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Cineaste. Fall 2011

An overview of the new issue of Cineaste, with an emphasis on the book reviews.

A critical symposium on film preservation is at the heart of the new issue of Cineaste, though only a portion of it appears online. Nonetheless, the editors outline the issues covered, noting that the "digital revolution is a central theme," its "most significant role" being that of "an invaluable tool for providing access. After all, as the Critical Symposium respondents take pains to emphasize, preservation is rendered virtually meaningless if the films cannot be seen, by scholars at the very least, and ideally by the public at large. As a tool for access, digital video is doubly beneficial — not only does it allow for far wider distribution than possible with film prints, it also allows movies to be seen without risking damage to the original film materials."

Along with 15 film and DVD reviews, the Fall 2011 issue features…

Kong Rithdee: "Like the study of other national cinemas, the topography of Thailand and its cinematic representation — esthetically, anthropologically, and politically — doesn't yield a neatly-wrapped conclusion. The question of 'Thainess' is as intriguing as it is futile, and as tempting as it is unnecessary, especially when filmmakers like Apichatpong, Pen-ek, and Uruphong are testing so many real and imaginary borders of cinema that transcend nationality, when they're not making films just for Thai people, but for anybody who still cares about the possibility of cinema."


Noel Vera: "Before anything, I'd like to say that José B Capino's Dream Factories of a Former Colony: American Fantasies, Philippine Cinema, is a precious gem, a resource of great value. Not only because it's a particularly good or substantial and well-written critical study (just set that aside a minute) but because writings on Filipino films — especially serious, scholarly works — are few and sorely needed. There's a near vacuum where analysis of Filipino films are involved, and it hurts our cinema, not just our reputation (why take our films seriously if film scholars won't?) as well as means of financing (why invest in a cinema that's largely without substance, mere entertainment?) and sense of motivated creativity (why engage in the arduous task of filmmaking for a cinema that's largely without substance, mere entertainment?)…. Capino's focus is on the ambivalent, ambiguous, love-hate, largely one-sided relationship between the Philippines and the United States, and how this affects Filipino and Filipino-American filmmaking."


Michael Sicinski reviews Optic Antics: The Cinema of Ken Jacobs, edited by Michele Pierson, David E James and Paul Arthur, "a collection that is both long overdue and right on time. What we find in this collection is a variegated slew of critical analyses, historical contextualizations, and artists' recollections that are both poignant and deeply insightful. The editors, then, have produced a volume as wide-ranging as Jacobs himself. This is a significant achievement, given the too-common tendency of certain kinds of film writing (the analytic/scholarly mode) to trump all others in presumed legitimacy. Instead, Pierson, James, and the late Paul Arthur have pulled together a rare, multifaceted assemblage of voices and perspectives — a Cubist criticism or, perhaps more accurately, one characterized by a 'push and pull' between discursive modes, none settling down or attaining dominance. Like a canvas by Jacobs's painting teacher and mentor, Hans Hofmann, different 'planes' of Jacobs come forward at different moments. The more time you take in Optic Antics, the more expansive 'Ken Jacobs' becomes."

Michael Bronski: "Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo, Michael Schiavi's new biography of the noted LGBT activist and film historian, is an important addition to queer and film scholarship. It is also one of the most complex and compelling historical narratives of gay male life and culture in the later decades of the twentieth century."

For John Fidler, Michael Moore: Filmmaker, Newsmaker, Cultural Icon, a collection of 13 essays and reviews edited by Matthew H Bernstein, "provides the reader with a first and important examination of where Moore is at something like mid-career, and an assessment of Moore's films, Moore himself, and where he fits into the domestic political discourse."

Robert Cashill talks with Guillermo del Toro and Guy Pearce about Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and with Malcolm McDowell about the highlights of his career. Patrick McGilligan interviews Adoor Gopalakrishnan, "a household name for cinema lovers in India" who "has created a personal body of work that is among the richest of his generation."

Dennis West reports on the 12th Jeonju International Film Festival and Rahul Hamid wraps the 30th Istanbul Film Festival.

Image at the top: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010). For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.

Ran out to Barnes & Noble right before they closed to pick this up but it wasn’t out on the shelf yet. Need to devour that symposium, the last one on film programming was amazing!

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