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.
By Eric London, 15 November 2017
The film is an aesthetic and political milestone and Ai’s imagery is unforgettable because it is real. But in its political orientation, Human Flow lags far behind.
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).
The Last Hour (La Hora Final) and Peru’s ongoing glorification of its military and intelligence forces
By Armando Cruz, 13 November 2017
A superficial and cliché-ridden work, the film’s most fatal weakness is its complete lack of seriousness in dealing with the historical and social forces that gave rise to Shining Path.
By Joanne Laurier, 9 November 2017
Jason Hall’s directorial debut, Thank You for Your Service, is a drama about three soldiers returning from the Iraq War and their difficulties adjusting to civilian life.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 2 November 2017
The Florida Project focuses imaginatively and sympathetically on the “hidden homeless” who eke out a bare-bones existence in the shadow of Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Lifetime movie on the water disaster will air October 28
By Joanne Laurier, 27 October 2017
The film, directed by Bruce Beresford, was inspired by the ongoing Flint water crisis and bases itself more immediately on a February 2016 Time magazine report, “The Poisoning of an American City.”
By Joanne Laurier, 19 October 2017
The Polish-UK production is a tribute to the great artist and an attempt to bring his life and work to a wide international audience.
By Joanne Laurier, 19 October 2017
Natalie Gregorarz, a 27 year-old artist from the Detroit area, was one of the artists involved in the making of Loving Vincent.
By Tom Hall, 18 October 2017
The seventh show in the long-running science fiction franchise is a grim and militaristic special-effects extravaganza that largely repudiates the optimistic view of the future of earlier Star Trek television shows.
Toronto International Film Festival: Part 5
By Joanne Laurier, 4 October 2017
The Hansberry documentary presents a straightforward and enlightening picture of a woman who was smart, sensitive and rebellious, tragically dying of pancreatic cancer at the age of 34.
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: Part 3
The Current War—about Edison, electricity and the 1880s—and Alexander Payne’s Downsizing—about “downsizing”
By Joanne Laurier, 28 September 2017
The Current War deals with the conflict between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla. Downsizing is a semi-comic attempt to treat the earth’s ecological crisis.
By Kevin Martinez, 27 September 2017
Dehumanizing and brutal, Aronofsky’s new film fails on nearly every conceivable level.
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
An interview with Stephan Komandarev, director of Directions: “The first step is to have a clear picture of what’s happening. I don’t see any other way.”
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 26 September 2017
We spoke with Bulgarian filmmaker Stephan Komandarev, the writer-director of Directions, in Toronto.
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, 13 September 2017
The Last Tycoon is an American television series about Hollywood and the film industry in the 1930s. The first and last season of the series, which emanates from Amazon Studios, comprises nine episodes.
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 Charles Bogle, 17 August 2017
This collection samples the work of 14 early women directors (1902-1943). International in scope, the anthology brings to light the important contributions that these directors made to the development of film as an art form.
By Alejandro López, 14 August 2017
The glorification of the military is a response to the growing inter-imperialist tensions and the drive to war, which have been intensified by the installation of an aggressively nationalist and protectionist administration in the US.
By Joanne Laurier, 7 August 2017
Set in the early 1990s, Amnesia is an exploration of German historical memory and the impact of the legacy of Nazism on sections of the middle class after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
By Kevin Martinez, 5 August 2017
In 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton is sent to retrieve a secret list hidden in a wristwatch that has the names of every active agent in the Soviet Union.
By Ed Hightower, 1 August 2017
In a number of ways, Hulu’s serialization of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel challenges the viewer to oppose the status quo.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2017
Bigelow’s film is a fictionalized account of an incident that occurred during the July 1967 rebellion in Detroit, the cold-blooded murder of three young black men by police at the Algiers Motel.
By Clare Hurley, 27 July 2017
The subject of Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary is journalist and activist Jane Jacobs, perhaps best known for her crusades against several large-scale infrastructure projects in New York City in the 1960s.
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 Joanne Laurier, 17 July 2017
Lady Macbeth is an adaptation of the well-known novella by Russian writer Nikolai Leskov, transposed to northeast England. Mali Blues offers a glimpse of that country’s remarkable musical scene.
Netflix series on Elizabeth II
By David Walsh, 13 July 2017
The Crown is a biographical drama series, created and written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Damned United), about the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The first season covers the years 1947 to 1955.
By Joanne Laurier, 12 July 2017
Directed by Miguel Arteta (Cedar Rapids) and featuring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow, the new film promotes a New Age-type opposition to a Trump-like figure.
By Joanne Laurier, 7 July 2017
Along the way, the film demonstrates once again how contemporary gender and racial politics tyrannizes over much of current cultural life.
By David Walsh, 27 June 2017
Between 1957 and 1965 or so, American photographer Eugene Smith took some 40,000 photos and recorded nearly 4,000 hours of audio tape, many dedicated to jazz and jazz musicians, in a New York City loft.
By Joanne Laurier, 23 June 2017
Set during the Iraq war in 2006, Megan Leavey deals with the relationship of a female Marine corporal and her military dog companion. It is an unvarnished pro-war film.
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.”
By David Walsh, 13 June 2017
The story involves an Amazonian princess/demigoddess who makes her way, in the company of an American Allied spy, from her island paradise to Europe toward the end of the First World War.
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 Wasantha Rupasinghe, 3 June 2017
Prasanna Vithanage’s documentary deals with the sexual assault of two village women by a magistrate and the subsequent cover-up.
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.
Conversations with Joseph Goebbels’s secretary
By Bernd Reinhardt and Verena Nees, 27 May 2017
The Austrian-made documentary centres on Brunhilde Pomsel (1911-2017), who worked as a secretary in the office of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels from 1942 to 1945.
By Carlos Delgado, 20 May 2017
The series stars Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, a low-level cabinet member who ascends to the presidency after a devastating attack on the US government.
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.
By Genevieve Leigh, 10 May 2017
The new Netflix series treats the background to the decision by Hannah Baker, a high school student in a more or less average American suburb, to kill herself…and its consequences.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 May 2017
Sonia Kennebeck’s disturbing documentary, National Bird, can be viewed until May 16 on PBS’s “Independent Lens” web site.
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.
By Fred Mazelis, 18 April 2017
One of the early films of major Taiwanese director Edward Yang was recently screened in the US for the first time.
By Richard Phillips, 14 April 2017
Pilger’s documentary exposes something of Washington’s escalating war plans against China but suggests that protests can prevent a nuclear conflagration.
By Emanuele Saccarelli, 12 April 2017
Pablo Larraín’s Neruda is a highly unconventional and dissatisfying biopic of the Chilean poet.
San Diego Latino Film Festival—Part 3
By Toby Reese, Kevin Martinez and Andrea Ramos, 10 April 2017
El Elegido (The Chosen) dramatizes the role of Ramon Mercader in the assassination of Leon Trotsky in 1940. El Amparo recounts the 1988 massacre of innocent fishermen in Venezuela. Lupe Bajo el Sol and X500 look at immigration and immigrants.
San Diego Latino Film Festival—Part 2
By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 6 April 2017
Films from Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic were shown at the festival, including a tense political drama, a dialogue-free drama and two documentaries.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 April 2017
The Zookeeper’s Wife recounts the true story of the rescue of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi invasion of Poland that began in 1939.
Lyrical and left-wing film
By Joanne Laurier, 29 March 2017
A viewing of Nicholas Ray’s iconic 1948 film They Live by Night is a refreshing antidote to the current trivia, social indifference and identity politics.
By Hiram Lee, 28 March 2017
With Get Out, Jordan Peele has said he wanted to make a film to “combat the lie that America had become post-racial.” The monster at the heart of this horror film is racism itself.
By Jason Melanovski, 18 March 2017
Russophobia and historical misrepresentation abound in George Mendeluk’s pseudo-historical drama.
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 Peter Schwarz, 15 March 2017
The Young Karl Marx, Raoul Peck's biographical portrait of Marx and Engels between 1843 and 1847, opened in movie theaters in New York City and Los Angeles Friday to be followed by a wider US release. We are re-posting the review which originally appeared on the WSWS last March.
By Fred Mazelis, 11 March 2017
A new documentary shows the impact of decades of Israeli occupation of the West Bank on the Zionist state.
67th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3
By Bernd Reinhardt, 9 March 2017
The dramatic social and political developments of the past several years were evidently not high on the German filmmakers’ agenda.
By Clara Weiss, 6 March 2017
In a profoundly moving, intimate and disturbing way, Joshua Oppenheimer’s film deals with the long-lasting and devastating impact of the mass murder of up to one million Communists and suspected Communists.
67th Berlin International Film Festival--Part 2
By Bernd Reinhardt, 4 March 2017
The debut film of Étienne Comar focuses on the year 1943, when the Nazis tried unsuccessfully to convince Django Reinhardt to undertake a tour of fascist Germany.
67th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 1
By Stefan Steinberg, 2 March 2017
There was very little evidence in Berlin this year of filmmakers and the festival as a whole taking up burning social and political issues.
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, 23 February 2017
Set in ancient China, Zhang Yimou’s new work is a visually arresting, large-scale action film undermined by its general cartoonishness.
By Joanne Laurier, 16 February 2017
Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film, Julieta, is a family melodrama that seeks to explore themes of guilt, alienation and absence, but with very limited results.
By Clare Hurley, 14 February 2017
The film takes as its point of departure Baldwin’s proposal to his editor in 1979 to write a piece about civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Tom Carter, 13 February 2017
“Most of the film takes place inside an apartment,” Farhadi told one interviewer, “but once the film has ended, you feel like you’ve seen the whole city.”
By Joanne Laurier, 10 February 2017
In the course of a lengthy filmmaking career, Brazilian-born Alberto Cavalcanti created several of the most poetically realistic and socially poignant films of the twentieth century.
By Carlos Delgado, 4 February 2017
The science fiction television series purports to show its viewers the dark side of modern technology.
By George Morley, 3 February 2017
The two-hour feature, about a young Indian-Australian man finding his birth mother, has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
By Joanne Laurier, 1 February 2017
Set in the 1980s, Gold is a fictionalized account of a notorious mining fraud. 20th Century Women is a trite “coming of age” piece located in 1979 California.
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.
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.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 20 January 2017
A nearly three-hour carnival of torture and cruelty, Martin Scorsese’s Silence aims to dramatize the persecution of Catholics in mid-17th-century Japan. Ben Affleck’s Live by Night is a mediocre gangster drama set in the 1920s.
By Hiram Lee, 18 January 2017
The latest collaboration of director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg is a right-wing tribute to law enforcement following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
By Fred Mazelis, 14 January 2017
The film is the first screen adaptation of any of the plays in Wilson’s cycle of 10 spanning the 20th century.
By Joanne Laurier, 12 January 2017
Hidden Figures retells the story of three African-American female scientists who made extraordinary contributions to NASA’s aeronautics and space programs in the 1960s. Passengers is a boiler-plate science fiction thriller.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 9 January 2017
The considerable international success of the German film certainly has something to do with frustrating and bitter experiences of broad sections of the population.
By Dorota Niemitz, 3 January 2017
Paterson is a city with a rich social and cultural history. Jarmusch pays homage to its history in his own, idiosyncratic manner.
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 Kevin Martinez, 28 December 2016
Despite its use of exotic locales and beautiful people, this World War II era “romantic thriller” fails to make a lasting—or much of any—impression.
By Joanne Laurier, 22 December 2016
La La Land is an all-too appropriately titled romantic musical that celebrates Los Angeles as a place where ambitious artists can strike it rich. Jackie is a murky, superficial biographical portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy.
By Matthew MacEgan, 21 December 2016
December 16 saw the release of the first stand-alone Star Wars film. The plot of Rogue One is an exact prequel to the 1977 original.
By Joanne Laurier, 15 December 2016
Miss Sloane presents a fantastical view of Washington’s hired gun world of political lobbyism. Set at the beginning of the 2008 financial crash, All We Had is a limited drama about poverty and homelessness.
By Miguel Andrade, 13 December 2016
Filmed prior to Brazil’s impeachment crisis, Aquarius has since become an artistic point of reference (and a target) in the continuing political turmoil wracking the country.
By Thomas Douglass, 12 December 2016
The authentic and genuinely interesting character of the protagonists is one of Moonlight’s greatest appeals.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 December 2016
Kenneth Lonergan’s film is a humane examination of the suffering of an ordinary man, whose terrible personal tragedy has emotionally crippled him.
By Clara Weiss, 5 December 2016
The film, written and directed by Stuart Schulberg, was intended to advertise the principles underlying the indictment of the Nazi criminals at the Nuremberg Trials.
The Eagle Huntress is about real people—Rules Don’t Apply and Nocturnal Animals are about something else
By Joanne Laurier, 3 December 2016
The documentary, The Eagle Huntress, follows a cherry-faced 13-year-old Kazakh girl as she learns the art of eagle hunting; Rules Don’t Apply is Warren Beatty’s film about Howard Hughes; and Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a violent revenge thriller.
By Glenn Mulwray, 30 November 2016
The critically-acclaimed film by Barry Jenkins, about a working-class youth in Miami, seeks to understand a person’s development in fairly narrow terms.
By Joanne Laurier, 24 November 2016
Bleed for This is a gritty biographical movie about a “blue collar” fighter who makes one of the greatest comebacks in boxing history. A difficult, friendless teenager finds her stride in The Edge of Seventeen.
By Joanne Laurier, 17 November 2016
Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge is about the first and only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II. Arrival is a feeble science fiction parable from Denis Villeneuve.
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 Kevin Martinez, 11 November 2016
American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch has made a documentary on the not so well-known, but hugely influential rock group, The Stooges.
By Joanne Laurier, 9 November 2016
Sonia Kennebeck’s film, whose title suggests that drones should now be considered the US national emblem, is a documentary that brings to the screen the story of three whistleblowers.
By Carlos Delgado, 7 November 2016
After an intriguing start, the second season of the television drama about anti-corporate hackers spirals largely into gloom and incoherence.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 November 2016
Jeff Nichols’ film is a fictional recreation of the landmark case in Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s, which ultimately led to the striking down of state laws banning interracial marriage in the US.