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Cinema ScopeCinema Scope

Cinema Scope Issue 73 - Winter 2017

With unparalleled depth and breadth, Cinema Scope is one of the most respected English-language publications on film worldwide. Cinema Scope unites experienced critics from across North America with up-and-coming writers. Packed with reviews, essays, festival reports, and interviews, we’re geared to cinephiles looking for an intelligent forum on world cinema. “Advocates for a passionate, poltical and purist engagement with the movies”—The New York Times

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access_time3 min.
editor’s note

It’s true that the bulk of the films that are covered in any particular issue of this magazine first show publically at film festivals, and, in many cases, only show at festivals. Thus, once again in this last issue of the year, we present a small selection of reviews from films that recently debuted on the circuit. But I would be remiss not to note that the so-called “premiere festivals” like Toronto make up but a tiny slice of the festival pie. I know I’m lucky that my job allows me to attend many such events: I write this having recently travelled to festivals in Vienna, Gijon and Singapore, where I was struck by the obvious realization that festivals are about more than the films—and I’m not just talking about…

access_time19 min.
sightsurf and brainwave

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 of 3D technology. From earlier works such as Coorow-Latham Road (2011), which played with the gentle space-warping effects of Google Maps’ 360-degree cameras, to his suite of anaglyph films—Many a Swan (2012), Baby Blue (2013), Red Capriccio (2014), and Something Horizontal (2015)—the instability of screen space, and the points at which it encroaches into our own, has been one of Williams’ driving concerns. Leaving anaglyph behind in favour of polarized 3D technology, Williams has embarked on his first feature…

access_time11 min.
the uses of disenchantment

Accepting the Golden Lion at Venice for The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro magnanimously offered this piece of advice to young filmmakers: “Have faith in whatever you have faith in.” This bit of winner’s-circle tautology was surely not meant to be condescending. As with his fellow awards-ceremony-orator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s observation at the Tonys that “love is love is love,” del Toro’s platitude seemed to come, like every other incessant, perhaps only incidentally self-aggrandizing public expression of his cinephilia, from an honest place. Besides, it’s churlish to be annoyed when nice guys finish first. Del Toro’s front-runner status is undeniable, and a top prize at a major film festival puts even more distance between him and a new cohort of art-horror hybridists faithfully following his example, if not quite yet nipping…

access_time12 min.
in the shadow of the magic kingdom

Set on the fringes of Disney World, where an invisible underclass scrapes together its transient livings in decrepit motels, the latest film from Sean Baker further develops the talented writer-director’s interest in the everyday realities of marginalized communities—a welcome relief from the incessant navelgazing that predominates in the American indie-cinema landscape. Driven by a journalistic instinct that leads him beyond his own purview, Baker has made a series of films that tackle radically different subjects with a fusion of documentary-like authenticity and carefully constructed narratives. From the illegal Chinese immigrant of Take Out (2004) who is trying to pay off a debt through food delivery tips, to the street hustler from Ghana selling Gucci knockoffs in Prince of Broadway (2006); from the sub-bleached porn actress who befriends a lonely old…

access_time9 min.
the limits of control

“The person we love we dream only of eating. That is, we slide down that razor’s edge of ambivalence.”—Hélène Cixous, Love of the wolf To begin with a spoiler, Caniba concludes with a miracle—or at least this is how the film’s subject, the infamous Japanese cannibal Sagawa Issei, describes the sudden and unexpected wave of happiness that floods him as he is fed snacks and tucked in for a nap by a woman in a cosplay French maid’s outfit. As staged and performed for the cameras of Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab stalwarts Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, this scene amounts to a distorted self-exculpation from a man who had been driven to commit murder by his urge to consume women’s flesh. Now disabled and more fearful of his own death than…

access_time11 min.
for future history

Barbet Schroeder’s The Venerable W. profiles Ashin Wirathu, a nationalist Buddhist monk in Myanmar who has built his career targeting the county’s Rohingya minority. Schroeder charts Wirathu’s life from fringe extremist to superstar demagogue, trailing behind as he visits congregations and collects alms, detailing a series of campaigns which have been widely held responsible for the uptick in anti-Muslim furor compromising Myanmar’s democratic process. Well over a million refugees have entered neighbouring Bangladesh from the country’s western Rakhine State, 600,000 of them alone since August 2017; this past November, a shaky deal emerged whereby Myanmar agreed to “repatriate” the refugees, which, to human-rights activists, seems code for further internal encampment and/or being thrown back to hateful local governments. The ideology by which Theravada Buddhism—whose “good monks” were made icons of…