Cinema Scope Issue 83 - Summer 2020

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

When the history of 2020 is written, if we make it that far, the disruption of the usual mechanisms of exhibition, production, and distribution of cinema will (rightly) appear as a footnote, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are more important crises to manage, but here’s not the place to deal with them in any satisfying way. If the last issue appeared just as COVID-19 was locking us all indoors, this one is born as people are emerging onto the streets, not to head back to normalcy, but to express anger. So I’m sure the last thing you want to hear from me are complaints—after all, we are still publishing, and a physical issue no less. To make a long story short, many challenges were faced for this issue; the…

41 min
the land demands your effort

Set in the Shiotani Basin, a short train ride from Kyoto, the long-awaited return of C.W. Winter and Anders Edström, a decade following The Anchorage, patiently accompanies Shiojiri Tayoko over five seasons in her small village of 47 predominantly elderly people (most of whom, like Tayoko, play themselves). Though it’s equally concerned with observations of nature and the simple way that life itself is lived, partway through the film a narrative gradually asserts itself, in the worsening sickness of Tayoko’s husband, Junji—though the presence of death is never far from the surface, whether seen through periodic visits to gravesites, fatal snakebite, the hunting of animals for food, or a fantastical story (told via subtitles) of a soldier’s return home from WWII to commune with the corpse of his recently deceased…

20 min
dau. diary & dialogue

“The person who rejects creative power and creativity and the reproduction of oneself through the act of creation, that person rejects life itself, in all its existence.”—Anatoly Krupitsa, DAU. The Empire. Novel One: Return of the Prodigal Son 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. In the real world you pay the maximum price. But in this unreal world…you pay in a different way.” Just how and…

20 min
the limits of control

About a third of the way into Med Hondo’s stunning 1979 musical West Indies ou les nègres marrons de la liberté, at which point the narrative has located itself at some unspecified time in the mid-20th century, a group of West African men and women boards a ship that will take them from the Antilles to the homeland of their French colonizers, following exhortations from a parade of French administrators, priests, social workers, and local puppet-government agents about the virtues of emigration and the joys of the metropole. Throughout these extended opening sequences, of course, Hondo has made amply clear that such coerced emigration is only intended to serve the colonial goal of disappearing the people of the islands—whether by literally removing them, or decimating the cultural and social forms…

23 min
as if we were dreaming it

Christian Petzold returns to the present and bids a full farewell to realism in Undine, a fantasy-tinged, modern-day fairy tale that grafts the vicissitudes of Berlin city planning onto an uncharacteristically chirpy romance. Although fate is still predetermined to rear its head, the resultant romantic swoon lacks the same weight it carried in the German director’s period-set Barbara (2012), Phoenix (2014), and Transit (2018), an impeccable international breakthrough trilogy in whose long shadow Undine struggles to make its own, typically intelligent ideas about love and history shine. If Petzold’s ninth feature feels more of a quirky transition than a fully realized new direction, it still functions as an excellent primer for his directorial interests, as the various novelties on display are continually bolstered and enriched by past concerns, motifs, and…

9 min
traces of desire

About six months ago, France was having a real Robert Kramer moment. A complete retrospective at the Cinématheque française in November 2019 was accompanied by an announcement from the Paris-based distributor Re:voir that they would be releasing an “OEuvres completes de Robert Kramer,” comprising 26 films in ten volumes. The first release—of Guns (1980), Kramer’s first feature film made in France, along with the medium-length Naissance (1981) and the short film La peur (1983)—hit the streets in January of this year. When the rest of Kramer’s corpus will actually be available remains to be seen, as only this title appears on Re:voir’s website and in their 2020 catalogue (even though, for some reason, the Guns DVD—which arrived in my mailbox just as this piece was being edited—is labelled as “Volume…