Welcome to Issue 90 of Senses of Cinema.
Our 90th issue, and the first for 2019, is bountiful, to say the least. Though her cinema output is small (so far), Valérie Massadian is, in our estimation, one of the great filmmakers working today. She integrates purposefully a highly evolved cinematic aesthetic with the need for humanity and understanding through her characters and their world, and in her written pieces, included here, she implores us to remember why cinema matters in this regard. We are thrilled to be publishing in this issue the digital edition of the first dossier devoted to her work, as commissioned and edited by John and Maura Edmond. These ten pieces portray at the same time a multifaceted oeuvre and singular vision.
Our features section this month stretches from the most current and contemporary perspectives on cinema back to reinvestigations of cinema from the past. César Albarrán-Torres dives into Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, and forges a reading of the film predicated on its emphasis on images of water and other fluids. Continuing in the vein of contemporary cinema, Jensen Suther looks at Lars von Trier’s latest film The House That Jack Built, peering behind the scandal that accompanied its Cannes première to focus on its Romantic aesthetics. Claudia Sicondolfo and Jonathan Petrychyn dig back into Canadian film history and unearth the fascinating trajectory of Passiflora, a film that explores Montreal’s marginal communities in the 1980s. Joy Castro explores how Ai Weiwei’s documentary feature Human Flow and four other films deal with the current migratory and refugee global crisis. Raqi Syed offers a technocultural reading of Virtual Reality technologies and their place in the history of cinema. What is VR, exactly? Syed approaches this tough question. Jeremi Szaniawski analyses how a handful of contemporary filmmakers such as Paul Thomas Anderson and Danny Boyle have been influenced by the work of Stanley Kubrick, the master of the abstract.
There are a number of exciting interviews with contemporary directors in this issue – Gerd Germunden speaks to Valeska Grisebach; at the Berlinale, Brigitta Wagner interviews Jennifer Reeder, while at Rotterdam, Sucheta Chakraborty interviews Elizabeth Sankey; Australian auteur Amiel Courtin-Wilson provides us with an overview of his œuvre; and, from Locarno, Jaimey Fisher chats with Ying Liang.
We have two important additions to our Great Directors series, both dealing with filmmakers who have created a body of work in the liminal zone between popular and niche moviemaking. Gabriella Munoz takes a look at the astonishing career of Mexican powerhouse Guillermo del Toro, and charts his trajectory from his early Spanish-language cinema through to the critical and commercial success of The Shape of Water in 2017. Likewise, Ben McCann looks into the decades-long career of Cédric Klapisch, the French filmmaker who has used popular genres such as the romantic comedy to question what it is to be French – and, more broadly, European – today.
Festival coverage includes the latest editions of the Berlinale, Rotterdam, Sundance, AFI FEST, Tallinn Black Nights, MoMA’s To Save and Project, Thessaloniki and Mezipatra film festivals, as well as the second Sharjah Film Platform, while we also have reviews of books including a collection of writings by Australian critic Adrian Martin (Mysteries of Cinema), an anthology of texts on the long-take aesthetic (The Long Take), Shawn Loht defence of a Heideggerian film-philosophy (Phenomenology of Film) and Marc Vernet’s history of the Triangle film company in the 1910s (Ainsi naquit Hollywood). Meanwhile, in our annotations coinciding with Melbourne Cinémathèque screenings, we focus on films by directors such as Robert Aldrich, Claude Chabrol, Max Ophuls, Yasujirō Ozu and Larisa Shepitko, along with some classic works of British horror.
Enjoy our first issue of 2019.