By Joanne Laurier, 30 October 2014
Birdman deals with the washed-up star of a super-hero franchise. The Skeleton Twins portrays two siblings trying to overcome a painful psychological legacy. St. Vincent features a misanthropic Vietnam veteran who forms a life-changing attachment.
By Robert Stevens, 29 October 2014
Matthew Warchus’ film about the 1984-85 conflict has been well received in Britain and was the third highest-grossing release on its opening weekend.
By Marcelo Arias Souto, 22 October 2014
Gone Girl wants to be a psychological study, a black comedy about the upper middle class, a social critique and a satire of media sensationalism. A few aspects are intriguing, even accomplished.
By Robert Stevens, 20 October 2014
Speaking of the NSA and the intelligence apparatus, Snowden asserts, in Laura Poitras’ documentary, “We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.”
By Joanne Laurier, 17 October 2014
Michael Cuesta’s film tells the story of the journalist whose 1996 investigative series, “Dark Alliance,” uncovered ties between the Central Intelligence Agency and massive drug peddling by the right-wing Nicaraguan Contras.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 6
By David Walsh, 15 October 2014
Danis Tanović’s new film focuses on a scandal that stretches back at least four decades—the marketing of infant formula to women in poor countries, which has caused untold suffering and death.
By Dorota Niemitz, 13 October 2014
Munk, part of a generation of Eastern European artists struggling to deal with the postwar situation, was able to create a humane and authentic portrait of his times.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 5
Director Ramin Bahrani: “The villain is the system”
By Joanne Laurier, 10 October 2014
99 Homes deals with the foreclosure and eviction crisis, Shelter with the homeless. Also screened was a documentary about a Mexican citizen 30 years on death row, The Years of Fierro.
By Muhammad Khan, 8 October 2014
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s latest film tackles environmental catastrophe and social revolution.
By Zaida Green, 6 October 2014
An underclass of trolls takes on the wealthy and corrupt White Hats in the new animated film from Laika, the Oregon-based studio.
By Christine Schofelt, 4 October 2014
In the opening scene, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) takes confession from an unseen man who recounts being sexually abused by a priest as a child, and informs James he is going to kill him “Sunday week.”
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 4
By David Walsh, 2 October 2014
The film, directed by Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir, attempts to interweave the complex saga of the director’s own family with the larger history of Iraq over the past half-century or more.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 3
and a roundtable interview with writer-director Andrew Niccol and actor Ethan Hawke
By David Walsh, 26 September 2014
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 Elle Chapman, 22 September 2014
Produced over 25 years ago, the Japanese animation feature is a unique and emotionally intense story set in Kobe during the last months of World War II.
By David Walsh, 22 August 2014
A famed illusionist (Colin Firth) is brought in to expose a young clairvoyant (Emma Stone), but instead begins to have doubts about his own rationalistic world-view.
By Joanne Laurier, 20 August 2014
The documentary, directed by cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, movingly chronicles the lives of three boys living in an impoverished, rural southwestern Missouri town.
By David Walsh, 19 August 2014
Using the same cast, the writer-director filmed sequences once a year for twelve years, centering on a boy, his family and their surroundings in east and central Texas.
By Hiram Lee, 16 August 2014
In Lucy, Scarlett Johansson is a super-powered intellect fighting to take down a Taiwanese drug cartel.
By Joanne Laurier, 14 August 2014
Tate Taylor’s film biography attempts with considerable success to penetrate the James Brown phenomenon. As the famed American singer-performer, Chadwick Boseman is mesmerizing.
By Kevin Martinez, 4 August 2014
The original Planet of the Apes (1968), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, with Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall, was fairly silly, but it was not mean-spirited and had a certain humor to it.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2014
The film’s web site reports the staggering, and scandalous, fact that more than “2,000 people in the US are serving life-without-parole sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles.”
By Joanne Laurier, 26 July 2014
The “Kill Team,” the nickname applied by the media to members of a US army unit that committed war crimes in Afghanistan, is also the title of the film by documentarian Dan Krauss.
By Charles Thorpe and Norisa Diaz, 23 July 2014
Theroux’s new three-part series provides glimpses of the social crisis in Los Angeles, but the documentarian’s approach prevents him from probing very deeply.
By Wasantha Rupasinghe and Panini Wijesiriwardane, 14 July 2014
Vithanage’s film is a serious artistic effort and reveals how the decades-long communal war affected human relationships.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 July 2014
The 40-minute documentary on the postwar American painter Robert De Niro, Sr. is a delicate and moving homage, in which his son, the actor Robert De Niro, figures prominently.
Movie Review: LISTEN — the Film, by Ankur Singh
By Phyllis Scherrer, 4 July 2014
A review of Ankur Singh’s documentary on the impact of high-stakes testing on students.
By Joanne Laurier, 27 June 2014
Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort is a film version of the popular musical that premiered on Broadway in 2005 and revived interest in the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
By Joanne Laurier, 23 June 2014
Entre Nos dramatizes the plight of a Colombian immigrant and her two children in New York City. Red Father, a documentary, recounts the life and career of Bernard Ades, a lawyer and longtime member of the Communist Party.
By Ed Hightower, 20 June 2014
The television series, based on the experiences of a former inmate, takes a generally serious and realistic look—something terribly rare on American television—at the prison population in the US.
A great Soviet film about World War II
By Dorota Niemitz, 19 June 2014
The film is a story about two young people, Boris and Veronica, who are in love and plan to get married. Their plans are postponed when the German army invades the USSR in 1941.
By Wolfgang Weber, 19 June 2014
The Cranes Are Flying was a great success in East and West Germany, as it was in the Soviet Union.
By David Walsh, 4 June 2014
Estera, a middle class Jewish girl in Bucharest, has to make a choice between pursuing a job in Atlanta, working for a nouveau riche thug, or joining her mother in Israel.
Film portrait of an American radical iconoclast
By Fred Mazelis, 2 June 2014
The newly released documentary on the life of writer and social critic Gore Vidal has much to recommend it.
By Susan Allan, 31 May 2014
John Pilger presents a stark picture of Aboriginal disadvantage and oppression but blames racism, not capitalism.
By Joanne Laurier, 30 May 2014
Amma Asante’s film recounts the remarkable 18th century story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race girl who ends up in the care of William Murray, England’s lord chief justice. James Gray’s The Immigrant is set in New York in 1921.
“Are they going to throw him away?”
By Christine Schofelt, 28 May 2014
Brian Lindstrom’s powerful documentary provides an unblinking look at police brutality in Portland, Oregon and deserves a wide audience.
San Francisco International Film Festival 2014
By Joanne Laurier, 26 May 2014
A film about Colombia, a short conversation with its director, and a documentary about the civil rights movement in the 1960s, among other things.
Event marks 80 years since theater festival in Woodstock, Illinois
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 23 May 2014
Welles remains one of the most remarkable figures in the history of the cinema and theater in the 20th century.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 23 May 2014
During the recent celebration in Woodstock, Illinois, commemorating 80 years since the Todd Theatre Festival organized by Orson Welles, we had the opportunity to speak to a number of the presenters and participants.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 15 May 2014
The orientation of Austrian-born director Feo Aladag’s film is very much in line with efforts by the German government and the defense ministry to weaken opposition to foreign military operations.
By Kevin Martinez, 10 May 2014
The film concerns the efforts of Chavez (Michael Pena) to unionize farm workers in California’s Central Valley during the 1960s and early 1970s.
By Joanne Laurier, 15 April 2014
This is the latest film installment featuring Marvel Comics’ character Captain America, one of the most prominent and patriotic superheroes introduced in American comic books in the World War II era.
By Joanne Laurier, 3 April 2014
Actor-director Jason Bateman plays Guy Trilby, a petulant, miserable 40-year-old who breaks into the spelling bee circuit by taking advantage of a loophole in the rules.
By John Watanabe, 2 April 2014
The film about Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II is part of a concerted campaign to revive militarism and condition young people for new wars.
By Christine Schofelt, 27 March 2014
Divergent, billed as the “next Hunger Games,” offers greater depth.
By Joanne Laurier, 25 March 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a stylish, fantastical film, sometimes comic and sometimes tragic in its re-imagining of the period between the two world wars and the emergence of fascistic forces in Europe.
By Hiram Lee, 24 March 2014
On March 14, the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied a showing of Charlie Chaplin’s classic film The Gold Rush in Kentucky.
By Joanne Laurier, 8 March 2014
The intriguing documentary centers on the attempt by Texas inventor Tim Jenison to explore the possibility that painter Johannes Vermeer used optical devices to help achieve his intricate interweaving of light, color and proportion.
64th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 6
By Bernd Reinhardt, 7 March 2014
Austrian director Johannes Holzhausen’s film is a fond, and at the same time scathing documentary about the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) in Vienna.
By Nick Barrickman, 7 March 2014
José Padilha’s RoboCop is based on the 1987 film of the same title.
By David Walsh, 5 March 2014
The Past takes place in Paris. Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) arrives from Tehran to finalize a divorce from his French wife, Marie (Bérénice Bejo, The Artist ), after a four-year separation.
By David Walsh, 4 March 2014
Sunday’s awards ceremony in Hollywood was undistinguished for the most part by excitement, urgency or social insight.
64th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 1
By Stefan Steinberg, 20 February 2014
A notable feature of the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival was the manner in which certain leading figures in the film word openly promoted their retrograde political agendas.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 February 2014
George Clooney’s new film is the story of a squad of art experts serving in the US and Allied military who, toward the end of World War II, attempt to rescue art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis.
By Dorota Niemitz, 3 February 2014
There are issues and problems associated with both periods—before and after Stalinism—of Kieślowski’s work. However, particularly in his earlier works one finds a sincere attempt to portray social reality.
By Joanne Laurier, 31 January 2014
The Invisible Woman, directed by Ralph Fiennes, sets out to treat the relationship between 45-year-old novelist Charles Dickens, then at the height of his fame in the late 1850s, and his 18-year-old mistress Ellen Ternan.
August: Osage County and Lone Survivor: Sound and fury signifying not too much…and a celebration of the US military
By Joanne Laurier, 22 January 2014
John Wells’s film is a star-studded, “timeless” family drama set in rural Oklahoma; Peter Berg’s effort is a reprehensible tribute to American military death squads.
By David Walsh, 18 January 2014
The Academy Award nominations were announced January 16 at a press conference at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California.
By David Walsh, 15 January 2014
The new film, Her, is writer-director Spike Jonze’s fourth feature film, following Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002) and Where the Wild Things Are (2009).
By Isaac Finn, 10 January 2014
Director Justin Chadwick has taken a shallow, unserious approach in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, focusing on Nelson Mandela’s personal life and using his public activities as a mere backdrop.
By Joanne Laurier, 6 January 2014
David O. Russell’s new movie is loosely based on the “Abscam” sting operation conducted by the FBI in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which led to the conviction of one US senator, six members of the House of Representatives and the mayor of Camden, New Jersey.
By Richard Phillips, 4 January 2014
A recent documentary on a best-selling 1950s novel and Hollywood movie about the nuclear destruction of humanity contains fascinating material but fails to explore current geo-political realities.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2013
The commercial cinema still shows virtually no interest in the lives and conditions of some 95 percent of the world’s population. However, more interesting and compelling work also makes an appearance.
By David Walsh, 30 December 2013
Martin Scorsese’s new film treats the career of convicted stock swindler and con artist Jordan Belfort, who benefited from the rise of financial gangsterism in the US to make a fortune in the late 1980s and 1990s.
By Dorota Niemitz, 20 December 2013
Stephen Frears’ new film deals with the Magdalene asylums, which operated in Ireland and other countries where the Catholic Church had a strong influence from the 18th well into the 20th centuries.
Filmmaking and social life in postwar America
By David Walsh, 19 December 2013
The early film work of American director Anthony Mann, a major figure of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, is the subject of a new book. This is the second of two parts.
Filmmaking and social life in postwar America
By David Walsh, 18 December 2013
The early film work of American director Anthony Mann, a major figure of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, is the subject of a new book. In two parts.
By Christine Schofelt, 17 December 2013
Peter Jackson directs, co-writes and co-produces the second installment of a three-part film series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s fantasy book, The Hobbit (1937).
By Joanne Laurier, 16 December 2013
Brian Percival’s movie deals in part with the horrors of the Kristallnacht period and is an effective reminder of the impact of Nazi atrocities on everyday life.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 14 December 2013
Bernard Rose’s Paganini biopic focuses too much on audience frenzy and not enough on the genuine artistic abilities of the great virtuoso.
By Fred Mazelis, 12 December 2013
The memoir of the late singer and songwriter Dave Van Ronk helped inspire the latest film by Joel and Ethan Coen.
Tokyo Filmex 2013
By John Watanabe, 4 December 2013
Tokyo Filmex, founded in 2000, is a film festival that features mostly new Asian releases. The 14th Filmex, held from November 23 to December 1, presented a number of interesting films.
By Patrick Martin, 28 November 2013
This spare, restrained science fiction film deserves a wider audience.
By Clement Daly, 26 November 2013
The film centers on the small coal mining town of Oceana in southern West Virginia.
By Joanne Laurier, 25 November 2013
Jean-Marc Vallée’s film is set in 1985 in Dallas, at a time when AIDS was ravaging the gay population. It concerns the fate of Ron Woodroof, who is told by doctors he is HIV-positive and has 30 days to live.
A new film version of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations: “Those wretched hankerings after money and gentility”
By David Walsh, 20 November 2013
British filmmaker Mike Newell has directed a valuable, moving adaptation of Dickens’s remarkable novel.
By Suphor Samurtharb and Richard Phillips, 16 November 2013
Set in Laos’ rural north, the film centres on a 10-year-old peasant boy and the impact of a major dam development on his family.
Also, an interview with director Rola Nashef
By Joanne Laurier, 11 November 2013
While the film is not a head-on social critique, it is a warmhearted piece about the complicated interactions between the city’s Arab and African American populations.
By John Watanabe, 7 November 2013
The new animated film is a mixture of striking imagery and the wrongheaded views of a disillusioned and disheartened artist.
By David Walsh, 6 November 2013
The most recent film from Greek-born director Costa-Gavras, best known for Z (1969), State of Siege (1972), and Missing (1982), is Capital, a scathing assault on the world of financial speculation.
By Zac Corrigan, 30 October 2013
Democratic Party politician Robert Reich narrates the new documentary and attempts to convince viewers it is possible to oppose social inequality within the framework of a liberal reform agenda.
By Robert Stevens, 22 October 2013
Despite claims by the director and others involved that the film was not conceived as an attack on Assange and WikiLeaks, it is a tendentious work promoting a definite agenda.
By Julien Kiemle, 19 October 2013
The film tells the story of US merchant marine captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), whose vessel, the MV Maersk Alabama, is boarded and taken over by a small band of pirates off the coast of Somalia.
By Sandy English, 17 October 2013
Unhappily, Shane Salerno’s film is not a particularly objective, profound or sympathetic work.
By Dylan Lubao, 16 October 2013
The Girl chronicles an American woman’s journey to reunite a Mexican girl with her grandmother. Dragon Girls provides a glimpse into the lives of three girls studying kung fu in China.
By Hiram Lee, 14 October 2013
Sandra Bullock stars as an astronaut stranded in space following a catastrophic accident in the new film from Mexican-born director Alfonso Cuarón.
By Charles Bogle, 12 October 2013
The two works from the golden age of silent film feature Borzage’s mastery of visual style to convey his career-long theme of a couple in love struggling against rigid, often irrational societal laws and conventions.
Toronto International Film Festival 2013—Part 6
By David Walsh, 11 October 2013
This was the 20th year of covering the Toronto film festival, and the experience continues to be fascinating, illuminating and maddening in perhaps equal measure.
By Dylan Lubao, 16 September 2013
Kick-Ass 2 follows the vigilante exploits of a bored teenager and his sidekick.
Available on PBS online until September 18
By Kevin Kearney, 12 September 2013
Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s The Law in These Parts deals with the Israeli military legal system in the Occupied Territories on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip over the last 45 years. It is available online at PBS’s POV until September 18.
By David Walsh, 30 August 2013
Closed Circuit is a drama, directed by John Crowley, about the infiltration of a terrorist cell by the British intelligence services and how it goes wrong.
By David Walsh, 28 August 2013
James Ponsoldt’s new film treats young people in an American town (it was shot in Athens, Georgia), based on a 2008 novel by Tim Tharp.
By Joanne Laurier, 23 August 2013
Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a fiction film based on the life of Eugene Allen, an African American who worked in the White House for 34 years, from the administration of President Harry Truman to that of Ronald Reagan.
By Richard Philips, 22 August 2013
The US documentary did poorly at the Australian box office following its release last month and was withdrawn from local cinemas after a few weeks.
By Joanne Laurier, 16 August 2013
Woody Allen has directed more than 40 films in the past 44 years, not to much purpose in recent years. The Way Way Back is a likable, but overly familiar take on growing up.
By David Walsh, 13 August 2013
The principal challenge in writing about a film like Elysium, a science fiction work that treats inequality in the year 2154, is to make neither too much nor too little of it.
By Kevin Martinez, 2 August 2013
This Israeli-Palestinian-French co-production movingly depicts the struggle of the Palestinian people against Zionist occupation.
By Joanne Laurier, 24 July 2013
What is the significance of director Ron Maxwell, who made the generally laudable Gettysburg two decades ago, coming out with a favorable treatment of Lincoln’s Northern opponents in the year of the battle’s sesquicentennial?
By Joanne Laurier, 22 July 2013
Two films that were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 have now opened in North America.
By James Brewer, 18 July 2013
Morgan Neville’s documentary explores the phenomenon of backup singers in popular music.