…

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Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle (Frank Beauvais, France)

By James Lattimer / December 29, 2019

By James Lattimer For a film that reveals its formal conceit from the outset and never deviates, Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle is remarkably complicated. Frank Beauvais’ first feature-length work opens with a simple intertitle, stating that he watched over 400 films between April and October 2016 and that the footage to be…

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The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, Canada)

By Josh Cabrita / December 29, 2019

By Josh Cabrita William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth and longest-serving prime minister, is an emblem of our nation’s repressed, ineffectual masculinity. A staunch centrist and bureaucrat, Mackenzie King accomplished little during his 22 years in office: his main contributions were his ability to win elections despite his apparent lack of charisma, and his power…

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Cinema Scope 81: Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / December 29, 2019

By Mark Peranson Let’s call this one “Notes Towards an Editor’s Note.” I know that some of you think I’m funny like a clown and I’m here to amuse you, so I hate to disappoint those fair readers looking for the usual belly laugh or two in this quarterly missive. But to be totally honest…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Women, Men, Progressive and “Progressive” Thinking

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / December 29, 2019

By Jonathan Rosenbaum Some of Roman Polanski’s early features—Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and Tess (1979)—are centred on vulnerable women, but as Bitter Moon (1992) makes abundantly clear, these are all films predicated on the male gaze, as are the more recent and more impersonal films of his that come closest to qualifying as Oscar…

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Exploded View | Peter Emanuel Goldman’s Pestilent City

By Chuck Stephens / December 29, 2019

By Chuck Stephens Structurally ambiguous and romantically rancid, Peter Emanuel Goldman’s 1965 Pestilent City is a 15-minute, high-contrast black-and-white New York City scherzo of sleaze, dereliction, working stiffs, stumblebums, loitering, malingering, playing, and passing out, filmed in Times Square and along the Deuce during the area’s deleterious decline, halfway between Sweet Smell of Success (1957)…

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Jojo Rabbit (Taika Watiti, US)

By Angelo Muredda / December 28, 2019

By Angelo Muredda “Don’t get into the Nazi stuff,” Taika Waititi’s deadbeat dad tells his son, the eponymous protagonist of the New Zealand-born actor-writer-director’s sophomore feature Boy (2010), gesturing to a swastika he once carved into the wall of his childhood bedroom, the remnant of a reformed punk’s youthful exploits. Hindsight being 20/20, it’s almost…

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Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, France)

By Chloe Lizotte / December 28, 2019

By Chloe Lizotte The very title of Portrait de la jeune fille en feu seeks to pin down the unpinnable: to fix a flame in place. Céline Sciamma’s 18th-century romance centres on the innate slipperiness of condensing someone’s presence into oil on canvas, a process in which the act of rendering becomes an intimate exchange…

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Invisible Life (Karim Aïnouz, Brazil)

By Katherine Connell / December 28, 2019

By Katherine Connell Chronicling the life of the legendary Rio de Janeiro drag performer, hustler, and street fighter, Madame Satã (2002) announced Karim Aïnouz as a filmmaker attuned to the conceptual richness and subversive potential found within liminal spaces: individuals who fluctuate between seemingly fixed identity categories, and whose fullness of life outside the social…

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Silence and Presence: Chantal Akerman’s My Mother Laughs

By Phoebe Chen / September 25, 2019

By Phoebe Chen For certain filmmakers—attractive women—there is a popular kind of on-set photo that telegraphs authority: one eye pressed to the viewfinder of some behemoth camera, she is caught in a contra-glamour shot that codes the pragmatic as cool. Naturally, there is one of Chantal Akerman, taken some time in the late ’70s—shaggy-haired and…

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Cinema Scope 80 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / September 24, 2019

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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No God But the Unknown: Pietro Marcello and Maurizio Braucci on Martin Eden

By Jordan Cronk / September 24, 2019

By Jordan Cronk “Of course it was beautiful; but there was something more than beauty in it, something more stingingly splendid which had made beauty its handmaiden.”—Jack London, Martin Eden Pietro Marcello’s decade-long evolution from idiosyncratic film essayist to grand narrative storyteller represents one of the most significant artistic flowerings in contemporary cinema. Recently unveiled…

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I See a Darkness: Pedro Costa on Vitalina Varela

By Haden Guest / September 24, 2019

A moving study of mourning and memory, Pedro Costa’s revelatory new film offers an indelible portrait of Vitalina Taveres Varela, a fragile yet indomitable woman who makes the long voyage from Cape Verde to Lisbon to attend her estranged husband’s funeral, but misses the event itself because of cruel bureaucratic delays.

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Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft

By Josh Cabrita / September 23, 2019

The prospect of spending an hour and a half with people lacking in notable virtue, alluring vice, or any apparent interest, may seem like an unproductive exercise in forced empathy—but consider this skepticism a function, as opposed to a fault, of these tightly orchestrated, seemingly soporific character studies.

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For a Cinema of Bombardment

By Michael Sicinski / September 23, 2019

Although there have always been intrepid critics and cinephiles who have engaged with films belonging to the non-narrative avant-garde, there has existed a perception that such films, operating as they do on somewhat different aesthetic precepts, could be considered a separate cinematic realm, one that even the most dutiful critic could engage with or not, as he or she saw fit.

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Together We’re Willing to Take Any Risk: The Films of Han Ok-hee and Kaidu Club

By Jesse Cumming / September 23, 2019

In 1974, a group of students from the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul formed South Korea’s first feminist film collective, Kaidu Club. Shepherded by the group’s de-facto president Han Ok-hee, the other members—who participated with varying degrees of involvement over the Club’s five years of existence—also included the painter Kim Jeom-seon, as well as academics and artists Lee Jeong-hee, Han Soon-ae, Jeong Myo-sook, and Wang Gyu-won. As the “Club” designation might suggest, the group was committed to both the promotion and production of experimental cinema, which was still in its domestic infancy.

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Cinema Scope 80: Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / September 23, 2019

Having been in Locarno at the premiere of Vitalina Varela, I can testify that every single one of the 3,000 people who remained in the Fevi for the duration of the film were overwhelmed by the power Costa’s vision, and leapt to their collective feet in standing ovation as the credits rolled. That’s just as believable a scenario as, say, a cadre of radical critics and programmers imposing their beliefs on a bunch of uneducated suckers by sheer will, which is essentially what the Variety argument implies—a bunch of suckers, mind you, that includes a jury of rather experienced filmmakers, watchers, and actors, all of whom as far as I can tell are sentient beings with brain stems unconnected to the cinephile Matrix.

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And That’s Exactly How it Was: The 72nd Locarno Film Festival

By James Lattimer / September 23, 2019

The 72nd edition of the Locarno Film Festival—the first under the artistic direction of Lili Hinstin—was notable for the strength of its documentary offerings, albeit hardly in the conventional sense. Within a solid line-up whose names and general tone didn’t deviate all that much from recent years, the films that stood out most were the ones that tapped into the realm of nonfiction—which isn’t to say they were necessarily documentaries.

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Golden Eighties: J. Hoberman’s Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan

By Adam Nayman / September 23, 2019

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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Global Discoveries on DVD: Compulsively Yours (including a few real-life confessions/admissions)

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / September 23, 2019

Due to my recorded enthusiasm for Maurizio Nichetti’s first slapstick feature, Ratataplan (1979), and his no less loony and hilarious fifth, The Icicle Thief (1989), I was handed a restoration of his equally loony but less hilarious third, Domani si balla! (Tomorrow We Dance, 1983), co-starring Nichetti and Mariangela Melato, on a PAL DVD with optional English subtitles (not always idiomatic or grammatical) released by Collana Forum Italia.

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Exploded View: Peter Fonda’s Idaho Transfer

By Chuck Stephens / September 23, 2019

“A useless piece of drivel about an obnoxious group of teens who get ‘teleported’ into the future, where they are expected to set up a new civilization in Idaho.”

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Fire Will Come (Oliver Laxe, Spain/France/Luxembourg)

By Azadeh Jafari / September 23, 2019

By Azadeh Jafari After two films set in Morocco—You Are All Captains (2010) and the Cannes Critics Week winner Mimosas (2016)—French-born Spanish filmmaker Oliver Laxe returns to his parents’ homeland of Galicia for his third feature, Fire Will Come, which the director has called a “dry melodrama.” The narrative is certainly simple enough: a middle-aged…

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The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio, Italy/France/Brazil/Germany)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 23, 2019

“The most beautiful film is our own history,” confessed Marco Bellocchio to a journalist following the release of The Traitor, after it surpassed Godzilla: King of the Monsters at the Italian box office, proving yet again that the Mafia movieis still a commodity worth investing in.

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The Good Fight: The Films of Julia Reichert

By Bob Kotyk / July 3, 2019

By Robert Kotyk In the first scene of Julia Reichert’s first film, Growing Up Female (co-directed with Jim Klein, 1971), a woman takes the hand of a young girl, walks her down the front steps of a house, and guides her along an Ohio sidewalk, the girl moving along as though in a trance, taking in…

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Cinema Scope 79 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / June 27, 2019

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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Jeanne (Bruno Dumont, France)

By Blake Williams / June 27, 2019

I’ve exited the last several Bruno Dumont films wondering—only somewhat in jest—whether or not their maker had gone completely insane. Until 2014, Dumont was notorious for his straight-faced, neo-Bressonian, severely severe dramas that interrogated the intersection of spiritualism and material form.

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Issue 79 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / June 27, 2019

Excuse me if I come across as discombobulated, it’s not because of any movie I’ve watched recently. No, I’m talking about far more important things than cinema: this issue is in the process of being closed while deep in the throes of Raptors mania, to be precise, the incredible goings-on of Game 4.

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Exploded View | Flaubert Dreams of Travel But the Illness of His Mother Prevents It

By Chuck Stephens / June 27, 2019

Undersung filmmaker Ken Kobland’s strange, sumptuous slice of classically minded surrealism, Flaubert Dreams of Travel But the Illness of His Mother Prevents It, created in 1986 in collaboration with The Wooster Group (America’s experimental-theatre ensemble extraordinaire) is, too, a creature born from Flaubert’s polymorphous bestiary.

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The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, UK/US)

By Robert Koehler / June 27, 2019

Given the evidence of Federico Fellini’s 8½ (1963) and François Truffaut’s Day for Night (1974), time isn’t kind to moviemakers who decide to leap into autobiography: too often, such an endeavour entails rampant solipsism, a romanticization of history, and getting the practice of moviemaking (and cinema itself) entirely wrong.

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The Hottest August (Brett Story, Canada/US)

By Adam Nayman / June 27, 2019

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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Global Discoveries on DVD: Extras and Streaming, Now, Then, and There

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / June 27, 2019

Readers of Movie Mutations, the 2003 collection I co-edited with Adrian Martin, will know that the Jungian notion of global synchronicity has long been a preoccupation of mine.

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Film/Art | Curses and Blessings: Moving Images at the 58th Venice Biennale

By Erika Balsom / June 27, 2019

By Erika Balsom I wouldn’t wish living in times like these on anyone. This, of course, is the irony of the title of Ralph Rugoff’s exhibition for this year’s Venice Biennale, “May You Live in Interesting Times.” On the surface, the phrase reads as a blessing; actually, it is a curse. Add to this the…

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Truth and Method: The Films of Thomas Heise

By Michael Sicinski / June 27, 2019

“Archaeology is about Digging” is the title of an essay by Thomas Heise, included in the DVD booklet for several of his films, including the 2009 film Material, a key film in terms of raising Heise’s profile outside of Europe. In the essay, the filmmaker describes the circumstances surrounding the making of the films included on the disc, particularly those early works made while living in the GDR prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall

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Parasite (Bong Joon Ho, South Korea)

By Adam Cook / June 24, 2019

Precisely a decade after his last film shot and produced in South Korea, Bong Joon Ho returns to a place that feels both familiar and unfamiliar with his Palme d’Or-crowned Parasite. Moving beyond the ambitious, overly conceptual, and uneven international co-productions Snowpiercer and Okja, Parasite feels like a movie that only could have been made after such an awkward foray into globalized filmmaking.

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Thinking in Images: Scott Walker and Cinema

By Christoph Huber / June 21, 2019

“I am forever indebted to cinema,” wrote singer-songwriter Scott Walker in 2007. “It’s always been there for me in all manner of ways. I would not have lived my life here in Europe without it. Now and then I’ve found myself wandering in dark towns or cities rather like those depicted by Kaurismäki. Have turned a corner and there was salvation looming before me in the form of a movie house.

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Cinema Scope 78 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / March 26, 2019

*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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The Exorcist: Barbara Loden and Wanda

By Courtney Duckworth / March 26, 2019

Barbara Loden re-emerges in fragments. Caught in a 1965 snapshot from street photographer Garry Winogrand, she cuts across a wedge of city sunlight; tufts of windblown hair halo her wary face as one high heel steps just out of frame.

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Audrey II: Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell’s MS Slavic 7

By Adam Nayman / March 26, 2019

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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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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You Can’t Own an Idea: The Films of James N. Kienitz Wilkins

By Dan Sullivan / March 26, 2019

Rare these days is the filmmaker who proclaims that cinema is firstly a medium of ideas rather than of images and sounds, and few have made the case as strongly as James N. Kienitz Wilkins.

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Film/Art | Manhattan Style: Andy Warhol’s Empire

By Phil Coldiron / March 26, 2019

From A to B and Back Again. Given that “A” is “Andy,” what might count as a suitable “B”? In the context of the book of Warhol’s “philosophy” bearing that subtitle, it was literal: the Factory superstar Brigid Berlin and Interview magazine editor Bob Colacello, the other halves of the conversations which provided much of the book’s raw material.

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Deaths of Cinema | Missives from the End of the World: Jocelyne Saab (1948–2019)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / March 26, 2019

“There is something in borders and frontiers that magnetically draws me to them, while of course the utopia of a world in which these absurd divisions don’t exist is always on my mind,” pondered Jocelyne Saab in one of her last films, Imaginary Postcards (2015).

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Festivals: Rotterdam | Anchors Aweigh: Zhu Shengze’s Present.Perfect.

By Jesse Cumming / March 26, 2019

In 2014, the Chinese government first outlined its plans for a “social credit system,” a massive project that utilizes various data-collection tools to rank the good standing of the country’s citizens, set to be fully implemented by 2020.

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Exploded View: Makino Takashi’s Ghost of OT301 

By Chuck Stephens / March 26, 2019

By Chuck Stephens “Like news reports of wartime Japan, films with stories or a precise structure throw images at an audience with their meanings already intact. Rather than making films with my own imposed structure, my method is to abandon structure altogether or, in other words, layer images that once embodied meaning on top of…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Flukes & Flakes

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / March 26, 2019

By Jonathan Rosenbaum In retrospect, I’m sure that an important part of what excited me about John Updike’s second novel, Rabbit, Run, when I read it in high school circa 1960, was the fact that it was recounted in the present tense, thus giving it some of the immediacy of a movie—rather like the thrill…

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Répertoire des villes disparues (Denis Côté, Canada)

By Josh Cabrita / March 26, 2019

To appreciate the historical scope and layered references of Denis Côté’s Répertoire des villes disparues, we would do well to begin before the film does, at a time when some of the apparitions that haunt Irénée-les-Neiges, the film’s fictional northern Québec setting, would have existed as flesh and bone.

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Issue 78 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / March 26, 2019

By Mark Peranson The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2018 1. An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo) 2. Le livre d’image (Jean-Luc Godard) 3. La Flor (Mariano Llinás) 4. Transit (Christian Petzold) 5. What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini) 6. Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Bi Gan) 7. Happy as…

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To Thine Own Self Be True: Angela Schanelec on I Was at Home, But…

By Giovanni Marchini Camia / March 26, 2019

It’s outrageous that it should have taken this long for Angela Schanelec to make it into the Competition of the Berlinale—and ironic, given that it was a review of her film Passing Summer (2001), published in Die Zeit, that originated the term “Berliner Schule.”

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Cinema Scope 77 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / January 2, 2019

*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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Festivals | Doclisboa 2018: A Scream into the Void

By Christopher Small / January 2, 2019

By Christopher Small  Almost anyone who has spent a prolonged period at a film festival understands the soothing familiarity of a good pre-movie festival spot, those throwaway bits of business that bleary-eyed delegates sit through upwards of 40 times over the course of a week. Everybody reading this doubtless has their favourites; my sense is…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Some Blessings and Curses of Cinephilia

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / January 2, 2019

By Jonathan Rosenbaum  Since I don’t have much investment in parsing Arnaud Desplechin’s arsenal of “personal” references, I had to look elsewhere for the intermittent pleasures of Ismaël’s Ghosts (2017), available on a two-disc Blu-ray from Arrow Films. I often find myself so hard put to navigate Desplechin’s multiple allusions to and borrowings from Philip…

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Issue 77 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / January 2, 2019

By Mark Peranson  And now, a few thoughts on the occasion of attending the revitalized Marrakesh International Film Festival and the industry Atlas Workshops on African and Middle Eastern cinema that, you might be surprised to learn, was sponsored by none other than Netflix. Soon after arriving in Morocco I had the occasion to attend…

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Our Time (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Germany/Denmark/Sweden)

By Blake Williams / January 2, 2019

By Blake Williams  For whatever thematic heavy-handedness or structural deficiencies Carlos Reygadas’ films may consistently and inevitably fall victim to, the man sure knows how to open a movie. Information, images, forms arrive from somewhere as something undefined—stars shining from who knows how far away; a small child lost in a field as day loses…

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A Land Imagined (Yeo Siew Hua, Singapore/France/Netherlands)

By Lawrence Garcia / January 2, 2019

By Lawrence Garcia  About 20 minutes into A Land Imagined, the nominal protagonist, Detective Lok (Peter Yu), tells his partner of how, on his travels to various locales, he realized that he’d been to all of them before—in his dreams. “The strange thing is, I never saw those places as a child. How is this?”…

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Ghost Operas: Music from the Films of Bertrand Bonello

By Sean Rogers / January 2, 2019

By Sean Rogers  “I think that to write the music for that scene was also his way to tell it…You almost have the impression that his script for the scene is the colour and the sound, that’s it.” Bertrand Bonello is here referring to a scene from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me…

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Soft and Hard: Claire Denis on High Life

By Adam Nayman / January 2, 2019

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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Encore: Dora García’s Segunda vez

By Michael Sicinski / January 2, 2019

By Michael Sicinski  1. This is the story of a repetition. General Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina for the first time in 1946, and served two terms of office, from June 4 of that year through September 21, 1955. From 1946 through 1952, his first term, he ruled with his wife Eva at…

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The Land of the Unknown: Roberto Minervini on What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?

By Jordan Cronk / January 2, 2019

By Jordan Cronk  Writing for Cinema Scope in the winter of 2017, director Roberto Minervini reflected on a new wave of philistine cinema in America. For Minervini, this “covert-yet-not-so-subtle nationalistic, reactionary” brand of filmmaking—exemplified by the likes of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario (2015)—is a prime example of how Hollywood, operating under the guise of liberal nonpartisanship, contributes…

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Nervous Translation (Shireen Seno, Philippines)

By Erika Balsom / December 21, 2018

By Erika Balsom  Why is it that, when destined for adult audiences, narrative films about children so rarely accord their diminutive protagonists the privilege of inhabiting a world of their own? Place a child at the centre of a film, and type will frequently take hold, dictated by the law of genre: either he is…

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The Man from Left Field: Burt Reynolds, Neglected Filmmaker

By Christoph Huber / December 21, 2018

By Christoph Huber  “I should have been born a hundred years earlier when not having a style was a style.”—Burt Reynolds in Gator (1976) The passing of Burt Reynolds this September at age 82 from cardiac arrest drew a lot of attention, but once again relegated to a footnote what I consider his most remarkable…

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Against Oblivion: Richard Billingham’s RAY & LIZ and Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi’s I diari di Angela—Noi due cineasti

By Andrea Picard / December 21, 2018

By Andréa Picard  “Right now a moment is fleeting by!”—Paul Cézanne “Memory demands an image.”—Bertrand Russell “I don’t make movies about my life. I live my life like a movie.”—Lana Del Rey How often has a film or artwork been praised for capturing or visually demonstrating the ineffable? But what about the indelible, that which…

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Exploded View: Ken Jacobs’ Nervous Magic Lantern

By Chuck Stephens / December 21, 2018

By Chuck Stephens  Ken Jacobs moves secretively in the half-dark that surrounds his apparatus. (“I’m terrible at keeping secrets,” he later admits to the assembled crowd.) Every ten minutes or so, Flo Jacobs exchanges one of what might be a dozen or so miniature flying saucers with her husband, who feeds the elaborately adorned platters…

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Festivals | RIDM 2019: Adapt or Die

By Justine Smith / December 21, 2018

By Justine Smith  The world is in turmoil, and at this year’s Recontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal, documentaries from around the world grappled with our new reality. Drawing from a wide range of experiences and approaching the idea of non-fiction from an array of perspectives, the films showed a diverse programming mandate; meanwhile the…

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Green Book (Peter Farrelly, US)

By Angelo Muredda / December 21, 2018

By Angelo Muredda  There’s a handy visual metaphor for auteurist progress in the way that road-movie savant Peter Farrelly trades the shaggy-dog van that carried his heroes most of the way from Providence to Aspen in Dumb and Dumber (1994) for the sleek vintage ride in Green Book. Farrelly’s first solo project since that debut…

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The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/US/UK)

By Courtney Duckworth / December 21, 2018

By Courtney Duckworth  Yorgos Lanthimos begins and ends his scurrilous The Favourite with the susurrus of rabbits. Tricky to place, almost subliminal over the opening parade of myriad multinational financiers, the strange sounds scratch at the ear. Soon we understand: the rabbits are the odd, probably apocryphal, attendants of Queen Anne, who presided over Great…

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Cinema Scope 76 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / September 28, 2018

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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Global Discoveries on DVD: Auteurist Updates

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / September 28, 2018

By Jonathan Rosenbaum Paul Verhoeven gives exceptionally good audio commentary, especially on the Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Spetters (1980), a powerful feature about teenage motocross racers in a small Dutch town that I’ve just seen for the first time. Speaking in English, Verhoeven tells us a good deal about Dutch culture and life at the…

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Issue 76 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / September 28, 2018

By Mark Peranson.  The night that Mariano Llinás arrived in Locarno, I ran into him drinking with his producer Laura Citarella and a few friends, occupying a few tables in a streetside café. Soon after I joined them, I asked Llinás the most pressing question in my mind about his 14-hour La Flor: “What’s the…

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Teller of Tales: Mariano Llinás on La Flor

By Jordan Cronk / September 28, 2018

By Jordan Cronk “Some will say I reinvented the wheel. Yes, I’d say, I reinvented the wheel.”—La Flor, Episode 4 To begin, a question: What exactly is La Flor? It’s a pertinent query, albeit one with no easy answer, so let’s break it down. The first thing to know about La Flor is that, yes,…

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Mass Ornaments: Jodie Mack on The Grand Bizarre

By Blake Williams / September 28, 2018

By Blake Williams “For the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home.”—“The Painter of Modern Life,”…

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Tous les garçons et les filles: Philippe Lesage’s Genèse and Les démons

By Adam Nayman / September 28, 2018

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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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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First Person Plural: On Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind

By Phil Coldiron / September 28, 2018

By Phil Coldiron “May he not be knave, fool, and genius altogether?” —Herman Melville, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade It begins with a death, of course, the first of the many quotations, slips, and rhymes coursing through The Other Side of the Wind, now finally arrived, more than 50 years after word of its conception first…

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Deaths of Cinema | The Cracks of the World: Hu Bo (1988-2017)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 28, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front China’s growing economic clout and rising prominence in world affairs can help illuminate some essential if unflattering traits of the business we call show. Not even a decade ago, any mention of China was usually made in relation to the draconian censorship filmmakers there had to face, often at the expense…

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Transit (Christian Petzold, Germany/France)

By James Lattimer / September 28, 2018

By James Lattimer Christian Petzold’s progressive drift away from realism gathers pace in Transit, another melodrama of impossibility and despair that unfolds in a hyper-constructed amalgam of past and present as unstable as it is seamless. Yet the deliberately unresolved tension between ’40s Marseille and today is hardly the only element of slippage in the…

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Exploded View | Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty

By Chuck Stephens / September 28, 2018

Though not primarily known as a filmmaker, the great earthworks artist Robert Smithson (1938-1973) had cinematic inclinations, implicit and explicit.

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The Load (Ognjen Glavonic, Serbia/France/Croatia/Iran/Qatar)

By Azadeh Jafari / September 28, 2018

By Azadeh Jafari The debut fiction feature by Ognjen Glavonic is the second time that the Serbian writer-director, who lived through the Yugoslav wars as a child, has explored the same shocking incident from the time of the Kosovo conflict. In his feature-length documentary Depth Two (2016), he mixed spoken testimonies from those involved with…

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Everything Transitory Is But an Image: Andrea Bussmann on Fausto

By Adam Cook / September 26, 2018

By Josh Cabrita and Adam Cook “Most people want to be kings and queens, but not enough want to be Faust.” —Jean-Luc Godard, Le livre d’image When Goethe wrote his Faust, adapting the German legend about a scholar who makes a pact with the Devil to attain total knowledge, could he have foreseen how incisive…

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Cinema Scope 75 Contents

By Cinema Scope / July 2, 2018

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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Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu, Japan)

By Mallory Andrews / July 2, 2018

By Mallory Andrews There was a distinct feeling in the air at this year’s Cannes that the Competition jury was under far more scrutiny than usual. The Cate Blanchett-led, female-majority group illustrated a gesture by the festival towards gender equity and a commitment to making structural changes in one of the industry’s most prestigious institutions.…

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Cannes 2018: The Debussy Cramp

By Mark Peranson / July 2, 2018

By Mark Peranson Like all Cannes film festivals, the 71st began brightly for this correspondent with the highest of hopes and expectations—and by that of course I am referring to Paulo Branco’s lawsuit against the Festival de Cannes to block the closing-night screening of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Say what you…

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Exchange Rate: The Silent Partner at 40

By Adam Nayman / July 2, 2018

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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I Like America and America Likes Me: An Interview with Lars von Trier

By Mark Peranson / July 2, 2018

By Mark Peranson Cinema Scope: One of the biggest stories in Cannes this year is your physical return and the controversy that is associated with it, but, call me crazy, I want to talk about the film that you made, which is about a serial killer. Last time out, in Nymphomaniac (2013), you made a…

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Deaths of Cinema | Merci pour tout: Pierre Rissient (1936-2018)

By Scott Foundas / July 2, 2018

By Scott Foundas Early in One Night Stand (a.k.a. Alibis), the 1977 feature directing debut of Pierre Rissient, the following dedication appears onscreen: “To Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast, Movie Business Casualty.” A name now all but erased from the cinematic fossil record, d’Arrast was the Argentine-born, French-Basque filmmaker who came to Hollywood at the end of…

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Issue 75 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / July 2, 2018

By Mark Peranson Believe me or don’t, but it wasn’t until we started to lay out this issue maybe a week or so prior to my typing this that I realized, hey, we’ve reached Issue 75, three-quarters of the way to a century. I guess some people might consider 75 to be a kind of…

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Ash Is Purest White (Jia Zhangke, China/France/Japan)

By James Lattimer / July 2, 2018

By James Lattimer It speaks to the richness of Jia Zhangke’s oeuvre that Ash Is Purest White already feels like a career summation, even though the Chinese director has yet to turn 50. Transition has always been at the heart of Jia’s work, but this, his twelfth feature-length film, explores the theme across three carefully…

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Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy/Switzerland/France/Germany)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / July 2, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front Far removed from any realistic pretence and yet intimately connected to the ineluctability of the present and the obstinacy of the past, Alice Rohrwacher’s latest film unfolds in a state of fantastical rarefaction. No longer bound to the earthly naturalism of her previous two features, Rohrwacher seems to have found in…

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The Rider (Chloé Zhao, US)

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr / July 2, 2018

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr Having worked with horses his whole life and without any other means to make a living, Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau) is left without his passion and his livelihood after he incurs a head injury during a rodeo. His shaved head gleaming with bloody staples, Brady subsists on a cocktail of pills during his…

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Exploded View: Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn’s Whacker

By Chuck Stephens / July 2, 2018

By Chuck Stephens In what follows, I have perhaps too wantonly isolated Whacker (2005) from the rest of the work of California video artists Stanya Kahn and Harry Dodge, former collaborators each with substantial solo careers. Indeed, I’ve left bushels of context aside. Why? Because this column is brief and the sun is going down and there’s…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: First Looks, Second Thoughts

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / July 2, 2018

By Jonathan Rosenbaum 1. Second Thoughts First In the introduction to my forthcoming collection Cinematic Encounters: Interviews and Dialogues, I make the argument that although Truffaut’s book-length interview with Hitchcock doesn’t qualify precisely as film criticism, it nonetheless had a decisive critical effect on film taste. By the same token, on Criterion’s very welcome Blu-ray…

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Apt Pupil: Bi Gan on Long Day’s Journey Into Night

By Blake Williams / July 1, 2018

By Blake Williams “If the cinema isn’t made to express dreams or everything that in waking life has something in common with dreams, then it has no point.”—Antonin Artaud, “Sorcellerie et cinéma” (ca. 1928) Cinema, however realist it may ever strive to be, is synonymous with dreaming. Fundamentally past-tense, after the fact; industrially and institutionally…

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Transgressions in the Dark Age: The Films of Kim Ki-young and Lee Hwa-si

By Kelley Dong / June 25, 2018

By Kelley Dong “For me the vast open field of the unknown and the prison existed simultaneously.” — Kim Hye-soon, “Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream” After a string of US-funded anti-communist documentaries and neorealist melodramas, Korean director Kim Ki-young entered a new phase of his filmmaking with the wildly successful “Housemaid Trilogy,” comprising The Housemaid (1960) and its…

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Cinema Scope Magazine

Cinema Scope 74 Contents

By Cinema Scope / March 16, 2018

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 Work (Jairus McLeary & Gethin Aldous, US)

By Manuela Lazic / March 16, 2018

By Manuela Lazic Early on in The Work, a documentary chronicling intense group therapy techniques practiced inside Folsom State Prison outside of Sacramento, California, a man suffers a violent meltdown. He is Brian, one of three outside visitors that directors Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous follow as they join inmates over a four-day course of…

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Visages villages (Agnès Varda & JR, France)

By Erika Balsom / March 16, 2018

By Erika Balsom The Normandy village of Pirou-Plage almost became a holiday destination. In 1990, property developer Pier Invest launched a plan to build a hotel, two tennis courts, and 80 vacation homes. The initiative would transform the built environment and economy of this seaside area of 1,500 inhabitants—but not as anticipated or desired. Within…

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Exploded View: Bruce Conner’s Crossroads

By Chuck Stephens / March 16, 2018

By Chuck Stephens How many names can you call Bruce Conner? Surrealist, beat, prankster, poet, illustrator, assemblagist, filmmaker, punk. Spray-paint anything you like across Conner’s legacy and someone will think it sticks. A few years ago, a big brain from Harvard hilariously decreed this slipperiest of major American filmmakers a “structuralist” (never mind the centrality…

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Canadiana | Hometown Horror: Robin Aubert’s Les affamés

By Lydia Ogwang / March 16, 2018

By Lydia Ogwang It’s an epidemic: the populist appeal of genre cinema is undeniable, even here at home. In a bit of a surprise, Robin Aubert’s Les affamés won Best Canadian Feature at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and then the Temps Ø People’s Choice Award at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montréal.…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: A Few Peripheral Matters

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / March 16, 2018

By Jonathan Rosenbaum. Let me start by paraphrasing and slightly expanding a comment of mine appended to my 2017 ten-best list for DVD Beaver. A major reason for listing Criterion’s Othello first is that it includes the digital premieres of not one, not two, but three Orson Welles features: both of his edits of Othello…

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TV or Not TV | Chronicles of Deaths Forestalled: The Leftovers

By Kate Rennebohm / March 16, 2018

By Kate Rennebohm Televisual and serialized storytelling has long been haunted by a Scheherazadean sense of the relation between storytelling and death. Like that famous narrator’s death-defying fabrications in Arabian Nights, the longer a television show goes on, the more it reminds us that an inevitable end is coming, every new episode only forestalling this…

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Sundance 2018: What’s the Story?

By Robert Koehler / March 16, 2018

By Robert Koehler In Park City this January, all of those attending the Sundance Film Festival were told in no uncertain terms on a daily, if not hourly, basis that “the story lives in you.” The statement was right there on the cover of the catalogue, so dominant that it replaced the words—“Sundance Film Festival”—that…

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Issue 74 Editors Note: The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2017

By Mark Peranson / March 16, 2018

The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2017 1. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch) 2. Western (Valeska Grisebach) 3. Zama (Lucrecia Martel) 4. On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sangsoo) 5. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson) 6. Good Time (Josh & Benny Safdie) 7. Streetscapes [Dialogue] (Heinz Emigholz) 8. Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc…

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Do It Again: On Ricky D’Ambrose’s Words and Images

By Phil Coldiron / March 16, 2018

By Phil Coldiron The quarrel between word and image is, on the eve of the third millennium of an illustrious career, in a period of relative calm, one marked by a casual cohabitation which has produced gratifying results in the arts and considerable trouble elsewhere, where it tends to be mistaken for the decay of…

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The Changing View of Man in the Portrait: Errol Morris’ Wormwood

By Lawrence Garcia / March 16, 2018

By Lawrence Garcia On November 28, 1953, Frank Olson, a civilian American scientist and Central Intelligence Agency employee, fell or jumped through a window from the 13th floor of the Hotel Statler (now the Hotel Pennsylvania) in midtown Manhattan. Thus begins Errol Morris’ plunge into the sordid, sensational CIA “mind-control” program known as MK-Ultra, with…

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“You Never Heard of Code-Switching, Motherfucker?”: Joseph Kahn’s Bodied

By Steven Shaviro / March 16, 2018

By Steven Shaviro Joseph Kahn did not much care for Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (2016). When the movie opened, he unleashed a sarcastic Twitter storm: “White people will love LA LA LAND…The dance numbers in LA LA LAND feel like Verizon commercials…99% of the couples in LA are interracial, except the one in LA…

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Whatever Happened to Lizzie Borden?

By Christoph Huber / March 16, 2018

By Christoph Huber “This fight will not end in terrorism and violence. It will not end in a nuclear holocaust. It begins in the celebration of the rites of alchemy. The transformation of shit into gold. The illumination of dark chaotic night into light. This is the time of sweet, sweet change for us all.”…

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