Freep Film Festival 2019 in Detroit—Part 2
Midnight Family from Mexico, The Last Truck and American Factory—about a former GM plant, murderous Detroit police and I Am Richard Pryor: A mixed lot
By Joanne Laurier, 19 April 2019
In some cases, good intentions are mingled with a socially non-committal attitude—in others, an obvious feeling for important issues is marred by middle-class prejudices and conceptions.
Freep Film Festival 2019 in Detroit—Part 1
Glimpses of social life: The Feeling of Being Watched, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool and Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts, among others
By David Walsh and Helen Halyard, 17 April 2019
The Detroit film festival organizers made an obvious effort to program works oriented toward contemporary reality and recent social history, including many of their difficult and painful aspects.
And Working Woman from Israel
By David Walsh, 13 April 2019
Jia Zhangke has demonstrated a concern with the fate of workers and others whose lives have been turned upside down by the full integration of China into the global capitalist economy.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 April 2019
A group of homeless people in Cincinnati resist being thrown out of a public library onto the streets on an especially frigid night.
By Nick Barrickman, 8 April 2019
With Trigger Warning, rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render combines occasional flashes of insight and intellectual courage with a tendency to resort to mere shock tactics or juvenile behavior.
By Kevin Martinez, 6 April 2019
Director Jordan Peele’s latest horror film tells the story of a vacationing family stalked by their doppelgängers. The results are murky, pretentious and strangely unaffecting.
By David Walsh, 3 April 2019
The most recent film by veteran American director Gus Van Sant focuses on quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan (1951-2010), based on the latter’s memoir.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 9
Three Turkish films (A Tale of Three Sisters, Daughters of Two Worlds, Oray)—Hoping for a better life
By Bernd Reinhardt, 25 March 2019
Three films at the Berlinale exude a humanistic spirit of enlightenment and dialogue. They suggest that everyone, regardless of their ethnic, religious or cultural background, has the right to a better life.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 8
By Stefan Steinberg, 21 March 2019
In February, the deputy director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department declared that the country’s filmmakers “must have a clear ideological bottom line and cannot challenge the political system.”
By David Walsh, 20 March 2019
The production and release of Captain Marvel, the new science fiction adventure from Marvel and Disney, has a number of remarkable features, but none of them involve the film’s drama, action or characters.
By Joanne Laurier, 18 March 2019
Amazon Video and British ITV’s new eight-episode series is a political thriller set primarily in the war-torn and impoverished Democratic Republic of Congo.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 7
By Bernd Reinhardt, 16 March 2019
The pursuit of naked profit interests and government-imposed austerity dominate an ever broader swath of life. Some of the German films at this year’s Berlinale point to the consequences.
By David Walsh, 15 March 2019
The film is based on an episode from Jacques the Fatalist and His Master, a novel written by Denis Diderot (1713–1784), the great Enlightenment figure, in the years 1765 to 1780, but not published until after his death.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 6
By Verena Nees, 13 March 2019
This year’s Berlin International Film Festival once again presented a number of documentary and feature films from eastern and southeastern Europe. Some took a new and refreshing approach.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 8 March 2019
The decision to bestow the Best Picture award on Green Book (directed by Peter Farrelly) at the Academy Awards on February 24 has triggered a furious and ongoing response in the American media.
Why is there so little media skepticism about Leaving Neverland and its allegations against Michael Jackson?
By David Walsh, 6 March 2019
Leaving Neverland consists principally of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, detailing their claims that singer Michael Jackson sexually abused them over the course of many years, in the 1980s and 1990s.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4
By Stefan Steinberg, 5 March 2019
Interest in the playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is undergoing something of a revival.
By Ed Hightower, 2 March 2019
The two-hour biopic—a tedious cinematic effort—seeks to rally a core constituency of the Democratic Party: upper-middle-class women.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3
By Stefan Steinberg, 28 February 2019
This is the third in a series of articles on the recent Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale, held February 7-17, 2019. The first part was posted on February 15 and the second on February 22.
By Hiram Lee and Andre Damon, 26 February 2019
Its central crime, the critics declare, is the view that racial prejudice is a social problem that can be solved through education, reason and empathy, and that racial hatred is not an essential component of the human condition.
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film
By Kevin Martinez, 25 February 2019
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda has made an interesting film about a family living on the fringes of contemporary Japan. Although not a groundbreaking work, its liveliness and compassion make it worth watching.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2
By Verena Nees, 22 February 2019
The film provides an authentic and moving portrayal of people just like us, who just happen to live in the wrong country at the wrong time.
By Clara Weiss, 18 February 2019
The film is a poignant indictment of social inequality and has been subject to a campaign of Russian government censorship.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 1
By Stefan Steinberg, 15 February 2019
The fact that festival director Dieter Kosslick decided on short notice to include the film Who Will Write Our History? is a reflection of the growing opposition in the artistic community to the growth of the far-right in Germany.
By David Walsh, 12 February 2019
Dan Gilroy is one of the more interesting American filmmakers currently working.
By David Walsh, 9 February 2019
Amazon’s refusal to distribute Allen’s film and honor its contract with him is a brazen act of censorship that is the direct product of the #MeToo witch hunt.
Also, Capernaum and Stan and Ollie…
By Joanne Laurier, 8 February 2019
Cold War, directed by Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski, is a film about two artists caught up in Cold War culture and politics in the 1950s.
By David Walsh, 1 February 2019
William Makepeace Thackeray’s work, a remarkable social satire and picture of life, is set during and after the Napoleonic Wars, with the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 playing a role in the events.
By Joanne Laurier, 30 January 2019
The movie deals with the subject of drug addiction—a national public health emergency and social crisis, and the source of immense suffering.
Critic-at-large Wesley Morris on the Academy Awards
By David Walsh, 28 January 2019
The New York Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris published an article January 23 headlined “Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?”
By David Walsh, 23 January 2019
The 91st awards ceremony will be held February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
By Tom Pearce and Paul Mitchell, 21 January 2019
In the documentary, we witness the distress resulting from teacher shortages, large class sizes, dilapidated buildings and insufficient support for children with special needs, all in pursuit of “balancing the budget.”
By Joanne Laurier, 19 January 2019
Netflix began streaming Bird Box on December 21 and, a week later, reported that the film had the largest seven-day viewership, 45 million accounts, of any of its original productions.
By Richard Phillips, 14 January 2019
The main problem of We The Workers is not the director’s stylistic approach but the film’s uncritical attitude towards the political agenda of the labour activists.
By Matthew MacEgan, 12 January 2019
One of the top anime series of 2018, based on a 2015 video game of the same name, deals with a small group of friends who discover a way to time travel, with dangerous consequences.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 January 2019
The film centers on the love between two African American youth, one of whom faces a police frame-up, in New York City’s Harlem.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 January 2019
The six-episode documentary released in December is based on bestselling novelist John Grisham’s only non-fiction effort. The miniseries chronicles the wrongful incarceration of four men in the 1980s in Ada, Oklahoma.
“Life is forbidden to us … do you want to comply with that?”: The rediscovery of Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz’s The Traveler in Germany
By Clara Weiss, 4 January 2019
Though written 80 years ago, The Traveler is not just a remarkable literary document of the Nazi period, but speaks immediately to the major political and historical questions of our time.
By Kevin Martinez, 3 January 2019
Eastwood’s latest film fictionally dramatizes the potentially intriguing true story of Leo Sharp, an elderly World War II veteran and horticulturist who smuggled drugs for a Mexican cartel. However, it is a conformist and clichéd work.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2018
The film world in 2018 can be viewed and judged in different ways and by distinct standards.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 29 December 2018
In regard to the Bush-Cheney administration, the WSWS pointed in the early 2000s to an unprecedented development, the “rise to the pinnacle of the American political system of elements of a gangster character.”
By Rafael Azul, 17 December 2018
Roma is a sensitive portrait of a family breaking apart in the broader context of a social crisis. It follows Cleo, a Mixtec Indian, as she performs her daily chores, which include caring for the family’s four children.
And Can You Ever Forgive Me?
By Joanne Laurier, 13 December 2018
Set in 1960 in Great Falls, Montana, Wildlife is a relatively somber look at postwar American life. Can You Ever Forgive Me? focuses on an eccentric forger.
By David Walsh, 11 December 2018
Icebox focuses on a 12-year-old Honduran boy, Oscar (Anthony Gonzalez), forced by gang activity to flee his home country and head for the US, where an uncle lives.
By Joanne Laurier, 8 December 2018
Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas, about the legendary Greek-American opera soprano, has opened in the US.
A quarter-century since the release of Steven Spielberg’s film
By David Walsh, 7 December 2018
Schindler’s List opened in movie theaters in the US in December 1993. A restored version is now playing in selected theaters. We are reposting today a review published in the International Workers Bulletin, a forerunner of the WSWS, in January 1994.
And Widows, Bohemian Rhapsody
By Joanne Laurier, 6 December 2018
Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner chronicles the downfall of Gary Hart, the leading contender for the 1988 Democratic Party presidential nomination, whose campaign was abruptly brought to an end by a sex scandal.
By David Walsh, 4 December 2018
Given the film’s subject matter, the generally hostile or condescending treatment Submission received at the hands of the major film critics in March 2018 should not have come as a surprise.
By Joanne Laurier, 29 November 2018
Set in 1962, Green Book is a heartfelt film about the relationship between a famed black pianist and his white, working class chauffeur. In At Eternity’s Gate, artist Julian Schnabel treats the last period in the life of legendary Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.
By Richard Phillips and David Walsh, 28 November 2018
Bertolucci will be remembered for valuable films he made in the 1960s and 1970s, including La commare secca (1962—English title, The Grim Reaper), Before the Revolution (1964), The Conformist (1970) and 1900 (1976).
By David Walsh, 26 November 2018
The Coens’ latest film is made up of six stories set in a mythical “Old West.” The thread connecting the various episodes is a generally nasty attitude toward humanity, and American humanity in particular.
By Ed Hightower, 20 November 2018
The often humorous drama follows beloved children’s television personality, Mr. Pickles, through personal and social tragedy.
… And two much weaker series, Maniac and Wanderlust
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 17 November 2018
Homecoming, a compelling, disturbing 10-episode web television series, concerns itself with a facility in Florida that supposedly helps Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
By Paul Bond, 15 November 2018
Jackson’s documentary, assembled from footage shot in World War I and soldiers’ oral recollections, has resonated with millions of people.
By Nick Barrickman, 12 November 2018
The film addresses itself to the phenomenon of police violence and its effect on a young African-American working class girl and her family.
By David Walsh, 8 November 2018
On November 2, Netflix released The Other Side of the Wind, a film directed by Orson Welles, who died in 1985. The footage was shot, with many breaks and delays, from August 1970 to January 1976.
By Matthew MacEgan, 7 November 2018
The latest Marvel film from Sony serves up a dish of superficial characters and contrived drama for a big box office success.
By Carlos Delgado, 5 November 2018
The 2016 miniseries, available on HBO’s online streaming service, is an indictment of a criminal justice system that is massively biased against the working class.
By Benjamin Mateus, 3 November 2018
The Wife is being celebrated, in the context of the #MeToo movement, as further proof that brutish, overbearing men largely exist to crush talented, deserving women’s hopes and dreams.
By David Walsh, 1 November 2018
Each is a relatively unpretentious, low-budget, “independent” film. Each follows a group of middle-class adults as they attempt to navigate certain complicated moral or emotional situations. Each film is slight.
Two short films: The Overcoat, based on the Nikolai Gogol story, and Detainment, about the Jamie Bulger murder case
By David Walsh, 29 October 2018
The Overcoat, directed by Patrick Myles, is based on the famed 1842 short story by Russian author Nikolai Gogol. Detainment treats the aftermath of the killing of a toddler on Merseyside, England in 1993.
By Joanne Laurier, 24 October 2018
Having assured his kids they will be welcomed in France, Abbas, a refugee from the Central African Republic, encounters the opposite: a horrible web of bureaucracy and personal abasement.
The Waldheim Waltz: A timely film about the World War II role of the former right-wing Austrian president
By Stefan Steinberg, 23 October 2018
The events surrounding Kurt Waldheim’s campaign and subsequent election in June 1986 played a major role in exposing the foul role played by Austria’s ruling elite during the Second World War.
By Joanne Laurier, 18 October 2018
The Netflix fiction feature 22 July recreates the attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011, perpetrated by neo-Nazi Anders Breivik, during which he murdered 77 people, including 69 youth.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 5
Errol Morris provides Steven Bannon a platform (American Dharma), Werner Herzog celebrates Mikhail Gorbachev (Meeting Gorbachev) and other appalling developments
By David Walsh, 12 October 2018
Certain works either conceal critical features of contemporary life, falsify or are overwhelmed by them.
Mack the Knife—Brecht’s Threepenny Film: The famed “play with music,” and the controversies surrounding it, brought to life
By Sybille Fuchs, 11 October 2018
Joachim A. Lang’s film deals with the failed attempts of left-wing German dramatist Bertolt Brecht in 1930 to make a film based on his successful play The Threepenny Opera (1928).
By Joanne Laurier, 10 October 2018
Starring Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is a film about a rising star and a declining one in the music business.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 4
Damien Chazelle’s First Man: Reduced in space—and opera singer Maria Callas, the Afghanistan war, small-town America
By Joanne Laurier, 8 October 2018
Damien Chazelle’s First Man—which opens in the US October 12—focuses on US astronaut Neil Armstrong and his role in Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 3
Icebox and Twin Flower: The US government locks up children—and, in Italy, an African refugee finds a kindred spirit
By David Walsh, 4 October 2018
At the recent Toronto film festival, several films took up the global issue of the horrendous treatment of immigrants and the desperate conditions facing refugees.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 2
Capernaum, Screwdriver, Rosie, The Public and Black 47: Socially critical films from the Middle East, Ireland and the US
By Joanne Laurier, 1 October 2018
Film writers and directors live in this world too. There must be those who reject upper-middle class triviality and self-involvement.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 1
By David Walsh, 28 September 2018
The recent Toronto International Film Festival screened some 340 films (including 255 features) from 74 countries.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018
By David Walsh, 21 September 2018
Despite various criticisms of leading Democrats and the American liberal establishment as a whole, Moore urges his viewers to retain—or perhaps regain—confidence in the Democratic Party.
By David Walsh, 18 September 2018
Hal Ashby (1929-88) was an American film director, generally underrated or unrecognized today, responsible for a number of valuable or, in some cases, provocative works in the 1970s.
By Fred Mazelis, 15 September 2018
The film is long on suspense but rather short on history and insight.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 September 2018
In July 1917, 1,200 striking copper miners in Bisbee, Arizona were illegally kidnapped, loaded in cattle cars and dumped in the southwest New Mexico desert. This episode is the subject of Bisbee ’17.
By Kevin Martinez, 6 September 2018
From director Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone, 2010) comes the story of an Iraq War veteran with PTSD living in the woods near Portland, Oregon with his teenage daughter.
… and homelessness in Seattle in The Road to Nickelsville
By Joanne Laurier, 30 August 2018
Scott Cooper’s Hostiles opens in 1892 in Fort Berringer, New Mexico, as the mass destruction of the Native Americans population is winding down.
By Nick Barrickman, 29 August 2018
A great deal of fanfare has surrounded the opening of the film, due principally to the fact that Crazy Rich Asians is the first major Hollywood picture since The Joy Luck Club (1993) to feature an all-Asian cast.
By Joanne Laurier, 21 August 2018
Robin Williams (1951–2014) was an exceptional comic whose ability to create personalities and move among them seemed at times almost supernatural. He contained within himself an apparently infinite number of human types.
By David Walsh, 16 August 2018
Lee’s new film takes as its point of departure the infiltration in the late 1970s of the racist Ku Klux Klan by a black police officer, Ron Stallworth, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
By Joanne Laurier, 6 August 2018
Alexandra Dean’s documentary focuses on 1940s Hollywood movie star Hedy Lamarr’s recently uncovered career as an inventor of technology that paved the way for secure Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.
By Hiram Lee, 2 August 2018
Fifty years after the debut of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on US public television, a new documentary explores its history and influence.
Based on a horrific 1988 murder in Rome
By Emanuele Saccarelli, 30 July 2018
Dogman is a serious attempt to deal with a difficult, and in this climate not especially promising subject.
By David Walsh, 23 July 2018
Ramin Bahrani, the Iranian-American filmmaker, has directed a new version of Ray Bradbury’s well-known novel, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953.
By Joanne Laurier, 20 July 2018
The Yellow Birds is based on the 2012 novel of the same title by Kevin Powers. The story revolves around three American soldiers and the devastating impact of the Iraq War on their lives and psyches.
By Clara Weiss, 6 July 2018
The documentary amounts to an appeal to the Kremlin, Washington and the liberal intelligentsia, to make peace and negotiate an orderly transition from the Putin presidency.
By Joanne Laurier, 5 July 2018
A new film biography of Mary Shelley, directed by Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour, coincides with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus.
By David Walsh, 30 June 2018
Michael Mayer has directed a new film version of Russian writer Anton Chekhov’s play, The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896.
By Kevin Mitchell, 23 June 2018
An unusual documentary was recently released that traces the journey of the filmmaker’s grandparents and parents to Mexico in 1939 as refugees from the Spanish Civil War.
By Joanne Laurier, 22 June 2018
This documentary exposé of the US prison and criminal justice system includes a host of celebrities commenting on the phenomenon of mass incarceration.
“Unfortunately, none of this happened”: Kirill Serebrennikov’s Summer (Leto), a take on the pre-perestroika period in the USSR
By Clara Weiss, 21 June 2018
Serebrennikov’s new film treats two of Russia’s most famous rock groups, Kino and Zoopark, in the early 1980s, while managing to avoid all the major questions of the time.
By Carlos Delgado, 20 June 2018
The film stars Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, a professional criminal who concocts a plan to steal a $150 million diamond necklace during New York City’s Met Gala.
By Matthew MacEgan, 4 June 2018
The fourth Star Wars film released by Disney serves as a shallow adventure story with some reference to world politics, but very little that will be challenging to viewers.
By Pani Wijesiriwardane and Gamini Karunatileka, 23 May 2018
Peries’s best films, like the great dramas directed by India’s Satyajit Ray and Japan’s Akira Kurosawa, have left their mark on Asian and world cinema.
By Stefan Steinberg, 21 May 2018
An examination of recent movies by prominent women filmmakers reveals that they share the problems of their male counterparts.
By Joanne Laurier, 18 May 2018
The story of a struggling Hollywood screenwriter and his deadly encounter with a delusional silent film star.
Revisiting Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen & The Production Code Administration (2007)
By Charles Bogle, 17 May 2018
The bulk of Thomas Doherty’s work covers the period from 1934 to 1954, when his subject was the enforcer of the Production Code.
By Wasantha Rupasinghe, 15 May 2018
Rahul Jain’s austere but effective documentary focuses on one of the hundreds of textile plants in Gujarat state on India’s west coast.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 May 2018
It soon comes to light that certain townspeople had a hand in the deportation of Jews from the Hungarian village to concentration camps and benefited in the confiscation of their property.
By Stefan Sternberg, 9 May 2018
The fate of refugees is the subject of Transit, the latest film by prominent German director Christian Petzold, which featured at the 2018 Berlinale and is now on public release in Germany.