Film Reviews

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

Speer Goes to Hollywood: A wake-up call about the danger of trivialising Nazi crimes

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.

Push: An exposure of financial parasitism and the global housing crisis

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.

Roman Polanski gets César for best director for J’Accuse, in repudiation of #MeToo

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

Some tantalising glimpses of social reality

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.

Michael Winterbottom’s Greed: A searing indictment of the super-rich

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.

Echo in the Canyon: The “California sound” of the mid-1960s

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.

Claire Mercer speaks on the campaign to abolish UK smart motorways—Part 1

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.

#MeToo collaborates with fascistic forces to block showing of Polanski’s film J’Accuse

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.

John Pilger’s The Dirty War on the National Health Service screening on Australia’s SBS this Sunday

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.

BBC Panorama exposes rising death toll on UK’s “smart motorways”

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.

The King: A film drama (insufficiently) inspired by Shakespeare’s work

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.

A comment on American Factory, the award-winning documentary

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.

Advocate (2019): “An angry, optimistic woman” in pursuit of justice for the Palestinians

By Jean Shaoul, 4 February 2020

Advocate exposes the bankruptcy of the pursuit of justice for the Palestinians through the Israeli courts.

Michael Apted’s 63 Up: The ninth film in the remarkable series

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.

Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird: Sports and racial politics

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”

ITV documentary reveals conditions in prison holding WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange

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.

Weathering With You: Climate change and fatalism

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.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: A child’s-eye view of the Nazis’ crimes

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.

Little Women: The new film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s famed work

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.

Sam Mendes’ 1917: A technological step forward, several ideological and artistic steps back

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.

Left-wing British film and television producer Tony Garnett dead at 83

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.

The 2020 Academy Award nominations: A generally weak, if unsurprising showing

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.

Bombshell invents a ruling-class hero

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.

The Kill Team: Are US military atrocities in Afghanistan just the work of a few “bad apples”?

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.

At the Golden Globes awards ceremony: Comic Ricky Gervais causes a stir

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.

Just Mercy: The cruelty of Alabama’s death penalty

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.

Best films and television of 2019 and the decade

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.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—All the gimmicks to rake in the revenue

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.

Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life: An Austrian farmer’s lonely defiance of the Nazis

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.

Marriage Story: Noah Baumbach, self-involvement and the divorce racket

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.

The death of Anna Karina at 79—the actress featured in Jean-Luc Godard’s films in the 1960s

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.

Queen & Slim: An African-American couple on the run

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.

Dark Waters: American capitalism poisons its population

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.

Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables: French youth in revolt

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.

Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman: A gangster’s life and claims

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.

Scott Z. Burns’ The Report  exposes CIA torture, then absolves the Democrats

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.

Ford v Ferrari: Life at high speed

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 .

Atlantics: The cruel fate of African youth

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.

J’accuse (An Officer and a Spy): Roman Polanski’s masterpiece on the Dreyfus Affair

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.

Michael Winterbottom’s Greed: A searing indictment of the super-rich

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.

Parasite: An unusual director with his antenna attuned to social class

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.

Harbor (Jeter l’ancre un seul jour): A young refugee in need finds allies

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.

Filmmaker Errol Morris provides the extreme-right’s Stephen Bannon a platform in American Dharma

By David Walsh, 11 November 2019

All in all, Morris treats Bannon with kid gloves.

Jojo Rabbit: A misguided comedy about Nazis

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.

Pain and Glory from Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar

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.

Judy: Singer-actress Judy Garland’s sad fate brought to the screen

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.

The Current War: Director’s Cut—About Thomas Edison, electricity and the 1880s

By Joanne Laurier, 28 October 2019

The film, originally screened in 2017, fell victim to the scandal surrounding its producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Cézanne and I (Cézanne et moi): The relationship of painter Paul Cézanne and novelist Émile Zola

By David Walsh, 24 October 2019

The lives and times of these two extremely complex artists inevitably raise a host of issues.

Sealed Lips: Dramatizing the Stalinist origins of the former East Germany

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.

Joker: An unenlightening approach to serious problems

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.

Where’s My Roy Cohn?: A documentary on McCarthy’s right-hand man, mentor to Trump

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

Youth in revolt: Les Misérables—and other films: Made in Bangladesh, Mariam, Rocks, Desert One

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.

The Peterloo massacre and Shelley

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.

Ad Astra: Traveling long distances but not getting very far

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

The Report exposes CIA torture, then absolves the Democrats

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

Love Child, Hearts and Bones, Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story—Some of the social traumas of our time

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.

Official Secrets: A whistleblower attempts to prevent the Iraq War

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

Paris Stalingrad: The plight of refugees in the French capital, once “one of the best cities”

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

Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A creative “genius” suppresses herself

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.

The Photographer of Mauthausen: Documenting Nazi crimes in a wartime concentration camp

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.

Dear White People Volume 3 and the weaponization of identity politics

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.

Brian Banks: A false rape accusation and its consequences

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.

Ground-breaking documentarian D.A. Pennebaker dies

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.

Midsommar: Illuminating nothing

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).

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood: Quentin Tarantino’s non-conformist conformism

By Joanne Laurier, 31 July 2019

Tarantino’s latest film reimagines 1969 Los Angeles and the disintegration of the traditional studio system.

Wild Rose and Yesterday: A Scottish singer seeks country music fame and a world without the Beatles

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.

Beanpole (Dylda): Disturbing scenes of postwar Soviet life

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.

The Command (Kursk): A dramatization of the 2000 Russian nuclear submarine disaster

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.

When They See Us: A powerful dramatization of the case of the Central Park Five

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.

Minding the Gap: Skateboarding to “get away” in decayed Rockford, Illinois

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.

Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die: Not awake in his own particular way

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.

Rocketman (Elton John) and Pavarotti, about the operatic tenor: Two lives in music

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.

All Is True: Kenneth Branagh’s vision of William Shakespeare’s final days

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.

XY Chelsea: A deeply flawed portrait of US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning

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.

Amazing Grace: A film about American singer Aretha Franklin’s most popular album

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.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: Terry Gilliam’s latest tribute to non-conformism

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.

The end of Game of Thrones: Spectacle versus art

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.

Knock Down the House and the Democratic Party politics of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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.

The author asks: Is America unredeemable? Rachel Kushner’s novel The Mars Room

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.

Avengers: Endgame: A waste of time, money and talent

By Josh Varlin, 20 May 2019

Endgame is more of a business enterprise than a work of art or cultural artifact.

The Eyes of Orson Welles: A markedly political approach to the American filmmaker …

… 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.

Wild Nights with Emily: American poet Emily Dickinson undone by gender politics

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.

Clergy: An uncompromising film about the hypocrisy and corruption of the Catholic Church in Poland

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.