Cinema Scope Issue 81 - Winter 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

Cinema Scope Publishing
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min
editor’s note

Let’s call this one “Notes Towards an Editor’s Note.” I know that some of you think I’m funny like a clown and I’m here to amuse you, so I hate to disappoint those fair readers looking for the usual belly laugh or two in this quarterly missive. But to be totally honest I’m so out of it from watching movies that most of you will never hear of (for good reason) that I can barely string a few paragraphs together. (Kid you not, I fell asleep in the middle of writing this. In fact, I’m still asleep.) Hell, I’ve barely read most of the articles in this magazine, let alone seen the hot, hot films of the cold season, whether they are streaming in actual cinemas, home cinemas, laptops, whatever.…

20 min
anything is possible

When discussing all-time NBA greats, the knock on Kevin Garnett was always that he couldn’t carry a squad to a championship. For all his unprecedented versatility—the shooting and ball-handling of a guard in the elongated body of a power forward—KG was defined by his need for better teammates. A high-school hoops prodigy who was drafted to the basketball wasteland of Minnesota—the league’s pre-Toronto equivalent of Siberia, in terms of reputation and weather both—Garnett dragged the Timberwolves to respectability but not glory, falling short of the accomplishments of rivals like Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace. When The Big Ticket won his first (and only) NBA title with the Boston Celtics in the spring of 2009 (his 14th season), it was as a member of a so-called “Big Three” alongside Ray Allen…

10 min
they are all equal now

Since cinema is moving toward television, and since the MCU generation is trying to actually tussle with a good fella like Martin Scorsese, and since all of this is wrapped around a cultural moment steeped in glorious contradictions, the timing of The Irishman couldn’t be more perfect. A movie that embodies classical values of saga storytelling and reflective character study and shatters the frenetic machismo of Scorsese’s previous gangland epics—particularly his marvellous, unruly masterpiece, Casino (1995), and Goodfellas (1990)—The Irishman is both cinema and television in a fused form that suggests an artistic reconciliation for Scorsese and screenwriter Steven Zaillian. Funded by Netflix to the tune of something approaching the thin-air atmosphere of $200 million after all the studios passed (thanks to an expensive digital de-aging process for older actors…

11 min
i shall be released

Some of the greatest concert footage from the ’70s has only become visible over the course of the previous 12 months, and ended up in two films that couldn’t be more different in their approaches, yet are united in presenting themselves as auteurist conundrums. In both cases this also has to do with their convoluted production histories: Amazing Grace finally presents long-unavailable material shot during a legendary live album recording by Aretha Franklin; Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese is best described as a somewhat ironic revision of Dylanshot material, some of which had previously been featured in a notorious film maudit which—in a postmodern gambit characteristic of Scorsese’s “Dylanesque” smoke-and-mirrors approach—goes unnamed. So, in one corner, we have Amazing Grace, a seemingly straightforward record of the…

18 min
a concept of reality

While one might assume that it would be emotionally and morally gratifying to watch the funeral of a tyrant, Sergei Loznitsa’s astounding archival documentary State Funeral challenges that belief. Using magnificently restored footage (both black-and-white and colour) of the grandiose four-day affair that was the 1953 funeral of Joseph Stalin, Loznitsa immerses us in the spectacular pomp of a dictator’s cult of personality. Any sense of catharsis provided by the spectacle that marked the end of this reign, however, is overwhelmed by the impact of Stalin’s figure on display. The sight inspires fear as much as awe, for one can see in the commemoration of the dead dictator the projected, and subsequently embalmed, grandiosity of his life—a grandiosity enshrined on film by the monumental imagery shot by hundreds of cameramen,…

10 min
far from paradise

Diamonds are sharp and hard, rich in myth and violence, soaked in desire, totally under the putrid spell of money. They are, in other words, a lot like Las Vegas—especially as it appears in Nina Menkes’ searing 1991 film Queen of Diamonds. Across 75 taut minutes, Sin City’s fabulous hedonism recedes from view, giving pride of place to the death and boredom that make up its core. A casino croupier, played by the director’s sister Tinka Menkes in the fourth of their six collaborations, drifts between work and home, down empty streets, to the ruined oasis of the Salton Sea, and through the night, usually filmed at some distance in static shots that resist psychologization. She is called Firdaus, Arabic for “paradise.” The name is borrowed from the title character…