Cinema Scope Online

This is a regularly updated web supplement to the print version of Cinema Scope. In the magazine, we have a limited amount of space to pack the world of Cinema As We Know It in. So, for example, while we might cover the major premiere festivals in print, in the updates you’ll find more festival reports, as well as articles on retrospectives and the like taking place in our immediate and general global jurisdiction.

This is a Canadian film magazine based in Toronto, and that’s an important part of the mandate.

 

TIFF 2021 | The Middle Man (Bent Hamer, Norway/Germany/ Denmark/Canada)

By Adam Nayman Tapped for a spectacularly thankless civil service gig in a dilapidated Ontario backwater, Frank (Sverre Hagen) interviews for the job in front of a panel that includes Don McKellar and Paul Gross. The Canadiana couldn’t be thicker, but as writer-director Bent Hamer actually hails from historic Sandefjord, Norway—a one-time Viking stronghold and…
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TIFF 2021 | Unclenching the Fists (Kira Kovalenko, Russia)

By Robert Koehler A suffocating, claustrophobic box canyon, lousy with industrial waste, is the dominant landscape of Kira Kovalenko’s second feature, Unclenching the Fists. Kovalenko, who workshopped with Alexander Sokurov but is firmly her own filmmaker, uses this place—Mizur, in the Caucasus highlands of North Ossetia-Alania—as a metonym for the awful, hopeless lives of her…
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TIFF 2021 | Quickening (Haya Waseem, Canada)

By Katherine Connell Writer-director Haya Waseem’s formally striking first feature is a melodrama executed with considerable restraint. After an opening title defines the term “pseudocyesis”—a form of psychosomatic but hormonally convincing pregnancy—we are taken to a dance studio, where bodies writhe on the floor and smash into walls. In front of the class, Pakistani Canadian…
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TIFF 2021 | Small Body (Laura Samani, Italy/France/Slovenia)

By Angelo Muredda A young mother’s desire to give her stillborn child a name prompts a perilous trip to a mountain sanctuary in Laura Samani’s assured if familiar Small Body. Celeste Cescutti is appropriately severe as Agata, a pure-hearted stoic who risks life and limb to carry her limbo-bound child to a remote church where…
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TIFF 2021 | Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Wen Shipei, China)

By Shelly Kraicer Increasingly strict censorship limits the kind of films Chinese directors can make and still get approved for either domestic screenings or export. But film noir remains a viable option for filmmakers to play with violence and ambiguity, within limits. Are You Lonesome Tonight? is first-time director Wen Shipei’s entry into a tough…
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TIFF 2021 | The Tsugua Diaries (Maureen Fazendeiro & Miguel Gomes, Portugal)

By Robert Koehler 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…
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TIFF 2021 | The Falls (Chung Mong-hong, Taiwan)

By Shelly Kraicer Many recent films take COVID-era quarantining as a premise to examine lonely humans and their difficulties connecting, but Chung Mong-hong’s The Falls does something quite special. This story of a cloistered family allows the Taiwanese director—who has heretofore specialized in blackly comic portraits of men under intense stress—to open up his world…
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TIFF 2021 | Lo Invisible (Javier Andrade, Ecuador/France)

By Angelo Muredda Anahi Hoeneisen is inscrutable as a woman on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough in Javier Andrade’s chamber drama Lo Invisible. Co-written by Hoeneisen and Andrade, the film unfolds, enigmatically at first and then tediously, as a series of opaque tableaux of protagonist Luisa’s tentative reintegration into family life…
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TIFF 2021 | The Mad Women’s Ball (Mélanie Laurent, France)

By Katherine Connell Despite its interest in shedding light on the patriarchal, abusive history of medicine, Mélanie Laurent’s The Mad Women’s Ball can’t help but indulge tropes that both romanticize and exploit its subject matter. An adaptation of the novel by Victoria Mas, the film follows Eugénie Cléry (Lou de Laâge), whose privileged class status…
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TIFF 2021 | Train Again (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria)

By Christoph Huber Published in Cinema Scope #88 (Fall 2021) I 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. His…
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TIFF 2021 | The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark)

By Jordan Cronk One of the year’s more pleasantly unexpected returns to form, Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World finds the Norwegian director back on firmer ground following the underwhelming international co-production Louder Than Bombs (2015) and the ill-fitting supernatural thriller Thelma (2017). Though billed as the final film in a trilogy that…
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TIFF 2021 | Terrorizers (Ho Di Wing, Taiwan)

By Shelly Kraicer Starting from a seemingly unmotivated samurai-style sword attack in present-day Taipei’s main train station, Terrorizers circles back and around again and again through a complex network of characters—a student, an aspiring actress, a cosplayer, a masseuse—spawning threads and mysteries that it eventually knits back together into a disturbing portrait of today’s Taiwanese…
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