66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3:
By Bernd Reinhardt, 7 March 2016
Vincent Pérez’s film is a new adaptation of Hans Fallada’s novel Every Man Dies Alone (published posthumously in 1947).
By Joanne Laurier, 5 March 2016
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a semi-comic treatment of the tragic Afghan conflict; A War from Denmark is ostensibly a more serious effort. Desierto takes up the war against Mexican immigrants.
By Kevin Martinez, 3 March 2016
Although Deadpool tries to subvert the clichéd conventions of the superhero genre, the film is more than anything a conformist effort.
By Fred Mazelis, 1 March 2016
The Oscar awards ceremony Sunday night included some welcome notes and surprises, and generally, despite the disorienting campaign waged under the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, revealed a more humane side of Hollywood.
66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2:
By Verena Nees and Bernd Reinhardt, 27 February 2016
This is the second in a series of articles on the recent Berlin international film festival, the Berlinale, held February 11-20, 2016.
66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 1:
By Stefan Steinberg, 22 February 2016
The main prize of the festival went to Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) by Gianfranco Rosi, dealing with the fate of refugees attempting to enter Europe.
By David Walsh, 13 February 2016
Veteran independent Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart is opening in theaters in the US this week.
By Joanne Laurier, 9 February 2016
Hail Caesar!, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, is a comedy about Hollywood set in the early 1950s.
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.
Flint pre-screening of the documentary MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic
By Tim Rivers, 4 February 2016
Following a preview screening of the film MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic, which documents the epidemic spread of lead across America, a panel of parents was joined by the director of the film and a state expert for lead risk assessment.
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 Kevin Martinez, 30 January 2016
Hollywood’s latest propaganda piece tells the story of the 2012 attack on a US base in Libya from a right-wing perspective, with predictable results.
By Joanne Laurier, 29 January 2016
The documentary brings together opponents of the CIA drone program and includes interviews with two former US Air Force drone pilots.
By Dorota Niemitz, 28 January 2016
The debut film of Hungarian director László Nemes depicts the horrors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the prisoner uprising of October 1944.
Charlie Kaufman’s often charming, moving Anomalisa (and Michael Moore’s feeble Where to Invade Next)
By Joanne Laurier, 23 January 2016
Anomalisa is an adult animated film created with stop-motion puppetry centering around an angst-ridden, self-help author. Where to Invade Next is a non-comment on Washington’s never-ending wars.
By Richard Phillips, 19 January 2016
The 72-minute film provides a general outline of neo-realist cinema, but it is a seriously limited one.
By Joanne Laurier, 16 January 2016
The Revenant is a sensationalized account of the life of American fur trapper Hugh Glass, who famously survived a mauling by a bear. Youth is a banal meditation on aging.
By David Walsh, 15 January 2016
The Academy Award nominations revealed the usual muddle-headedness, liberal good intentions and severe limitations of the social grouping that decides these things.
By Alan Gilman, 14 January 2016
Despite its limitations, Concussion serves to bring before a mass audience the grave risks inherent in playing America’s most popular sport.
By Joanne Laurier, 8 January 2016
The two films address significant subjects that could potentially shed light on society and its moral and psychological condition.
By Hiram Lee, 7 January 2016
Tarantino’s latest is a deeply unpleasant work, another in a long line of the director’s blood-soaked revenge fantasies.
By Charles Bogle, 6 January 2016
The box set contains five pre-Code movies: Ladies of Leisure (1930), Rain Or Shine (1930), The Miracle Woman (1931), Forbidden (1932) and The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933).
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 Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2015
Adam McKay’s new film The Big Short is a hard-hitting comedy-drama about the 2008 financial meltdown.
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.
By Mark Witkowski and Fred Mazelis, 29 December 2015
If nothing else, Wiseman’s new documentary is a reminder of the fact that, even in this wealthiest city in the world, the working class makes up the vast majority of the population.
By Matthew MacEgan and David Walsh, 22 December 2015
The new Star Wars offering serves as the first part of a “sequel” trilogy that tells the story of the next generation by reusing many of the same ideas and visuals.
“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 Joanne Laurier, 17 December 2015
Legend is a British crime drama about the Kray twins, London’s most notorious gangsters in the 1960s; Room concerns a mother and her five-year-old son held prisoner in a shed for seven years.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 16 December 2015
The satirical film, based on the novel of the same title by Timur Vermes, has been seen by over two million people, making it one of the most watched in Germany this year.
By Kevin Martinez, 15 December 2015
The documentary is a disturbing look at TASER International, the company that has cornered the market for police electro-shock weapons.
By George Marlowe, 14 December 2015
In Spike Lee’s latest film, young women in Chicago seek to end gang violence and social breakdown by means of a sex strike.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 December 2015
Brooklyn focuses on a young Irish girl who emigrates to America in the early 1950s and struggles with homesickness and adjusting to an alien environment.
By Lee Parsons, 7 December 2015
Roy’s film chronicles the struggle of autoworkers at the assembly plant operated by Maruti Suzuki India, in Manesar, northern India.
By David Walsh, 5 December 2015
Singer Janis Joplin, born in Port Arthur, Texas, was immensely popular for the last several years of her life until her tragic demise from heroin and alcohol in October 1970.
By Joanne Laurier, 3 December 2015
Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is a taut, quasi-political thriller that chronicles the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposure of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston area.
By Hiram Lee, 2 December 2015
The new film from Mexican-born director Patricia Riggen tells the story of the 2010 mine disaster in Chile, in which 33 miners were trapped underground for more than two months.
By Fred Mazelis, 30 November 2015
Jay Roach’s film about the anti-communist Hollywood witch-hunt, though politically limited and marred by the conventions of the biopic genre, deserves to be widely seen.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 November 2015
British filmmaker Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette is a fictionalized account of the women’s voting rights movement in Britain in the pre-World War I period.
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 Sampath Perera, 25 November 2015
The documentary from filmmaker Rahul Roy sheds important light on the brutal conditions facing workers in India’s rapidly expanding, globally integrated auto industry.
By Dorota Niemitz, 19 November 2015
Piotr Chrzan’s directorial debut deals with the subject of the organized search for the Jews, or the Judenjagd, in Nazi-Occupied Poland.
By Richard Phillips, 16 November 2015
Australian filmmaker Paul Cox’s first dramatic feature in seven years explores some of the complex emotional issues confronting those fighting cancer.
“Cinema must have a social conscience”
By Richard Phillips, 16 November 2015
Australian writer and director speaks about Force of Destiny, his artistic approach, concerns about militarism and the commercial pressures on filmmakers.
By Joanne Laurier, 14 November 2015
Denny Tedesco’s lively documentary is a heartfelt tribute to a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles, nicknamed the Wrecking Crew, who were behind some of the biggest hits of the 1960s.
By Joanne Laurier, 9 November 2015
Based on a documentary, the new David Gordon Green movie, Our Brand is Crisis, is a comedy-drama about the activities of American political operatives in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election.
Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican in London
By George Marlowe, 5 November 2015
The weight of our time is felt, even if unevenly, in the overall mood of the recent production of Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch.
By Fred Mazelis, 4 November 2015
The film at least partly reveals the role of the media as a virtual propaganda arm of the military and the CIA.
By Kevin Reed, 2 November 2015
Based on Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography, the film presents its title character as a clairvoyant and brilliant business leader with significant character flaws.
… and two poor, new films (Beasts of No Nation, Rock the Kasbah)
By Joanne Laurier, 30 October 2015
Several movie theaters in the US are currently screening F.W. Murnau’s classic silent film, Nosferatu (1922). We also look briefly at Rock the Kasbah and Beasts of No Nation.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 15 October 2015
Denis Villeneuve’s new movie is a crime thriller that deals with the top-secret efforts of American intelligence forces to take down a Mexican drug cartel.
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.
“Artists have the capacity to expose the reality of war”
By Wasantha Rupasinghe, 13 October 2015
Vithanage discusses With You, Without You and the political difficulties facing contemporary Sri Lankan filmmakers.
By Kevin Martinez, 10 October 2015
Despite exhibiting a healthy cynicism toward the authorities, the film fails to give a satisfying picture of Boston’s underworld, or the city’s social relations, in the 1970s and 1980s.
By Clare Hurley and Fred Mazelis, 9 October 2015
Riveting video footage along with complacent commentary adds up to a misleading account.
Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Part Four
Guantanamo’s Child, Thank You for Bombing, The Hard Stop: Filmmakers take on the global “war on terror” and police violence at home
By Joanne Laurier, 8 October 2015
Several documentaries and fiction films treat the consequences of war in the Middle East and Central Asia and a police killing.
By David Walsh, 7 October 2015
One member of a manned mission to Mars is presumed dead and left behind on the desolate planet.
By Robert Fowler, 5 October 2015
Some of the more authentic moments in the film come in the form of George Hammond’s difficulties with government bureaucracies and homeless shelter officials.
Toronto International Film Festival 2015: Part Three
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams) and Janis: Little Girl Blue (Janis Joplin)—Popular music and its discontents
By David Walsh, 3 October 2015
Country music performer Hank Williams (1923-1953) and rock and roll singer Janis Joplin (1943-1970) were both significant figures in the history of American popular culture.
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 Joanne Laurier, 24 September 2015
Iranian-American writer-director Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, 2005; Chop Shop, 2007; Goodbye Solo, 2008) has created a compelling work that puts flesh and blood on the foreclosure epidemic.
By Christine Schofelt, 10 September 2015
A young student in New York City, an aspiring writer, meets her energetic, difficult stepsister-to-be.
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 Joanne Laurier, 3 September 2015
Set in the immediate aftermath of World War II, a Jewish concentration camp survivor, Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss), is grossly disfigured and traumatized.
By Laurent Lafrance, 22 August 2015
The fifth feature film by Quebecois director Xavier Dolan, only 25 years of age, won numerous awards in 2014 and 2015.
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 Joanne Laurier, 12 August 2015
Asif Kapadia’s documentary is a straightforward and compelling account of the performer’s life starting at the age of fourteen.
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 Hiram Lee, 23 July 2015
An exhibition at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau pays tribute to German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder on the seventieth anniversary of his birth.
What Happened, Miss Simone?: The life of African-American singer, pianist and civil rights activist Nina Simone
By Helen Hayes and Fred Mazelis, 22 July 2015
Simone did not so much move between different genres—jazz, gospel, blues and folk—as combine them into her own unique and powerful style.
By David Walsh, 13 July 2015
The two films, Manglehorn, directed by David Gordon Green, and The Cobbler, directed by Tom McCarthy, both fall into the independent drama, or comedy-drama category.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 July 2015
The Face of an Angel is a fictional treatment of the Amanda Knox murder trial. Danny Collins is the story of a rock star who changes his life after receiving a letter that John Lennon wrote him decades earlier.
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 Christine Schofelt, 6 July 2015
American Odyssey, cancelled after the first season, exhibited some good intentions, but ultimately familiar confusion.
By Joanne Laurier, 3 July 2015
The Wolfpack is a documentary about seven children who were locked away for many years in an apartment in a public housing project in Manhattan.
By Richard Phillips, 29 June 2015
Indian director Satyajit Ray’s cinematic masterwork, The Apu Trilogy has been meticulously restored by Janus Films and is currently screening in North American cinemas.
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 Christine Schofelt, 23 June 2015
Though largely formulaic, the film is not without its charms and touches on some interesting questions—albeit lightly.
By Antoine Lerougetel, 20 June 2015
Fifty-one-year-old Thierry, who has lost his job in a factory closure, urgently tries to find work since his unemployment benefit will soon run out.
By Christine Schofelt, 17 June 2015
Riddled with generational stereotypes, While We’re Young pleads the case against intellectual honesty in favor of “personal fulfillment.”
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 David Walsh, 13 June 2015
The University of Michigan’s library is the home of the largest assortment of Orson Welles archival papers and documents in the world.
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.
By Christine Schofelt, 30 May 2015
Any attempt at building a thoughtful story has been abandoned in favor of a special effects bonanza, leaving one to ask: Where is this heading?
By Dorota Niemitz, 20 May 2015
Ex Machina is an elegant and thought-provoking science fiction thriller that considers the future of humanity in relation to the rapid developments in computer science technology.
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.
By David Walsh, 15 April 2015
Penn’s views and activities are worth considering, especially in the light of his recent disgraceful comments about Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
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.
By Hiram Lee, 9 April 2015
The final project of German filmmaker Harun Farocki (1944-2014) brings together dozens of short films about working people.
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.
By , 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.
By Christine Schofelt, 21 March 2015
Neill Blomkamp’s latest release presents an oddly sweet, if rather violent, tale, but something is missing.
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.