Cinema Scope Issue 79 - Summer 2019

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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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min
editor’s note

Excuse me if I come across as discombobulated, it’s not because of any movie I’ve watched recently. No, I’m talking about far more important things than cinema: this issue is in the process of being closed while deep in the throes of Raptors mania, to be precise, the incredible goings-on of Game 4. As the hopeful end of the series and the print deadline appears on the horizon—coincidentally on the same day, if all goes well on both ends—at least the otherworldly performance of our Toronto Raptors has made the usual inconveniences associated with our Cinema Scope that much more palatable. Raptors fans finally have the luxury of being confident, and if I’m jinxing things and they lose in an epic choke, so be it: 2019 has been a vintage…

11 min
philosophy in the woods

I feel like prey. Perhaps soon you won’t anymore. If there is a dialectical movement to be found in Albert Serra’s decidedly non-dialectical films, it is in the relationship they figure between movement and stasis. Firm in the belief, or delusion, that “chivalry is civilization,” Quixote in Honor of the Knights (2006) wanders in search of opportunities for action, which are always elsewhere; his gaze has no recourse but to land in heaven. In Birdsong (2008), the Magi dawdle toward an encounter with the origin of an eternal life, or, if you prefer a term closer to Christendom’s sources, a new form of life, abstract, indefinite, and unchanging. Story of My Death’s (2012) Casanova, in the boundless range of his appetite for the world, in his joyous, idiot desire to know it…

10 min
come on feel the noise

There’s a pervasive hum that runs through Andrés Duque’s body of work, a strange overtone that simmers just at the threshold of our hearing. Thirty-five minutes into Dress Rehearsal for Utopia (2012), the soundtrack seems to drop out and is replaced by a faint, barely perceptible buzz. It sounds like a slightly crunchier form of tape hiss—a kind of “deliberate mistake” that persists even as we see musicians playing without sound, bodies dancing to unheard music. In Karelia: International With Monument (2018), idyllic images of the Karelian forests are accompanied by a faint electronic drone, evoking the hum of mosquitos or, perhaps, a more ghostly presence. The soundtrack to the short sciencefiction film Bartleby’s Constellation (2007) is constantly humming with Theremin whines and harmonica drones, machine grind, and fuzzy signals…

15 min
truth and method

“Archaeology is about Digging” is the title of an essay by Thomas Heise, included in the DVD booklet for several of his films, including the 2009 film Material, a key film in terms of raising Heise’s profile outside of Europe. In the essay, the filmmaker describes the circumstances surrounding the making of the films included on the disc, particularly those early works made while living in the GDR prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. As Heise explains, the work of the documentarian under oppressive conditions entails a kind of double vision, since the scenes before him or her are seldom overt in terms of what they are revealing. He writes, “In a dictatorship, the idea is to amass hidden stores of images and words, portraying the things that people…

11 min
a case for “mere” recording

Ryan Ermacora and Jessica Johnson’s Empire Valley (2018) opens with a wide-angle shot of a boulder surrounded by an imperfect circle of gravel, and then long dry grasses, pale green brush, and the easy swells of an arid landscape. The feet of two extremely prepared day trekkers, sporting knee-high boots with big buckles, make their way onto the screen. They follow the prescribed path that circles the monolith in the familiar manner of those who take themselves to unfamiliar places simply to look around. One gets low with her bulky DSLR to capture a vantage of this seemingly unremarkable stone; the other gently fingers the surface of its unseen other side, and soon, the photographer reaches her hand out to do it, too. Though its pseudo-museological framing is never explained in…

16 min
thinking in images

“I am forever indebted to cinema,” wrote singer-songwriter Scott Walker in 2007. “It’s always been there for me in all manner of ways. I would not have lived my life here in Europe without it. Now and then I’ve found myself wandering in dark towns or cities rather like those depicted by Kaurismäki. Have turned a corner and there was salvation looming before me in the form of a movie house. They all seemed to have a late-night screening of The Third Man (1949), but what could be better?” Walker (née Noel Scott Engel), who passed away from cancer this March at age 76, was a unique figure in the field of pop music. Having risen to early fame as one-third of The Walker Brothers (none of them brothers, and none…