70th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4
My Little Sister, Kids Run, Running on Empty and Sleep speak to growing social tensions and persisting historical nightmares
By Bernd Reinhardt, 24 March 2020
In recent years, a small minority of the middle class have successfully pursued their careers and become wealthy while a large majority directly confront poverty. This polarisation also applies to the art and film world.
70th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 3
Curveball—Germany’s role in the Iraq war—and the horrors of the concentration camp in Persian Lessons
By Stefan Steinberg, 18 March 2020
Johannes Naber’s film is a political satire rooted firmly in evidence researched by the director and his team. Vadim Perelman’s work follows a man who has to invent an entire language to survive.
70th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2
By Verena Nees, 11 March 2020
The title of Vanessa Lapa’s documentary, Speer Goes to Hollywood, and its tagline, “The Unbelievable Second Career of the Good Nazi,” are enough to stop one in one’s tracks.
By Jean Shaoul, 7 March 2020
The film exposes the criminal role of the finance industry, aided and abetted by an army of lawyers, advisors and not least governments, in evicting people and jacking up rents after giving properties a superficial makeover.
By Alex Lantier, 29 February 2020
The French Film Academy openly defied demands from the #MeToo movement and President Emmanuel Macron’s government not to give Polanski an award.
70th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 1
By Verena Nees, 28 February 2020
The 70th Berlinale offers an interesting program, including a significant number of films dealing with the current, tense social situation.
By Thomas Scripps, 26 February 2020
Greed offers a sharp and often funny critique of the impact on society of rule by a criminal financial oligarchy, and deserves a wide audience.
By Joanne Laurier, 24 February 2020
Echo in the Canyon, a documentary, celebrates the music and performers who came out of Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon neighborhood in the mid-1960s.
By Robert Stevens, 19 February 2020
Claire Mercer is leading a fight to end the use of “smart motorways” after her husband, Jason, was tragically killed on a smart motorway near Sheffield, on June 7, 2019.
By Alex Lantier, 15 February 2020
Allied with the reactionary Macron government, #MeToo demands the censorship of Polanski’s brilliant account of the anti-Semitic frame-up of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, which was a seminal event in modern French history.
By our reporters, 15 February 2020
The WSWS urges all our readers to watch this powerful documentary on SBS television, at 8.30 p.m. Sunday night, February 16.
By Paul Bond, 14 February 2020
Smart motorways were introduced in a cost-cutting measure, as a means of easing congestion without expanding the existing road network—by turning the hard shoulder of conventional motorways into a live traffic lane.
By Joanne Laurier, 14 February 2020
The King is a Netflix historical drama broadly tracing the life of Henry V (1386–1422), with a certain anti-war coloring.
By Lily Zhao, 12 February 2020
The work won in the best documentary feature category at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. It was the first film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions.
On the eve of the Academy Awards ceremony
New York Times’ Wesley Morris complains that eight of the films nominated for Best Picture “are about white people”
By David Walsh, 8 February 2020
Morris, the ideological product of decades of selfish identity politics, espouses a thoroughly racialist interpretation of history and culture. He seemingly cannot perceive anything else aside from race.
By Jean Shaoul, 4 February 2020
Advocate exposes the bankruptcy of the pursuit of justice for the Palestinians through the Israeli courts.
By Kevin Martinez, 3 February 2020
The British documentary “Up” series has followed the lives of a group of Britons from age seven up to the present, when they are now all 63. The latest film provides insights into not only their lives, but the nature of the postwar period.
By Joanne Laurier, 1 February 2020
Steven Soderbergh’s latest film High Flying Bird concerns itself with a fictional National Basketball Association (NBA) lockout, but is essentially an accommodation to identity politics.
“This ain’t a nice place to be: This ain’t Belmarsh, it’s Hellmarsh”
By Paul Bond, 30 January 2020
Despite going unmentioned, Assange’s deteriorating health and the concerns of independent medical professionals about his effective solitary confinement in the health care unit hung silently over the programme.
By Matthew MacEgan, 23 January 2020
Makoto Shinkai’s latest anime film is the Japanese entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.
By Stefan Steinberg, 22 January 2020
The film is an adaptation of the book by Judith Kerr, the German-born British writer, published in 1971 and the first part of her Out of the Hitler Time trilogy.
By David Walsh, 20 January 2020
Greta Gerwig has directed the latest and a generally conscientious film adaptation of Alcott’s novel about four sisters and their parents during the Civil War era.
By Joanne Laurier, 17 January 2020
1917, directed by British filmmaker Sam Mendes, recounts a fictionalized episode set during World War I. Failing to indict those responsible for the carnage or explore its context, the movie does not qualify as an anti-war film.
By our reporter, 16 January 2020
Garnett’s career spanned 50 years, but he is identified above all with one of the most significant and creative periods in the history of television drama in the UK.
By David Walsh, 15 January 2020
The nominations as a whole reflect the combination of strong commercial pressure, Hollywood liberal views and limited artistic tastes that generally dominate the Academy Awards.
By Erik Schreiber, 11 January 2020
To present former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as a truth-teller and role model, Bombshell minimizes Kelly’s right-wing views and largely ignores her employer’s role in promoting them.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 January 2020
The film is a fictionalized version of the events known as the Maywand District murders, the killing and mutilation of unarmed Afghan civilians carried out by American soldiers in 2010.
By David Walsh, 9 January 2020
Gervais ruffled some feathers in Hollywood and the media, most of which deserved to be ruffled, on Sunday night at the Golden Globes awards ceremony.
An interview with film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum: “I’m trying to do something aesthetic through criticism”
By David Walsh, 6 January 2020
The WSWS recently spoke to Jonathan Rosenbaum, the longtime film critic for the Chicago Reader and author of numerous books on filmmaking.
By Joanne Laurier, 6 January 2020
The film is based on Bryan Stevenson’s bestselling 2014 memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. It dramatizes Stevenson’s courageous efforts to reverse death penalty sentences in Alabama.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2019
The difficulties and obstacles confronting the sensitive and thoughtful artist in our day should not be underestimated or regarded unsympathetically.
By Matthew MacEgan, 27 December 2019
December 2019 saw the end of the “Skywalker Saga” with the latest entry in the Star Wars franchise of films.
By Fred Mazelis, 24 December 2019
An important subject is treated with the generally mystical-religious outlook for which Terrence Malick has become known.
The Revolution and the Land: Peruvian documentary about agrarian reform in the 1960s and ’70s attracts great interest
By Armando Cruz and Cesar Uco, 23 December 2019
The documentary brings to life the centuries-long exploitation of the indigenous Peruvian peasantry, but fails to provide a coherent political analysis of the rise and fall of Gen. Velasco’s regime.
By David Walsh, 21 December 2019
Marriage Story, now streaming on Netflix after a brief theatrical release, is the account of a divorce between a theater director and an actress set in Los Angeles and New York.
By David Walsh, 17 December 2019
Anna Karina, the Danish-born actress indelibly associated above all with the early films of French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, died Saturday at a Paris hospital from cancer.
By Joanne Laurier, 14 December 2019
In Queen & Slim, a racist white policeman is killed in the act of assaulting two young black people. Relying on certain aspects of reality, the film creates a largely mythological picture to justify a strand of rabid identity politics.
Twin Flower, about the refugee crisis, from Italy—and Midnight Family, about poverty and health care, from Mexico
By Joanne Laurier, 12 December 2019
Two adolescents—one an African refugee—find themselves in painful straits in Twin Flower. Midnight Family focuses on a family in Mexico eking out a meager existence by driving its own private ambulance.
By Joanne Laurier, 9 December 2019
Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters is a retelling of the nearly 20-year legal battle against the massive toxic chemical contamination of Parkersburg, West Virginia by the DuPont chemical company.
By David Walsh, 4 December 2019
Ly’s work, with its strengths and weaknesses, is an honest effort to confront the wretched reality prevailing in the working-class suburbs (banlieues) surrounding Paris.
By Kevin Martinez and David Walsh, 3 December 2019
Scorsese’s new film The Irishman sets out to dramatize the life of Frank Sheeran, a member of a Pennsylvania crime family and a Teamsters union official. On his deathbed, Sheeran “confessed” to having killed Jimmy Hoffa.
By Joanne Laurier, 29 November 2019
The Report is a film dramatization of the events surrounding the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into and writing of a report on pervasive CIA torture under the Bush administration.
By Joanne Laurier, 27 November 2019
Ford v Ferrari recounts Ford Motor Company’s bid to unseat Ferrari as the reigning champion of Le Mans in the 1960s. The Professor and the Madman tells the fascinating story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary .
By Joanne Laurier, 22 November 2019
An eerie, haunting film, Mati Diop’s Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story deals fantastically with Senegalese youth lost at sea as they undertake lengthy, dangerous trips to Europe for economic reasons—and those they leave behind.
By Alex Lantier, 19 November 2019
Director Roman Polanski’s J’accuse recounts the 12-year struggle to clear Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish officer unjustly convicted of spying for Germany in 1894.
By Thomas Scripps, 18 November 2019
Greed offers a sharp and often funny critique of the impact on society of rule by a criminal financial oligarchy and deserves a wide audience.
The Lighthouse: A gothic horror film
By Joanne Laurier, 16 November 2019
Parasite is a dark comedy from South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho that concerns itself with income inequality and its implications. The Lighthouse is a pointless horror film set in the late 1800s in New England.
By David Walsh, 15 November 2019
In 23-year-old Paul Marques Duarte’s short film, a teacher helps “smuggle” an undocumented immigrant from France to England on board a ferry.
By David Walsh, 11 November 2019
All in all, Morris treats Bannon with kid gloves.
Edward Norton’s neo-film noir, Motherless Brooklyn
By Joanne Laurier, 8 November 2019
Jojo Rabbit is a would-be satirical comedy about Nazi Germany. Set in 1957, Motherless Brooklyn follows a gumshoe protagonist with Tourette syndrome on the trail of crimes that lead directly to New York’s City Hall.
By David Walsh, 6 November 2019
The new film treats the crisis of a famous Spanish filmmaker, Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), who has ceased being able to create. Salvador suffers from a variety of physical and psychic maladies.
And Harriet: A film biography of abolitionist Harriet Tubman
By Joanne Laurier, 4 November 2019
Judy Garland was one of the most beloved entertainers in the US and internationally in the 20th century. Abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s remarkable life deserves a more profound treatment.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 October 2019
The film, originally screened in 2017, fell victim to the scandal surrounding its producer, Harvey Weinstein.
By David Walsh, 24 October 2019
The lives and times of these two extremely complex artists inevitably raise a host of issues.
By Bernd Reinhardt and Verena Nees, 21 October 2019
Director Bernd Böhlich raises the “birth defect” issue of the GDR, i.e., its silence on the Stalinist purges, primarily directed at leading Bolsheviks, particularly Leon Trotsky and many German Communists.
By Carlos Delgado, 9 October 2019
The film attempts to treat a number of critical social issues, but falls short of making much sense of them.
By Fred Mazelis, 7 October 2019
There are definite reasons why Cohn remained influential almost to the end of his life, and why he remains a potent symbol long after his death.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 6
By David Walsh, 2 October 2019
Les Misérables takes place today in the impoverished Paris suburb that was also a setting in Victor Hugo’s famed novel. Made in Bangladesh proposes that unions are the answer to the exploitation of millions of textile workers.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019
An interview with Ladj Ly, director of Les Misérables: “Victor Hugo described the social misery perfectly”
By David Walsh, 2 October 2019
The WSWS spoke to French-Malian film director Ladj Ly in Toronto during the film festival.
Part 1: The aftermath of the massacre and the responses
By Paul Bond, 30 September 2019
The massacre elicited an immediate and furious response from the working class and sections of middle-class radicals, and an astonishing outpouring of work from the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 5
Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat—on the Panama Papers—and The Goldfinch—the aftermath of a terror attack
Along with a valuable film adaptation of Jack London’s Martin Eden and The Traitor, a Mafia drama
By David Walsh, 28 September 2019
Soderbergh discards his generally non-committal stance in The Laundromat, offering a fairly withering critique of global corporate tax evasion and the financial elite generally.
By Joanne Laurier, 27 September 2019
Featuring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, Ad Astra is a space odyssey in which an astronaut son searches for his long-lost astronaut father.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 4
Also Just Mercy, Harriet, Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You…
By Joanne Laurier, 24 September 2019
The Report is a dramatization of the events surrounding the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into and writing of a report on pervasive CIA torture under the Bush administration.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 3
The personal and social tragedy of “dark periods”: Ibrahim: A Fate to Define, South Terminal, My English Cousin, 1982
By David Walsh, 20 September 2019
Lina Al Abed’s film, Ibrahim: A Fate to Define, grapples with complex issues arising from the history of the Palestinian struggle. South Terminal treats Algeria in the “dark years” of the 1990s.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 2
By Joanne Laurier, 18 September 2019
In different ways, filmmakers are trying to come to terms with certain harsh realities. Love Child, Hearts and Bones and Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story are sincere efforts.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019
An interview with director Eva Mulvad: “You can…come a bit closer to having a more rounded understanding of the world”
By Joanne Laurier, 18 September 2019
The WSWS spoke in Toronto to Eva Mulvad, Danish filmmaker and director of Love Child, about an Iranian refugee family in Turkey and its problems.
By Tim Avery, 13 September 2019
The intensely relevant film is based on the true story of Katharine Gun, who leaked a memo exposing the criminality of the preparations for war against Iraq and was charged by the British government under the Official Secrets Act.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 1
By David Walsh, 11 September 2019
It already seems possible to assert that the most interesting and serious films at this year’s event concern immigrants and refugees and conditions in the Middle East and North Africa.
An interview with Hind Meddeb, director of Paris Stalingrad: “It’s not a film about refugees, it’s a film about human beings”
By David Walsh, 11 September 2019
The documentary focuses on the plight of asylum seekers on the streets of the French capital
By David Walsh, 30 August 2019
Bernadette Fox is at odds with her conventional, upper-middle-class environment. She doesn’t care to leave her house much, although the roof leaks badly in various places. She has an antagonistic relationship with a neighbor.
By Benjamin Mateus, 28 August 2019
The film is based on the story of Francesc Boix, a left-wing Catalan militant held during World War II at the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp complex in Austria.
By Nick Barrickman, 24 August 2019
In the third season of Justin Simien’s series, events culminate in a #MeToo-style attack on a popular professor.
Also, Rosie and Angels Are Made of Light
By Joanne Laurier, 21 August 2019
Brian Banks is based on the true story of a black high school football star in Long Beach, California falsely accused of rape at the age of 16. Rosie deals with homelessness in Dublin and Angels Are Made of Light the war in Afghanistan.
German film prize goes to Margarethe von Trotta, director of Rosa Luxemburg (1986) and Rosenstrasse (2003)
By Bernd Reinhardt, 19 August 2019
Margarethe von Trotta (Rosa Luxemburg, Rosenstrasse, Hannah Arendt) is one of the most important German filmmakers of the postwar period.
By Richard Phillips, 10 August 2019
Pennebaker pioneered the use of handheld cameras and editorial comment to achieve an immediacy and closeness not previously achieved in documentary film-making.
By Carlos Delgado, 9 August 2019
Ari Aster’s newest film is a carnival of grotesqueries surrounding a limp relationship drama.
16 Shots: Documenting the Chicago Democratic Party’s cover-up of the police murder of Laquan McDonald
By Michael Walters and Kristina Betinis, 3 August 2019
Through powerful interviews with family members, witnesses, attorneys, city officials and activists, the timeline of the murder and cover-up is reconstructed.
More on the removal of actress Lillian Gish’s name at Bowling Green State University
A conversation with actor Malcolm McDowell: “Once you erode freedoms like this, and artistic thought, where are we as a civilized society?”
By David Walsh, 1 August 2019
The WSWS spoke to veteran actor Malcolm McDowell about the decision by Bowling Green State University to remove actress Lillian Gish’s name from its film theater because of her role in D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915).
By Joanne Laurier, 31 July 2019
Tarantino’s latest film reimagines 1969 Los Angeles and the disintegration of the traditional studio system.
By Joanne Laurier, 22 July 2019
Two recent British-made films delve into the field of popular music. Works about such a subject can be a means of getting at social life from an unusual and unorthodox point of view.
By Clara Weiss, 17 July 2019
Russian director Kantemir Balagov’s film treats the damaged lives of two young women who have just returned to Leningrad (today St. Petersburg) from the front after the end of the Second World War.
By Joanne Laurier, 4 July 2019
The Kursk’s sinking was bound up with both the decay of the Russian military and the catastrophic impact of Russian capitalism.
By Kate Randall, 1 July 2019
The Netflix series dramatizes the case of five black and Latino young men who were wrongfully convicted in the 1989 Central Park Jogger rape case.
“The Short Films of Raymundo Gleyzer”: Works by left-wing filmmaker murdered by Argentine military junta
By Kevin Martinez, 26 June 2019
Abducted and murdered by the Argentine junta in 1976, the documentarian made numerous films about the working class that have sadly been forgotten. Their strengths and weaknesses deserve to be considered.
By Frank Anderson and George Marlowe, 20 June 2019
The documentary film about Rockford, Illinois follows the lives of three young working-class men, trapped by harsh social circumstances, who love to skateboard.
By Joanne Laurier, 19 June 2019
The Dead Don't Die is the latest movie by American independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. It’s both a quasi-comic horror film and at the same time clearly a comment on what Jarmusch perceives to be the state of the nation.
“Unfortunately, none of this happened”: Kirill Serebrennikov’s Leto (Summer), a take on the pre- perestroika period in the USSR
By Clara Weiss, 14 June 2019
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.
Famed film actress Lillian Gish’s name removed from Bowling Green State University theater: The issues raised
By David Walsh, 12 June 2019
The Ohio university’s cowardly decision is a capitulation to the worst sort of ahistorical moralizing and the current obsession with race and gender politics within the affluent middle class.
By Joanne Laurier, 7 June 2019
Rocketman is a generally entertaining, fantastical tribute to the music of Elton John, one of the world’s most popular musical artists. Ron Howard has made a documentary about legendary Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
By David Walsh, 5 June 2019
The treatment, unfortunately, is largely leaden and relies on contemporary upper-middle class preoccupations to make sense of—or fail to make sense of—the life of an early 17th century artist.
By Jean Shaoul, 4 June 2019
The film charts Manning’s life following Barack Obama’s unexpected commutation in January 2017 of her vindictive 35-year-term jail sentence.
By Matthew Brennan, 3 June 2019
Amazing Grace, a concert film currently showing in select theaters around the US, captures the two-day recording of singer-pianist Aretha Franklin’s 1972 gospel concert album of the same title.
By David Walsh, 31 May 2019
Gilliam has famously been attempting to make a film inspired by Don Quixote, the 17th century novel by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, for decades.
By Gabriel Black, 27 May 2019
Game of Thrones’ final season was met with a widespread public backlash critical of its simplistic and misanthropic ending.
By Genevieve Leigh, 25 May 2019
Knock Down the House reviews the election campaigns of several Democratic Party primary candidates in the 2018 congressional elections, focused on Ocasio-Cortez in New York City.
By Sandy English, 22 May 2019
Rachel Kushner’s new novel centers on the grim conditions in a women’s prison and draws connections between them and the general state of American society.
By Josh Varlin, 20 May 2019
Endgame is more of a business enterprise than a work of art or cultural artifact.
… and John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky (about John Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine )
By Joanne Laurier, 17 May 2019
A generally left-wing figure shaped by the Great Depression and the impact of the Russian Revolution, filmmaker Orson Welles (1915-1985) was artistically demanding and for the most part found Hollywood nightmarish.
By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 10 May 2019
By concentrating almost exclusively on Emily Dickinson’s supposed sexual relationship with her sister-in-law, filmmaker Madeleine Olnek and her collaborators recreate the poet in their own petty, self-absorbed image.
By Stefan Steinberg, 8 May 2019
Wojciech Smarzowski’s latest offering was released in Poland in the autumn of 2018 and broke several box office records.