Monday, December 24, 2012

Have you heard about the film industry in Portugal? (Cinema Scope #53)

The film magazine Cinema Scope continues its exploration of cutting-edge world cinema, and though many of the films they write about might be unknown to regular film-goers, within the confines of the film distribution system, where only a select few high profile films open up each week on the cineplex’s screens, and where more challenging films are pushed to the margins, writing about these obscure films and filmmakers is a way to maintain the mystery and aura of cinema, fulfilling Jean-Luc Godard's definition of good cinema: "that which you cannot see." In this respect the magazine continues the legacy started by Jonathan Rosenbaum in his book Movie Wars, in which he denounces the corporatization of the film-making industry during the Regan years. In place of this, he favors an engagement with the festival-based cinema of directors like Abbas Kiarostami and his fellow members of the Iranian New Wave. Rosenbaum now even regularly contributes to the magazine with his Global Discoveries on DVD column, where he provides the magazine with a film-history section and overviews of new non-region 1 DVDs.

Overall, it has been a good year for Cinema Scope. They started the year with a still from the Miguel Gomes film Tabu on the cover the Spring 2012 issue (N.50). Cinema Scope celebrated this landmark 50th issue with a feature on The Best Fifty Filmmakers Under Fifty ("This list also represents a contemporary Cinema Scope canon."). The issue also includes an interview between Mark Peranson and Jim Hoberman titled Film Criticism After Film Criticism, coverage from the Berlin Film Festival with a focus on Tabu, and Denis Côté writes about his new film Bestiaire.

A white limousine is featured on the cover of the Summer 2012 issue (N.51), which could represent either of this year's two great limo films: Leos Carax’s Holy Motors or David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. The issue includes Peranson’s characteristic Cannes review, a great review of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, and a contribution by John Gianvito, Deaths of Cinema: Amos Vogel.

The cover of the Fall 2012 issue (N.52) features Vérena Paravel and Lucien Castain-Taylor’s Leviathan, which is reviewed by Phil Coldiron and gets a stunning five-page photo spread. The highlight of this issue is a printed conversation between Nicolás Pereda and Kazik Radwanski, Unexpected Textures, moderated by Christopher Heron. Around this time the magazine’s online component stepped up its presence and covered a large chunk of the films that played at TIFF, including all of the new films by the Toronto DIY filmmakers (Tower, Krivina, Lunarcy!, Many a Swan).

The new Winter 2013 issue (N.53) features the João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata film The Last Time I Saq Macao on its cover and highlights Portuguese cinema in its editorial, viva o cinema português! The regular roster of local Toronto writers is included: Adam Nayman writes about The Act of Killing and Stories We Tell, Andrew Tracy about Chris Dumas’ book on Brian De Palma, Jason Anderson about Berberian Sound Studio, Andréa Picard about Gabriel Abrantes, John Semley interviews Slavoj Žižek, and there are two new writers to the magazine Calum Marsh who writes about To the Wonder and Blake Wiliams about Spring Breakers.

I would like to highlight Williams’ review of Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, which I think might be one of the best pieces of film criticism that I’ve read recently. Here is its first paragraph:
“Only three years later, Harmony Korine has essentially remade Trash Humpers. In so doing, he has also made a few changes, replacing the cretinous geezers, low-grade VHS presentation, and cacophonous sound mix with heavenly creatures, high-def radiance and candy-pop shellac. If that sounds like an altogether distinct and wholly un-related film, it’s supposed to. The surface of Spring Breakers counters so many of the descriptors that have affixed themselves to Korine’s reputation (especially after Humpers) that it seems to serve as ballast. It turns out, though, that this is more of a complement than a corrective. Beneath its resplendent exterior is a foundation just as defiled as anything in his previous film, and with just as much disillusionment about the spectre of the American dream.”
If you're interested in reading the whole review you should check out the newest issue, which should now be available on newsstands or specialty book stores. Or better yet, get a subscription!


QueenCityJamz said...

Great article on the highly-deserving Cinema Scope magazine. I've been a subscriber for years and treasure each issue. My only problem is I have to wait a longtime to see the great films they cover!

David D. said...

Yeah, it truly is a great magazine!