Film Reviews by David Walsh, WSWS Arts Editor

The Lincoln Lawyer: A morally “gray” attorney and his discontents

By David Walsh, 8 April 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer is a thriller-courtroom drama centering on Los Angeles attorney Mickey Haller, directed by Brad Furman (The Take) and adapted from the best-selling 2005 novel by veteran crime writer Michael Connelly.

The Adjustment Bureau: Fighting fate

By David Walsh, 9 March 2011

George Nolfi’s film, The Adjustment Bureau, is loosely based on a 1954 short story by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

83rd Academy Awards: Appealing personalities, but they still need something to say

By David Walsh, 1 March 2011

The 83rd Academy Awards ceremony, held Sunday night in Los Angeles, yielded few surprises, in terms of either the various presentations and special appearances or the winners in the most-prized categories.

Cedar Rapids: Does Hollywood know much about American life?

By David Walsh, 23 February 2011

Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) is a sheltered insurance agent from a small town in Wisconsin in Cedar Rapids, a comedy directed by Miguel Arteta.

The Company Men: what the economic crisis has wrought

By David Walsh, 9 February 2011

In The Company Men, writer-director John Wells aims to dramatize the devastating consequences of the financial crash of September 2008.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations—the worst of times, the best of times

By David Walsh, 26 January 2011

The Academy Awards process, like a good many social events in the US at this point, has a largely ritualistic character. Very little is left to chance, either in the nomination process or the ceremony itself.

Morning Glory: A film about American television, to no great effect

By David Walsh, 2 December 2010

Why do make people make films? Why do people go see them? These questions come up in relation to Morning Glory, a film about the television business, directed by Roger Michell, because it seems such an essentially empty exercise.

Toronto International Film Festival 2010—Part 5

What does it mean to take reality seriously?

By David Walsh, 14 October 2010

Films from Iran, China and Romania, including a conversation with Iranian filmmaker Rafi Pitts, director of The Hunter.

San Francisco International Film Festival 2010 Part 2: Susa—The type of life that requires illusions

By David Walsh, 11 May 2010

Susa, directed by Rusudan Pirveli and written by Giorgi Chalauri, comes from Georgia, the former Soviet Republic. The title character (played by Avtandil Tetradze) is a boy living in bad conditions, somewhere outside the capital city of Tbilisi.

Greenberg: Not the most important problems in life

By David Walsh, 3 April 2010

Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding) has directed a new film, Greenberg. Its lead character, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), has come out to Los Angeles from New York, after experiencing some kind of a nervous breakdown.

A further comment on Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer

By David Walsh, 5 March 2010

The Ghost Writer centers on a British writer who makes his living writing about other people’s lives in their name. He is hired by a major US publishing firm to work up the memoirs of a former British prime minister.

Crazy Heart and unnecessarily narrow pictures

By David Walsh, 21 January 2010

Scott Cooper’s new film, with Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall, follows “Bad” Blake, a veteran country singer, as he attempts to resurrect his career and his life.

Why are the critics lauding Avatar?

By David Walsh, 23 December 2009

After more than a decade since the release of his last feature film, writer-director James Cameron returns with his latest “blockbuster,” a technically innovative, but dramatically weak science fiction film.

What were the 1960s about?: An Education and Pirate Radio

By David Walsh, 2 December 2009

The decade of the 1960s receives a great deal of attention in English-language films and television. For the most part, the presentation of that period is superficial and simplistic, if not downright misleading.

An evaluation of Roman Polanski as an artist—Part 1

By David Walsh, 18 November 2009

Filmmaker Roman Polanski remains in a Zurich jail cell, while his lawyers fight the efforts by US authorities to extradite him. The director has a half-century-long artistic career that needs to be assessed.

Toronto International Film Festival 2009—Part 6

Thoroughly lost, or playing at it

By David Walsh, 17 October 2009

Lars von Trier from Denmark, once associated with the Dogme 95 group, has been making films for some two decades. His latest effort is Antichrist. It is a murky, hopelessly contrived, and, frankly, ridiculous film.

Toronto International Film Festival 2009—Part 4

More human (and artistic) problems

By David Walsh, 10 October 2009

Where are the extraordinary and captivating film dramas, and comedies, that go to the heart of our time?

Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 6 October 2009

Veteran documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story sets out to examine the recent financial collapse. His aim, he suggests, is a critique of the existing economic set-up.

Toronto International Film Festival 2009—Part 2

“The Iraq war poisoned the water—you can’t undo that, it’s there forever”

By David Walsh, 3 October 2009

Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein have directed at least three remarkable documentaries about the US invasion of Iraq and its consequences: (Gunner Palace (2004), The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (2006), and now, How To Fold a Flag.

Atom Egoyan’s Adoration: Also not very compelling

By David Walsh, 29 July 2009

In Atom Egoyan’s Adoration, Simon is a high school student in Toronto, whose teacher, for reasons of her own, encourages him to pose as the son of a would-be terrorist.

Whatever Works: The results are unattractive

By David Walsh, 15 July 2009

The most recent effort from Woody Allen is a very poor film, unconvincingly and even cartoonishly written and performed, accomplished with little humor or grace.

Lymelife: How filmmakers look at recent American life

By David Walsh, 30 May 2009

Lymelife, directed and co-written by Derick Martini (along with his brother Steven), takes place in a New York City suburb in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The film has its share of clichés, but it also reveals a certain insight.

State of Play: More of Washington’s conspiracies

By David Walsh, 28 April 2009

State of Play is a political thriller, based on a mini-series broadcast by the BBC in 2003. The filmmakers have transposed the events to the US and condensed six hours to two. The general shape of the events has remained the same.

Sunshine Cleaning: A misplaced sense of where the drama (or comedy) lies

By David Walsh, 8 April 2009

In Christine Jeffs’ film, set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two sisters (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt) go into business together--cleaning up crime scenes.

Duplicity: The essential unseriousness of it

By David Walsh, 27 March 2009

After the relatively critical edge of Michael Clayton, filmmaker Tony Gilroy appears to offer an olive branch to Hollywood in the form of the trivial, unengaged Duplicity.

Watchmen and Hollywood’s advanced state of decay

By David Walsh, 13 March 2009

Films are only going to get worse before they get better, if Watchmen and the noisy, bombastic trailers accompanying it are any indication.

Gran Torino: What school have film writers and directors passed through?

By David Walsh, 9 January 2009

In Clint Eastwood’s newest film, the actor-director plays a retired auto worker, Walt Kowalski, who’s chosen to go on living in his old, seriously deteriorating neighborhood in metropolitan Detroit.

Doubt: Nothing ‘beautiful’ about this ‘question’

By David Walsh, 3 January 2009

Doubt takes place in the Bronx, New York in 1964. A conflict emerges at a Catholic school between a relatively young and ‘progressive’ parish priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and a battle-ax of a nun, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep).

David Walsh selects his favorite films of 2008

By David Walsh, 31 December 2008

2008 will be remembered as the year of a great economic crash and a turning point in modern history. It will not be recalled as a great year in filmmaking, despite a few bright spots.

Waltz With Bashir: “Memory takes us where we need to go”

By David Walsh, 24 December 2008

Israeli director Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir is one of the most extraordinary and haunting films of the year. Folman has made an animated film that ends with the tragic events at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982.

Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky: A film about life and people being worth something

By David Walsh, 2 December 2008

In Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is an irrepressible personality, a teacher in London who looks for the best in people and situations. The WSWS will be posting an interview with Leigh in the next few days.

Vancouver International Film Festival 2008—Part 5

Six films: problems of perspective, passivity

By David Walsh, 27 October 2008

Every film that fails or disappoints does so in its own way. Pointing to the flaws of a work is not a pleasurable task.

An interview with Azharr Rudin, director of This Longing

By David Walsh, 27 October 2008

The WSWS commented on This Longing, directed by Malaysian filmmaker Azharr Rudin, in the first part of the series on the Vancouver film festival. The movie takes place in Johor Baharu, in southern Malaysia.

W: A crude approach is not good for grasping much of anything

By David Walsh, 22 October 2008

Directed by Oliver Stone, screenplay by Stanley Weiser W. is veteran American director Oliver Stone's film about the life and career of President George W. Bush. It was shot and edited rapidly for release while Bush was still in office. The November 4 election was no doubt a consideration as well.

An interview with Li Yifan, director of The Longwang Chronicles

By David Walsh, 20 October 2008

We spoke to Chinese filmmaker Li Yifan, through a translator, in Vancouver on October 1.

Vancouver International Film Festival 2008—Part 3

The oppressed and excluded

By David Walsh, 20 October 2008

This is the third in a series of articles on the recent Vancouver International Film Festival (September 25-October 10).

Vancouver International Film Festival 2008—Part 1

Life in its incontrovertible reality

By David Walsh, 13 October 2008

This is the first in a series of articles on the recent Vancouver International Film Festival (September 25-October 10).

Toronto International Film Festival 2008—Part 5

The Dardenne brothers: but what about the “extenuating circumstances”?

By David Walsh, 29 September 2008

This is the fifth and final part of a series devoted to the recent Toronto film festival (September 4-13).

Toronto International Film Festival 2008—Part 3

Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky, Terence Davies’ Of Time and the City: What the filmmakers now see

By David Walsh, 24 September 2008

This is the third of a series of articles devoted to the recent Toronto film festival (September 4-13). To create a visually appealing and insightful film is difficult. There are many technical problems to confront, as well as the complex task of developing the themes and overall mood of a work in an artistic manner. To withstand various pressures, to tell the truth without flinching, to be true to what is best in oneself—none of this is easy.

Toronto International Film Festival 2008—Part 1

Glimpses of life, if not the essential facts of the world

By David Walsh, 18 September 2008

This is the first of a series of articles devoted to the recent Toronto film festival (September 4-13). A great many films are screened at the Toronto film festival, some 312 this year. We saw about forty-five. You always hope that you have selected the most interesting. Perhaps something truly extraordinary escapes, but it doesn’t seem that likely. As usual, we tended to see the films that are not going to show up in the local movie theater.

Touch of Evil: that ticking noise in our heads

By David Walsh, 20 October 1998

Orson Welles directed the filming of Touch of Evil, his seventh feature, in early 1957. He got the assignment from Universal Studios in part due to the urging of the film's leading actor, Charlton Heston. It was Welles's first Hollywood film in a decade, and his only one of the 1950s.

Buffalo '66: "All my life I've been a lonely boy"

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 22 July 1998

Vincent Gallo's Buffalo '66, co-scripted by the director and Alison Bagnall, is one of the most beautiful and moving American films I have seen in a very long time. It deserves the support of every serious moviegoer.

David Walsh looks at the San Francisco film festival

Blacklisted film director John Berry honored

By David Walsh, 9 June 1998

This is the last in a series of articles about the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival

‘The supreme vice is shallowness’ – Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s martyrdom in perspective

Wilde, directed by Brian Gilbert, screenplay by Julian Mitchell

By David Walsh, 30 May 1998

Brian Gilbert's Wilde, from a script by Julian Mitchell, with Stephen Fry in the leading role, has a certain seriousness about it. This account of Anglo-Irish poet-playwright Oscar Wilde's trials and tribulations might prompt a spectator to wonder what all the fuss was about.

David Walsh looks at Taste of Cherry, a new film from Iran

Despair, hope, life

By David Walsh, 11 April 1998

Film review: Taste of Cherry, written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami

Films on US television this week

By David Walsh, 28 March 1998

Some interesting films on US television -- a weekly Arts Review feature of the World Socialist Web Site

The Newton Boys:

A tribute to human resiliency

By David Walsh, 27 March 1998

Film review: The Newton Boys, directed by Richard Linklater, written by Richard Linklater, Claude Stanush and Clarke Lee Walker, based on the book by Claude Stanush

Titanic as a social phenomenon

By David Walsh, 25 February 1998

James Cameron’s Titanic is a massive global success. The film is taking in millions of dollars a week, on its way apparently to the one billion dollar mark. Even Cameron claims to be "a little bit mystified." What is behind this remarkable phenomenon?

Amistad’s failings

By David Walsh, 18 February 1998

Steven Spielberg's subject in Amistad is a worthy one, but the artistic treatment it receives at the director's hands is, for the most part, dreadful.

Jackie Brown:

The question remains: something or nothing?

By David Walsh, 5 February 1998

A difficulty in writing about Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown is that one could repeat much of what one said about his previous film, Pulp Fiction: “The film is above all intended to make an impression on the spectator. One is not meant to know something more about the world by the end of the film—or it’s perhaps an accident if one does—but to develop a certain attitude toward the filmmaker. Every grimace and every laugh, especially every knowing laugh, is a personal triumph for Quentin Tarantino.

Wag the Dog: Not everyone is fooled 

By David Walsh, 30 January 1998

Wag the Dog is a funny and pointed film about American political life, with remarkable relevance to contemporary events.

Why are the critics lauding Titanic? 

By David Walsh, 30 January 1998

There are few excuses for those critics who are singing the praises of James Cameron’s Titanic. It is a bad piece of work—poorly scripted, poorly acted, poorly directed. If it weren’t for the hundreds of millions of dollars involved in its production and distribution, and the accompanying media hoopla, one could safely ignore the film. 

Four films from Taiwan and China

By David Walsh, 6 November 1995

In an oft-quoted remark reportedly made to a young Romanian poet in a Zurich restaurant during World War I, Lenin is supposed to have said, in part, "One can never be radical enough; that is, one must always try to be as radical as reality itself."

Four films from Taiwan and China

By David Walsh, 6 November 1995

In an oft-quoted remark reportedly made to a young Romanian poet in a Zurich restaurant during World War I, Lenin is supposed to have said, in part, "One can never be radical enough; that is, one must always try to be as radical as reality itself."

Pulp Fiction: Something or nothing?

By David Walsh, 24 April 1995

According to the public relations mill, Pulp Fiction's director, Quentin Tarantino, a high school dropout, spent the 1980s working in a Los Angeles video store watching every film in stock. Why should we assume, as the publicists imply, that this would have entirely positive results?

Jane Campion's The Piano: A sensitive touch to a fairly selfish theme

By David Walsh, 17 January 1994

In Jane Campion's film The Piano, mute Scottish widow Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) and her child take themselves off to New Zealand in 1852 to start a new life.