Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 5
Errol Morris provides Steven Bannon a platform (American Dharma), Werner Herzog celebrates Mikhail Gorbachev (Meeting Gorbachev) and other appalling developments
By David Walsh, 12 October 2018
Certain works either conceal critical features of contemporary life, falsify or are overwhelmed by them.
Mack the Knife—Brecht’s Threepenny Film: The famed “play with music,” and the controversies surrounding it, brought to life
By Sybille Fuchs, 11 October 2018
Joachim A. Lang’s film deals with the failed attempts of left-wing German dramatist Bertolt Brecht in 1930 to make a film based on his successful play The Threepenny Opera (1928).
By Joanne Laurier, 10 October 2018
Starring Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is a film about a rising star and a declining one in the music business.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 4
Damien Chazelle’s First Man: Reduced in space—and opera singer Maria Callas, the Afghanistan war, small-town America
By Joanne Laurier, 8 October 2018
Damien Chazelle’s First Man—which opens in the US October 12—focuses on US astronaut Neil Armstrong and his role in Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 3
Icebox and Twin Flower: The US government locks up children—and, in Italy, an African refugee finds a kindred spirit
By David Walsh, 4 October 2018
At the recent Toronto film festival, several films took up the global issue of the horrendous treatment of immigrants and the desperate conditions facing refugees.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 2
Capernaum, Screwdriver, Rosie, The Public and Black 47: Socially critical films from the Middle East, Ireland and the US
By Joanne Laurier, 1 October 2018
Film writers and directors live in this world too. There must be those who reject upper-middle class triviality and self-involvement.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 1
By David Walsh, 28 September 2018
The recent Toronto International Film Festival screened some 340 films (including 255 features) from 74 countries.
By David Walsh, 21 September 2018
Despite various criticisms of leading Democrats and the American liberal establishment as a whole, Moore urges his viewers to retain—or perhaps regain—confidence in the Democratic Party.
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 Fred Mazelis, 15 September 2018
The film is long on suspense but rather short on history and insight.
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 Kevin Martinez, 6 September 2018
From director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, 2010) comes the story of an Iraq War veteran with PTSD living in the woods near Portland, Oregon with his teenage daughter.
… and homelessness in Seattle in The Road to Nickelsville
By Joanne Laurier, 30 August 2018
Scott Cooper’s Hostiles opens in 1892 in Fort Berringer, New Mexico, as the mass destruction of the Native Americans population is winding down.
By Nick Barrickman, 29 August 2018
A great deal of fanfare has surrounded the opening of the film, due principally to the fact that Crazy Rich Asians is the first major Hollywood picture since The Joy Luck Club (1993) to feature an all-Asian cast.
By Joanne Laurier, 21 August 2018
Robin Williams (1951–2014) was an exceptional comic whose ability to create personalities and move among them seemed at times almost supernatural. He contained within himself an apparently infinite number of human types.
By David Walsh, 16 August 2018
Lee’s new film takes as its point of departure the infiltration in the late 1970s of the racist Ku Klux Klan by a black police officer, Ron Stallworth, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
By Joanne Laurier, 6 August 2018
Alexandra Dean’s documentary focuses on 1940s Hollywood movie star Hedy Lamarr’s recently uncovered career as an inventor of technology that paved the way for secure Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.
By Hiram Lee, 2 August 2018
Fifty years after the debut of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on US public television, a new documentary explores its history and influence.
Based on a horrific 1988 murder in Rome
By Emanuele Saccarelli, 30 July 2018
Dogman is a serious attempt to deal with a difficult, and in this climate not especially promising subject.
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 Joanne Laurier, 20 July 2018
The Yellow Birds is based on the 2012 novel of the same title by Kevin Powers. The story revolves around three American soldiers and the devastating impact of the Iraq War on their lives and psyches.
By Clara Weiss, 6 July 2018
The documentary amounts to an appeal to the Kremlin, Washington and the liberal intelligentsia, to make peace and negotiate an orderly transition from the Putin presidency.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 July 2018
A new film biography of Mary Shelley, directed by Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour, coincides with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus.
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 Kevin Mitchell, 23 June 2018
An unusual documentary was recently released that traces the journey of the filmmaker’s grandparents and parents to Mexico in 1939 as refugees from the Spanish Civil War.
By Joanne Laurier, 22 June 2018
This documentary exposé of the US prison and criminal justice system includes a host of celebrities commenting on the phenomenon of mass incarceration.
“Unfortunately, none of this happened”: Kirill Serebrennikov’s Summer (Leto), a take on the pre-perestroika period in the USSR
By Clara Weiss, 21 June 2018
Serebrennikov’s new film treats two of Russia’s most famous rock groups, Kino and Zoopark, in the early 1980s, while managing to avoid all the major questions of the time.
By Carlos Delgado, 20 June 2018
The film stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, a professional criminal who concocts a plan to steal a $150 million diamond necklace during New York City’s Met Gala.
By Matthew MacEgan, 4 June 2018
The fourth Star Wars film released by Disney serves as a shallow adventure story with some reference to world politics, but very little that will be challenging to viewers.
By Pani Wijesiriwardane and Gamini Karunatileka, 23 May 2018
Peries’s best films, like the great dramas directed by India’s Satyajit Ray and Japan’s Akira Kurosawa, have left their mark on Asian and world cinema.
By Stefan Steinberg, 21 May 2018
An examination of recent movies by prominent women filmmakers reveals that they share the problems of their male counterparts.
By Joanne Laurier, 18 May 2018
The story of a struggling Hollywood screenwriter and his deadly encounter with a delusional silent film star.
Revisiting Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen & The Production Code Administration (2007)
By Charles Bogle, 17 May 2018
The bulk of Thomas Doherty’s work covers the period from 1934 to 1954, when his subject was the enforcer of the Production Code.
By Wasantha Rupasinghe, 15 May 2018
Rahul Jain’s austere but effective documentary focuses on one of the hundreds of textile plants in Gujarat state on India’s west coast.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 May 2018
It soon comes to light that certain townspeople had a hand in the deportation of Jews from the Hungarian village to concentration camps and benefited in the confiscation of their property.
By Stefan Sternberg, 9 May 2018
The fate of refugees is the subject of Transit, the latest film by prominent German director Christian Petzold, which featured at the 2018 Berlinale and is now on public release in Germany.
By Tom Peters, 8 May 2018
The Changeover, highly praised in New Zealand, is a formulaic supernatural teen romance imbued with definite class prejudices.
By Joanne Laurier, 7 May 2018
It’s not clear that good movies resemble one another, but recent history certainly suggests there are many different ways in which films can be weak.
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.
2018 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 5
By David Walsh, 2 May 2018
The impact of years of stagnation and official reaction still sharply influences artistic work.
2018 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4
Documentary about singer M.I.A. (“Use your art to say something!”) and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (small-town preacher struggles with life and death)
By Toby Reese, 30 April 2018
Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a feature-length documentary about rapper-songwriter, “M.I.A.” is a breath of fresh air. First Reformed is a dismal, confused film about a middle-aged former military chaplain turned preacher.
2018 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 3
I Am Not a Witch, The Workshop, The Distant Barking of Dogs, Garry Winogrand and Louise Lecavalier
By Joanne Laurier, 27 April 2018
I Am Not a Witch in particular is an elegantly crafted tale that comments on the exploitation of Zambia’s poor by an elite that shamelessly promotes superstition and backwardness.
By Richard Phillips, 24 April 2018
Stanley Tucci’s film, set in 1964, two years before Alberto Giacometti’s death, is about the artist’s portrait of James Lord, a young American writer.
2018 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 2
How are striking miners (Bisbee ’17), a great painter (Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti), Native Americans (The Rider) and others treated by the filmmakers?
By Joanne Laurier, 20 April 2018
A further look at the recent San Francisco film festival and its variety of films. Interesting, complex subjects may still receive inadequate or uneven treatment.
2018 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1
Contemporary life, and those who make films about it (in Iran, the US, Russia, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan …)
By David Walsh, 18 April 2018
The San Francisco International Film Festival, founded in 1957 and one of the longest-running such events in the Americas, this year screened some 180 films from 45 countries.
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.
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 8
By Bernd Reinhardt, 6 April 2018
Two feature films, part of the Berlin International Film Festival retrospective section, reflect a militant mood among workers in the late 1920s, in particular their striving for a common struggle and international solidarity.
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 7
By Bernd Reinhardt, 3 April 2018
The major retrospective at this year’s Berlinale, “Weimar Cinema Revisited,” presented films—along with their directors in many cases—that have been forgotten for decades.
By Sybille Fuchs, 2 April 2018
Babylon Berlin’s action takes place in the German capital, then the third largest municipality in the world, at the end of the so-called Golden Years of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933).
By Joanne Laurier, 30 March 2018
Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, endures as one of the most troubling American films of the postwar period.
By David Walsh, 28 March 2018
Set in London in the 1950s, Anderson’s film concerns the relationship between a celebrated fashion designer, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), and a young woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps).
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 5
By Verena Nees, 26 March 2018
Karim Aïnouz’s impressive documentary about the mass housing of refugees at the former Berlin Tempelhof Airport was awarded the Amnesty International Film Prize.
Shedding light on the conditions of “millions of women in the shadows of mainstream America”
By Norisa Diaz, 24 March 2018
The 28-year-old Swedish director, Niclas Gillis, represents a new generation of artists and filmmakers responding to inequality and social misery.
By Nick Barrickman, 23 March 2018
Far from rejecting Black Panther’s “pro-black” message, white racists have endorsed its depiction of a feudal African monarchy whose rulers have sealed the borders.
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4
By Stefan Steinberg, 22 March 2018
A handful of movies at the 2018 Berlinale dealt powerfully and insightfully with the European Union’s criminal policy toward refugees.
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3
By Stefan Steinberg, 20 March 2018
The events surrounding Kurt Waldheim’s campaign and subsequent election in 1985-86 played a major role in uncovering the real role played by the Austrian ruling elite in the Second World War.
By Hiram Lee, 19 March 2018
Italian director Guadagnino’s film is beautifully photographed, and the performances are generally very good. Why, then, does the whole thing feel so flat?
By Joanne Laurier, 17 March 2018
Woody Allen’s newest film, Wonder Wheel, set in the 1950s, involves four characters whose unhappy lives become entwined in Coney Island—New York’s iconic amusement park.
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2
By Stefan Steinberg, 16 March 2018
Three films at this year’s festival shed a piercing light on social relations in the United States.
68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 1
By Stefan Steinberg and Verena Nees, 14 March 2018
The 68th Berlin Film Festival, whose 2018 edition ended February 25, is the world’s largest film festival open to the public.
By George Morley, 13 March 2018
Warwick Thornton’s second feature is a visually striking and powerful historical drama, which confronts audiences with some ugly truths about Australia’s colonial past.
By Carlos Delgado, 12 March 2018
The film depicts the life and times of Tonya Harding, the former Olympic figure skater who became the center of a media firestorm after the assault on rival Nancy Kerrigan in 1994.
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.
By Fred Mazelis, 1 March 2018
Filmmaker Raoul Peck discusses his portrait of the young Marx and Engels.
By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2018
Nazif Mujić, according to first accounts, has died in extreme poverty in the impoverished hamlet of Svatovac in Bosnia.
By Richard Phillips, 23 February 2018
Emma Franz’s film is a fascinating overview of Frisell’s creative work and his constant search for new musical challenges.
By Richard Phillips, 23 February 2018
Filmmaker and musician Emma Franz speaks about her latest documentary and the political and artistic conceptions that informed her approach.
By Nick Barrickman, 22 February 2018
Hailed as a milestone in African American and film history, Black Panther is, in fact, a vacuous superhero blockbuster that does not withstand a moment of serious reflection.
Failed by the State co-writer and presenter Ish: “I wasn’t trying to push agendas, I was just trying to tell the truth about Grenfell.”
By Robert Stevens, 16 February 2018
The World Socialist Web Site interviewed Ish about the making of Failed by the State, a documentary on the Grenfell fire, and the attack launched against it by the Daily Beast and right-wing newspapers in Britain.
By Zac Corrigan, 12 February 2018
After allegations of sexual misconduct against Louis C.K. became public, the distributor pulled the film, one week before its scheduled opening in November.
Is it “all about the money” or all about race?
By David Walsh, 2 February 2018
Jeff Daniels’ drama is currently being performed at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan, some 60 miles west of Detroit. The play will run until March 10.
Marshall and #MeToo: A 77-year-old civil rights fight exposes the reactionary character of the sexual misconduct witch-hunt
By Fred Mazelis, 1 February 2018
The 1941 case, in which a black man was acquitted of rape charges, poses awkward questions for those who dismiss due process in their campaign against sexual harassment, both real and alleged.
By Hiram Lee, 29 January 2018
Veteran Hollywood actress Dorothy Malone, who appeared in the Douglas Sirk classic Written on the Wind, has died at the age of 93.
By Joanne Laurier, 26 January 2018
The classic film, based on the 1927 novel by German author B. Traven, is the tale of two down-and-out Americans in Mexico who join with an older prospector to dig for gold.
By David Walsh, 26 January 2018
The author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was the left-wing writer known as B. Traven. Considerable mystery surrounds Traven, some of it sustained by the writer himself during his lifetime.
By Hiram Lee, 24 January 2018
Guillermo del Toro’s film The Shape of Water led with thirteen nominations. Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama Dunkirk received eight nominations, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri received seven.
By Kevin Martinez, 18 January 2018
Morbid and banal, the story concerns a mother battling local authorities to find the killer of her daughter. Unsurprisingly, it has won considerable acclaim from the arts establishment, including the recent Golden Globes.
By Joanne Laurier, 17 January 2018
The new film recounts the internal struggle at the Washington Post over whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
By Trévon Austin and David Walsh, 9 January 2018
This year’s Golden Globes award ceremony, organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, was a spectacle of self-absorption and self-pity.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 January 2018
Probably the most important thing about Ridley Scott’s new film, an account of the 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III, is the decision to erase Spacey’s performance. The Shape of Water is a charming “fairy tale,” with anti-authoritarian overtones.
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.
Short films considered for Academy Award nominations: Emmett Till, a Jack London story and an isolated child
By Joanne Laurier, 3 January 2018
Ten films have been voted onto the Academy Award short list in the “Best Short Film (Live Action)” category.
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.
Remarkable collection of early Soviet films on DVD: The New Man—Awakening and Everyday Life in Revolutionary Russia
By Bernd Reinhardt, 29 December 2017
A notable collection of early Soviet films has been released on DVD in Germany to coincide with the centenary of the October Revolution.
By Joanne Laurier, 23 December 2017
Payne’s latest work is a science-fiction satire that proposes to solve the earth’s ecological and other problems by “downsizing,” or physically shrinking, human beings.
By Carlos Delgado, 21 December 2017
The two films are sometimes charming, occasionally amusing and generally benign. But something is missing.
By Matthew MacEgan, 19 December 2017
The third Star Wars film released by Disney does little to break with the prescribed formula. Bombast and some surprises fail to carry good talent to meaningful places.
… and a word on James Franco’s The Disaster Artist
By Joanne Laurier, 15 December 2017
Dee Rees’s Mudbound centers on two families, one black and one white, in rural Mississippi, immediately following World War II.The Disaster Artist is a decidedly slight effort.
By Paul Bond, 14 December 2017
A new three-part documentary shows how the Grenfell Tower inferno exposed the realities of class oppression and social inequality in the most brutal way.
By Joanne Laurier, 8 December 2017
Directed by Bharat Nalluri, the film is a biographical fantasy that brings a reinvention of A Christmas Carol (1843), with Dickens as a central character, to the screen.
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 Fred Mazelis, 25 November 2017
In seeking to bolster illusions in the Democratic Party and the myth of an unsullied American democracy, both of these films obscure more than they reveal.
“And what if you track down these men and kill them? ... Even Nazis can’t kill that fast”
By Joanne Laurier, 22 November 2017
Michael Curtiz’s 1942 beloved melodrama, Casablanca, celebrating its 75th anniversary, was recently shown in select cinemas nationwide in the US.
By Carlos Delgado, 20 November 2017
The film, a sequel to the 1982 original, stars Ryan Gosling as a police officer who hunts down “synthetic humans” in futuristic Los Angeles.
1917: The Real October—An animated documentary by Katrin Rothe
By Sybille Fuchs, 17 November 2017
The two-time Grimme Award-winner Kathrin Rothe portrays the events of February to October 1917 in Russia from the viewpoint of a number of artists.
Cottbus Festival of Eastern European Cinema
From Slovenia, Jan Cvitkovič’s The Basics of Killing: “We are all alone in capitalist society, especially when things go wrong”
By Stefan Steinberg, 16 November 2017
The “basics of killing” are the social measures and pressures that can destroy the lives of entire families in a short time.