Film Reviews by David Walsh, WSWS Arts Editor
By David Walsh, 18 September 2018
Hal Ashby (1929-88) was an American film director, generally underrated or unrecognized today, responsible for a number of valuable or, in some cases, provocative works in the 1970s.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 September 2018
In July 1917, 1,200 striking copper miners in Bisbee, Arizona were illegally kidnapped, loaded in cattle cars and dumped in the southwest New Mexico desert. This episode is the subject of Bisbee ’17.
By David Walsh, 23 July 2018
Ramin Bahrani, the Iranian-American filmmaker, has directed a new version of Ray Bradbury’s well-known novel, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953.
By David Walsh, 30 June 2018
Michael Mayer has directed a new film version of Russian writer Anton Chekhov’s play, The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896.
By David Walsh, 5 May 2018
The blindness and stupidity of the identity politics-obsessed upper middle class knows no bounds. This issue comes up most recently in connection with the different critical responses generated by Isle of Dogs and Avengers: Infinity War.
Director of The Loves of a Blonde, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus
By David Walsh, 16 April 2018
Forman was originally identified with the so-called Czech New Wave, a group of directors whose lively and honest films came to international prominence in the mid-1960s.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 9 April 2018
The result is surprisingly optimistic and confident, not what one might have expected from Fassbinder, known for his emotionally dark, harsh and even cynical films.
By Elle Chapman and David Walsh, 7 April 2018
Takahata, one of Japan’s most influential animation filmmakers and co-founder of the famed Studio Ghibli, died from lung cancer in a Tokyo hospital April 5. We repost a review of his Grave of the Fireflies (1988).
By David Walsh, 9 March 2018
Ianucci’s new film about the demise of the gravedigger of the Russian Revolution is not so much maliciously anticommunist as it is, above all, historically clueless.
By David Walsh, 6 March 2018
The 90th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, as one media commentator observed, “passed off without a hitch.” How unfortunate.
Director of A World Not Ours, A Man Returned and A Drowning Man
An interview with Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel: “A film is like a historical document, it should be solid enough to endure”
By David Walsh, 4 January 2018
Fleifel’s A World Not Ours (2012), Xenos (2014), A Man Returned (2016) and A Drowning Man (2017) are some of the important films currently being made.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 30 December 2017
It is impossible to discuss the best films of the year without considering some big social and cultural issues.
By Joanne Laurier, 2 December 2017
Dan Gilroy’s Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a legal drama with an anti-establishment slant.
James Cameron’s 1997 film showing in the US for one week
Why are the critics lauding Titanic?
By David Walsh, 29 November 2017
To mark 20 years since its release in December 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic is being shown in 87 theaters in the US for a week, starting December 1. We are marking the occasion by re-posting two comments on Titanic that appeared on the WSWS in January and February 1998.
What the WSWS said about Titanic 20 years ago
By David Walsh, 29 November 2017
Originally posted February 25, 1998
By David Walsh, 14 November 2017
The new film, which involves two Vietnam War veterans who help a third bury his son, killed in Iraq, is set in December 2003. It is an indirect sequel of The Last Detail (1973).
By David Walsh, 7 November 2017
A would-be “black comedy,” directed and co-written by George Clooney, Suburbicon is set in 1959 in a bland suburban community.
Toronto International Film Festival: Part 4
The Death of Stalin, The Other Side of Everything, Insyriated—The filmmakers’ inability to deal with complex questions, or worse
By David Walsh, 30 September 2017
Several films on political and historical questions underscore ongoing intellectual and artistic difficulties.
Toronto International Film Festival 2017: Part 2
By David Walsh, 26 September 2017
Certain films at the recent Toronto film festival depict reality in important ways.
Toronto International Film Festival 2017: Part 1
Trouble in paradise: A comment on the economics and politics of the Toronto International Film Festival
By David Walsh, 22 September 2017
This year’s event screened 255 feature films, a 14 percent decline from a year ago, when the festival presented 296 features, and the lowest number of full-length films in a decade.
By David Walsh, 19 September 2017
The media was more or less agreed Monday that the highlight of the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was the brief appearance by Trump’s former press secretary.
By David Walsh, 31 August 2017
The Last Face, about relief workers in Africa, met with a savage critical response at the Cannes film festival. Meanwhile, the American film industry is deservedly suffering through one of its worst summers in decades.
By Joanne Laurier, 30 August 2017
Two current films, Ingrid Goes West, a cautionary tale about social media, and Wind River, a murder investigation near a Native American reservation, skirt around significant issues.
By David Walsh, 26 August 2017
The new film is set in West Virginia and North Carolina and involves the robbery of the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a major race.
By David Walsh, 23 August 2017
Lewis was a performer of extraordinary talent. At his improvisational and manic best, with a rapid-fire delivery, a variety of personas and all manner of physical contortions, he represented something anarchic and disruptive.
By David Walsh, 26 July 2017
British director Nolan’s new film is about the famed evacuation of large numbers of British and French troops from northern France in May-June 1940.
By David Walsh, 17 June 2017
Roger Michell’s film, based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier set in the 19th century, follows a callow young man who falls for his sophisticated, perhaps calculating older “cousin.”
Three intriguing new films that should not disappear unnoticed: Sami Blood, Past Life and Radio Dreams
By David Walsh, 10 June 2017
Most of the films in movie theaters in the US at the moment are poor, or worse. As a result, the public is increasingly turning away. But there are exceptions.
By David Walsh, 1 June 2017
The HBO film is an account of the downfall of Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff, whose multi-billion-dollar stock and securities fraud unraveled in December 2008.
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.
San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4
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.
Lecture at San Diego State University
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.
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.
San Diego Latino Film Festival—Part 1
By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 3 April 2017
The festival screened films from Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Peru, Honduras, Brazil, the US and other countries.
By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 3 April 2017
The WSWS conducted an interview with Mexican film director Jose Ramon Pedroza.
By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 17 March 2017
British filmmaker Margy Kinmonth is out of her depth in her documentary about Russian avant-garde art.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 26 January 2017
John Lee Hancock’s The Founder is a biographical drama about Ray Kroc, known as the man who established the McDonald’s global fast food chain.
New York Times film critics watch “while white”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toronto International Film Festival 2016: Part 2
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.
Toronto International Film Festival 2016: Part 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Charles Blow of the New York Times
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 June 2016
Gary Ross’s film is a fictional account of an intriguing, but little known chapter in American history.
“All the terrifying things all really happened”
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.
(And, briefly, Terence Davies’ Sunset Song and Hany Abu-Assad’s The Idol.)
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.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 May 2016
John Carney’s Sing Street is a musical comedy-drama set in Dublin in the mid-1980s. Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, based on a 1969 French thriller, takes its name from a painting by British artist David Hockney.
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.
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?
San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 3
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.
By David Walsh, 17 May 2016
The WSWS spoke to Babak Jalali during the recent San Francisco International Film Festival.
San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1
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.
Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
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.
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.
14 April 2016
WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh will speak at meetings in San Diego and Berkeley, California, addressing the political and cultural situation in relation to American imperialism’s relentless war drive.
San Diego Latino Film Festival 2016—Part 1
By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 28 March 2016
The festival showcased films and documentaries from throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including Cuba, Spain, Mexico, South and Central America.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2015
The most interesting films we saw in 2015, both those that played in a movie theater in the US and those not yet distributed.
“Bloody instructions ... return to plague the instructor”
By George Marlowe and David Walsh, 19 December 2015
A new version of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard emphasizes the bloody, barbaric times.
By David Walsh, 26 November 2015
The new film treats the climax of the struggle in Panem between the rebels, morally led by Katniss Everdeen, and the forces of the Capitol, presided over by the tyrannical President Coriolanus Snow.
By David Walsh, 24 October 2015
Spielberg’s new film deals with the arrest of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel in New York City in June 1957 and his subsequent exchange for U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers some five years later.
By David Walsh, 20 October 2015
In the late 1970s, after two decades in a remote “rehabilitation camp,” a Chinese political prisoner returns to his long-suffering wife, who does not recognize him.
Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Part Five
Eight films from Africa, the Middle East, China, Latin America and Eastern Europe: Contemporary social realism
By David Walsh, 14 October 2015
A number of films at the recent Toronto film festival sought, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, to present pictures of modern life with an emphasis on social relationships.
By David Walsh, 7 October 2015
One member of a manned mission to Mars is presumed dead and left behind on the desolate planet.
Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Part Two
By Joanne Laurier, 1 October 2015
There are events that defy forgetfulness, that demand to be worked over by historians and artists—and revolutionaries.
By David Walsh, 30 September 2015
The nearly three-hour work follows two dozen characters over the course of several days in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, the official capital of country music.
Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Part one
By David Walsh, 26 September 2015
The 40th Toronto International Film Festival screened some 285 feature films and 110 shorts from 71 countries.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 5 September 2015
Tourneur’s film, adapted from Build My Gallows High, a novel by American writer Daniel Mainwaring published in 1946, has one of the most suggestive titles in cinema history.
By David Walsh, 14 August 2015
Allen’s latest film focuses on controversial philosophy professor Abe Lucas who arrives at fictional, liberal arts Braylin College in Newport, Rhode Island to teach a summer course.
By David Walsh, 6 August 2015
In post-World War II Britain, the great detective Sherlock Holmes lives in seclusion in rural Sussex, with his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, and her young son Roger.
By David Walsh, 1 August 2015
In Apatow’s Trainwreck, Amy Schumer, the stand-up comic and writer, is the psychological mess of the title.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2015
Turner Classic Movies, the US cable and satellite television network, presented Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) at selected theaters on July 19 and 20.
By David Walsh, 8 July 2015
A number of the independent filmmakers of the 1990s and early 2000s have found their way, like Alan Taylor, to one or another blockbuster franchise.
By David Walsh, 24 June 2015
The film was made during a run of Taymor’s version of Shakespeare’s play at the Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn in 2013-14.
By Kevin Martinez, 15 June 2015
The fourth film in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise, Fury Road is a brutal and depressing experience, despite the positive comments from various critics.
By Joanne Laurier, 12 June 2015
Set in rural England in the 1870s, Far from the Madding Crowd is the story of a free-spirited young woman who attracts three suitors of diverse social and psychological make-up.
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty
By David Walsh, 15 May 2015
We now know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end.
And a roundtable interview with writer-director Andrew Niccol and actor Ethan Hawke
By David Walsh, 13 May 2015
New Zealand-born writer-director Andrew Niccol has taken on the subject of drone warfare in Good Kill, featuring Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, Zoë Kravitz and January Jones.
By David Walsh, 11 April 2015
Michael Almereyda, who previously directed a version of Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke, has turned to one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, with intelligent results.
FICUNAM 2015: Part 4
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 28 March 2015
One of the genuine contributions of the recent FICUNAM film festival in Mexico City was its presentation of the works of veteran film director Ali Khamraev.
28 March 2015
Filmmaker Ali Khamraev explains the difficulties surrounding the making of his remarkable film I Remember You in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
FICUNAM 2015: Part 3
By David Walsh, 25 March 2015
The recent FICUNAM festival in Mexico City screened a number of films which, while not belonging to a single school by any means, provide the opportunity for something of a generalized overview.
FICUNAM 2015: Part 2
By David Walsh, 20 March 2015
There are filmmakers who devote themselves seriously and conscientiously to representing life, not life in the abstract, not “life as a river,” but concrete life, the life of social classes and relationships.
FICUNAM 2015: Part 1
By David Walsh, 18 March 2015
David Walsh and Joanne Laurier recently attended the film festival associated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.
Still Alice and Kingsman: The Secret Service—A woman battles disease and a street kid helps save the world …
By Joanne Laurier, 23 February 2015
In Still Alice, a middle class professor and her family struggle with Alzheimer’s, and in the comic book-based Kingsman: The Secret Service, a working class youth is recruited by an elite spy agency.
By David Walsh, 16 February 2015
Set in Greece in the early 1960s, Iranian-born director Hossein Amini’s film, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, follows a trio of Americans caught up in a series of increasingly traumatic events.