Toronto International Film Festival 2020: Part 2
Frances McDormand in Nomadland—the danger of making a virtue out of necessity—and David Byrne’s American Utopia (directed by Spike Lee)
By David Walsh, 25 September 2020
It is a serious mistake, a terrible irresponsibility, to treat life in this manner, to turn the social into the “natural” and inevitable.
Toronto International Film Festival 2020: Part one
Under the Open Sky from Japan, The Best Is Yet to Come from China
By David Walsh, 23 September 2020
This year’s event presented some 60 feature films, a sharp decline from the more than 330 screened in 2019, with the festival organizers forecasting a 50 percent decline in revenue throughout 2020.
By Joanne Laurier, 18 September 2020
In Kaufman’s latest film, a high school janitor, presumably in the moments before his final mental collapse and physical self-destruction, has his life—or, rather, for the most part, a fantasy version of his life—flash before his (and our) eyes.
By David Walsh, 16 September 2020
Fitzgerald has a history in movies extending back to the late 1970s. He first produced two films with John Huston, Wise Blood (1979) and Under the Volcano (1984).
By Nick Barrickman, 14 September 2020
The US singer-songwriter’s musical film and visual album seeks to focus its lens on the African continent and its diaspora, with decidedly limited effects.
By David Walsh, 11 September 2020
Directed by Italian filmmaker Pietro Marcello, the film is a valuable adaptation of London’s well-known 1909 novel, transposed to mid-20th century Italy.
By Alejandro Lopez and Kevin Martinez, 7 September 2020
Timely and moving, the Spanish documentary details the efforts of activists and torture survivors to prosecute Francoite officials for crimes against humanity.
By Carlos Delgado, 5 September 2020
Far from honoring his memory, the media’s over-the-top eulogizing demeans the actor’s work and serves reactionary political ends.
By Jean Shaoul, 3 September 2020
The film documents the part played by MI6 in the 1953 Anglo-American coup that ousted Iran’s nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and ushered in 26 years of a murderous dictatorship under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
By David Walsh, 2 September 2020
Based on the 1980 novel by South Africa-born writer J.M. Coetzee, with also—importantly—a screenplay by Coetzee, the film is set on the remote outskirts of a fictional (or composite) “Empire” sometime apparently in the 19th century.
Immigration Nation reveals the suffering of migrants at the hands of the US detention and deportation machine
By Fred Mazelis, 1 September 2020
The Trump administration tried to stop or delay the release of this important documentary.
By Joanne Laurier, 31 August 2020
Marie Curie (1867-1934) was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and the first person and only woman to win it twice. Her life and work are the subject matter of Iranian-born French filmmaker Marjane Satrapi’s feature.
By James Brewer, 25 August 2020
Decisions made in the script distorted the film’s narrative before the highly capable cast ever got in front of the camera.
By David Walsh, 22 August 2020
A French actress in her 70s, Fabienne Dangeville, receives a visit at her elegant Paris home from her daughter Lumir, son-in-law Hank and grand-daughter Charlotte, who live in New York.
By David Walsh, 21 August 2020
Released in theaters or available to stream today, Desert One is a documentary film about the US military’s effort in April 1980 to free American embassy staff captured during the 1979 Iranian revolution.
By Joanne Laurier, 19 August 2020
US filmmaker Kelly Reichardt’s new film, First Cow, set in the 1820s in the Pacific Northwest, deals with the origins of North American business—and the value of and the need for solidarity.
By David Walsh, 17 August 2020
Essential conformism on important matters seems an apt summing up of Bill Condon’s film career to date. At any rate, The Good Liar will not do much to change one’s attitude.
Theater on your personal device
By Erik Schreiber, 7 August 2020
A powerful play based on interviews shows how New York City’s health care workers battled the pandemic as the health care system collapsed around them.
By Joanne Laurier, 3 August 2020
The Invisible Man feeds on the #MeToo mood, becoming the latest entry in what one critic calls “boom times for feminist revenge narratives.”
By David Walsh, 29 July 2020
Even those belonging to certain generations who do not know Jackson’s name will likely recall her disturbing 1948 short story, “The Lottery,” one of the most anthologized pieces of fiction in American history.
By Marc Wells, 8 July 2020
Ennio Morricone will undoubtedly be mourned by millions of people around the world. He composed scores for 70 award-winning films, and more than 70 million recordings of his music had been sold by 2016.
By Hiram Lee, 2 July 2020
Four African-American veterans of the Vietnam War return to present-day Vietnam to recover the remains of a fallen comrade. Buried with him is a cache of gold bars worth millions.
By Paul Bond, 27 June 2020
It is difficult not to see his subsequent representation of a character’s inner life as being drawn from his family background.
Antigone from Canada recounts the struggle of an immigrant youth to defend her brother against state violence
By Laurent Lafrance, 24 June 2020
Unlike insipid mainstream Canadian cinema, Antigone deals honestly with critical issues such as the oppression of immigrants, police violence, a mounting youth revolt and, to some extent, social inequality.
By Louis Girard, 20 June 2020
Yielding to the anti-democratic #MeToo campaign, distributors in Quebec refused to buy the rights to Polanski’s remarkable film about the Dreyfus Affair.
By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 19 June 2020
Directed by John Frankenheimer and featuring Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and Fredric March, the film envisions an attempt to overthrow constitutional rule in the US. Where do we stand 56 years later?
By Erik Schreiber, 18 June 2020
Ferrara’s latest semiautobiographical film focuses on certain of the director’s fixations with hardly any reference to the larger, convulsive world.
By Margot Miller, 17 June 2020
Vicious measures were introduced in the aftermath of the 2008 banking crash and subsequent bailout to try and divide the working class by scapegoating ethnic minorities and migrants for the austerity that followed.
By Jason Quill and Richard Phillips, 13 June 2020
Justin Kurzel’s film is the 16th about the late 19th century Australian bushranger and anti-establishment outlaw.
By David Walsh, 12 June 2020
The second season of Homecoming, the web television series about US corporate-military criminality, premiered on Amazon Prime Video on May 22.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 June 2020
Baghdad Central, a six-part series on Hulu, is a crime drama set in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
By Hiram Lee, 9 June 2020
Italian actress Lucia Bosè died March 23 from complications related to COVID-19. She was 89 and living in Segovia, Spain at the time of her death. Bosè got her start in the Italian neorealist movement, known for its dramatizations of the lives of the poor and working class.
By Kevin Martinez, 8 June 2020
Although no doubt well-intentioned and containing realistic elements, the film, unfortunately, follows a rather predictable path.
By Erik Schreiber, 6 June 2020
The latest film from the Safdie brothers has much momentum, but little insight into its grasping protagonist or his tawdry world.
By Fred Mazelis, 3 June 2020
Esty Shapiro, a 19-year-old unhappily married woman in Brooklyn, leaves her Jewish ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community, traveling to Berlin to find her mother and begin a new life.
By Erik Schreiber, 29 May 2020
An often-touching documentary recounts how Cash’s first wife coped with unwanted media attention, her husband’s increasing emotional distance and racist threats.
“Lost our connection after the war”
By James Brewer, 25 May 2020
Robbie Robertson: “The story of the Band is beautiful. It was so beautiful it went up in flames.”
By David Walsh, 16 May 2020
Disgracefully, A Rainy Day in New York has been suppressed in the US. The film was completed in 2018, but Amazon Studios refused to distribute it.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 May 2020
Bad Education on HBO concerns the largest embezzlement scandal in the public education system in US history, in Roslyn, Long Island, a crime that came to light in 2004.
By David Walsh, 9 May 2020
Tony Johnson (Gervais) is devastated by the death of his beloved wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) from breast cancer. He finds it difficult to carry on with life and frequently contemplates suicide.
By Joanne Laurier, 1 May 2020
The crimes of the Nazis, the greatest ever committed against humanity, generated some of the noblest and most self-sacrificing actions in the struggle against their barbarism.
By Thomas Scripps, 29 April 2020
Using documents from within the NHS supply chain, the investigation rips apart ministers’ claims to have provided 1 billion items of personal protective equipment in the last two months.
By Joanne Laurier, 27 April 2020
The production of and interest in the nine-part documentary are part of the growing opposition in the US both to the death penalty and to mass incarceration.
By Lee Parsons, 18 April 2020
Set late in the 24th century, Star Trek: Picard concluded its 10-episode season in March to generally favourable reviews, if a mixed reception from the faithful.
By David Walsh, 17 April 2020
Michael Curtiz was one of the most prolific, talented directors in history, with some 180 films to his credit—a third of them made in his native Hungary and other European countries by the time he emigrated to the US in 1926.
By Nick Barrickman, 11 April 2020
The World Socialist Web Site spoke last week to the Chicago-based director and discussed issues related to his recent film.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 April 2020
Colewell follows Karen Allen as Nora, a postal clerk in a fictitious rural Pennsylvania town. The one-person post office is the center of her existence and has been for numerous decades.
By Nick Barrickman, 4 April 2020
Mark Harris’s television film tells the story of a middle-class black community “disrupted” when low-income people are forced to move in.
70th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 5
Strike or Die and several shorts: Filipiñana, Union County, Huntsville Station: A renewed interest in workers’ lives
By Verena Nees, 30 March 2020
This year’s Berlinale showed films featuring workers and their families as central characters who, despite oppressive living conditions, exhibit self-confidence, pride and a degree of rebellious spirit.
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.
9 December 2019
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.