The Hands of Bresson

Sundry observations on the art of cinema and world film culture

Cinema Scope 39: The Girlfriend Experience

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Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience

I’ve long admired Cinema Scope, the Canadian film journal edited by Mark Peranson and filled out by a roster of formidable writers, critics, and curators. The quality of writing is always excellent, and certain pieces—like Andrew Tracy’s recent survey of a John Ford boxed set or John Gianvito’s sprawling interview with Peter Watkins from a few years back—linger in the memory. Aaron Hillis already gave Peranson & co. a shout-out for the new summer issue #39 (“Cannes 2009: Bloody Hell”) over at GreenCine, but I should add that a lot of great material is available directly on the CS Web site, including Scott Foundas’s piece on Marco Bellocchio, Dennis Lim’s profile of Joao Pedro Rodrigues, and Jonathan Rosenbaum’s essential column, “Global Discoveries on DVD.”

One piece you’ll only find in the print magazine is my review of Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, which I was honored to publish there. Here’s a morsel:

The Girlfriend Experience is a heady concoction, at once the story of a long-term relationship drawing to an abrupt close, an extended metaphor of American society in decline, and a cautionary fable about the consequences of not taking care with the investments—emotional as well as financial—we are sometimes hasty and irrational in making. Soderbergh positions Chelsea as a small-business owner struggling to take her career to the next level at a time of belt-tightening economic uncertainty. Advised by a male associate to get smarter about self-marketing, she hires a high-end Web designer to refurbish her site, then meets with The Erotic Connoisseur, a sleazy message-board operator (played with maleficent relish by film critic Glenn Kenny) who persuades her to give him a “freebie” in exchange for an online review she assumes, incorrectly, will be complimentary. Soderbergh’s proposition is pointed, if familiar for anyone with a passing knowledge of Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Cilvilization: In a world where the system of exchange value dominates all social relations, everyone is alienated. And sometimes, it’s the ones who think they have it all who get screwed hardest.”

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Written by eyemaster

August 2, 2009 at 6:58 pm

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