Film Reviews by Joanne Laurier

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Some films from the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1

Paper Flags, Tehran: City of Love and Belmonte—Alienation, loneliness and other problems

By David Walsh, 26 April 2019

Paper Flags, Tehran: City of Love and Belmonte—three films from France, Iran and Uruguay, respectively—were screened at the recent San Francisco film festival.

The Widow: Kate Beckinsale’s journey into African danger

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.

Cold War: Many unstated assumptions about politics and history

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.

Bird Box and Hold the Dark: Looking at things in the face or not

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.

Netflix’s The Innocent Man: The American injustice system

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.

Wildlife: American dreams and discouragement

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.

Maria by Callas: A documentary on the life of the famed opera singer

By Joanne Laurier, 8 December 2018

Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas, about the legendary Greek-American opera soprano, has opened in the US.

Green Book and At Eternity’s Gate: Overcoming racism and painter Vincent van Gogh’s final years

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.

House of Cards Season 6: The King is dead, long live the Queen!

By Joanne Laurier, 10 November 2018

The sixth and final season of House of Cards is now streaming on Netflix. The firing of lead actor Kevin Spacey along with the #MeToo and anti-Russia campaigns have had a considerable impact on the series.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s A Season in France: The human cost of the refugee crisis

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.

Paul Greengrass’s 22 July: Neo-fascist mass murder in Norway

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 6

The Trial and Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz—An early Stalinist frame-up on film and the Nuremberg tribunal against the Nazis

By Joanne Laurier, 16 October 2018

Sergei Loznitsa’s documentary The Trial treats the so-called Industrial Party Trial in the USSR in 1930. The last surviving Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946) prosecutor is the subject of Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz .

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind: “It’s too late to be sane. Too late.”

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.

Survivors Guide to Prison: The American nightmare

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.

Fifty years since the release of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

By Joanne Laurier, 13 June 2018

2001: A Space Odyssey attempts to encompass four million years of human evolution, from prehuman man-apes in Africa, through to 21st-century space travelers.

Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard: The cruelty of the motion picture business

By Joanne Laurier, 18 May 2018

The story of a struggling Hollywood screenwriter and his deadly encounter with a delusional silent film star.

1945: The horrors of the Holocaust in Hungary

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.

Tully, A Quiet Place, You Were Never Really Here: Every poor film is poor in its own way

By Joanne Laurier, 7 May 2018

It’s not clear that good movies resemble one another, but recent history certainly suggests there are many different ways in which films can be weak.

Vertigo: Sixty years since the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s disturbing classic

By Joanne Laurier, 30 March 2018

Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, endures as one of the most troubling American films of the postwar period.

Wonder Wheel: Woody Allen’s latest film—and the campaign to drive him out of the film industry

By Joanne Laurier, 17 March 2018

Woody Allen’s newest film, Wonder Wheel, set in the 1950s, involves four characters whose unhappy lives become entwined in Coney Island—New York’s iconic amusement park.

Steven Spielberg’s The Post: To reveal government secrets and lies or not?

By Joanne Laurier, 17 January 2018

The new film recounts the internal struggle at the Washington Post over whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

All the Money in the World—above all, the “expunging” of Kevin Spacey—and The Shape of Water

By Joanne Laurier, 5 January 2018

Probably the most important thing about Ridley Scott’s new film, an account of the 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III, is the decision to erase Spacey’s performance. The Shape of Water is a charming “fairy tale,” with anti-authoritarian overtones.

Short films considered for Academy Award nominations: Emmett Till, a Jack London story and an isolated child

By Joanne Laurier, 3 January 2018

Ten films have been voted onto the Academy Award short list in the “Best Short Film (Live Action)” category.

Best films of 2017, and other matters

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 30 December 2017

It is impossible to discuss the best films of the year without considering some big social and cultural issues.

Downsizing: Alexander Payne’s take on climate change, overpopulation, social inequality … and more

By Joanne Laurier, 23 December 2017

Payne’s latest work is a science-fiction satire that proposes to solve the earth’s ecological and other problems by “downsizing,” or physically shrinking, human beings.

Mudbound and life in post-World War II Mississippi: Dreaming “in brown”

… and a word on James Franco’s The Disaster Artist

By Joanne Laurier, 15 December 2017

Dee Rees’s Mudbound centers on two families, one black and one white, in rural Mississippi, immediately following World War II.The Disaster Artist is a decidedly slight effort.

The Man Who Invented Christmas: Charles Dickens and the writing of A Christmas Carol

By Joanne Laurier, 8 December 2017

Directed by Bharat Nalluri, the film is a biographical fantasy that brings a reinvention of A Christmas Carol (1843), with Dickens as a central character, to the screen.

75 years since the release of Hollywood classic Casablanca

“And what if you track down these men and kill them? ... Even Nazis can’t kill that fast”

By Joanne Laurier, 22 November 2017

Michael Curtiz’s 1942 beloved melodrama, Casablanca, celebrating its 75th anniversary, was recently shown in select cinemas nationwide in the US.

Thank You for Your Service: How many victims are there of America’s ongoing wars?

By Joanne Laurier, 9 November 2017

Jason Hall’s directorial debut, Thank You for Your Service, is a drama about three soldiers returning from the Iraq War and their difficulties adjusting to civilian life.

Flint: How much of the social crime does the film present?

Lifetime movie on the water disaster will air October 28

By Joanne Laurier, 27 October 2017

The film, directed by Bruce Beresford, was inspired by the ongoing Flint water crisis and bases itself more immediately on a February 2016 Time magazine report, “The Poisoning of an American City.”

Toronto International Film Festival: Part 6

A Season in France, Catch the Wind, Arrhythmia, Sweet Country: The refugee crisis, social disintegration in Russia…

By Joanne Laurier, 11 October 2017

The never-ending wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa have driven millions to seek what they perceive to be more stable conditions in Western Europe.

Barbet Schroeder’s Amnesia: The trauma of German history

By Joanne Laurier, 7 August 2017

Set in the early 1990s, Amnesia is an exploration of German historical memory and the impact of the legacy of Nazism on sections of the middle class after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit: Mind-numbing violence and racial politics

By Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2017

Bigelow’s film is a fictionalized account of an incident that occurred during the July 1967 rebellion in Detroit, the cold-blooded murder of three young black men by police at the Algiers Motel.

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone (1961) and the “passion for life, for reality”

By Joanne Laurier, 19 July 2017

Accattone is the story of Rome’s “subproletariat,” in Pasolini’s phrase, and its plight, dramatically concentrated in the “Passion” of one impoverished man.

Beatriz at Dinner: Not the sort of resistance that amounts to much

By Joanne Laurier, 12 July 2017

Directed by Miguel Arteta (Cedar Rapids) and featuring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow, the new film promotes a New Age-type opposition to a Trump-like figure.

Netflix series Dear White People: Self-pity in the service of social climbing

By Joanne Laurier, 24 May 2017

The first season of the new Netflix 10-part series, Dear White People, an expansion of Justin Simien’s 2014 movie, concerns a group of black students at a fictional, predominantly white, Ivy League college.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4

Dziga Vertov’s The Man with a Movie Camera: One of the films you must see!

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 6 May 2017

A highlight of the recent San Francisco film festival was the screening of Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s masterpiece, The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), at the historic Castro Theatre.

National Bird, about drone warfare, currently available on PBS “Independent Lens”

By Joanne Laurier, 5 May 2017

Sonia Kennebeck’s disturbing documentary, National Bird, can be viewed until May 16 on PBS’s “Independent Lens” web site.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 2

Muhi—Generally Temporary, or, a real concern for human suffering

By Joanne Laurier, 29 April 2017

The film focuses on a young Palestinian boy from Gaza, whose arms and legs have been amputated and who remains in limbo in an Israeli hospital.

The Zookeeper’s Wife: Life and heroism in wartime Warsaw

By Joanne Laurier, 5 April 2017

The Zookeeper’s Wife recounts the true story of the rescue of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi invasion of Poland that began in 1939.

Lyrical and left-wing film

Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948): “They’re thieves, just like us”

By Joanne Laurier, 29 March 2017

A viewing of Nicholas Ray’s iconic 1948 film They Live by Night is a refreshing antidote to the current trivia, social indifference and identity politics.

Revolution: New Art for a New World—A careless, unserious treatment of Russian Revolutionary art

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 17 March 2017

British filmmaker Margy Kinmonth is out of her depth in her documentary about Russian avant-garde art.

Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall: Issues bound up with a major Chinese film production

By Joanne Laurier, 23 February 2017

Set in ancient China, Zhang Yimou’s new work is a visually arresting, large-scale action film undermined by its general cartoonishness.

Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta: A mother and daughter … and what else?

By Joanne Laurier, 16 February 2017

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film, Julieta, is a family melodrama that seeks to explore themes of guilt, alienation and absence, but with very limited results.

The generally lackluster Gold and 20th Century Women

By Joanne Laurier, 1 February 2017

Set in the 1980s, Gold is a fictionalized account of a notorious mining fraud. 20th Century Women is a trite “coming of age” piece located in 1979 California.

Best films of 2016

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2016

Although technologies have sped up and made possible many things, they cannot by themselves overcome the gap between reality and its artistic assimilation and representation.

Manchester by the Sea: The suffering of an ordinary man

By Joanne Laurier, 10 December 2016

Kenneth Lonergan’s film is a humane examination of the suffering of an ordinary man, whose terrible personal tragedy has emotionally crippled him.

The “madness” of war dimly understood in Hacksaw Ridge and the world set right by aliens in Arrival

By Joanne Laurier, 17 November 2016

Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge is about the first and only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II. Arrival is a feeble science fiction parable from Denis Villeneuve.

Loving: “Tell the court I love my wife…”

By Joanne Laurier, 5 November 2016

Jeff Nichols’ film is a fictional recreation of the landmark case in Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s, which ultimately led to the striking down of state laws banning interracial marriage in the US.

Denial and the assault on historical truth

By Joanne Laurier, 22 October 2016

A fictional account of American academic and author Deborah Lipstadt’s legal battle with British Holocaust denier David Irving in 2000 in London.

The Dressmaker, The Girl on the Train: The “return of the native” and other issues

By Joanne Laurier, 15 October 2016

In The Dressmaker, the art of beautifying the human body is the weapon of choice to vanquish intolerance and ignorance. The Girl on the Train is a murder mystery centered around a New York City suburb.

Clint Eastwood’s Sully: The “Miracle on the Hudson” dramatized

By Joanne Laurier, 28 September 2016

Eastwood directs a fictional version of the January 2009 incident in which pilot Chesley Sullenberger landed a commuter jet in the Hudson River, saving the lives of 155 passengers and crew.

Oliver Stone’s Snowden: The NSA is “running a dragnet on the whole world”

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 20 September 2016

Veteran American filmmaker Oliver Stone has made a movie about National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A film version of Philip Roth’s Indignation: Young lives overshadowed by war

By Joanne Laurier, 2 September 2016

The new movie, Indignation, is a relatively faithful adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2008 novel, which examines war, religion and repression in post-war America.

Café Society: Woody Allen’s love letter to the wealthy and famous

By Joanne Laurier, 12 August 2016

The film, set in the 1930s, takes its title from legendary clubs in Manhattan that welcomed black and white artists and performers. Unfortunately, the film is the opposite of everything those clubs stood for.

Captain Fantastic: An anti-establishment superhero?

By Joanne Laurier, 30 July 2016

Writer-director Matt Ross’s film is a semi-anarchistic tale about a family’s “off-the-grid” existence in the Pacific Northwest.

Alf Sjöberg’s Miss Julie (1951) and G. W. Pabst’s The Threepenny Opera (1931): Films worth noting … and seeing

By Joanne Laurier, 23 June 2016

Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg’s Miss Julie is based on the play by August Strindberg. Austrian filmmaker G.W. Pabst’s film The Threepenny Opera is an intricate movie version of the legendary Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill work.

Love & Friendship: An early Jane Austen work adapted

By Joanne Laurier, 8 June 2016

In England in 1790, Lady Susan Vernon, widowed and penniless, schemes to reverse her fortunes.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4

Maggie’s Plan, Frank & Lola, along with Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

By Joanne Laurier, 20 May 2016

Some not very good new films—and better old ones.

Money Monster: Who are the criminals?

By Joanne Laurier, 18 May 2016

Money Monster is the latest film to depict the consequences of the 2008 financial crash and the criminal manipulations of the financial elite.

San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 2

The Return, about released prisoners, and other social dramas (or comedies)

By Joanne Laurier, 13 May 2016

In a number of the films screened at the festival, their creators were evidently overwhelmed by the disintegrating social structures in some of the most impoverished parts of the world.

Elvis & Nixon, A Hologram for the King: Trivializing culture, history

By Joanne Laurier, 6 May 2016

Two ostensible comedies, Elvis & Nixon and A Hologram for the King, drain their stories of their most important social and historical content.

Midnight Special: “Shining the light” on unfreedom in America

By Joanne Laurier, 15 April 2016

Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special is a disturbing science fiction thriller that conveys deep anxiety about the state of the world.

Eye in the Sky: The liberal war on terror

By Joanne Laurier, 31 March 2016

Eye in the Sky is a political-military thriller in which British and American officials weigh the consequences of a drone strike in Nairobi, Kenya.

Atom Egoyan’s Remember: A Nazi criminal hunted…

By Joanne Laurier, 25 March 2016

Two Auschwitz concentration camp survivors plot to kill the SS guard who murdered their families in Atom Egoyan’s latest film, Remember, a psychological drama.

Two poor films on the Afghanistan war—Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and A War—and Jonás Cuarón’s Desierto

By Joanne Laurier, 5 March 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a semi-comic treatment of the tragic Afghan conflict; A War from Denmark is ostensibly a more serious effort. Desierto takes up the war against Mexican immigrants.

The Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar!: The “Passion” of a film studio troubleshooter

By Joanne Laurier, 9 February 2016

Hail Caesar!, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, is a comedy about Hollywood set in the early 1950s.

Drone, a Norwegian-made documentary: “We just made orphans out of all these children”

By Joanne Laurier, 29 January 2016

The documentary brings together opponents of the CIA drone program and includes interviews with two former US Air Force drone pilots.

Charlie Kaufman’s often charming, moving Anomalisa (and Michael Moore’s feeble Where to Invade Next)

By Joanne Laurier, 23 January 2016

Anomalisa is an adult animated film created with stop-motion puppetry centering around an angst-ridden, self-help author. Where to Invade Next is a non-comment on Washington’s never-ending wars.

The Revenant: Are we all savages? (And Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth )

By Joanne Laurier, 16 January 2016

The Revenant is a sensationalized account of the life of American fur trapper Hugh Glass, who famously survived a mauling by a bear. Youth is a banal meditation on aging.

Carol and The Danish Girl: Real problems, but the danger of exclusivism

By Joanne Laurier, 8 January 2016

The two films address significant subjects that could potentially shed light on society and its moral and psychological condition.

The Big Short: The criminality of Wall Street and the crash of 2008

By Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2015

Adam McKay’s new film The Big Short is a hard-hitting comedy-drama about the 2008 financial meltdown.

Best films of 2015

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 31 December 2015

The most interesting films we saw in 2015, both those that played in a movie theater in the US and those not yet distributed.

Brooklyn: Irish immigration through rose-colored glasses

By Joanne Laurier, 10 December 2015

Brooklyn focuses on a young Irish girl who emigrates to America in the early 1950s and struggles with homesickness and adjusting to an alien environment.

Spotlight: A telling exposé of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

By Joanne Laurier, 3 December 2015

Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight is a taut, quasi-political thriller that chronicles the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposure of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston area.

The Wrecking Crew: The “secret star-making machine” of 1960s pop music

By Joanne Laurier, 14 November 2015

Denny Tedesco’s lively documentary is a heartfelt tribute to a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles, nicknamed the Wrecking Crew, who were behind some of the biggest hits of the 1960s.

Our Brand is Crisis: US political consultants at their dirty work in Bolivia

By Joanne Laurier, 9 November 2015

Based on a documentary, the new David Gordon Green movie, Our Brand is Crisis, is a comedy-drama about the activities of American political operatives in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election.

99 Homes’ director Ramin Bahrani: “The villain is the system”

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.

Phoenix: After WWII in Germany, a woman rises from the ashes

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.

Amy, a documentary film about the British singer Amy Winehouse

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.

Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) and the phenomenon of American film noir

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.

The Face of an Angel and Danny Collins: A notorious murder trial and an aging musician

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.

The Wolfpack, Dope: American experiences, oddities

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.

Entourage and Spy: Celebrity, wealth and the CIA—Hollywood’s idea of summer fun

By Joanne Laurier, 19 June 2015

Two new, not-so-comic comedies: one preoccupied with the life of Hollywood celebrities and the other, with the intelligence apparatus. What fun.

Wild and Black or White: Social problems, but the solutions?

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.

The Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night: Who should pay for the present situation?

By Joanne Laurier, 29 January 2015

In a small Belgian factory, a woman fights to keep her job by trying to convince her workmates not to take a pay bonus.

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes: Kitsch has never helped anyone yet

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.

Best films of 2014

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.

Foxcatcher: Under the thumb of a wealthy madman

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.

Devil’s Knot, The Congress, The Giver and The Last Sentence: A few of this year’s films

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.

Whiplash: Heaping scorn on mediocrity

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.

Jon Stewart’s Rosewater: Fatal sins of omission

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.

Three darkish comedies: Birdman, The Skeleton Twins and St. Vincent

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.