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Artists, writers, musicians detained and bullied by US customs and border officers

By Marko Leone and David Walsh, 23 May 2017

The various agencies responsible for immigration issues and border control have clearly been given the green light by the Trump administration to intimidate and generally terrorize anyone they can get their hands on.

Sweden’s investigation into Julian Assange was a political frame-up from the outset

By David Walsh, 20 May 2017

The entire affair was aimed at discrediting and paralyzing WikiLeaks and creating conditions under which Assange could be extradited or abducted to the US, to be executed or condemned to a lifetime in prison.

WikiLeaks’ lawyers sharply criticize Laura Poitras’ documentary Risk

By David Walsh, 19 May 2017

Poitras’ film about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the four lawyers contend, undermines the credibility of the organization at a critical moment and exposes the documentary’s subjects “to considerable legal jeopardy.”

Jonathan Demme (1944-2017): A talented filmmaker and a victim of stagnant times

By David Walsh, 13 May 2017

American filmmaker Jonathan Demme died April 26 in New York City from complications stemming from esophageal cancer and heart disease. He was 73.

Risk: Laura Poitras’ confused, superficial documentary about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 11 May 2017

The film broaches a dozen subjects and avoids treating any of them in depth, and often fails to take a clear position of any kind.

Federal agency to investigate talk show host Stephen Colbert over anti-Trump joke

By David Walsh, 8 May 2017

Colbert’s monologue on May 1 was bankrupt and did not offer a trace of insight, comic or otherwise, into the predicament the American population faces under a Trump administration.

Dziga Vertov’s The Man with a Movie Camera: One of the films you must see!

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 6 May 2017

A highlight of the recent San Francisco film festival was the screening of Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece, The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), at the historic Castro Theatre.

The New York Times worries about the high political cost of Obama’s $400,000 speeches

By David Walsh, 3 May 2017

The Times editorial is brief and unconvincing, bringing forward arguments and issuing an appeal to Obama that the editors themselves hardly seem to believe in.

Obama’s $400,000 speeches: Unabashed. Shameless. Provocative.

By David Walsh, 29 April 2017

The two speaking fees alone put the former candidate of “change” into the top one percent of income earners in the US—in fact, one of them would almost have done the trick.

Should art be judged on the basis of race and gender?

By David Walsh, 27 April 2017

This is an edited version of a talk given at San Diego State University on April 18 by WSWS arts editor David Walsh. Audio of the talk is included.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1

By David Walsh, 26 April 2017

The 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival screened some 180 films from 50 countries or so. This is the first of several articles.

The significance of Trump’s proposed elimination of arts, humanities spending

By David Walsh, 7 April 2017

Protests have been organized in recent weeks by groups opposed to Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Once again on Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till: The New York Times intervenes to preserve identity politics

By David Walsh, 31 March 2017

The media establishment clearly senses that in the case of the Schutz painting in the Whitney Biennial, the identity politics zealots may have overstepped the bounds.

Filmmaker Michael Moore calls on Democrats to declare national emergency over Trump’s “espionage”

By David Walsh, 25 March 2017

Moore months ago enthusiastically adopted the reactionary and diversionary anti-Russian campaign as his own.

The foul attempt to censor and suppress Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till

By David Walsh, 24 March 2017

The current campaign being waged against Open Casket, white artist Dana Schutz’s painting of murdered black youth Emmett Till, on racialist grounds is thoroughly reactionary.

Revolution: New Art for a New World—A careless, unserious treatment of Russian Revolutionary art

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 17 March 2017

British filmmaker Margy Kinmouth is out of her depth in her documentary about Russian avant-garde art.

Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert shares jokes with former NSA, CIA chief Michael Hayden

By David Walsh, 10 March 2017

The former director of the NSA and the CIA was a guest this week on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The appearance represented a certain meeting of minds.

A comment on Robert Osborne (1932-2017), host of Turner Classic Movies

By David Walsh, 8 March 2017

Osborne was an affable and intelligent presence on American television—something increasingly rare!

The Obamas sign reported $65 million book deal

By David Walsh, 2 March 2017

The Financial Times revealed that Penguin Random House had won a record-breaking auction between publishing houses and will buy the two books for more than $65 million.

89th Academy Awards: What does Hollywood offer today?

By David Walsh, 28 February 2017

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony, held Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, was an even more complex and peculiar affair than usual.

Talk show host Bill Maher: Intelligence agencies “our last line of defense”

By David Walsh, 22 February 2017

In an extraordinarily foul outburst February 17, HBO’s Maher referred approvingly to Egypt and Turkey as countries where intelligence agencies had intervened against a “crazy” dictator.

A reply to New York Times op-ed author Myles E. Johnson on racialism and “critical thinking”

By David Walsh, 20 February 2017

The author of the op-ed responded to the WSWS article on racialism and the New York Times. David Walsh replies.

US late-night comics fall into (anti-Russian) line

By David Walsh, 18 February 2017

Predictably, America’s late-night comics and television talk show hosts have joined the right-wing campaign to depict Trump as an ally or even pawn of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times opens its pages to frenzied racialism

By David Walsh, 16 February 2017

The February 14 op-ed piece in the Times by Myles E. Johnson (“What Beyoncé Won Was Bigger Than a Grammy”) is an especially repugnant example of racialism.

John Berger, radical art critic, 1926-2017

By Sandy English and David Walsh, 7 February 2017

Prominent left-wing art critic John Berger died on January 2 and left a mixed legacy of writing on art and society.

The Obamas prepare to cash in

By David Walsh, 3 February 2017

The great question a recent study addresses is whether the Obamas will outdo the Clintons in amassing wealth after leaving the White House.

Screen Actors Guild award winners, artists, athletes and others protest US travel ban

By David Walsh, 2 February 2017

Many prominent performers, artists and athletes have spoken out since Trump’s executive order was announced on Friday.

Elle: The latest offering from Paul Verhoeven

By David Walsh, 28 January 2017

Dutch-born director Verhoeven’s new film was made in France, and features Isabelle Huppert, who received an Academy Award nomination for her performance.

2017 Academy Award nominations: Hollywood’s “sigh of relief” over racial “diversity”

By David Walsh, 25 January 2017

The media is now so conditioned to treat every major social and cultural phenomenon in racial, ethnic or gender terms that questions of artistic quality or social truthfulness barely receive a mention.

US media on inauguration day: Toadyism, triviality, social blindness

By David Walsh, 21 January 2017

In its coverage of the Donald Trump inauguration and surrounding events, the American media performed as expected: horribly.

Against racialism in film and art

By David Walsh, 19 January 2017

It would be very nearly possible at present to post a daily column devoted to the fixation of the American media and Hollywood filmmaking with race.

Meryl Streep, Donald Trump and the Golden Globes

By David Walsh, 11 January 2017

The actress’s remarks at the Golden Globes, an annual event organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, were quite mild and limited.

Best films of 2016

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2016

Although technologies have sped up and made possible many things, they cannot by themselves overcome the gap between reality and its artistic assimilation and representation.

Carrie Fisher and the Star Wars phenomenon

By David Walsh, 29 December 2016

The announcement Tuesday that Carrie Fisher had died at only 60 was sad news. The actress, writer and humorist was an appealing figure and personality.

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’ love letter to Barack Obama

By Niles Niemuth and David Walsh, 21 December 2016

Coates’ “My President Was Black” is a piece that takes sycophancy and worship of power to extraordinary new heights.

Four hundred years since William Shakespeare’s death–Part 2

By David Walsh, 20 December 2016

It is four centuries since the death of dramatist William Shakespeare. Arts editor David Walsh spoke to James Shapiro, the author of numerous remarkable books on the playwright and his times. The second of two articles.

Four hundred years since William Shakespeare’s death–Part 1

By David Walsh, 19 December 2016

It is four centuries since the death of dramatist William Shakespeare. Arts editor David Walsh spoke to James Shapiro, the author of numerous remarkable books on the playwright and his times.

A conversation with Tony Williams, author of James Jones: The Limits of Eternity—Part 2

By David Walsh, 2 December 2016

Tony J. Williams has written a new study of the American novelist, James Jones (1921–77), best known for From Here to Eternity, Some Came Running, The Thin Red Line and the posthumously published Whistle.

A conversation with Tony Williams, author of James Jones: The Limits of Eternity—Part 1

By David Walsh, 1 December 2016

Tony J. Williams has written a new study of the American novelist, James Jones (1921–77), best known for From Here to Eternity, Some Came Running, The Thin Red Line and the posthumously published Whistle.

Obama awards those who “have helped make me who I am”

By David Walsh, 24 November 2016

Tuesday’s ceremony, during which Barack Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on 21 individuals, was a bizarre and unreal event.

Trump attempts to bully cast of Hamilton over criticism of anti-democratic policies

By David Walsh, 21 November 2016

President-elect Donald Trump responded to concerns about his incoming administration as expressed by the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton with a series of thuggish, threatening Tweets.

New York Times apologizes for coverage of presidential election

By David Walsh, 16 November 2016

In two open letters last Friday, the New York Times expressed regret for its coverage of the US election and promised to approach the Donald Trump administration “without bias.”

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Ang Lee on the Iraq war and American hoopla

By David Walsh, 15 November 2016

The drama takes place in 2004. A unit of American soldiers, who have survived a brief but fierce battle with Iraqi insurgents, are being celebrated as “heroes” on a nationwide tour.

Rolling Stone, journalist found responsible for defamation in University of Virginia rape story

By David Walsh, 8 November 2016

“A Rape on Campus” was a lengthy and sensationalistic piece, focused on the alleged horrific assault of a then-18-year-old female student, “Jackie,” at a fraternity house in September 2012.

The New York Times’ Amanda Taub and “the crisis of whiteness”

By David Walsh, 3 November 2016

Taub’s November 1 article pins the blame for the unprecedented character of the 2016 US presidential election on “white” defensiveness and resistance to change.

American Pastoral: A film version of Philip Roth’s novel

By David Walsh, 29 October 2016

The film and novel follow the life and eventual terrible misfortune of Seymour “Swede” Levov, the son of a glove manufacturer in Newark, in the 1960s and 1970s.

Does Bob Dylan deserve to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature?

By David Walsh, 21 October 2016

Comparisons of the singer with Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville are out of place and also beside the point. In the end, it will not do Bob Dylan any good to be placed in such company.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: The dystopian vision of racial politics

By Tom Eley and David Walsh, 15 October 2016

With the publication last year of African-American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, the political and media establishment quickly declared the author to be one of the country’s leading commentators on race.

An interview with Michael Koch, director of Marija

By David Walsh, 12 October 2016

At the recent Toronto film festival, WSWS arts editor David Walsh spoke to Michael Koch, writer and director of Marija, about immigrants in Germany, the refugee crisis and other matters.

Marija, Past Life, Ember: Facing life, in different ways

By David Walsh, 12 October 2016

Marija follows the life of a Ukrainian woman immigrant in Dortmund, Germany. Past Life, set in the 1970s, comes from Israel, and Ember, about a love triangle of sorts, from Turkey.

Sami Blood from Sweden, Werewolf from Canada, Park from Greece: Society’s cruelty to its youngest members

By David Walsh, 5 October 2016

Amanda Kernell’s Sami Blood, from Sweden, is not an easy film to watch. It was also one of the most moving and authentic films shown in Toronto this year.

The Chosen, on Trotsky, and other political subjects

By David Walsh, 29 September 2016

The appearance of an honest and accurate film about the plot to assassinate Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940 is a welcome—and long overdue—event.

How well does filmmaking reflect present-day life?

By David Walsh, 27 September 2016

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival screened some 400 feature and short films from 83 countries at 1,200 public screenings.

American playwright Edward Albee: The character of his opposition to the status quo

By David Walsh, 22 September 2016

Albee is best remembered for The Zoo Story (1959), The Death of Bessie Smith (1960), The Sandbox (1960), The American Dream (1961), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962).

Oliver Stone’s Snowden: The NSA is “running a dragnet on the whole world”

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 20 September 2016

Veteran American filmmaker Oliver Stone has made a movie about National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Armed protesters threaten former Stanford student Brock Turner with violence

By David Walsh, 10 September 2016

The foul logic of the media and feminist campaign over the Turner case found expression this week when self-styled “anarchists” showed up outside his Ohio home brandishing weapons.

The socioeconomic basis of identity politics: Inequality and the rise of an African American elite

By David Walsh, 30 August 2016

A sharp polarization has emerged among African Americans over the past four decades. The privileged layer that has been produced forms an important basis for racialist politics.

New York Times “human rights” warrior Nicholas Kristof demands military escalation in Syria

By David Walsh, 15 August 2016

Politically conscious workers, intellectuals and young people should know by now that when Kristof and the Times speak of human rights, they mean neocolonial war, mass killing and plunder.

Suicide Squad: The latest comic book film

By David Walsh, 10 August 2016

David Ayer’s film concerns a team of psychotics and criminals recruited by the US government as part of a top-secret program to combat terrorism.

Hillary Clinton’s dishonest, empty acceptance speech

By David Walsh, 29 July 2016

Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic Party nomination for president Thursday night. Everything about the final portion of the Democratic National Convention rang false.

The political bankruptcy of filmmaker Michael Moore and his “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win”

By David Walsh, 28 July 2016

The tired, cynical, internally illogical piece emerges almost inevitably from the left-liberal milieu to which Moore has belonged since the mid-1970s.

New York Times sees only “whiteness” at Republican convention

By David Walsh, 22 July 2016

The newspaper currently treats individuals, events, movements, books, films and everything else that comes within its journalistic grasp almost exclusively through the prism of race.

Wiener-Dog: Todd Solondz continues to look critically at American life

By David Walsh, 20 July 2016

The new film comprises four stories, loosely linked by the presence of a “wiener-dog” (dachshund). Each has at least one or more satirical, telling moments or elements.

Musician-singer M.I.A dropped from Afropunk festival for criticizing Black Lives Matter

By David Walsh and Zac Corrigan, 18 July 2016

M.I.A. has every right to criticize Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, who travel in privileged circles around the Obamas and other leading Democratic Party figures.

The life and career of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami

By David Walsh, 14 July 2016

The Iranian director will be best remembered and long honored for the series of feature films, including documentaries, that he made between 1987 and 1997.

An interview with Victoria Bynum, historian and author of The Free State of Jones—Part 2

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 13 July 2016

This is the second part of a conversation with Victoria Bynum, whose research helped inspire the film Free State of Jones, about an insurrection by Southern Unionists against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

An interview with Victoria Bynum, historian and author of The Free State of Jones—Part 1

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 12 July 2016

We are posting a conversation with Victoria Bynum, whose research helped inspire the film Free State of Jones, about an insurrection by Southern Unionists against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, dead at 77

By David Walsh, 7 July 2016

Cimino is best known as the director of The Deer Hunter (1978), which won numerous Academy Awards, and Heaven’s Gate (1980), which was denounced by leading critics, lost a great deal of money and severely damaged Cimino’s career.

Genius: “Just simply corny”

By David Walsh, 2 July 2016

British director Michael Grandage’s film is about American novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and his famous editor, Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth).

The right-wing, racialist attacks on the film Free State of Jones

By David Walsh, 30 June 2016

Free State of Jones, about a white farmer in Mississippi who led an insurrection against the Confederacy from 1863 to 1865, has come under sharp attack from the “new right” of identity politics advocates.

Toyen: A film about the Czech surrealist painter and her times

By David Walsh, 18 June 2016

Czech director Jan Němec, who died in March 2016, made a film about the surrealist painter Toyen in 2005, which is now available. The film is intriguing and sometimes deeply moving.

The Nice Guys: Something, but not very much

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 17 June 2016

The Nice Guys is set in 1977 and follows the investigation into a disappearance, which turns out to be part of a broader conspiracy. Sunset Song and The Idol have recently opened in movie theaters in the US.

The Lobster: Relationships forced on—or forbidden—people

By David Walsh, 11 June 2016

In Yorgos Lanthimos’ film, individuals without a mate are sent to a “hotel” where they have 45 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal. Then, there are those who escape.

Who will follow the example of Muhammad Ali’s principled stand in our day?

By David Walsh, 6 June 2016

The former heavyweight boxing champion, who died June 3, made his chief mark on history and popular consciousness by his courageous opposition to the Vietnam War.

Art, war and social revolution—Part 2

By David Walsh, 1 June 2016

This talk was given by WSWS arts editor David Walsh at San Diego State University, University of California Berkeley and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in April and May.

Art, war and social revolution—Part 1

By David Walsh, 31 May 2016

This talk was given by WSWS arts editor David Walsh at San Diego State University, University of California Berkeley, and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in April and May.

High-Rise: A film version of J.G. Ballard’s novel

By David Walsh, 27 May 2016

Like the novel, the film—set in the mid-1970s—begins with its central character calmly sitting on the balcony of his 25th floor apartment eating roast dog.

Cash Only: What interests contemporary filmmakers and what doesn’t

By David Walsh, 25 May 2016

Cash Only is an independent American film set in the Detroit area. The film takes place in the Albanian community.

Captain America: Civil War—A waste of resources, technology and human skill

By David Walsh, 23 May 2016

What are these performers doing in this film? Is there any major film actor at present who would say “No” to this sort of project?

A further comment on the death of David King, socialist and artist

By David Walsh, 19 May 2016

King was a brilliant graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, archivist, researcher, editor, historian and art collector.

An interview with Babak Jalali, director of Radio Dreams

By David Walsh, 17 May 2016

The WSWS spoke to Babak Jalali during the recent San Francisco International Film Festival.

Radio Dreams, about Iranian Americans—and the problem of images without insight

By David Walsh, 17 May 2016

Radio Dreams is a pleasurable experience. Other films at the San Francisco festival––The Event, No Home Movie, Counting, Five Nights in Maine––fared less well.

Look at today’s filmmaking … then look at the world

By David Walsh, 11 May 2016

The recent San Francisco International Film Festival, in its 59th edition, screened some 175 films, including approximately 100 feature-length films, from 46 countries.

Are the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet a genuine alternative to contemporary filmmaking?

By David Walsh, 7 May 2016

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, beginning May 6, is presenting a retrospective of the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, the Franco-German filmmakers.

Papa: Hemingway in Cuba—The banalization of the novelist and his art

By David Walsh, 4 May 2016

The film follows the relationship that develops after a young American journalist in Miami in the mid-1950s writes an admiring letter to novelist Ernest Hemingway, then living in Havana, Cuba.

A conversation with Stephen Parker, author of Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life

By David Walsh, 19 April 2016

WSWS writers Sybille Fuchs, Stefan Steinberg and David Walsh recently spoke to the author of a valuable new biography of the famed German playwright and poet.

Colonia: Under Pinochet, a disposal center for enemies of the state

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 16 April 2016

German director Florian Gallenberger’s political thriller Colonia takes place during and after the US-backed Chilean military coup in September 1973.

The Program: The success and calamitous failure of Lance Armstrong

By David Walsh, 9 April 2016

The latest film from veteran British director Stephen Frears dramatizes the saga of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s rise to the top and his subsequent disgrace in a doping scandal.

Professors’ group charges Obama administration with undermining academic freedom and due process

By David Walsh, 30 March 2016

A report by the American Association of University Professors points to the reactionary role of the sexual harassment industry on university campuses.

I Saw the Light: A biography of country singer Hank Williams

By David Walsh, 26 March 2016

Marc Abraham’s film is an account of the last decade in the life of American country music performer Hank Williams (1923-1953), who died tragically at the age of 29.

Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups: It is impossible to learn anything from this

By David Walsh, 19 March 2016

Thematically and stylistically, Malick’s latest film follows in the footsteps of his two previous efforts, The Tree of Life (2011) and To the Wonder (2012).

Race: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics

By Alan Gilman and David Walsh, 10 March 2016

Stephen Hopkins’ film centers on critical events in the life of African-American track and field legend Jesse Owens.

The death of Nancy Reagan

By David Walsh, 9 March 2016

The American political and media establishment has responded in predictably fawning and dishonest fashion to the death of Nancy Reagan on March 6.

Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart: Three periods in modern China, a good deal of confusion

By David Walsh, 13 February 2016

Veteran independent Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart is opening in theaters in the US this week.

45 Years: A nightmare on the brain of the living?

By David Walsh, 5 February 2016

In Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, a childless, middle class couple living in a provincial English town, are on the eve of their 45th wedding anniversary.

Racialism, art and the Academy Awards controversy

By David Walsh, 30 January 2016

It is no exaggeration to point out that, in ideological terms, Cara Buckley in the New York Times and others, in their obsession with race, are spouting a conception of society and art identified historically with the extreme right.

The semi-boycott of the “whites only” Academy Awards

By David Walsh, 21 January 2016

Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, both African-American, have indicated they will shun this year’s award ceremony on February 28.

To create a genuine artistic “avant garde” means confronting critical historical issues

By David Walsh, 20 January 2016

The essay by David Walsh we are posting today considers whether or not an artistic vanguard exists today—and, if not, what such a vanguard would consist of and what questions it would have to confront.

The 88th Academy Awards nominations

By David Walsh, 15 January 2016

The Academy Award nominations revealed the usual muddle-headedness, liberal good intentions and severe limitations of the social grouping that decides these things.

The failure of David O. Russell’s Joy, or, what any “sensible” person should know about modern society

By David Walsh, 5 January 2016

Russell’s film is loosely inspired by the life story of millionaire inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano, who created a self-wringing mop and other products.