Interviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Paul Schrader: Deliberate Boredom in the Church of Cinema

By Alex Ross Perry / March 16, 2018

By Alex Ross Perry Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is his fourth film in five years, following the reinvention-spawning masterpiece The Canyons (2013), the failed, compromised 2014 Nicolas Cage thriller Dying of the Light (recently repurposed, remixed, and reclaimed as a new film entitled Dark), and the gonzo, goofy Nicolas Cage thriller Dog Eat Dog (2016).…

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Giving Credibility to the Universe: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani on Laissez bronzer les cadavres

By Christoph Huber / December 15, 2017

By Christoph Huber “The .22 bullet tore a tiny hole into the canvas. The detonation was marginally louder than the crack of a whip. In the valley a crow protested. Luce emitted a short, husky laugh quite similar to the sound of the crow.” Thus begins Laissez bronzer les cadavres!, the first novel by Jean-Patrick…

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Sightsurf and Brainwave: Blake Williams’ PROTOTYPE

By Michael Sicinski / December 15, 2017

By Michael Sicinski Blake Williams is a multi-dimensional character. A writer whose work has frequently graced the pages of this magazine, he is also an academic and a film artist. And, as a filmmaker, he has no time for flatness. No filmmaker since Ken Jacobs has been so consistently committed to exploring the aesthetic potentials…

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The Land of Terrible Legends: Narimane Mari on Le fort des fous

By Jordan Cronk / September 28, 2017

By Jordan Cronk Narimane Mari’s 2013 film Bloody Beans concludes with a query: “What is worth more, to be or to obey?” These words, invoked in succession by a handful of the film’s adolescent protagonists, are taken from Antonin Artaud’s “Petit poème des poissons de la mer,” an allegorical 1926 text by the French dramatist…

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Inner and Outer Space: Wang Bing Talks About Mrs. Fang

By Daniel Kasman / September 28, 2017

By Daniel Kasman & Christopher Small An old face—skin drawn tautly over jaw and cheekbone, thinning grey hair, eyeballs quivering like tadpoles—is the central image in Wang Bing’s Golden Leopard winner Mrs. Fang. The naked, sober image of this face, which belongs to Fang Xiuying, the film’s bedridden 68-year-old protagonist, is studied at length and…

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The New Workout Plan: Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse

By Adam Nayman / September 28, 2017

By Adam Nayman William K.L. Dickson’s Sandow (1894) is a three-part documentary study of the Prussian muscleman Friedrich Wilhelm Muller, who adopted the more flamboyant nom de plume after he dodged the draft and joined the circus. Sandow’s placement on undergraduate film studies curriculums the world over owes to its unique historical value: it was…

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Rossellini’s War Trilogy: Neorealism or Historical Revisionism?

By Celluloid Liberation Front / June 23, 2017

By Celluloid Liberation Front Two years before Roberto Rossellini started shooting Rome, Open City on January 18, 1945, the famed Italian director had just completed another war trilogy. Inaugurated with the 1941 navy flick The White Ship, followed a year later by A Pilot Returns, and crowned in 1943 with Man of the Cross, the…

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Would You Like to See a Magic Trick?: Basma Alsharif’s Ouroboros and its Contexts

By Phil Coldiron / June 23, 2017

By Phil Coldiron “À quiconque a perdu ce qui ne se retrouve Jamais, jamais!” —Charles Baudelaire On a clear day in the spring of this year, having fallen under the geometric spell of an exhibition of new work by the photographer Sara Cwynar, a young woman found herself on the wrong uptown train and was…

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Dusting the Corners: Luke Fowler’s Restorative Histories

By Michael Sicinski / June 22, 2017

By Michael Sicinski “Why are Luke Fowler’s films so hard to get a grip on?” That’s the question that critic/Berlinale programmer James Lattimer posed regarding the Scottish artist and filmmaker last year in a piece for MUBI’s Notebook. While Lattimer concludes that Fowler’s unique style results in “loose, deliberately fuzzy essays” that give the viewer…

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Electroshock Therapy: Matthew Rankin on The Tesla World Light

By Jason Anderson / June 22, 2017

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

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Cinema Concrete: Dane Komljen’s All the Cities of the North 

By Robert Koehler / March 24, 2017

By Robert Koehler  There are several ways to measure the greatness of Dane Komljen’s first feature work, All the Cities of the North, and one of them is simply asking people who’ve just seen it if they can compare it to anything else. I’ve played this little game with viewers, many asked randomly, after festival…

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First Do No Harm: Hugh Gibson on The Stairs

By Angelo Muredda / March 24, 2017

By Angelo Muredda  Early in Hugh Gibson’s The Stairs, we meet Marty, a recovering addict working as a social worker for drug users in Toronto’s Regent Park. A loquacious eccentric who clearly relishes the Aaron Sorkin-inflected walk-and-talk of his onscreen introduction, Marty seems equally comfortable leading a tutorial on packing safe injection kits at work…

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Something, Everything: Manuela De Laborde on AS WITHOUT SO WITHIN

By Blake Williams / December 19, 2016

By Blake Williams First a title card, clean and neat; the film’s four-word name split and divided between the upper- and lower-centre regions of a large, red rectangle, itself surrounded by a thick black border. Cut to darkness. Mammoth blue grains of emulsion wriggling through near-black crevasses beside veins of softer blues and the occasional…

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The Working Hour: Salomé Lamas’ Eldorado XXI

By Michael Sicinski / December 19, 2016

By Michael Sicinski Salomé Lamas’ experimental feature Eldorado XXI is a film that we might call a “modified ethnography,” in the sense that Lamas has gone to a particular location—La Rinconada y Cerro Lunar settlement in the Peruvian Andes—to observe both the landscape and those individuals who populate it. But as with a number of…

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Super-Ornithologist: João Pedro Rodrigues’ Birdman

By Robert Koehler / December 19, 2016

By Robert Koehler It was a reminder of how much we desperately need stories and storytelling to make sense of the world when I saw one guy punch another guy in the face one evening on the UCLA campus in 1977. The guy getting punched had become all agitated arguing for his favourite book at…

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Artifact Bonfire: Ken Jacobs and Reichstag 9/11

By Daniel Kasman / December 19, 2016

By Daniel Kasman I stopped looking at video footage of September 11, 2001, a long time ago as I find these moving images of expressionistically variable quality and cubist perspective anguished, frightful, and daunting. Two years after the attack, I moved to New York City, and over time I became a part of the city—or…

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From the Other Side: Exiled in Trumpland

By Roberto Minervini / December 19, 2016

I moved to the United States on October 22, 2000, to work as an IT consultant in New York City just a few days before the infamous presidential election that saw George W. Bush lose the popular vote and ultimately “defeat” Al Gore, after the conservative Supreme Court controversially halted the Florida recounts.

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Weapon of Flesh: Shiota Akihiko’s Wet Woman in the Wind and the Return of Roman Porno

By Christoph Huber / September 26, 2016

By Christoph Huber It could have been another quiet day in the country, but it wasn’t meant to be: Shiota Akihiko’s Wet Woman in the Wind starts with an idyllic shot of a forest glade dappled with sunlight, the only hint at the absurd convolutions to come being a chair positioned incongruously at the edge…

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The Wanderer: Eduardo Williams’ The Human Surge

By Leo Goldsmith / September 5, 2016

By Leo Goldsmith From the bottom of the sea, across a city, and into the stratosphere; from the moon, through a deserted city, deep into the forest, and down into a hole in the Earth. Argentinian director Eduardo Williams’ recent short films—Could See a Puma (2011) and I forgot! (2014)—follow strange trajectories both over and…

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Sehnsucht: Ruth Beckermann on The Dreamed Ones

By Andrea Picard / September 4, 2016

By Andréa Picard “This longing, these sighs from soft pillows, I am happy, endlessly happy, to be so filled with this thought. Maybe you will come, maybe you will walk through the door and take from me. I am so ready to give.”—Ingeborg Bachmann, Letters to Felician (July 6, 1945) Cinema is synonymous with longing.…

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Saying Something: The Films of Angela Schanelec

By Blake Williams / September 3, 2016

By Blake Williams “The everyday is platitude (what lags and falls back, the residual life with which our trash cans and cemeteries are filled: scrap and refuse); but this banality is also what is most important. It brings us back to existence in its very spontaneity and as it is lived—in the moment when, lived,…

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The Rules of the Game: Paul Verhoeven’s Elle

By Adam Nayman / September 2, 2016

By Adam Nayman In Elle, Michèle (Isabelle Huppert) slaps her adult son in the face, sleeps with a hammer under her pillow, deliberately smashes into her ex-husband’s car and later pepper-sprays him, accidentally crashes her own car, buys a gun, and forces a much younger male employee at her video-game company to show her his…

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Era Extraña: Lewis Klahr on Sixty Six

By Jordan Cronk / March 21, 2016

By Jordan Cronk “I’ve been listening to all the dissension/ I’ve been listening to all the pain/ And I feel that no matter what I do for you/ It’s going to come back again”––Leonard Cohen, “Minute Prologue” An anthology film in 12 chapters, Lewis Klahr’s animated mosaic Sixty Six is both greater than the sum…

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The Only Luxury: An Interview with Ted Fendt

By Dan Sullivan / March 21, 2016

By Dan Sullivan For the past few years, Ted Fendt has been one of the busiest under-the-radar figures in film exhibition in New York: a projectionist at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, he is also the city’s go-to live-subtitler of rare, unsubtitled prints of French films, and ranks among its most active moviegoers. But…

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Body Politic: Gabriel Mascaro on Neon Bull

By Jose Teodoro / December 21, 2015

By José Teodoro Neon Bull begins with a languid lateral pan across widescreen-friendly corral fencing, bulls lazing one atop another spied between the slats. This image is soon followed by that of a plane of parched mud littered with coloured rags and dismembered mannequins. Later we see a woman waxing her pubic hair in the…

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Two Years at Sea: An Interview with Mauro Herce

By Jay Kuehner / December 21, 2015

By Jay Kuehner A post-industrial trance film set aboard a phantom-like freighter drifting toward shipwreck or oblivion, Dead Slow Ahead materializes its eponymous nautical telegraph into an abstract state of voluptuous inertia. The merchant ship Fair Lady is adrift in unspecified international waters, her crew diminished (if not devoured) by the machinery of the vessel…

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Infinite Worlds Possible: Hong Sangsoo’s Right Now, Wrong Then

By Roger Koza / September 22, 2015

Essay By Roger Koza Interview by Francisco Ferreira & Julien Gester Set in Suwon, about 30 kilometres south of Seoul, Hong Sangsoo’s Golden Leopard-winning masterpiece is divided into two sections which are almost exactly the same. Even the opening credits are repeated once the film reboots an hour in, though with one subtle yet noticeable…

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Necessary Means: Isiah Medina on 88:88

By Phil Coldiron / September 22, 2015

By Phil Coldiron One of the enduring problems of the cinema is that André Bazin’s answer to the question, “What is it?” is so convincing that he was able to pass off an ontology of one of its modes, namely realism, as a sufficient description of the whole. Of course, the issue hardly begins with…

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Notes on Camp: An Interview with David Wain

By Adam Nayman / September 22, 2015

By Adam Nayman In the exciting climax of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp—the eight-part Netflix prequel to David Wain’s 2001 cult comedy about a Jewish summer camp circa 1981 infested with horny teenagers portrayed by paunchy grown-up comedians—the counsellors face down none other than Ronald Reagan (played by co-creator Michael Showalter). The…

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TIFF 2015 | Cinema Scope 64 Preview | Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo, South Korea)—Masters

By Roger Koza / September 1, 2015

Repetition and Difference: Hong Sangsoo on Right Now, Wrong Then By Roger Koza Interview by Francisco Ferreira & Julien Gester Originally published in Cinema Scope 64 (Fall 2015). Set in Suwon, about 30 kilometres south of Seoul, Hong Sangsoo’s Golden Leopard-winning masterpiece is divided into two sections which are almost exactly the same. Even the…

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Cock and Bull Stories: Miguel Gomes on Arabian Nights

By Mark Peranson / June 23, 2015

By Mark Peranson Cinema Scope: Miguel Gomes, you need no introduction to the readers of this magazine. Here you are back in Cannes with a three-part, six-hour epic inspired by the Arabian Nights. There’s general consensus among critics that it’s one of the best things here, but some people seem concerned that in today’s distribution…

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Lost in the Funhouse: A Conversation with Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson on The Forbidden Room and Other Stories

By Mark Peranson / March 26, 2015

By Mark Peranson Like being sloppily slapped by a wet salmon to the point of submission, such is the impact of Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s inventive, audacious, and outright hilarious tour de force whatzit. Sure to ride roughshod over numerous territories following its premieres in Sundance and the Berlinale Forum, The Forbidden Room takes…

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Circumnavigating Cinema: Kidlat Tahimik’s Balikbayan #1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III

By Daniel Kasman / March 26, 2015

By Adam Cook and Daniel Kasman To be upfront, we weren’t familiar with Kidlat Tahimik. Multiple tips led us to seeing his new film, Balikbayan #1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III, at its premiere in the Forum section of the Berlinale, in the way that one is often pushed towards unknown filmmakers: on the recommendations…

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Dead Meat: Bruno Dumont’s P’tit Quinquin

By Michael Sicinski / December 18, 2014

By Michael Sicinski P’tit Quinquin, the four-part miniseries that Bruno Dumont made for the ARTE network, had its world premiere earlier this year at Cannes as a 200-minute theatrical feature before screening to a record audience on French television in September. (It screened as a special presentation in the Fortnight, sort of a P’tit Quinquinzaine,…

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Of Human Bondage: Peter Strickland on The Duke of Burgundy

By Jose Teodoro / December 18, 2014

By José Teodoro Given the painstakingly retro stylings of its opening title sequence (with ostentatious credits for lingerie and perfumes, the latter attributed to one Je Suis Gizelle) and the imprimatur of producers Ben Wheatley, Andy Starke, and Amy Jump, there are at first reasons to suspect that The Duke of Burgundy will keep its…

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The Face of Another: Christian Petzold’s Phoenix

By Adam Nayman / December 17, 2014

By Adam Nayman Nina Hoss has one of the great faces in cinema, so it’s perverse to see it swaddled in gauze at the beginning of Phoenix. Strapped into the passenger seat of a car being driven over the Swiss border into Germany at the end of World War II, her Nelly Lenz is a…

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Who Can Tell of the Heroic Deeds of Israel?: Nadav Lapid’s The Kindergarten Teacher

By Jay Kuehner / December 17, 2014

By Jay Kuehner. Films are often described as being “poetic,” but beyond the suggestion of a certain undefined lyricism, it is not entirely clear just what this means. Unrequited love, for example, might be given supple expression through an ambient absence, or the cruel passage of time might be suggested by the fixity of the…

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Quest for Happiness: A Conversation with Peter von Bagh

By Boris Nelepo / September 16, 2014

By Boris Nelepo and Celluloid Liberation Front 9/22/2014: We were saddened to hear of Peter von Bagh’s death on September 17, 2014. In Citizen Peter, last year’s book on Peter von Bagh (edited by Antti Alanen and Olaf Möller) published in his native Finland, the object of study is dubbed “a Renaissance man,” which is…

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

By Jason Anderson / September 16, 2014

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

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Beautiful Games: Matías Piñeiro on The Princess of France

By Andrew Tracy / September 2, 2014

By Andrew Tracy While the opening proper of Matías Piñeiro’s The Princess of France will (or at least deserves to) be one of the most celebrated sequences of any film this year, the voiceover prologue that precedes it is perhaps the more telling in terms of Piñeiro’s ongoing project: a call-in radio show host announces,…

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L’avventura: Pedro Costa on Horse Money

By Mark Peranson / September 1, 2014

By Mark Peranson I walked with a zombie I walked with a zombie I walked with a zombie Last night   Horse Money, the first new “fiction” feature from Pedro Costa in almost a decade, begins with a silent montage of poignant photographs from the Danish-born Jacob Riis of New York tenement dwellers in the…

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Declarations of Independence: A Conversation Between Alex Ross Perry and Joel Potrykus

By Cinema Scope / June 25, 2014

I first encountered Joel Potrykus’ Ape (2012) when I was a jury member for the Filmmakers of the Present competition at Locarno. As it was the sole American narrative film in the selection, my curiosity was piqued before the festival even began. Ape was a revelation, and the jury agreed: we awarded Joel the Best…

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Diary of a Mad Housewife: Robert Greene’s Actress

By Adam Nayman / June 25, 2014

By Adam Nayman “I tend to break things,” says Brandy Burre early on in Actress, and Robert Greene’s film gives her plenty of opportunities to validate this claim. An aggressively stylized profile of a former ensemble player on The Wire who now lives with her husband and two young children in sleepy Beacon, New York,…

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Words Matter: James Gray on The Immigrant

By Adam Nayman / June 6, 2014

By Adam Nayman I won’t write too much about The Immigrant here, as Adam Cook has already ably reviewed the film (in Cinema Scope 55) and because for once, James Gray doesn’t seem to lack for champions closer to home than his usual Parisian cheering section. That The Immigrant has been warmly embraced by the…

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Time and Space: Moments with Lois Patiño

By Aaron Cutler / December 12, 2013

By Aaron Cutler “Upon entering men in landscape and landscape in men the eternal life of Galicia was created,” reads a quote by famed Galician nationalist Alfonso Daniel Rodriguéz Castelão at the start of Lois Patiño’s film Costa da Morte. Made in collaboration with photographer Carla Andrade, the film goes on to explore the relationship…

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Architecture of Desire: Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition

By Paul Dallas / December 12, 2013

By Paul Dallas Le Corbusier’s famous assertion that a house must be “a machine for living” acquires new force in Exhibition, an exquisitely crafted and thrillingly ambiguous chamber drama by the British writer-director Joanna Hogg. Set almost entirely within a well-appointed modernist townhouse in London, Hogg’s film, which explores connections between space and psyche, is…

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No Sanctuary: Claire Denis on Bastards

By Jose Teodoro / October 10, 2013

By José Teodoro The first image of Bastards, a gauzy curtain of nocturnal drizzle, falls on us like a heavy dream—or rather, it drags us under. The rain raineth on a whole lot of eerily beautiful gloom during the wordless, disorienting opening sequence: a solitary older man gazes out a window, seemingly resigned to some…

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Shine a Light: Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness

By Michael Sicinski / August 30, 2013

By Michael Sicinski With its very title, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness is a film that announces itself as being in league with forces not entirely of this world. Nevertheless, its makers are two of the leading lights of contemporary experimental cinema precisely because of their pellucid examination of the world around them.…

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The Beauty of Horror and the Horror of Beauty: An Encounter with Albert Serra

By Mark Peranson / August 30, 2013

By Mark Peranson “It is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself.”—Salvador Dalí, Diary of a Genius (1964) Cinema Scope: Let me repeat what I wrote about your film, namely that for me Story…

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Sex, Death, and Geometry: A Conversation Between Alain Guiraudie and João Pedro Rodrigues on L’inconnu du lac

By Cinema Scope / June 24, 2013

João Pedro Rodrigues: I’ve watched L’inconnu du lac twice, and now realize that the film takes place over ten days. Alain Guiraudie: Yes, you’re right. Rodrigues: Only on the ninth day do you omit the establishing shot of the parking lot, which introduces all the other nine days. Was this shot already planned when you…

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One-Man Band: A Conversation with Matt Johnson About The Dirties

By Cinema Scope / June 24, 2013

By Calum Marsh “This movie’s gonna be so good,” raves a zealous teenaged filmmaker to two young kids at the beginning of The Dirties. “It’s set in the club from Irreversible [2002].” The children are understandably baffled by the reference, and their reaction is genuine—they don’t know they’re acting in a film at all. The…

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Middlegame: An Interview with Andrew Bujalski

By Phil Coldiron / March 21, 2013

By Phil Coldiron Here’s a human point: this little introduction to the following interview with Andrew Bujalski on the occasion of the Sundance and Berlin premieres of his extraordinary new film, Computer Chess, has given me more sleepless nights than just about anything I’ve ever written. In a way that very few films have ever…

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After-School Special: Joseph Kahn’s Detention

By Adam Nayman / March 21, 2013

By Adam Nayman No American filmmaker in recent years has put his money where his mouth is like Joseph Kahn, the director of music videos for artists including Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, U2, and Wu-Tang Clan. These are big names, and for the part…

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Forced Exchange: Nicolás Pereda and Jacob Schulsinger on Killing Strangers

By Adam Cook / February 15, 2013

By Adam Cook Now in its fourth year, DOX:LAB is an initiative of Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX documentary film festival that pairs a European and non-European filmmaker together to collaborate on a film via a CPH:DOX development grant. The 2012 program brought together Mexican-Canadian filmmaker Nicolás Pereda with Denmark’s Jacob Secher Schulsinger, who has worked as an…

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Antoine Bourges on East Hastings Pharmacy

By Michael Vass / January 11, 2013

By Michael Vass When Paris-born filmmaker Antoine Bourges moved from Montréal to Vancouver in 2006, he ended up living and working near the infamous Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. This led Bourges to make a pair of films in the community with its residents: the short Woman Waiting (2010), and the medium-length 2012 feature East Hastings Pharmacy,…

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

By Jason Anderson / December 16, 2012

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

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Find Me Guilty: Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing

By Adam Nayman / December 16, 2012

By Adam Nayman Like most other documentaries about people who are certifiably insane, The Act of Killing raises questions about the exploitation of its subjects. Namely: Is it even possible to exploit men who freely and in some cases gleefully admit to the torture, rape, and murder of untold scores of their countrymen? And also:…

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He and “I”: Joaõ Pedro Rodrigues and Joaõ Rui Guerra da Mata on The Last Time I Saw Macao

By Aaron Cutler / December 16, 2012

By Aaron Cutler “Goodbye Lady from Macao” reads a newspaper headline at the end of Joaõ Pedro Rodrigues and Joaõ Rui Guerra da Mata’s short Red Dawn (2011), an unnervingly straightforward view of fish and livestock being sliced open in Macao’s Red Market. This tribute to the recently departed Jane Russell, the sultry wonder who…

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Golden Girls: Sean Baker’s Starlet

By Adam Nayman / September 11, 2012

The opening shot of Sean Baker’s fourth feature Starlet is beautiful, and not just because it (eventually) rests on Dree Hemingway. Underneath dreamy, faintly menacing music by Manual, we fade up on a mottled wall cast in sunlight, with some sort of tousled mass peeking out slightly from below. That little blonde outcropping is our…

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Wandering in Vienna: Jem Cohen and the Adventure of Museum Hours

By Robert Koehler / September 11, 2012

“Kunsthistorisches. It’s the big old one.” This is how Vienna’s massive, venerable, lovely and, indeed, elderly central art museum is termed in Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours, and it neatly sums up the film’s warm, casual attitude toward weighty cultural institutions while serving as a way of reframing formerly perceived paragons of elitism in a more…

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

By Jason Anderson / September 11, 2012

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

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Terror Incognita: Julia Loktev on The Loneliest Planet

By Jay Kuehner / June 24, 2012

By Jay Kuehner Despite the elemental grandeur of its setting and the irony of its title, The Loneliest Planet (2011) hinges neither on the cruelty of nature nor of civilization, but on the betrayals endemic to interpersonal relationships. A deceptively minimal and decidedly haunted pastoral tour that follows a couple of affianced Americans trekking through…

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Film Criticism After Film Criticism: The J. Hoberman Affair

By Mark Peranson / April 18, 2012

By Mark Peranson In a subconscious sense, the impassioned cris de coeur that rippled through the internet following the shocking, but not surprising, dismissal of J. Hoberman from his position as senior film critic for the Village Voice on January 4, 2012, are evidence of an anxiety that springs from the changing nature of the…

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Documentary Is Just One of My Tools: The Digital Film Activism of Ai Weiwei

By J.P. Sniadecki / December 20, 2011

By J.P. Sniadecki The celebrity status of Chinese artist, architect, and social activist Ai Weiwei has been steadily constructed over the past decade via his multimedia provocations and large-scale interventions in both art and politics. Combining a bold conceptual vision with a staunch belief in the artist’s role as social critic, his works have aimed…

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Bad Billy: William Friedkin on Killer Joe

By Olivier Pere / December 20, 2011

By Olivier Père With The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973), Sorcerer (1977), Cruising (1980), and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), to cite some of his most famous films, William Friedkin has made a deep impact on contemporary American cinema, establishing himself as one of the most talented and uncompromising of the New…

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Hammer Horror: Ben Wheatley’s Kill List

By Adam Nayman / December 20, 2011

By Adam Nayman MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD The claw hammer that makes mulch of an amateur pornographer’s skull in the midpoint money shot of Kill List is a blunt instrument wielded with purpose. It’s the perfect avatar for Ben Wheatley’s style in his astonishing second feature. Working with cinematographer Laurie Rose and editor Robin Smith, both…

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Gravity’s Grayscale: Alex Ross Perry’s Cinema of Deaffirmation

By Michael Sicinski / September 28, 2011

By Michael Sicinski One could make a long, sad list of everything wrong with American independent cinema today, but one of the worst things about so much of it is just how desperate it is to be liked. There’s an ugly tendency to simultaneously flatter an audience’s supposed good taste and breeding (“look at you,…

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Nicolas Winding Refn and the Search for a Real Hero

By Robert Koehler / September 28, 2011

By Robert Koehler “Hey, do you wanna see somethin’?”—Driver in Drive In the middle of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, a film punctuated by extreme flourishes of violence and vengeance, there is a period of peace. It occurs when Driver (Ryan Gosling), a quietly contained guy who holds down three jobs—auto mechanic, movie stunt driver, and…

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Take Shelter: Jeff Nichols’ Age of Anxiety

By Robert Koehler / June 28, 2011

By Robert Koehler Unlike any recent American film, Jeff Nichols’ Cannes Critics Week winner Take Shelter gives expression to an extremely nervous country. The pleasure of good action, suspense, or horror films is that they elicit a physical response, drawing out a reaction and release in the viewer that can even be transformative. The viewer…

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

By Jason Anderson / June 28, 2011

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

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Welcome to Calais: Sylvain George and the Aesthetics of Resistance

By Jay Kuehner / June 28, 2011

By Jay Kuehner The judiciously titled Qu’ils reposent en révolte (des figures de guerres) is prefaced by a crepuscular pan of imposing peaks (Mount Sinai) underscored by a cryptic quote regarding divine violence (from Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence), followed by a negative-stock image of the Pyramids before then cutting to the manicured familiarity of…

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

By Jason Anderson / March 12, 2011

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

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Interview | The Thinking Image: Fred Kelemen on Béla Tarr and The Turin Horse

By Robert Koehler / March 12, 2011

By Robert Koehler An aging, partially disabled father and his loyal, hard-working daughter endure six days and nights of a fierce windstorm in their lonely farmhouse while their horse—their means of sustenance—gradually loses its will to work or eat. This could be the stuff of a play, but Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse consciously contains…

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Interviews | The Inmost Leaf: An Interview with Nathaniel Dorsky

By Max Goldberg / March 12, 2011

By Max Goldberg Our age does not really merit the richly endowed materiality of Nathaniel Dorsky’s short films, and yet they now arrive with greater frequency than at any other point during his many decades at work. His lyrical gifts were apparent from an early age—A Fall Trip Home (1964), made when he was only…

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Interviews | Every Day Is a Holiday: Li Hongqi on Winter Vacation

By J.P. Sniadecki / December 17, 2010

By J.P. Sniadecki If Chinese filmmaker, poet, and novelist Li Hongqi’s two previous films, So Much Rice (2005) and Routine Holiday (2008), did yet not place him alongside the much less funny Michael Haneke among the top figures of misanthropic cinema, then his third and most accomplished feature, Winter Vacation, has guaranteed his membership for…

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Interviews | Suicide Girl: Athina Rachel Tsangari

By Adam Nayman / December 17, 2010

By Adam Nayman “How do people do it?” This is the question posed by Marina (Ariane Labed) to her best (and only) friend Bella (Evangelina Randou) in the opening scene of ATTENBERG. Marina is asking about French kissing, which she’s never tried before—nor anything else of that nature. Though still about two decades shy of…

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Interviews | You Only Live Twice: Scaling Menahem Golan’s Heights

By Christoph Huber / September 21, 2010

By Christoph Huber “All created things are mutable, and thus they have the potentiality either to improve or to turn toward evil.”—John of Damascus (opening quote of The Versace Murder, 1998) Certainly the world would be much poorer without Menahem Golan. Especially the world of film. How to do justice to a man whose office…

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Interviews | The Antisocial Network: Daniel Cockburn’s You Are Here

By Adam Nayman / September 21, 2010

By Adam Nayman It’s appropriate that Toronto video artist Daniel Cockburn’s feature debut premiered in Locarno in the Filmmakers of the Present competition. More than any other film I saw at the festival, You Are Here represents an attempt to wrestle with the present tense. Which is not to say that Cockburn’s “meta-detective story” is…

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

By Jason Anderson / September 21, 2010

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

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Interviews | Watching the Detectives: Aaron Katz’s Cold Weather

By Adam Nayman / June 18, 2010

By Adam Nayman Aaron Katz’s films are marked by a quality that’s unusual in American cinema: his characters really always seem to be listening to each other. This sense of information sincerely conveyed and received is central to the Portland native’s debut Dance Party, USA (2006), which pivots on an extended monologue delivered by teenaged…

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Interviews | Surfing on the Wave of Reality: Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s Alamar

By Adam Nayman / March 17, 2010

By Adam Nayman “It is a film.” So said Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio when asked by a Toronto International Film Festival patron about whether he would categorize his sophomore feature Alamar (To the Sea) as a “documentary” or a “fiction”—a meaningless-but-inevitable question given its line-blurring particulars. The director’s seemingly off-the-cuff answer drew a smattering of supportive applause, but…

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

By Jason Anderson / December 16, 2009

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

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Interviews | Keeper of Sheep Lucien Castaing-Taylor on Sweetgrass

By Jay Kuehner / December 16, 2009

By Jay Kuehner ”Baaaaaaah. Bleeeeeeet.” So goes the soundscape of the Western frontier, virtually absent of commentary save for the alternately plaintive hymn and cry of man on the open plain and majestic mountain pass. Could it be that the great American film of the year is a painstaking documentary about…sheep? Roughly 3,000, give or…

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Interviews | Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life: A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem

By Jim Healy / September 12, 2009

By Jim Healy At the beginning of Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life (1956), Ed Avery (James Mason), a middle-class grammar school teacher moonlighting as a taxi dispatcher to make ends meet, finds himself suffering from a mystery ailment that cripples him with pain. After multiple hospital tests, doctors diagnose the illness and prescribe the miracle…

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Interviews: Cryptographies and Blood: Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro

By Adam Nayman / September 12, 2009

By Adam Nayman “Family is a stab in the heart,” snarls Vincent Gallo as Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro. It’s a remark that cuts two ways: the blood that flows from the wound is both a sacrament and a damned spot. Despite their marked differences in age and temperament, there’s never any doubt that tetchy writer…

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Interviews | None of Your Beeswax: A Conversation with Andrew Bujalski

By Livia Bloom / September 12, 2009

By Livia Bloom Beeswax, the beautiful, naturalistic new film by director Andrew Bujalski, is the tale of Lauren (Maggie Hatcher) and Jeannie (Tilly Hatcher), lively and lovely twin sisters living Austin, Texas. The fact that Jeannie is wheelchair-bound hasn’t stopped her from co-owning a vintage clothing store—with Amanda, an old friend who is slipping toward…

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Interviews | Stop Making Sense: Martha Colburn’s Anxious Animations

By Max Goldberg / September 12, 2009

By Max Goldberg Several weeks into preparing this piece, collage-animator Martha Colburn sent me a link to footage of a shadow-puppet play of the Obama inauguration she had staged with her friend Matthew Varvil a few days earlier. Here again was Aretha’s proud hat and Rick Warren’s brimstone drone—though none of the television networks I…

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Interviews | If You Meet Your Double, You Should Kill Him: Johan Grimonprez on Double Take

By Mark Peranson / September 12, 2009

By Mark Peranson To write about Hitchcock today—nay, to think about Hitchcock today—is, as Johan Grimonprez’s Double Take admits in its dizzying construction, simply vertiginous. Just as from a contemporary perspective there is no one “history,” there are many Hitchcocks. Still, the master of suspense has managed to avoid becoming a cliché himself, perhaps due…

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Interviews | The Dark Horse: Robinson Devor on Zoo

By Rob Nelson / September 4, 2009

By Rob Nelson Robinson Devor’s Zoo—written, like his Police Beat (2005), with Seattle alt-weekly critic and columnist Charles Mudede—achieves the seemingly impossible: It tells the luridly reported tale of a Pacific Northwest businessman’s fatal sexual encounter with a horse in a way that’s haunting rather than shocking, and tender beyond reason. So, too, it’s hard…

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Interviews | Vulgar Moralism: Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book

By Robert Koehler / September 4, 2009

By Robert Koehler The arrival of Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, his first European film since the medieval softcore epic Flesh+Blood (1985), forces viewers to reconsider World War II in particular, and Verhoeven in general. It’s true that, as many a wag has noted and Verhoeven long ago confirmed, his great twin obsessions are Hitler and…

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Interviews | Ghost Stories: Wang Bing’s Startling New Cinema

By Robert Koehler / September 3, 2009

By Robert Koehler As the winter night begins to swallow up what little light remains in the sky, an old woman trudges up a pathway toward a block of flats. The camera follows her at a respectful distance, acknowledging her importance but never wanting to be so close that it encroaches in on her space.…

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Interviews | One from the Heart: Abel Ferrara’s Go Go Tales

By Dennis Lim / September 3, 2009

By Dennis Lim For the first question of the Go Go Tales press conference at Cannes, moderator Henri Behar asked Abel Ferrara to describe Ray Ruby’s Paradise Lounge, the Manhattan strip club where his new film is set. “It’s a place where you go and they wait on you and you’re in a tuxedo and…

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Interviews | Reigniting the Flame: John Gianvito’s Profit motive and the whispering wind

By Michael Sicinski / September 3, 2009

By Michael Sicinski At the 2001 Vancouver International Film Festival I had the good fortune to catch a screening of The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein, a three-hour independent feature by film scholar and curator John Gianvito. I had not heard very much about the film itself, but I had heard Gianvito’s name; a friend…

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Interviews | Subverting the Moment: James Gray on We Own the Night

By Andrew Tracy / September 3, 2009

By Andrew Tracy   As with most critical shorthand, “classical” is a much-abused and little-examined term, an abdication of description but a positive boon for instant classification. It functions handily as both light praise and implicit condescension, the traditional scorn for the “well-made” narrative film incarnated in yet another of its protean modes. While general…

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Interviews | Me and My Shadow: Michelange Quay’s Eat, for This is My Body

By Adam Nayman / September 1, 2009

By Adam Nayman Michelange Quay’s impressive debut feature Eat, for This Is My Body begins with a tracking shot that glides across the sea, passes over the shore and then moves ominously inland. What it eventually locates there is not an empire but the remnants of one. The film addresses the colonial legacy of Haiti,…

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Interviews | Band on the Run: Serge Bozon’s La France

By Mark Peranson / September 1, 2009

By Mark Peranson Let me begin by ruining the ending of La France. After masquerading as a 17-year-old boy and glomming onto a ramshackle regiment of French WWI soldiers, Sylvie Testud’s Camille reunites with her soldier husband, who has, at the film’s onset, written home to tell her to write him off. As Camille and…

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Interviews | Trainspotting with James Benning

By Mark Peranson / September 1, 2009

By Mark Peranson “The film is called RR, but I like to call it “Railroad,” because RR sounds like a pirate movie.”—James Benning A short stretch of celluloid itself is a representation of a train, one almost identical image following the other in rapid succession, connected by essential blocks of black, moving forward in time…

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Interviews | As Far As the Eye Can See: Lance Hammer’s Ballast

By Tom Charity / September 1, 2009

By Tom Charity The last person I met on the way out of Sundance—in fact it was at Salt Lake City airport—was the Portland novelist Chuck Palahniuk. I’d seen the adaptation of his novel Choke just the night before, a scrappy, uneven but funny, ballsy movie with Sam Rockwell as a sex addict perturbed to…

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Interviews | A Lover and a Fighter: James Toback on Tyson

By Rob Nelson / September 1, 2009

By Rob Nelson Subtitled A Film About James Toback, The Outsider (2005) is a somewhat odd name for an admiring portrait of a guy who hangs out at Brett Ratner’s house, who graduated magnum cum laude from Harvard University, whose grandfather was a tycoon, and whose mother was president of the League of Women Voters.…

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

By Jason Anderson / September 1, 2009

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

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Interviews | Good Times, Sad Times: Azazel Jacobs on Momma’s Man

By Robert Koehler / August 31, 2009

By Robert Koehler As Azazel Jacobs describes below, he went through a teenage phase in which he rebelled against his parents. But these weren’t any parents: He had been raised in the heady and fecund atmosphere fostered by his filmmaker-father Ken and mother Flo, where conventional cinema—or conventional living—of any kind was simply not an…

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Interviews | Shore Leave: Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool

By Adam Nayman / August 31, 2009

By Violeta Kovacsics and Adam Nayman At the end of Lisandro Alonso’s second feature Los muertos (2004), the arrival of the long-journeying lead character at his former home constituted a distressing question mark. In the director’s new film Liverpool, which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight this past Cannes film festival, it feels more like a shrug.…

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Interviews | The Rules of the Game: A Conversation with Miguel Gomes

By Mark Peranson / August 29, 2009

By Mark Peranson In Arganil, a poor and sparsely populated mountainous region known as “the heart of Portugal,” the beloved month of August is abuzz with natives, tourists, and drunken activity, with fireworks, boar hunting, religious celebrations, roller hockey, alien abduction, and, if you’re part of Portuguese film critic-turned-filmmaker Miguel Gomes’ intimate circle of friends,…

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