Cinema Scope Issue 87 - Summer 2021

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

Perhaps it’s premature to proclaim “Cinema is back!” to quote a certain French festival director, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that it never went away. Even though theatres are only now reopening in many countries (at the time of writing indoor cinemas remain closed in Toronto, unfortunately), I dare say that over the past year we were all exposed to more moving images (and alcohol) on a regular basis than at any other moment in human history…some of it, yes, not exactly cinema as we are used to defining it. More to the point, films in fact were produced, released, exhibited (yes, mainly online), so to say that cinema is back is restricting oneself to a very antiquated idea of “cinema.” But look who’s talking—namely, a guy who persists…

27 min
it happened one night

Just past the midpoint of Alexandre Koberidze’s What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? the narrative pauses for a five-minute montage of children playing European football on the blacktop of a fenced-in basketball court. Accompanied by Gianna Nannini’s 1990 FIFA World Cup anthem “Un’estate italiana,” the scene, which plays out entirely in slow motion, is at once part and parcel of this highly musical film’s many interludes and the most conspicuous of its untold number of narrative culs de sac. Breaking from the film’s tragicomic romance story to focus on the exuberant faces and energetic movements of real-life kids who otherwise have no bearing on the plot, it announces the conclusion to the first part of a film that, up to this point, had betrayed no signs…

10 min
brief encounters

Sprawling, intimate conversations are crucial in the dialogue-driven films of Hamaguchi Ryusuke, but that which remains concealed—simmering behind a strategic facade, sheepish deception, or playful pretense—can be just as revealing. Consider the pivotal dinner conversation that takes place after a communication workshop in the 317-minute Happy Hour (2015), when Jun (Kawamura Rira) suddenly discloses the shocking news of her upcoming divorce trial and owns up to her infidelity to her callous husband. In Asako I & II (2018), the title character’s former lover Baku reappears in the person of her new boyfriend Ryohei—a completely different man in spirit and temperament, yet physically the same as her ex. Asako (Karata Erika) keeps this connection a secret, afraid that her partner might consider their relationship a sham, and herself unwilling or unable…

19 min
“i prefer, where truth is important, to write fiction”

In the name of the popular, delighting in reduction and obviousness, a boring assertion: the common ground of every film movement christened a “new wave” over the last 70 years has tended toward revision, a self-conscious desire to provide a true image of the people in opposition to the distorted picture given by whatever relevant iterations of official culture. The banality of this claim can be measured by the volume of cant and platitude produced in support of it, often by the artists themselves. There is, I hope, little need to rehearse these arguments regarding realism, myth, and so on. Who today can help but squirm when faced with the phrase “true image of the people?” Still, that more slippery thing called film culture continues apace in discovering fresh waves…

18 min
can’t get you out of my head

Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was, ostensibly, a film that couched a meditation on the mundane topic of marriage and mistrust in mysterious extravagances (operatic orgies, hints of the occult, dream logic). Watching it now, it’s abundantly clear that the film is actually most trenchant in its treatment of class, corruption, and the sexual penchants of an invincible, monied elite (embodied by Sydney Pollack). Non-tabloid critics may have sidelined this surreptitious subtext at the time of Eyes Wide Shut’s release, but in the current climate, online discourse has latched on to the connection between the film’s horny, masked cabal and the sex-trafficking ring run by Jeffrey Epstein for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Dasha Nekrasova’s first feature, The Scary of Sixty-First, is an homage to Eyes Wide Shut…

12 min
crisis management

Amalia Ulman is probably best known for Excellences and Perfections, a year-long Instagram performance that led many to believe she was an L.A. sugar baby, her grid replete with fussy cocktails, half-baked inspirational quotes, an addled downward spiral, and some cosmetic surgery. When it was uncovered as such, the routine incensed her new followers and landed her on Forbes’ 2016 Top 30 Under 30 list, alongside people like Petra Cortright, Lauren Conrad, and Eckhaus Latta. What most may not know is that her placement on this list—by judges Sarah Jessica Parker, Sophia Amoruso (coiner of the term #GIRLBOSS), and home décor e-commerce figure Alison Pincus—along with a profusion of accolades from art and culture mags about her so-called “hoax,” later became the fodder her tattoo-artist father used to frame her…