By Mark Peranson

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). Reading the reports from Venice, which against the odds is taking place as I type, I sense a much-desired reawakening from the critical community, as reflected in the overly enthusiastic trade reviews for some films that have no business being in there. But by now I’ve figured out that’s all a matter of opinion and, anyhow, who can blame them; I’m getting a bit stir crazy myself and could use reconnecting with familiar faces.

Thanks to the temporary flattening of the curves, in this in this issue we do have some new films to cover, that you probably already have watched in a cinema (you know what palindrome I’m talking about), or, in a few cases (e.g., Fauna, The Inheritance, Hopper/Welles), maybe in some oddball fashion at a film festival in your neck of the geoblocked woods. Keen eyes will have noticed our hiatus from the usual bulimic coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival online—it just didn’t feel right this year to treat everything as normal because, well, it isn’t. Plus, again, money—which I do not say to make light of the situation. The entire cinema business is in trouble, from the top all the way down to folks like us; Tenet is just a band-aid. Also, we do need to save something to cover for the next issue which, fingers crossed, will be a witness to a wider return to normalcy, as opposed to pandemic-era anorexia and, also, will hopefully be published back on schedule.

Another of these new films is Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno, which is the one of only two films to have been honoured with a selection from the autumnal quadfecta of Venice (where it was premiered in a cinema, with masked clientele), Toronto (in cinema, masks on, masks off, drive-in, and virtual), New York (drive-in and virtual), and Telluride (“list”). I include these comments for the sake of posterity, and with no intent of elaborating on the so-called “collaboration” between said entities. Notturno is kind of a no brainer to program, really—I haven’t seen Nomadland, the more vocal evidence of collaboration, at the time of writing—and as I have more to say about Notturno in the pages that follow, there’s no need too elaborate now, only to wish you good luck at the drive-in. A strange year indeed.

Then there’s Netflix, the great cinematic winners of the pandemic, which skipped the festivals—that attempt at festival collaboration didn’t work out so well after all—yet will continue to drop awards-season titles like clockwork until the end of the year. Leading off the fall back, and adeptly covered herein, is Charlie Kaufman’s new film, sporting the most apropos of titles for the current state of mind.

On that note, in all honesty and with no shame whatsoever, I do ask readers yet again to consider subscribing to the magazine, because even the additional Canadian government support isn’t going to be enough to keep this going forever. And If The Batman can get COVID-19, none of us are safe. Not to mention, in North America a subscription is less than the cost of a virtual ticket to Mulan.

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From the Magazine

  • Issue 84 Table of Contents

    INTERVIEWS *The Act of Living: GianfrancThe Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturnoo Rosi on Notturno By Mark Peranson*Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna By More →

  • The Act of Living: Gianfranco Rosi on Notturno

    “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. More →

  • Reconstructing Violence: Nicolás Pereda on Fauna

    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. More →

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

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

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

    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. More →