Weekly Roundup: Lumières Upscaled, Rethinking Film vs. Digital, and the “Capitalist Surrealism” of Cats

Your handy one-stop-shop for cinephile news, articles, and videos from the week that was.

News Roundup

Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020)

• Sundance 2020 has finally come to an end. Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, about an Asian-American family in the 1980s, has won the festival’s US Dramatic Competition while Massoud Bakhshi’s Yalda, A Night For Forgiveness, which follows a woman who accidentally killed her husband, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the World Dramatic section. And for those who missed last week’s Roundup, you can find my summary of the festival’s highlights here.

• SXSW has now unveiled their lineup of Midnighters, Festival Favorites, and short films. Keep your eyes peeled to this Blog for a dispatch from the festival in late March.

Reading Roundup

Display Preparation Demo (Steve Yedlin, 2019)

• With a touring retrospective of her work now underway in New York and Toronto, Angela Schanelec speaks to MUBI Notebook’s Evan Morgan about her career, writing style, and formal approach. Anyone left perplexed by I Was at Home, But… at VIFF 2019 is strongly advised to seek out this incisive interview. A taste: “It’s obvious that I’m not interested in classical dramaturgy. Which is not to say that I don’t know classical dramaturgy…For me, it is always interesting to follow what comes in my mind during writing, which might mean not following a main character through a whole film.” 

• YouTuber Denis Shiryaev has “upscaled” the Lumière Brothers’ 1895 short film The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station using “several neural networks” to give you this 4K, 60FPS monstrosity. The future of film preservation starts, or ends, here.

• “To anyone concerned with cinematography, the implications are huge: If you can make digital footage look convincingly like film, the debate over which format is visually superior is effectively moot.” For Polygon, Charlie Heller discusses the recent scholarship of Rian Johnson’s regular cinematographer Steve Yedlin, who shot everything from Brick to The Last Jedi to Knives Out. Display Prep Demo, Yedlin’s recent experiment, alternates between footage shot on 35mm film stock and a 4K Arri Alexa, both of which have been processed to mimic what is “culturally associated with a traditional all-film system.” When shown the footage, industry professionals couldn’t tell what images came from which camera.

• On the VIFF Blog, Lawrence Garcia discusses the “late style” of Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor, which played our Italian Film Festival in January and opens today in Vancouver in limited release.

Viewing/Listening Roundup

The Wild Goose Lake, Diao Yinan’s follow-up to Black Coal, Thin Ice, now has an official US trailer. If you missed the film when it played VIFF 2019, check it out when it comes to Vancity Theatre in March.

• From now until around the end of the month, the Locarno Film Festival is exhibiting some of the short film highlights from their 2018 edition. I’d personally recommend two films, both of which played VIFF in 2018: Nathan Douglas’ La Cartographe, a Burnaby odyssey of mysterious spiritual import; and Tulapop Saenjaroen’s A Room with A Coconut View, a dense, resplendent collage film narrated by an AI personal assistant. 


• Steven Shaviro, perhaps best known for his 2010 book Post-Cinematic Affect, here expounds on the unwitting virtues of Tom Hooper’s Cats, which has already attained cult status. 

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