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Cinema ScopeCinema Scope

Cinema Scope Issue 70 - Spring 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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editor’s note

THE CINEMA SCOPE TOP TEN OF 2016 1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade) 2. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu) 3. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello) 4. Elle (Paul Verhoeven) 5. La mort de Louis XIV (Albert Serra) 6. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt) 7. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec) 8. The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams) 9. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho) 10. Silence (Martin Scorsese) Special mentions: All the Cities of the North (Dane Komljen); Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson); Hermia and Helena (Matías Pineiro); Moonlight (Barry Jenkins); The Ornithologist (Joao Pedro Rodrigues) Once more by popular demand (and against my better wishes), the Cinema Scope writers and editors have spoken, and, as predicted—no fix was in, I swear—here we go on record with the year’s top ten, a.k.a. Toni and the Gang. A bit delayed, for sure, but those of little faith should note that we managed to get this…

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the quest for beauty

There is a great deal more at stake in James Gray’s The Lost City of Z than in any of the 47-year-old American director’s previous movies: its budget is higher, its time span longer, its geographic reach greater, and its hero’s driving purpose—searching for civilization itself—grander. Adapted from David Grann’s nonfiction account of British officer Percy Fawcett’s obsessive, repeated journeys into the unmapped Amazonian jungle in the early part of the 20th century, The Lost City of Z decisively leaves behind the confined New York settings and brooding, tragic angst of Gray’s previous five films. Opening on a thrilling stag hunt in Ireland, where Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) has been stationed to train local militia, and later venturing to South America, the gardens of Devon, and the countryside of North Stoke,…

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orchestrating the apocalypse

“This is a product of the Umbrella Corporation. Our business is life itself. Some side effects may occur.” —commercial announcement lead-in to the end credits of Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) By now, there is a certain familiarity to the steely determination on Milla Jovovich’s face as she makes her trademarked announcement: “My name is Alice. And this is my story...” But this time around it comes with a capper: “...the end of my story.” Almost 15 years after Paul W.S. Anderson’s video-game adaptation Resident Evil (2002) became a surprise hit, the ensuing film series has come full circle with the sixth instalment, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. The highest-grossing horror-film franchise, habitually drubbed by most mainstream critics, Resident Evil has established itself as the rare blockbuster series that uses a formulaic…

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small things and big things

How can a filmmaker like Feng Xiaogang exist in China? His films somehow manage to be both widely popular and ideologically unconventional. For many years—until the onset of the current “wild east” phenomenon, in which a stream of record-breaking blockbusters seems regularly to be emerging from China’s hyped-up movie-production machine—Feng has consistently been one of the top box-office earners. At the same time, his films accomplish interesting cultural work, as they speak in a popular social voice, one pitched with a unique mixture of sarcasm and cynicism. His latest, I Am Not Madame Bovary, whose revised version screened at the Berlinale’s Critics’ Week, puts both poles of Feng’s cinema in heightened relief. The Beijing-born Feng’s 16 features have established him as China’s premier homegrown comedy blockbuster craftsman. The Feng Xiaogang “brand”…

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cinema concrete

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 screenings. So far, the best try came from an Argentine friend who tried to link it with Sokurov, but then, after about a minute, gave up and said, “No, not even Sokurov.” As cinema viewers and as humans, we’re wired to compare one thing against another, and when a work of art defies this natural process, the responses can be interesting. I’ve heard the extremes of utter hatred and mad passion for All the Cities of the North,…

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the land of sound, the land of images

As the premise and practice of visual anthropology instills itself within both academia and the contemporary art world, the vast mantle of visual culture seems primed for its next official designation, with visual geography a leading contender. In recent years, a blossoming body of works have built upon the experimental and documentary tradition of landscape films (including progenitors Keiller, Akerman, and Benning) to critically (re-)assess the operations informing and shaping any given space. Films like Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016), Deborah Stratman’s The Illinois Parables (2016), and Peter Bo Rappmund’s 2015 Topophilia (which Michael Sicinski discussed in Cinema Scope 64) have reinvigorated the form to introduce broader questions of political economy and the prison-industrial complex, colonial narratives, and national borders. One topic that has been little broached in…