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Cinema ScopeCinema Scope

Cinema Scope Issue 75 - Summer 2018

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

Believe me or don’t, but it wasn’t until we started to lay out this issue maybe a week or so prior to my typing this that I realized, hey, we’ve reached Issue 75, three-quarters of the way to a century. I guess some people might consider 75 to be a kind of milestone, but those would be the type of people who actually enjoy celebrating their own birthdays. Some of my mental haze might have to do with my own busy schedule, or the general routine of ups and downs that continue to be associated with putting one of these motherfuckers to bed—trust me, it isn’t getting any easier, even after what’s now close to 20 years. (Has it really been that long? Maybe avoidance explains my lack of self-awareness.…

access_time16 min.
apt pupil

“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 representational; propelled, sometimes equally, by desire and terror—it is drenched in absence and familiarity, illusorily leading us back to a source that is always further away from us by film’s end. And then we wake up. It’s quite something, then, that descriptors like “oneiric” and “dreamlike”—always approbative adjectives for a work of cinema—are never used tautologically. That simply isn’t the default. And yet, in a field where theatrical modes of expression continue to reign, it’s those dreamier experiences—bellowing to…

access_time10 min.
exchange rate

“I think Toronto is a wonderful town, smart and up to date, just like a good American city…makes me feel like I’m back home in Cleveland.” These words, spoken by a “Mr. Chester Vanderwick” (an apparently authentic Midwesterner, although I’ve always thought he looks and sounds like a bad actor) sum up the subtext of Leslie McFarlane’s short 1951 documentary Toronto Boom Town, a would-be city symphony that’s more like an advertising jingle. Produced in English and French versions for the National Film Board of Canada’s proudly propagandistic “Canada Carries On” series, Toronto Boom Town rides the crest of its subject city’s upward mobility. We’re given glimpses of Regent Park tenements before the narrator assures us that gentrification will make such economic disparity a thing of the past; the camera…

access_time9 min.
transgressions in the dark age

“For me the vast open field of the unknown and the prison existed simultaneously.”— Kim Hye-soon, “Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream” After a string of US-funded anti-communist documentaries and neorealist melodramas, Korean director Kim Ki-young entered a new phase of his filmmaking with the wildly successful “Housemaid Trilogy,” comprising The Housemaid (1960) and its remakes Woman of Fire (1971) and Insect Woman (1972). With this tale of a bourgeois family’s undoing at the hands of a seductive interloper, the director located his cinema in the crossfire of gender essentialism, class conflict, and psychosexual idiosyncrasies. In Kim’s universe, men are impotent weaklings with an insatiable need for mothering, women at once insidiously cunning and neurotically desperate for men’s devotion. Until his death in 1998—when he perished in a house fire during the development of his…

access_time14 min.
towards an anthropology of colour

Sara Cwynar’s Soft Film (2016) begins without an image, only words: “A quick history in a single thing.” A phrase with the canned authority of the TED Talk, torqued by its curious preposition. It is spoken by a man, his tone and tempo even, presentational; a touch of expected authority. And then, the cropped torso of a woman in a loose cashmere sweater, soft grey, as she holds a jewelry box in her left hand: “The soft texture gets me here.” She runs her right hand across its front, down its side; it is persimmon velvet, its fixtures golden. Her nails are long, elegant but not polished. “It appears here.” Cut to her holding a velvet earring box, moss, which she turns in her hands: “And here.” Another velvet box,…

access_time10 min.
corrupted affections

You are the despised of the Earth; That is as if you were Water in the Desert. To be adored on this planet is to be a symbol of Success, And you must not succeed on any terms, because Life is endless.—Ganja & Hess The cult of the auteur has been the law of the land for so long that cinephilia can become a way of magical thinking, turning painful creative compromises into evidence of an overarching aim that may not have actually existed, finding in every twist of a director’s career proof for some master narrative. It’s thus that Kino Lorber’s rereleases of Ganja & Hess (1973) and Personal Problems (1980), both directed by the late African-American playwright and filmmaker Bill Gunn, pose an intriguing problem. Even if you want…