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.
By Christine Schofelt, 16 July 2013
In a familiar tale with few surprises, the masked “Lone Ranger” rides again.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 July 2013
The documentary film, directed by Richard Rowley, follows reporter Jeremy Scahill into the covert, murderous world of American Special Forces as the latter prosecute the US government’s so-called war on terror.
By David Walsh, 10 July 2013
American film and television producer, director and writer Joss Whedon has adapted William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for the screen.
By Kevin Martinez and Clodomiro Puentes, 9 July 2013
The twelfth installment of the franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness has made over $438 million in ticket sales as of this writing and is the most profitable installment of the series yet.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 3 July 2013
The television mini-series, which set records for viewership in Germany, depicts the lives of several young people during and after World War II.
A cinematic disinformation job on Julian Assange
By Richard Phillips, 2 July 2013
Peppered with factual errors and outright falsifications, Gibney’s documentary is an attempt to discredit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and defend the US intelligence apparatus.
By Christine Schofelt, 27 June 2013
After much anticipation and several false starts, Max Brooks’ World War Z has finally hit the screen.
By Hiram Lee, 22 June 2013
Summer blockbuster Man of Steel brings Superman back to theaters in the first of a planned trilogy.
By Fred Mazelis and Stefan Steinberg, 20 June 2013
The film focuses on a few critical years in the life of the German-American writer Hannah Arendt, best known for The Origins of Totalitarianism and her study of the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann.
By Christine Schofelt, 17 June 2013
Tiger Eyes, based on the book by Judy Blume and directed by Lawrence Blume, is a sensitive look at personal loss.
By Joanne Laurier, 14 June 2013
Frances Ha and Stories We Tell are articulate and well-made films. What’s missing from them, however, is as interesting as what’s there.
By David Walsh, 7 June 2013
A leaked government report reveals that Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal attended a CIA awards ceremony in June 2011.
San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part six
Two very different documentaries: Sofia’s Last Ambulance and Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You—A Concert for Kate McGarrigle
By David Walsh, 4 June 2013
The recent San Francisco film festival screened a number of documentary films, including these two, contrasting works.
San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part five
By Kevin Kearney, 30 May 2013
La Sirga from Colombia and In the Fog, from a Belarusian filmmaker, deal with painful wartime situations, with varying degrees of success.
San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part four
By Joanne Laurier, 27 May 2013
Moussa Touré’s The Pirogue is a fictional account of West Africans seeking to escape grinding poverty in a desperate voyage. Also, Joanne Laurier comments on documentaries about the Beatles’ secretary and the Chinese art scene.
San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part three
By David Walsh, 24 May 2013
At least two films at the San Francisco festival treated art, the artistic personality, or both, in a compelling fashion.
By Charles Bogle, 23 May 2013
Milestone Films’ 2012 release of Mary Pickford: Rags and Riches Collection reacquaints contemporary audiences with silent film star Mary Pickford’s lasting achievements.
San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part two
By Kevin Kearney, 22 May 2013
Let the Fire Burn, about the police bombing of the MOVE compound in Philadelphia in 1985, was one of the most outstanding and challenging documentaries at the San Francisco film festival this year.
By Fred Mazelis, 20 May 2013
Mira Nair’s latest film provides a vivid but limited view of the tension between the US and Pakistan
San Francisco International Film Festival 2013—Part one
By Joanne Laurier, 16 May 2013
The 56th San Francisco International Film Festival recently concluded. The event this year screened 158 films from 51 countries, including 67 fiction features, 28 documentary features and 63 short films.
By David Walsh, 14 May 2013
In the 1925 novel, the various desperate and delusional relationships set off a tragic series of events, which result in death and misery for the upstarts and have-nots. The wealthy characters alone escape unscathed.
By Christine Schofelt, 10 May 2013
The epic fantasy series takes place on two fictional continents, Westeros and Essos, over the course of many years and involves a civil war over the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms.
By David Walsh, 10 May 2013
New information has surfaced about the level of cooperation between Mark Boal, who wrote the script for Kathryn Bigelow’s pro-torture Zero Dark Thirty, and the US intelligence apparatus.
By James Brewer, 4 May 2013
Playwright David Mamet wrote and directed the docudrama centering on the 2007 murder trial of famed record producer Phil Spector.
By Alan Gilman, 25 April 2013
One of baseball’s most iconic moments, the breaking of baseball’s color line in 1947 by Jackie Robinson as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is at the center of Brian Helgeland’s new film.
By Fred Mazelis, 22 April 2013
A documentary about a German-Jewish family and its emigration to Palestine 75 years ago raises vital historical issues about the nature and role of Zionism.
By David Walsh, 18 April 2013
The new film from director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, 2010), set in and around Schenectady, New York, is made up of several interconnected stories that take place over the course of fifteen years.
By Joanne Laurier, 12 April 2013
No by Chilean director Pablo Larraín is the last in a trilogy of films about life under the Pinochet dictatorship. The Sapphires, directed by Wayne Blair, centers on an all-Aboriginal female singing group in the late 1960s.
By Christine Schofelt, 11 April 2013
Untold History is a 10-part documentary series that premiered on Showtime in November 2012. Its stated aim is to shed light on little known or deliberately obscured aspects of American history.
By Joanne Laurier, 4 April 2013
Dror Moreh’s new documentary is a glimpse into the crisis wracking Israeli society. Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles has brought Jack Kerouac’s Beat novel to the screen.
By Charles Bogle, 28 March 2013
The Kino Video collection entitled Grifﬁth Masterworks provides an opportunity to watch pioneer filmmaker D.W. Grifﬁth invent much of what came to be known as the grammar of cinema.
28 March 2013
Zelary is a remarkable 2003 film from the Czech Republic, directed by Ondrej Ontran (and available from Netflix and Amazon).
By James Brewer, 27 March 2013
The recent documentary shows that the hunger and nutrition crisis in the United States has steadily increased through both Republican and Democratic administrations since the 1970s.
By David Walsh, 26 March 2013
One of the most compelling films screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, Think of Me, directed by American filmmaker Bryan Wizemann, now retitled About Sunny, is finally available.
63rd Berlin International Film Festival—Part 5
By Stefan Steinberg:, 6 March 2013
The latest film by Haitian-born director Raoul Peck focuses on the aid operation organised by the US and Western powers in the wake of the deadly earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010.
63rd Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4
By Bernd Reinhardt, 4 March 2013
The film depicts the futile struggle of a small farmer in the Russian provinces against corrupt local authorities.
63rd Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2
By Francisca Vier, 27 February 2013
The Plague (La Plaga) from Spain, directed by Neus Ballús, was one of the most satisfying films at the 63rd Berlinale.
By Nick Barrickman, 27 February 2013
This documentary examines the lives of several over-50 workers who have lost their jobs since the 2007-2008 economic collapse.
By Joanne Laurier, 25 February 2013
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie, The Master, a World War II US Navy veteran facing an uncertain future is attracted to a quasi-religious movement and its charismatic leader.
By David Walsh, 22 February 2013
The release of Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained in the latter part of 2012 ignited an intense and still ongoing media debate on the films’ respective merits and related historical issues.
By David Walsh, 20 February 2013
In David Chase’s film, a young man and his friends pursue various dreams, or fail to, in suburban New Jersey in the mid-1960s.
By Joanne Laurier, 15 February 2013
A new antidepressant has unexpected side effects that unravel the lives of a psychiatrist and his patient in American filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s most recent—and possibly last—feature film.
By Christine Schofelt, 9 February 2013
Staring Kevin Spacey as Congressman Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife, the new production of House of Cards is a largely well-translated version of the UK original.
By Joanne Laurier, 1 February 2013
The movie concerns itself with a group of retired opera singers and musicians housed in an elegant manor in pastoral Britain.
By George Marlowe, 31 January 2013
The Impossible, directed by Juan Antonia Bayona, is the story of one British family’s experience in the carnage and destruction of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
By Phillip Guelpa and Julien Kiemle, 25 January 2013
The film portrays the conflict between a fictional energy company and residents of a small Pennsylvania town over whether “fracking” will be allowed in their community.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 24 January 2013
The tragic story of Vadim K. and his family documents the callous inhumanity of Germany’s immigration authorities and politicians and refugee law.
By Hiram Lee, 21 January 2013
Director Tom Hooper returns with a film version of the well-known musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel.
By David Walsh, 18 January 2013
The filmmaker and her screenwriter Mark Boal, in their political blindness and misreading of the current state of American public opinion, thought they could get away with murder, as it were.
By David Walsh, 11 January 2013
This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning during a media event at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 January 2013
Sacha Gervasi’s new film focuses on the making of Psycho (1960), one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best known works.
By David Walsh, 5 January 2013
A German-born bounty hunter teams up with an ex-slave in the antebellum South in Quentin Tarantino’s newest film.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 29 December 2012
The general state of the film world presents a sharper contradiction than ever, as underlined by a number of recently released films and the critics’ reactions to them.
By David Walsh, 28 December 2012
In Stephen Chbosky’s film, based on his 1999 novel, the central character, Charlie, a 15-year-old high school student, narrates the story in the form of letters to an anonymous “friend.”
By Christine Schofelt, 27 December 2012
Filmed as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings series, this first part of The Hobbit covers approximately half the book as written by J.R.R. Tolkien (published in 1937).
By Joanne Laurier, 22 December 2012
British filmmaker Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard have collaborated on a new film adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel. Starlet tells the story of a relationship between two women in California’s San Fernando Valley.
By Bill Van Auken, 20 December 2012
Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty brings to film-making what “embedded” reporting did for journalism—an uncritical embrace of and identification with the military-intelligence complex and its crimes.
By David Walsh, 15 December 2012
The new film directed by Taiwanese-born Ang Lee is based on a 2001 novel—winner of the Booker Prize—by Canadian author Yann Martel.
By Joanne Laurier, 12 December 2012
Directed and produced by renowned documentarian Ken Burns, daughter Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon, The Central Park Five chronicles an infamous case in 1989.
By Richard Phillips, 3 December 2012
New Australian telemovie falsely marketed as crime drama.
By Joanne Laurier, 29 November 2012
In this comedy-drama, former substitute history teacher Pat has just been released from a psychiatric facility when he meets Tiffany, the widow of a policeman. Together they struggle to overcome their difficulties.
By Kevin Kearney, 26 November 2012
The film, directed by rapper-music producer RZA, follows a collection of warriors in mythical 19th century China who band together to defeat a common enemy.
By Kevin Kearney, 21 November 2012
Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s documentary is a penetrating look at the Israeli military legal system in the Occupied Territories on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip over the last 45 years.
By Robert Fowler, 19 November 2012
Artifact details the legal battle between Jared Leto and his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and EMI, the recording industry giant.
A comment and an interview with filmmaker Minda Martin
By Joanne Laurier, 15 November 2012
Minda Martin’s 2010 film Free Land, at the same time a documentary-essay and personal memoir, poetically and evocatively connects a variety of social and personal events.
By Tom Mackaman, 12 November 2012
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a powerful cinematic treatment of the Lincoln administration’s struggle to pass a Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery in 1865, the final year of the American Civil War.
By David Walsh, 10 November 2012
In Flight Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a highly skilled pilot with a serious drinking and drug problem, who becomes a hero when he averts a plane crash. However …
Toronto International Film Festival 2012
By Joanne Laurier, 6 November 2012
Robert Connolly, director of Underground: The Julian Assange Story, responds to questions from Joanne Laurier of the WSWS.
By David Walsh, 2 November 2012
German director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Heaven) and Andy and Lana Wachowski, responsible for the Matrix films, have teamed up to adapt David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, for the screen.
29 October 2012
A WSWS reader has written in with a comment on the unique documentary film Tsar to Lenin, available from Mehring Books.
By Joanne Laurier, 27 October 2012
Robert Miller, a powerful Wall Street figure, is trying to sell his business to cover losses from a bad investment. His seemingly idyllic personal life falls apart after a car accident in which his mistress is killed.