Arts Review

Bioshock Infinite and the video game phenomenon

By Theo McLean and David Walsh, 17 April 2014

The third in the Bioshock series of popular video games, Infinite follows thematically in the footsteps of its predecessors.

Captain America—The Winter Soldier: So much noise and action you almost fall asleep

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.

New York City radio drive collects 2,500 musical instruments for public school students

By Fred Mazelis, 14 April 2014

The used instruments were accumulated in a ten-day drive conducted by classical station WQXR that ended on April 7.

A concert of twentieth century masterworks by Britten, Bartók and Shostakovich

By Fred Mazelis, 11 April 2014

The program performed April 2 by the New York Philharmonic was a powerful demonstration of the heights reached by classical music in the first half of the last century.

Artistic resistance to the US-backed juntas

Losing the Human Form: A seismic image of the 1980s in Latin America

By Armando Cruz, 10 April 2014

The exhibition, presented in Madrid in 2012 and recently in Lima, Peru, is a fascinating compilation of works from the 1980s that voiced opposition to the militarized regimes in Latin America.

WSWS arts editor David Walsh speaks at The New School in New York City

By Our reporters, 9 April 2014

The lecture was a part of the tour to promote the new book, The Sky Between the Leaves, a selection of film reviews, interviews and essays on cinema and cultural issues.

A Permanent Member of the Family: Responses to trying and frustrating times—short stories by Russell Banks

By Sandy English, 9 April 2014

In recent years, novelist Russell Banks has shifted his focus to upstate New York, where he lives, making it the locale of many of the stories in this interesting new volume.

Mickey Rooney, popular film star of the 1930s and 1940s, dies

By David Walsh, 8 April 2014

Longtime film, television and stage actor Mickey Rooney died on Sunday at the age of 93. Rooney was one of the most popular American movie stars in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

More artworks discovered in Salzburg: Second Act in the Gurlitt case

By Verena Nees, 7 April 2014

The affair surrounding Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, has taken a new turn with the discovery of 238 more artworks hidden in Gurlitt’s Salzburg house.

San Diego Opera closure announcement meets with widespread opposition

By Dan Conway and Dorota Niemitz, 7 April 2014

The recent decision to shut down the San Diego Opera Company after 49 seasons has evoked widespread popular outrage, with more than 20,000 signatures gathered in opposition to the closure.

Beautification: An exhibition by Sri Lankan artist Chandraguptha Thenuwara

By Darshana Medis and Panini Wijesiriwardane, 4 April 2014

Thenuwara’s show partially revealed a post-war Sri Lanka reality that the government wants to hide.

Jason Bateman’s Bad Words: An inauspicious debut

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.

David Walsh continues book tour at Cornell University

By our correspondents, 1 April 2014

WSWS arts editor David Walsh discussed problems of art, culture, and cinema at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York on March 27.

Finding Vivian Maier: A brief comment …

By David Walsh, 28 March 2014

The subject of this documentary is American photographer Vivian Maier (1926-2009), who made virtually no efforts to publish her remarkable photos during her lifetime.

Divergent: A different sort of dystopia

By Christine Schofelt, 27 March 2014

Divergent, billed as the “next Hunger Games,” offers greater depth.

The Grand Budapest Hotel from Wes Anderson

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.

Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush comes to Lexington, Kentucky

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.

Moscow weighs the fate of historic Shukhov radio tower

By Tim Rivers, 19 March 2014

The Shukhov radio tower, a symbol of the revolutionary aspirations of the early Soviet Union and a technical marvel, is threatened by profit-hungry real estate speculators in central Moscow.

Australian government threatens arts funding following Sydney Biennale protest over refugees

By Richard Phillips, 17 March 2014

Attorney-General George Brandis demanded new arts funding protocols following the Biennale’s decision to end a funding deal with Transfield, a refugee camp contractor.

Drive-by Truckers release new album, English Oceans

By Eric London, 10 March 2014

The Southern alternative-country group has set high standards after 18 years of making music—but they have not outdone themselves on their newest release.

Tim’s Vermeer: Art and technology

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

Art and commerce: Austrian documentary The Great Museum

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.

64th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 5

Age of Cannibals and Amma and Appa: Two sides of globalisation

By Berndt Reinhardt, 5 March 2014

German films were well represented at this year’s Berlin film festival, with no less than four productions screened in the festival competition programme alone.

The Past from Iran’s Asghar Farhadi: Something of a disappointment

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.

2014 Academy Awards: Life versus the film industry

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 4

Between faith and the striving for truth: German films in competition at the Berlinale

By Bernd Reinhardt, 28 February 2014

German films were well represented at this year’s Berlin film festival, with no less than four productions screened in the festival competition programme alone.

64th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3

We Come as Friends and Run Boy Run: Two more films that take a serious approach

By Stefan Steinberg, 26 February 2014

Hubert Sauper’s documentary examines the record of Western intervention in Africa, while Pepe Danquart’s fiction film recounts the experience of a fatherless Jewish boy in wartime Poland.

64th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2

A serious approach to history: Non-Fiction Diary by South Korea’s Jung Yoon-suk

By Stefan Steinberg, 24 February 2014

A refreshingly serious approach to history is taken by South Korean filmmaker Jung Yoon-suk in his new documentary, Non-Fiction Diary, which deservedly won a prize at the 64th Berlinale.

House of Cards, season 2: The American politician as conspirator and murderer

By Joanne Laurier, 21 February 2014

The second season of House of Cards, the series produced by Netflix, reveals more of the exploits of Frank Underwood, Democratic Party vice president and chief conspirator.

Spanish artist sued for insulting fascist dictator Franco

By Paul Mitchell, 17 February 2014

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to Spanish artist Eugenio Merino, who is being sued by the National Francisco Franco Foundation for offending the honour of the fascist dictator.

The Monuments Men: An establishment film, in almost every way

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.

Portuguese government tries to auction 85 works by Joan Miró

By Sybille Fuchs, 8 February 2014

Portugal’s right-wing government is attempting to sell off works of art rightfully belonging to the Portuguese people.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dead at 46

By Hiram Lee, 3 February 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman, the award-winning American film and stage actor, has died of an apparent drug overdose at the age of 46.

Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski revisited: Camera Buff (1979)

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.

The unknown women of Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

By Hiram Lee, 1 February 2014

Actress Joan Fontaine, who passed away in December at the age of 96, contributed a number of remarkable performances to Hollywood films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Argentine poet Juan Gelman dies in Mexico City at 83

By Rafael Azul, 29 January 2014

Argentine poet Juan Gelman died in Mexico city on January 14. Gelman was considered one of the most important Spanish-language poets, as well as a fighter against the Latin American dictatorships of the 1970s.

Talk by WSWS arts editor David Walsh

The political and theoretical sources of The Sky Between the Leaves—Part 2

By David Walsh, 28 January 2014

WSWS arts editor David Walsh gave a talk in Detroit recently to SEP members and supporters to mark the publication of The Sky Between the Leaves. This is the second of two parts.

Talk by WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh

The political and theoretical sources of The Sky Between the Leaves—Part 1

By David Walsh, 27 January 2014

WSWS arts editor David Walsh gave a talk in Detroit recently to SEP members and supporters to mark the publication of The Sky Between the Leaves. This is the first of two parts.

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.

2014 Academy Award nominations: Very few bright spots

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.

The Blacklist and White Collar: Once again, excusing the inexcusable

By Christine Schofelt, 17 January 2014

With varying levels of style and blood-thirstiness, two more US television series seek to excuse the ongoing attacks on constitutional rights.

German writer Georg Büchner: 200 years since his birth—Part 5

By Sybille Fuchs, 16 January 2014

An exhibition opened in Darmstadt, Germany, in October 2013 that centres on the life and work of the great writer, revolutionary and scientist Georg Büchner. This is the fifth and final part of a series.

Her: A lonely man falls in love with his computer

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).

German writer Georg Büchner: 200 years since his birth—Part 4

By Sybille Fuchs, 15 January 2014

An exhibition opened in Darmstadt, Germany, in October 2013 that centres on the life and work of the great writer, revolutionary and scientist Georg Büchner. This is the fourth part of a series.

German writer Georg Büchner: 200 years since his birth—Part 3

By Sybille Fuchs, 14 January 2014

An exhibition opened in Darmstadt, Germany in October 2013 that centres on the life and work of the great writer, revolutionary and scientist Georg Büchner. This is the third part of a series.

German writer Georg Büchner: 200 years since his birth—Part 2

By Sybille Fuchs, 13 January 2014

An exhibition opened in Darmstadt, Germany in October 2013 that centres on the life and work of the great writer, revolutionary and scientist Georg Büchner. This is the second part of a series.

German writer Georg Büchner: 200 years since his birth—Part 1

By Sybille Fuchs, 11 January 2014

An exhibition opened in Darmstadt, Germany in October 2013 that centres on the life and work of the great writer, revolutionary and scientist Georg Büchner.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: A film largely without history or even politics

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.

Frank Wess, Chico Hamilton, Yusef Lateef: A tribute to three important jazz musicians

By D. Lencho, 8 January 2014

These great, although lesser-known figures in jazz, who died in the last few months of 2013, left a legacy of beautiful music.

An appreciation of Phil Everly and the Everly Brothers

By Hiram Lee, 7 January 2014

Singer Phil Everly, one half of the early Rock ‘n’ Roll duo The Everly Brothers, has died at the age of 74.

David O. Russell’s American Hustle: Nearly everybody gets a free pass

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.

Fallout: Documentary about On the Beach

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.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: James Thurber’s short story remade

By Christine Schofelt, 3 January 2014

Ben Stiller’s new version of James Thurber’s 1939 short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, fails to hit the mark.

Best films of 2013

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.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Why should we admire such figures?

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.

The year in music: Favorite recordings of 2013

By our reporters, 27 December 2013

World Socialist Web Site music writers pick their favorite pop and jazz recordings of 2013.

Locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians take independent steps

By Gary Joad, 24 December 2013

As of January 1, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will have been locked out of Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis, a publicly owned facility, for fifteen months.

“I will stir the smooth sands of monotony:” Peter O’Toole, 1932-2013

By Paul Bond, 23 December 2013

Actor Peter O’Toole, one of the remarkable film and stage actors of his generation, died December 14 at 81.

Philomena: Crime and forgiveness

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

The Crime Films of Anthony Mann: A comment and a conversation with the author—Part 2

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

The Crime Films of Anthony Mann: A comment and a conversation with the author—Part 1

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.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: The filmmakers waste considerable talent and skill

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).

Letters from our readers

17 December 2013

A selection of recent letters to the World Socialist Web Site.

The Book Thief: The Nazis and the assault, then and now, on culture

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.

Paganini or The Devil’s Violinist?

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.

Art Turning Left at the Tate Liverpool: An ambitious but problematic collection of “left-wing” art

By Paul Mitchell, 13 December 2013

Art Turning Left exhibits many interesting works, but the last 200 years of “left” art are presented as an undifferentiated and unbroken continuum of “left-wing values.”

Beleaguered Minnesota Orchestra musicians nominated for Grammy award

By Gary Joad, 12 December 2013

The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, locked out and much abused by the powers that be for the last 14 months, received a Grammy award nomination December 6, their second in two years, in the Best Orchestral Performance category.

The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis: The story of a struggling musician … but which one?

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.

Novelist Doris Lessing (1919-2013) and the long retreat

By Sandy English, 9 December 2013

Doris Lessing, the Nobel Prize winning novelist , died at age 94 in London on November 11. She produced over 50 novels and scores of short stories.

Alexander Payne’s Nebraska: How a great many people live today

By Joanne Laurier, 6 December 2013

The comedy-drama, shot in striking black-and-white, centers on Woody Grant of Billings, Montana, who is determined to get to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim one million dollars in a sweepstakes prize.

Tokyo Filmex 2013

Transit, Ilo Ilo and Youth: Three films that rise above the average

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.

A concert of early and rare Shostakovich

By Fred Mazelis, 3 December 2013

Works by the Soviet Russian composer for silent film and music hall are especially welcome at a performance by the Juilliard Orchestra.

Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock in New York City

By David Walsh, 2 December 2013

Irish playwright O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, first performed at the famed Abbey Theatre in Dublin in May 1924, is set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

Doctor Who at the half-century mark: A brief assessment

By Bryan Dyne and Christine Schofelt, 30 November 2013

With the overarching theme that humanity is worth fighting for, Doctor Who has been embraced by audiences worldwide.

Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan acknowledges longtime role as Israeli agent

By Fred Mazelis, 30 November 2013

A recently published interview confirms a longstanding connection between Zionist espionage and a leading film producer.

Europa Report: Gripping drama of manned mission to Jupiter’s moon

By Patrick Martin, 28 November 2013

This spare, restrained science fiction film deserves a wider audience.

Will The Hunger Games: Catching Fire “stir up” revolution?

By Christine Schofelt and David Walsh, 27 November 2013

The overarching motif in the science fiction series of books and films is the emergence of Katniss Everdeen as a symbol of revolt in Panem, a post-apocalyptic North American nation ruled by a violent dictatorship.

Oxyana highlights prescription drug epidemic in Appalachia

By Clement Daly, 26 November 2013

The film centers on the small coal mining town of Oceana in southern West Virginia.

Dallas Buyers Club: A “cowboy” style of fighting the authorities

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.

The 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten

By Fred Mazelis, 23 November 2013

Britten’s music stands out in the 20th century, and constitutes something of a bridge between the vibrant early decades of that century and the challenges facing classical music today.

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.

New Ocean from musician Jake Bellows

By Juan Verala Luz and Toby Reese, 19 November 2013

Jake Bellows’ debut solo project New Ocean is an artist’s attempt to understand who he is and why he writes music.

Billionaire head of SAC Capital prunes his art collection

Art market breaks records in New York

By Jeff Lusanne, 18 November 2013

SAC Capital’s Steven Cohen, whose firm was recently fined $1.2 billion, dipped his toes into the art market last week, putting up for sale some $80 million worth of art, out of his $700 million collection.

The Rocket: Modest but sympathetic tale about Laotian villagers

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.

Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2: Unfortunately, a return to more of the same

By Nick Barrickman, 15 November 2013

The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is the eighth full-length studio solo album from American rap artist Eminem.

Avery County, I’m Bound to You by Barton Carroll: Coming to terms with one’s roots

By Dylan Lubao, 14 November 2013

In his latest album, folk musician Barton Carroll paints a picture of small-town Appalachia and its musical influence on him.

Nazi looted art works discovered in Munich

By Verena Nees, 13 November 2013

The Augsburg state prosecutor is trying to prevent a public debate about the continuing sale of art works stolen by the Hitler regime.

Detroit Unleaded: “This is the American Dream?”

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.

Homeland, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: US television increasingly jettisons democratic rights

By Christine Schofelt, 8 November 2013

Television programming in the US is currently and disturbingly dominated by the presence of series featuring the police, intelligence and military.

School District of Philadelphia considers selling off artwork to cut deficit

By Nick Barrickman, 8 November 2013

In a development that bears comparison to the crisis in Detroit, the Philadelphia schools have contemplated the sale of major works of art.

Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises: Blocking out the rest of the world

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.

Costa Gavras’s Capital: A critique of “cowboy capitalism”

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.

Tokyo International Film Festival 2013—Part 2

Blind Dates from Georgia and Nobody’s Home from Turkey

By John Watanabe, 2 November 2013

The recent Tokyo International Film Festival, held October 17-25, screened a number of films worth commenting on.

On the death of literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki (1920-2013): A passionate advocate of literature—Part 1

By Sybille Fuchs, 31 October 2013

Polish-born literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki was one of the most important figures in contemporary German cultural life.

Robert Reich’s Inequality for All: A friendly warning to the powers that be

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.

Tokyo International Film Festival 2013—Part 1

Two films from China: One is honest and sympathetic, the other is not

By John Watanabe, 28 October 2013

The recent Tokyo International Film Festival, held October 17-25, screened a number of films worth commenting on.

Wealth and status under fire: Lorde’s Pure Heroine

By Ed Hightower, 25 October 2013

Sixteen-year-old New Zealand pop singer Lorde places themes of social inequality front and center on her debut album Pure Heroine.

“The struggle to tell the truth through stories”: An interview with British film and television producer Tony Garnett—Part 2

By our reporters, 24 October 2013

Reporters from the WSWS sat down with Tony Garnett and asked him a number of questions about his life and career, and in particular the political and artistic conceptions that have informed his work.

“The struggle to tell the truth through stories”: An interview with British film and television producer Tony Garnett—Part 1

By our reporters, 23 October 2013

Reporters from the WSWS sat down with Tony Garnett and asked him a number of questions about his life and career, and in particular the political and artistic conceptions that have informed his work.

The Fifth Estate: A dishonest film about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

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.