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Cinema ScopeCinema Scope

Cinema Scope Issue 77 - Winter 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

And now, a few thoughts on the occasion of attending the revitalized Marrakesh International Film Festival and the industry Atlas Workshops on African and Middle Eastern cinema that, you might be surprised to learn, was sponsored by none other than Netflix. Soon after arriving in Morocco I had the occasion to attend an unsurprisingly jam-packed conversation with Martin Scorsese, a regular visitor to Marrakesh. (This year he brought De Niro along, who had the luck to be interviewed onstage by Maïwenn, but alas I missed that one.) Most of Marty’s answers were predictable enough for anyone who has followed his career even tangentially (his discovery of Italian neorealism, Elia Kazan, religion, etc.), but things took a bit of an odd turn when he started ranting against the state of film…

access_time22 min.
the land of the unknown

Writing for Cinema Scope in the winter of 2017, director Roberto Minervini reflected on a new wave of philistine cinema in America. For Minervini, this “covert-yet-not-so-subtle nationalistic, reactionary” brand of filmmaking—exemplified by the likes of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario (2015)—is a prime example of how Hollywood, operating under the guise of liberal nonpartisanship, contributes to right-wing fear-mongering and the demonization of the Other. As an American and/or otherwise reasonably well-equipped moviegoer, it’s easy to identify with his frustration. But what seems doubly vexing for Minervini, one of contemporary cinema’s most dedicated and thoughtful chroniclers of the American South—where he’s lived and worked for over a decade since moving to the US in 2000—is the social and cultural misrepresentation that these films help proliferate. In modest but forceful opposition to this movement,…

access_time13 min.
“poetry floats up in my memory like sailboats in the fog”

On first viewing, Alexei German’s Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998) gives an impression of almost overwhelming density. This is due in part, of course, to its exquisitely cluttered arrangements of objects and people, from the babushki sniping at each other in cramped communal apartments to the Soviet security men who proliferate along the streets outside, accumulating into a genuinely Boschian vision of ’50s Moscow. But it’s also the result of the competing layers of reality that are set up from the film’s outset and ultimately even extend beyond its congested, claustrophobic frames. An expository opening scroll (written in French, not Russian, so that foreign interlopers know their place from the outset) lays out the most basic outline of the story: that of one General Klensky (Yuri Tsurilo), a decorated physician who…

access_time12 min.
with forever presence

In September, when he knew his time was not long, Jonathan Schwartz wrote to explain that he would try to retrieve previews of his films for me but that he was dealing with many logistical concerns in order “to be in emotional spaces with utmost presence.” I keep coming back to this phrase in the weeks since Schwartz’s death for what it says about him and his lyrical work in 16mm. The unusual poignancy of his films flows directly from their radical attentiveness, which in turn flows every which way. This makes me think of an essay by Mary Ruefle, a poet much admired by Schwartz, in which she contends, a little mischievously, that the problem with much so-called sentimental poetry is that it is not sentimental enough: “Don’t be…

access_time15 min.
soft and hard

There is a shot of an infant being carried by its father in Claire Denis’ L’intrus (2004) that may be the most rapt and tender image of its kind I’ve ever seen in a film. The first ten minutes of the director’s new High Life offer an extension and an elaboration of that shot, observing Monte (Robert Pattinson), apparently the sole adult survivor of a deep-space mission, as he feeds, changes, cuddles, and consoles the baby daughter, Willow, who is seemingly his only (living) companion on a spaceship divided into dormitory-style cells and littered with anachronistic-looking flat-screens. When the lithe, close-cropped Monte is not doting on his kid, he’s tending an artificially Edenic garden located somewhere in the ship’s bowels, a fertile space just waiting for sin to bloom there…

access_time12 min.

1. This is the story of a repetition. General Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina for the first time in 1946, and served two terms of office, from June 4 of that year through September 21, 1955. From 1946 through 1952, his first term, he ruled with his wife Eva at his side, and this period was characterized by sweeping reforms that benefited the poorest sectors of society, such that “Perónism” became identified as a particular brand of Latin American “strongman” leftism. Perón was deposed by a military coup d’état in 1955. Following a period of exile, he returned from Spain in 1973. In the intervening 18 years, Perónism had become a free-floating signifier of populism to be appropriated as needed by various factions. Upon Perón’s return, there was a…