Arts Review

Our Kind of Traitor: Going with the current

By Joanne Laurier, 21 July 2016

Our Kind of Traitor, a British spy thriller directed by Susanna White, is based on the 2010 novel of the same name by John le Carré, the veteran novelist.

Wiener-Dog: Todd Solondz continues to look critically at American life

By David Walsh, 20 July 2016

The new film comprises four stories, loosely linked by the presence of a “wiener-dog” (dachshund). Each has at least one or more satirical, telling moments or elements.

Musician-singer M.I.A dropped from Afropunk festival for criticizing Black Lives Matter

By David Walsh and Zac Corrigan, 18 July 2016

M.I.A. has every right to criticize Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, who travel in privileged circles around the Obamas and other leading Democratic Party figures.

A tribute to German Sinto musician Häns’che Weiss

By Bernd Reinhardt, 16 July 2016

In addition to a remarkable command of his instrument, guitarist Häns’che Weiss was distinguished by his thrilling musicality.

The life and career of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami

By David Walsh, 14 July 2016

The Iranian director will be best remembered and long honored for the series of feature films, including documentaries, that he made between 1987 and 1997.

“Ordinary people truly imbibed the principles of the American Revolution”

An interview with Victoria Bynum, historian and author of The Free State of Jones—Part 2

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 13 July 2016

This is the second part of a conversation with Victoria Bynum, whose research helped inspire the film Free State of Jones, about an insurrection by Southern Unionists against the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Book Review

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill: Attention to social inequality—in her own way

By Sandy English, 12 July 2016

In her new novel, Gaitskill focuses on a poor Dominican teenager from New York City, the suburban family she lives with during the summer and her experiences relating to a particularly abused horse.

“Cinema has the potential to make us richer in spirit”—filmmaker Paul Cox (1940–2016)

By Richard Phillips, 11 July 2016

Cox directed over 40 dramatic features and documentaries—the overwhelming majority on paper-thin budgets—during his more than forty-year career.

Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, dead at 77

By David Walsh, 7 July 2016

Cimino is best known as the director of The Deer Hunter (1978), which won numerous Academy Awards, and Heaven’s Gate (1980), which was denounced by leading critics, lost a great deal of money and severely damaged Cimino’s career.

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley dead at 89

By Hiram Lee, 6 July 2016

Ralph Stanley led one of the most remarkable groups in Bluegrass music and was among the genre’s greatest banjo players and singers.

Free State of Jones: Three cheers!

By Joanne Laurier, 28 June 2016

Gary Ross’s film is a fictional account of an intriguing, but little known chapter in American history.

25 April: Animated documentary on New Zealand’s role in the Gallipoli invasion

By Sam Price and Tom Peters, 25 June 2016

The film shows the horrors of war but fails to challenge the nationalist mythology surrounding the Anzacs.

Alf Sjöberg’s Miss Julie (1951) and G. W. Pabst’s The Threepenny Opera (1931): Films worth noting … and seeing

By Joanne Laurier, 23 June 2016

Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg’s Miss Julie is based on the play by August Strindberg. Austrian filmmaker G.W. Pabst’s film The Threepenny Opera is an intricate movie version of the legendary Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill work.

“All the terrifying things all really happened”

Toyen: A film about the Czech surrealist painter and her times

By David Walsh, 18 June 2016

Czech director Jan Němec, who died in March 2016, made a film about the surrealist painter Toyen in 2005, which is now available. The film is intriguing and sometimes deeply moving.

The Nice Guys: Something, but not very much

(And, briefly, Terence Davies’ Sunset Song and Hany Abu-Assad’s The Idol.)

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 17 June 2016

The Nice Guys is set in 1977 and follows the investigation into a disappearance, which turns out to be part of a broader conspiracy. Sunset Song and The Idol have recently opened in movie theaters in the US.

Again on Don DeLillo’s Zero K: How does a novel turn toward social life?

By Eric London, 13 June 2016

Don DeLillo’s latest novel, about the determination of a small group of wealthy individuals to have their bodies cryogenically preserved, is worth our attention.

The Lobster: Relationships forced on—or forbidden—people

By David Walsh, 11 June 2016

In Yorgos Lanthimos’ film, individuals without a mate are sent to a “hotel” where they have 45 days to find a partner or be turned into an animal. Then, there are those who escape.

HBO’s All the Way: Lyndon B. Johnson and the civil rights movement

By Charles Bogle, 10 June 2016

HBO’s All the Way is a serious effort, devoid of contemporary identity politics, to portray a significant moment in American history.

Right-wing Polish government revives effort to extradite Roman Polanski

By Alan Gilman, 9 June 2016

The new attempt by the Polish government to extradite Polanski is the latest chapter in the US government’s vindictive pursuit of the filmmaker.

Love & Friendship: An early Jane Austen work adapted

By Joanne Laurier, 8 June 2016

In England in 1790, Lady Susan Vernon, widowed and penniless, schemes to reverse her fortunes.

Night without end: Don DeLillo’s Zero K

By James Brookfield, 7 June 2016

American author Don DeLillo’s 17th novel is a dark story about the determination of a small group of wealthy individuals to have their bodies cryogenically preserved.

Anohni speaks on war, inequality and Obama

By George Marlowe, 6 June 2016

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to Anohni about her new album.

Anohni’s Hopelessness: A protest against war, drone bombings and more

“If I killed your mother with a drone bomb, how would you feel?”—Crisis

By Zac Corrigan, 6 June 2016

Anohni is the British-born, American transgender singer formerly known as Antony Hegarty who released five albums under the name Antony and the Johnsons.

HBO’s “Girls”: What should the voice of this generation say?

By Carlos Delgado, 3 June 2016

Praise for Lena Dunham’s “Girls” generally lauds its “frankness” and “realism” about the unpleasant, even ugly, aspects of life for American youth.

A talk given in San Diego, Berkeley and Ann Arbor

Art, war and social revolution—Part 2

By David Walsh, 1 June 2016

This talk was given by WSWS arts editor David Walsh at San Diego State University, University of California Berkeley and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in April and May.

A talk given in San Diego, Berkeley, and Ann Arbor

Art, war and social revolution—Part 1

By David Walsh, 31 May 2016

This talk was given by WSWS arts editor David Walsh at San Diego State University, University of California Berkeley, and University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in April and May.

Sing Street from Ireland, A Bigger Splash from Italy: Neglected realities

By Joanne Laurier, 28 May 2016

John Carney’s Sing Street is a musical comedy-drama set in Dublin in the mid-1980s. Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, based on a 1969 French thriller, takes its name from a painting by British artist David Hockney.

High-Rise: A film version of J.G. Ballard’s novel

By David Walsh, 27 May 2016

Like the novel, the film—set in the mid-1970s—begins with its central character calmly sitting on the balcony of his 25th floor apartment eating roast dog.

Cash Only: What interests contemporary filmmakers and what doesn’t

By David Walsh, 25 May 2016

Cash Only is an independent American film set in the Detroit area. The film takes place in the Albanian community.

Captain America: Civil War—A waste of resources, technology and human skill

By David Walsh, 23 May 2016

What are these performers doing in this film? Is there any major film actor at present who would say “No” to this sort of project?

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4

Maggie’s Plan, Frank & Lola, along with Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

By Joanne Laurier, 20 May 2016

Some not very good new films—and better old ones.

Money Monster: Who are the criminals?

By Joanne Laurier, 18 May 2016

Money Monster is the latest film to depict the consequences of the 2008 financial crash and the criminal manipulations of the financial elite.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 3

Radio Dreams, about Iranian Americans—and the problem of images without insight

By David Walsh, 17 May 2016

Radio Dreams is a pleasurable experience. Other films at the San Francisco festival––The Event, No Home Movie, Counting, Five Nights in Maine––fared less well.

An interview with Babak Jalali, director of Radio Dreams

By David Walsh, 17 May 2016

The WSWS spoke to Babak Jalali during the recent San Francisco International Film Festival.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 2

The Return, about released prisoners, and other social dramas (or comedies)

By Joanne Laurier, 13 May 2016

In a number of the films screened at the festival, their creators were evidently overwhelmed by the disintegrating social structures in some of the most impoverished parts of the world.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1

Look at today’s filmmaking … then look at the world

By David Walsh, 11 May 2016

The recent San Francisco International Film Festival, in its 59th edition, screened some 175 films, including approximately 100 feature-length films, from 46 countries.

Everybody Wants Some!!—Richard Linklater goes to college

By Hiram Lee, 10 May 2016

Everybody Wants Some!! is the latest coming-of-age tale from the American independent film director.

Looking for Grace—a strangely cold story about a teenager leaving home

By John Harris, 9 May 2016

The movie centres on the efforts of a lower middle-class couple to find their runaway teenage daughter and only child.

Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

Are the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet a genuine alternative to contemporary filmmaking?

By David Walsh, 7 May 2016

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, beginning May 6, is presenting a retrospective of the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, the Franco-German filmmakers.

Elvis & Nixon, A Hologram for the King: Trivializing culture, history

By Joanne Laurier, 6 May 2016

Two ostensible comedies, Elvis & Nixon and A Hologram for the King, drain their stories of their most important social and historical content.

Papa: Hemingway in Cuba—The banalization of the novelist and his art

By David Walsh, 4 May 2016

The film follows the relationship that develops after a young American journalist in Miami in the mid-1950s writes an admiring letter to novelist Ernest Hemingway, then living in Havana, Cuba.

David Walsh speaks on “Art, War and Social Revolution” at meetings in California

By Evan Blake and Jake Dean, 3 May 2016

Walsh presented the history of 20th century anti-war cinema and sought to uncover the roots behind the present cultural stagnation in the light of the eruption of American imperialism.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me: The plight of a Lakota youth

By Norisa Diaz and Kevin Martinez, 2 May 2016

The film is a lyrical and honest look at the poverty and social neglect that affects one of the most historically oppressed communities in the United States.

Class Divide: A close-up look at gentrification, inequality in New York City

By Fred Mazelis, 29 April 2016

Children of hedge fund managers attend private school on Manhattan’s Tenth Avenue, across the street from one of the city’s public housing projects.

Prince (1958-2016)

By Hiram Lee, 27 April 2016

While music icon Prince, who died April 21 at the age of 57, was among the more electrifying performers of his generation, his work could be terribly uneven.

The paintings of Eugène Delacroix at London’s National Gallery

By Ross Mitchell and Paul Mitchell, 26 April 2016

The stated intention of the organisers is to give visitors “the opportunity to (re)discover” the “revolutionary artist” Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863).

A concert of relative rarities by American composer Aaron Copland

By Fred Mazelis, 23 April 2016

Copland’s jazz-influenced Piano Concerto deserves a higher profile in the orchestral repertoire.

The Hope Six Demolition Project: PJ Harvey takes on war and global poverty

By Matthew MacEgan, 22 April 2016

Harvey’s new album is the product of the artist’s investigation into the poverty and devastation being inflicted on different parts of the globe.

Demolition: Take an investment banker apart, and what do you find?

By Carlos Delgado, 20 April 2016

The film tells the story of Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a New York investment banker who experiences an emotional unraveling after his wife dies in an automobile accident.

A conversation with Stephen Parker, author of Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life

By David Walsh, 19 April 2016

WSWS writers Sybille Fuchs, Stefan Steinberg and David Walsh recently spoke to the author of a valuable new biography of the famed German playwright and poet.

Stephen Parker’s Bertolt Brecht. A Literary Life—a welcome biography that raises big historical issues

By Sybille Fuchs, 18 April 2016

One of the most talented and influential playwrights of the 20th century, Brecht adapted to Stalinism, with pernicious consequences for his career and work.

Colonia: Under Pinochet, a disposal center for enemies of the state

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 16 April 2016

German director Florian Gallenberger’s political thriller Colonia takes place during and after the US-backed Chilean military coup in September 1973.

SEP/IYSSE meetings in California: Art, War and Social Revolution

14 April 2016

WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh will speak at meetings in San Diego and Berkeley, California, addressing the political and cultural situation in relation to American imperialism’s relentless war drive.

Born to Be Blue and Miles Ahead: Why so much fiction when life is fascinating enough?

By John Andrews, 7 April 2016

Films based on the lives and personas of post-World War II jazz musicians Chet Baker and Miles Davis have been released recently.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice—Doom and gloom, with capes

By Carlos Delgado, 6 April 2016

The price tag of the film, including production and marketing costs, approaches half a billion dollars, and some analysts believe it would need an $800 million box office to recoup its investment.

UK documentary exposes Saudi role in global terror operations

By Jean Shaoul, 5 April 2016

The Saudi ruling family spent $70 billion exporting its particularly repressive form of Islamism through books, the media, Islamic welfare institutions and charities.

The New York Times on race and art

By Hiram Lee, 4 April 2016

A review published in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review advances a racialist view of art and culture with thoroughly reactionary implications.

San Diego Latino Film Festival 2016—Part 3

From Cuba a grim drama (La obra del siglo) and from Argentina a political thriller (El Clan) and a road trip (Camino a La Paz)

By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 1 April 2016

The festival showcased films and documentaries from throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including Cuba, Spain, Mexico, and South and Central America.

Eye in the Sky: The liberal war on terror

By Joanne Laurier, 31 March 2016

Eye in the Sky is a political-military thriller in which British and American officials weigh the consequences of a drone strike in Nairobi, Kenya.

On sexual harassment policy

Professors’ group charges Obama administration with undermining academic freedom and due process

By David Walsh, 30 March 2016

A report by the American Association of University Professors points to the reactionary role of the sexual harassment industry on university campuses.

San Diego Latino Film Festival 2016—Part 2

The human cost of the drug war in Mexico and a drama from Venezuela: Retratos de una búsqueda and Dauna. Lo que lleva el río

By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 30 March 2016

The San Diego festival showcased films and documentaries from throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including Cuba, Spain, Mexico, South and Central America.

San Diego Latino Film Festival 2016—Part 1

Films from Argentina, Spain and Guatemala: El Movimiento, Hablar, Ixcanul and Tras Nazarin

By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 28 March 2016

The festival showcased films and documentaries from throughout the Spanish-speaking world, including Cuba, Spain, Mexico, South and Central America.

Atom Egoyan’s Remember: A Nazi criminal hunted…

By Joanne Laurier, 25 March 2016

Two Auschwitz concentration camp survivors plot to kill the SS guard who murdered their families in Atom Egoyan’s latest film, Remember, a psychological drama.

“We make the terror:” Season four of House of Cards

By Andre Damon, 24 March 2016

The latest season of the Netflix series suggests that the US government facilitates terrorism to keep a lid on domestic opposition, spies on the population for political gain, and conspires to go to war for Machiavellian ends.

Book Review

Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See: All the history the novelist cannot see

By Leah Jeresova, 23 March 2016

Doerr’s second novel takes a moralizing, ahistorical view of events during the Second World War.

Ten years since the death of hip hop artist James “J Dilla” Yancey

By Nick Barrickman, 21 March 2016

A talented musician, Yancey is considered by many to have been among the greatest of all hip hop producers.

Novelist Jonathan Franzen’s Purity

By Sandy English, 17 March 2016

Franzen’s highly praised fifth novel is a largely––and carelessly––misanthropic, right-wing work that fails to create complex or plausible characters.

Beatles producer George Martin dies at 90

By Hiram Lee, 15 March 2016

Legendary music producer George Martin, who supervised almost all of the Beatles’ recordings, died on March 8.

66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4:

Flight and persecution—yesterday and today (The Diary of Anne Frank and Meteorstraße)

By Bernd Reinhardt, 14 March 2016

A new adaptation of the immortal Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, about Nazi persecution, and a film about Palestinian refugees in contemporary Germany.

A Perfect Day: 24 hours in the Bosnian War

By Joanne Laurier, 12 March 2016

Spanish filmmaker Fernando León de Aranoa’s movie A Perfect Day deals with international humanitarian aid workers in the Balkans near the end of the war in the mid-1990s.

Race: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics

By Alan Gilman and David Walsh, 10 March 2016

Stephen Hopkins’ film centers on critical events in the life of African-American track and field legend Jesse Owens.

American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson: An indictment of American celebrity culture

By Charles Bogle, 8 March 2016

The FX series examines the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in June 1994, for which former football star O. J. Simpson was charged.

66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3:

Alone in Berlin—a working class couple opposes the Nazis

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).

Two poor films on the Afghanistan war—Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and A War—and Jonás Cuarón’s Desierto

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.

Eighty-eighth Academy Awards: Hopeful signs amidst reactionary “diversity” campaign

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:

A critique of Europe’s refugee policy: On the Berlinale’s Golden Bear for Fire at Sea

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:

Refugee crisis takes centre stage at the Berlinale

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.

John Patrick Shanley’s Prodigal Son: A working class youth at a Catholic high school in the 1960s

By Robert Fowler, 19 February 2016

The playwright raises some important issues and then proceeds to skirt them, leaving the audience with little more than a banal liberalism.

Woman at the Window: Oratorio remembers the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

By Adam Mclean, 16 February 2016

Students at the Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles tackle the deadliest industrial disaster in US history in an honest and compelling work.

Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart: Three periods in modern China, a good deal of confusion

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.

Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace dramatized in a new television series

By Joanne Laurier, 11 February 2016

Tolstoy’s titanic novel has received a new adaptation by the BBC and is now airing in numerous countries.

The Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar!: The “Passion” of a film studio troubleshooter

By Joanne Laurier, 9 February 2016

Hail Caesar!, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, is a comedy about Hollywood set in the early 1950s.

At the Jewish Museum in New York City

“The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film”—an exhibition

By C.W. Rogers, 6 February 2016

The exhibition examines some of the remarkable photography, magazines, film posters and innovative films produced in the years that followed the October Revolution of 1917.

45 Years: A nightmare on the brain of the living?

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

Parents fighting lead poisoning denounce government inaction and lies

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.

“Light lights in air”: Value, price, profit and Louis Zukofsky’s poetry

By Andras Gyorgy, 3 February 2016

Louis Zukofsky (1904–78), largely unknown today except in academic circles, was a remarkable American poet. In the late 1920s and 1930s, a supporter of the Communist Party, he wrote complex, modernist works.

Racialism, art and the Academy Awards controversy

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.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi—Michael Bay’s mythmaking

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.

Drone, a Norwegian-made documentary: “We just made orphans out of all these children”

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.

A modern Antigone: Son of Saul by László Nemes

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.

J.M.W. Turner and modern art: Comments on an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario

By Lee Parsons, 26 January 2016

Given the current upsurge of interest in representational imagery, the exhibition of the late work of J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto is of particular interest.

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.

Jazz album: Crisis by Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble

By Jeff Lusanne, 22 January 2016

An album fusing Western jazz traditions and traditional Arab music preserves an endangered Iraqi art form and creates a new sound.

The semi-boycott of the “whites only” Academy Awards

By David Walsh, 21 January 2016

Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, both African-American, have indicated they will shun this year’s award ceremony on February 28.

To create a genuine artistic “avant garde” means confronting critical historical issues

By David Walsh, 20 January 2016

The essay by David Walsh we are posting today considers whether or not an artistic vanguard exists today—and, if not, what such a vanguard would consist of and what questions it would have to confront.

30 Americans at the Detroit Institute of Arts: The art of identity politics

By Zac Corrigan, 20 January 2016

30 Americans is a collection of artwork created under the influence of racialist and gender politics, and it provides an opportunity to assess the aesthetic contribution of this outlook.