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.
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.
65th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4
By Hiram Lee, 27 February 2015
New films from veteran German director Wim Wenders and Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi were screened at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
By David Walsh, 24 February 2015
Social and political realities found expression on Sunday in a manner that accords with the film world’s peculiarities and contradictions.
By David Walsh, 21 February 2015
If recent ceremonies are anything to go by, Sunday’s event will be thoroughly scripted and lacking in spontaneity.
By David Walsh, 16 February 2015
Set in Greece in the early 1960s, Iranian-born director Hossein Amini’s film, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, follows a trio of Americans caught up in a series of increasingly traumatic events.
By Richard Phillips, 14 February 2015
The movie dovetails with the Australian government’s reactionary promotion of the war centenary and the Gallipoli incursion.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 February 2015
Wild tells the true story of one woman’s 1,100-mile hike of self-discovery. Black or White recounts a custody battle between the white maternal grandfather and black paternal grandmother of a seven-year-old girl.
By Dorota Niemitz and David Walsh, 6 February 2015
Oscar-nominated Leviathan is a dark tale about an individual struggling against the power of the state in contemporary Russia.
By David Walsh, 5 February 2015
In Barry Levinson’s film, based on a Philip Roth novel, an aging stage actor, who has lost the appetite for performing, encounters a younger woman with interesting consequences.
By David Walsh, 31 January 2015
The campaign in defense of Clint Eastwood’s film is the latest means by which the political and media establishment in the US is promoting its war-mongering agenda.
By David Walsh, 28 January 2015
Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, his seventh feature, is based on the 2009 novel of the same name by well-known American writer Thomas Pynchon.
By Fred Mazelis, 27 January 2015
Timothy Spall gives a powerful performance as the complicated genius who had such a lasting impact on the history of painting.
By Matthew MacEgan, 24 January 2015
Clint Eastwood’s newest film tells the story of Chris Kyle, reputedly the deadliest marksman in US military history.
By Bryan Dyne and Christine Schofelt, 9 January 2015
Christmas 2014 marked the end of the eighth season of the rebooted British science fiction television series and the first season featuring Peter Capaldi in the title role.
By Charles Bogle, 7 January 2015
Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 non-fiction work about Louie Zamperini’s harrowing experience in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II.
15th Tokyo Filmex—Part 2
By John Watanabe, 5 January 2015
Kabukicho Love Hotel is the latest film by Japanese director Ryuichi Hiroki. Amos Gitai’s Tsili takes place during World War II, and Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb during the First World War.
By Joanne Laurier, 3 January 2015
Tim Burton’s new film Big Eyes tells the story of Margaret Keane, the American artist who created the “big-eye art” that became a mass marketing sensation in the 1960s.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 30 December 2014
Some interesting films opened in North America in 2014, a greater number than in many recent years. At the same time, sections of the film industry associated themselves more than ever with the American state.
By Andre Damon and David Walsh, 29 December 2014
It is entirely fitting that The Interview has been embraced by the Obama administration as the vehicle of the values it represents.
By Joanne Laurier, 23 December 2014
Bennett Miller’s film is based on events that culminated in the shocking 1996 murder of an Olympic wrestling champion by the multimillionaire scion, John Eleuthère du Pont, of the American chemical dynasty.
15th Tokyo Filmex—Part 1
By John Watanabe, 17 December 2014
The Prince, the better of the pair of films, is a “docu-fiction” about the life journey of Jalil Nazari, an Afghan refugee in Iran, who subsequently applied for asylum in Germany.
Under the Skin (or aliens from another social class) and Mood Indigo (more inventiveness from Michel Gondry)
By David Walsh, 16 December 2014
Under the Skin is loosely adapted from Michael Faber’s 2000 science fiction novel. Mood Indigo is based on French writer Boris Vian’s famed 1947 novel, L’ Écume des jours.
By Joanne Laurier, 15 December 2014
As 2014 draws to a close, the WSWS will comment on a number of films that were released in North America and, in some cases, globally in the course of the past 12 months.
By Joanne Laurier, 4 December 2014
A young drummer at an elite music conservatory becomes the protégé of an abusive instructor who believes artistic genius is formed by sheer force of will.
By Walter Gilberti, 2 December 2014
Stephen Hawking has over the years become a familiar personage to millions. A brilliant physicist and cosmologist, Hawking’s nearly life-long battle with disease has become the stuff of legend.
By Marcelo Arias Souto, 29 November 2014
Interstellar takes place in a dystopian near future, when dust storms are destroying crops and threatening to leave the planet without food.
By Paul Mitchell, 26 November 2014
Night Will Fall explains the making of a remarkable work, the “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey”, which depicted the terrible crimes of the Holocaust in a ground-breaking and accurate manner.
By Christine Schofelt, 24 November 2014
With the third film in the Hunger Games series, the phenomenon is wearing increasingly thin.
By Joanne Laurier, 21 November 2014
Stewart, host of The Daily Show, has written and directed a film treating the Iranian government’s incarceration and torture of a London-based, Iranian-born journalist in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 presidential election.
By Stefan Steinberg, 20 November 2014
The Festival of East European Cinema in Cottbus, Germany has been an annual event since 1991.
By Bernd Reinhardt, 12 November 2014
Annekatrin Hendel’s documentary focuses on Sascha Anderson, an artist and spy for the Stalinist secret police.
By David Walsh, 1 November 2014
David Ayer’s morbid and militarist film follows an American tank crew, led by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), in the final days of World War II in Europe.
By Joanne Laurier, 30 October 2014
Birdman deals with the washed-up star of a super-hero franchise. The Skeleton Twins portrays two siblings trying to overcome a painful psychological legacy. St. Vincent features a misanthropic Vietnam veteran who forms a life-changing attachment.
By Robert Stevens, 29 October 2014
Matthew Warchus’ film about the 1984-85 conflict has been well received in Britain and was the third highest-grossing release on its opening weekend.
By Marcelo Arias Souto, 22 October 2014
Gone Girl wants to be a psychological study, a black comedy about the upper middle class, a social critique and a satire of media sensationalism. A few aspects are intriguing, even accomplished.
By Robert Stevens, 20 October 2014
Speaking of the NSA and the intelligence apparatus, Snowden asserts, in Laura Poitras’ documentary, “We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.”
By Joanne Laurier, 17 October 2014
Michael Cuesta’s film tells the story of the journalist whose 1996 investigative series, “Dark Alliance,” uncovered ties between the Central Intelligence Agency and massive drug peddling by the right-wing Nicaraguan Contras.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 6
By David Walsh, 15 October 2014
Danis Tanović’s new film focuses on a scandal that stretches back at least four decades—the marketing of infant formula to women in poor countries, which has caused untold suffering and death.
By Dorota Niemitz, 13 October 2014
Munk, part of a generation of Eastern European artists struggling to deal with the postwar situation, was able to create a humane and authentic portrait of his times.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 5
Director Ramin Bahrani: “The villain is the system”
By Joanne Laurier, 10 October 2014
99 Homes deals with the foreclosure and eviction crisis, Shelter with the homeless. Also screened was a documentary about a Mexican citizen 30 years on death row, The Years of Fierro.
By Muhammad Khan, 8 October 2014
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s latest film tackles environmental catastrophe and social revolution.
By Zaida Green, 6 October 2014
An underclass of trolls takes on the wealthy and corrupt White Hats in the new animated film from Laika, the Oregon-based studio.
By Christine Schofelt, 4 October 2014
In the opening scene, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) takes confession from an unseen man who recounts being sexually abused by a priest as a child, and informs James he is going to kill him “Sunday week.”
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 4
By David Walsh, 2 October 2014
The film, directed by Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir, attempts to interweave the complex saga of the director’s own family with the larger history of Iraq over the past half-century or more.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 3
and a roundtable interview with writer-director Andrew Niccol and actor Ethan Hawke
By David Walsh, 26 September 2014
New Zealand-born writer-director Andrew Niccol has taken on the subject of drone warfare in Good Kill, featuring Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, Zoë Kravitz and January Jones.
Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 2
By Joanne Laurier, 24 September 2014
Christian Petzold’s Phoenix and Italian-born Giulio Ricciarelli’s Labyrinth of Lies are both skillfully made, intelligent films that delve, in quite different ways, into the legacy of German fascism.
By Elle Chapman, 22 September 2014
Produced over 25 years ago, the Japanese animation feature is a unique and emotionally intense story set in Kobe during the last months of World War II.
By David Walsh, 22 August 2014
A famed illusionist (Colin Firth) is brought in to expose a young clairvoyant (Emma Stone), but instead begins to have doubts about his own rationalistic world-view.
By Joanne Laurier, 20 August 2014
The documentary, directed by cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, movingly chronicles the lives of three boys living in an impoverished, rural southwestern Missouri town.
By David Walsh, 19 August 2014
Using the same cast, the writer-director filmed sequences once a year for twelve years, centering on a boy, his family and their surroundings in east and central Texas.
By Hiram Lee, 16 August 2014
In Lucy, Scarlett Johansson is a super-powered intellect fighting to take down a Taiwanese drug cartel.
By Joanne Laurier, 14 August 2014
Tate Taylor’s film biography attempts with considerable success to penetrate the James Brown phenomenon. As the famed American singer-performer, Chadwick Boseman is mesmerizing.
By Kevin Martinez, 4 August 2014
The original Planet of the Apes (1968), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, with Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall, was fairly silly, but it was not mean-spirited and had a certain humor to it.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2014
The film’s web site reports the staggering, and scandalous, fact that more than “2,000 people in the US are serving life-without-parole sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles.”