From Cinema Scope Magazine

Cinema Scope Issue 92 | Table of Contents

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

“We thought we were writing a film that was partly comedic in tone. I can find a lot to laugh at with liberal arts while still believing liberal arts are super-important. Some of the situations in Showing Up are comical, but the people aren’t stereotypes—we really tried to stay away from that.”
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Timely Circumstances: Cyril Schäublin on “Unrest”

I think this is the critical question now: how do we chart our history? How do we reimagine a truer solidarity? Maybe the film allows us to imagine other possibilities.
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What Is Cinema? Olivier Assayas on “Irma Vep”

With both versions of Irma Vep,Assayas looks tothe ruptures between the production processes and moviemaking cultures of then and now to create comedy and tragedy about what it means to want to continue the fight, the folly, that is making movies, continuously posing that vital and unanswerable question—“What is cinema?”—in order to recalibrate our perception of what it could be and what it’s not amid such endless reinvention and recontextualization. 
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Telling the Truth Can Be Dangerous Business: The Overdue Enshrinement of Elaine May

It’s not as if Elaine May wasn’t a beloved figure in American popular culture for most of her life. Her successful pairing with Mike Nichols as an innovative improv comedy team in the late ’50s may have been short-lived—the duo broke up at the height of their success in 1961—but is regularly cited as one of the most influential and well-remembered comedy acts the US has ever known.
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Can the Centre Hold?: The Films of Adirley Queirós

The periphery is always the centre in the films of Adirley Queirós, whether in terms of the people and places at the focus of his attention or the off-centre stylistic means he employs to explore their tribulations, and, by extension, those of Brazil.
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Cinema Scope Magazine 92: Editor’s Note

we shouldn’t forget the reasons why we all got into this job in the first place, which is the promotion of film as an art form. The impact that festivals have on general art-house distribution should not be overlooked; of course, as touched on above, sometimes it’s the distributor who decides to skip festival screenings for certain films, because everyone has their reasons.
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TV or Not TV | Finding Fielder: “The Rehearsal”

Nathan Fielder’s newest television show, The Rehearsal—which was renewed for a second season at the recent close of its dizzying six-episode run on HBO—is a true comedy, in the sense that it’s really a tragedy. A deeply funny show wrapped around a startling core of sadness, The Rehearsal sets its sights on the tangled notion that the more we instrumentalize or attempt to control the world, the more the reality of that world and those in it seems to escape us.
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Global Discoveries on DVD: Bologna’s Bounty

There appears to be a consensus that this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna was exceptionally rich—so much so that I concluded that my next column in these pages could be devoted to some of its riches, most of which are already available on DVD or Blu-ray in one form or another.
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Film/Art | Evidence Visible from a Distance: Tacita Dean on Fata Morgana

In The Green Ray (2001), British artist Tacita Dean famously managed to capture on 16mm film the fleeting light that the sun leaves behind right at the moment when it disappears from the horizon. And, because a digital camera used by others at the same time, on the same beach, was unable to capture it, her film proves two things: one, that the green ray, despite being missed by almost all who try and see it, is not a legend; two, that only film can capture it. But the evidence is elusive, as Éric Rohmer found out while shooting Le rayon vert (1986), eventual
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Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, UK/US)

The image of Paul Mescal lost and losing himself in a crowded, strobe-lit dancefloor is the most haunting leitmotif in Charlotte Wells’ debut feature Aftersun, a film that would be acutely musical in feel and structure even if it weren’t powered by such a carefully curated selection of underappreciated late-’90s UK chart faves (All Saints and Chumbawamba included). As glimpsed in the flickering light, his face expresses both the loved-up chemical bliss expected of the era’s aging ravers and a more disquieting sense of vacancy; it’s as if he’s not all there. And while that phrase risks being more suggestive of some garden-variety weekender blasted
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Alcarràs (Carla Simón, Spain/Italy) 

By Saffron Maeve A pejorative superficially on par with its sister terms Big Pharma and Big Tech, which imply a gadgety reshaping of the natural world, Big Ag looms heavy over the sunny fields of Carla Simón’s acclaimed Alcarràs, which was awarded the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale and exceeded all box-office expectations upon…
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Nope (Jordan Peele, US)

Whatever else you may have heard about Nope, otherwise known as “Not of Planet Earth,” know this: Jordan Peele’s third and most radical movie is his subversive inquiry into Hollywood. On the surface, such a stance is old news. At least as early as Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust, artists who have experienced the Hollywood moviemaking business firsthand have exacted some form of literary or cinematic revenge at the beast that has fed them. The irony is that it can sometimes seem that it’s some of the most successful in the Hollywood galaxy who engage in this project, whether it be Vincente Minnelli with The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Paul Mazursky with Alex in Wonderland (1970), or Robert Altman with The Player (1992). 
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Cinema Scope Issue 91 | Table of Contents

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

David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future may be marked as a “return” for the 79-year-old director in a number of respects. His first feature in eight years, it is also his first to be based on an original script since eXistenZ. In addition, Crimes sees Cronenberg revisiting, after a fashion, his 1970 film of the same name, from which he’s taken the central premise of genetic mutations in humans which have resulted in the spontaneous growth of new organs.
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Send in the Clowns: Qiu Jiongjiong on “A New Old Play”

The brightest light in the Chinese independent cinema world at this moment is Beijing-based filmmaker and artist Qiu Jiongjiong. In an atmosphere in China of increasing surveillance and control of non-official, unauthorized artistic activity in China, Qiu, now 44, stands out as an artist with a powerful, complex, engaging vision who has found a way to continue to work without compromise. His new film, A New Old Play, premiered at the 2021 Locarno Film Festival and is now having a series of screenings in North America, after following its pickup by Icarus Films via their dGenerate Films Collection
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Gross Anatomy: Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor on “De Humani Corporis Fabrica”

...watching this movie frequently hurts like hell, and not just physically. With a camera that furiously navigates its subjects’ myriad intestinal tracts, cranial cavities, and other, mercifully unidentifiable visceral miscellany, De Humani Corporis Fabrica is very probably the most aesthetically interoceptive movie ever made for theatrical exhibition.
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Endless Night: “Dark Glasses” and the Remnants of Dario Argento’s Mad Poetry of Terror

Everybody is staring into the sky, wearing special glasses or holding up black strips to protect their eyes. She stops at a park, joining a small group of people, putting on her sunglasses. Dogs bark as the light dims—they are awaiting a solar eclipse. “Not just dogs, every animal is afraid,” a man explains to his kid. “Even our ancestors, a long time ago, feared the eclipse.” His wife adds, “They thought the disappearance of the sun meant the end of the world.”
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The Natives Are Restless: Cannes’ Diamond Jubilee and Albert Serra’s “Pacifiction”

By Mark Peranson The 75th anniversary celebration of Cannes was very much a “celebration of cinema,” a my-God-it’s-full-of-stars-studded affair intended as a show of power that, rightly, would make any other such movie-based event jealous. As witnessed by its anniversary trailer, which added (seemingly via Photoshop) the names of Cannes-branded auteurs like Federico Fellini, Xavier…
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Stars at Noon (Claire Denis, France)

After waiting 34 years to return to the Cannes Competition, Claire Denis deserved a warm welcome back. Instead, she got to be the chosen victim of the Brown Bunny Syndrome, the annually recurring compulsion among festival attendees to proclaim a film as the worst ever to compete for the Palme d’Or. Although she received some vindication from the jury, who awarded her the Grand Prix (ex aequo, but still…), the critical vitriol is baffling.
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EO (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Italy)

When Jerzy Skolimowski cancelled his press commitments at Cannes to promote his new feature, EO, he denied critics and cinephiles an explanation behind the festival’s most mystifying entry. All but engineered to prompt bemusement, the film, a bold, modern-day reimagining of Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar (1966),is one whose mysteries are in fact part and parcel of its allure.
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CS91 Editor’s Note

It’s that time again. Over the last two decades in these pages I’ve spent way too much time (at great personal anguish) trying to come to grips with the experience of the Festival de Cannes even if by this point in the history of film journalism, a few weeks after the fact everything anyone could say about Cannes has already been said. But I know that many readers take vicarious pleasure from reading my report, so as long as we keep going, or until Cannes hires me, I guess I’m stuck doing it. 
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Canadiana | A Cinema of Care: The Films of Janis Cole and Holly Dale

When people discuss the documentary work of Janis Cole and Holly Dale, a number of adjectives will inevitably appear: “caring,” “generous,” and “empathetic,” among them. The filmmakers’ commitment and intention of sharing space with their subjects resulted in what the critic Jon Davies once described as “profoundly ethical and anti-moralistic” filmmaking.
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Deaths of Cinema | In Transit: Jim Jennings (1951-2022)

Ordinarily when one is tasked to compose an obituary for a public figure, the writer can assume that the reader has some basic familiarity with the subject. This lends itself to a particular approach, which usually entails an expression of the subject’s significance to his or her field, some historical context for their achievements, and an overall reminder of the enduring value of their work. In the case of experimental filmmaker Jim Jennings, who died on May 19th, some of these assumptions are frustratingly inapplicable. 
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Global Discoveries on DVD: Lessons in Oppression

Apart from those few who managed to escape from totalitarian regimes and occupied countries, most North Americans know as little about living under a dictatorship and/or in an occupied territory and what that entails as I do.
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Hit the Road (Panah Panahi, Iran)

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

Eager to celebrate a theatrical box-office win, Variety recently praised the success of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s equally moving and galling Everything Everywhere All at Once, chirping that its broad appeal beyond arthouse crowds attests not only to adult audiences’ willingness to return to theatres for the right sort of movie, but also to the fact that “ticket buyers really love the concept of a multiverse.”
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Cinema Scope Issue 90 Cover

Cinema Scope Issue 90 | Table of Contents

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

Intense duets are at the centre of Ashley McKenzie’s cinema. Her 2016 debut Werewolf portrayed a pair of emotionally conjoined drug users, juxtaposing devotion and addiction as two sides of the same coin. In her follow-up, Queens of the King Dynasty,which recently premiered in Berlin’s Encounters competition,a young psychiatric patient and her volunteer caregiver form a codependent relationship with shifting emotional and power dynamics.
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Pointing the Moral Index Finger: Ruth Beckermann on Mutzenbacher

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

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

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

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 

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 

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

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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

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

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 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 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

“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 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)

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)

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

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

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

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)

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)

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

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 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

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

“This is the unwieldy version of the movie,” said Quentin Tarantino on the Pure Cinema podcast in June about his new 400-page novelization of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (2019). “Unwieldy” is indeed the right adjective for QT’s new make-work project, and it’s also probably the last word on his creative sensibility.
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The Tsugua Diaries (Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes, Portugal)

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)

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)

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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)

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)

“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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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