Arts and Culture
Part 2: Shelley’s politics and his Peterloo poems
By Paul Bond, 1 October 2019
Shelley’s commitment to revolutionary change was “more than the vague striving after freedom in the abstract,” as Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling wrote in 1888.
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.
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.
By Barry Grey, 26 September 2019
The real problem of the opera, the irredeemable original sin of Porgy and Bess that every reviewer is duty-bound to point out, is the fact that its creators were white.
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.
“Go on strike ‘til you get it right!”
By Kathleen Martin, 21 September 2019
The former autoworker spoke to the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter about life in the auto plants and why he supports the striking workers.
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 Sandy English, 7 September 2019
Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison wrote several significant novels, but as a public figure turned to the selfish racialist politics of the upper middle class.
By Oscar Grenfell, 5 September 2019
The media silence is an act of political censorship, carried out in order to assist the US and British governments persecute WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
A 21st-century “Hunger Games”
By Carl Bronski, 4 September 2019
In all, five of the nine runners-up of Season 6 of Alone were medically evacuated. Others voluntarily withdrew due to the effects of starvation, psychological breakdown or the loss of shelter.
Twenty years of the Young Euro Classic festival: Beethoven caught between rebellion and EU propaganda
By Verena Nees, 2 September 2019
The 20th edition of the Young Euro Classic festival ended August 6 in Berlin with a record attendance of 27,000 visitors. At the center of the programmes were the nine symphonies and other works by Ludwig van Beethoven.
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 Clare Hurley, 26 August 2019
It would seem that artists have not responded profoundly, either directly or indirectly, to the social and political crisis that has increasingly gripped the US, particularly since the 2016 Trump election.
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.
By Richard Phillips, 23 August 2019
Virtuoso jazz guitarist Bill Frisell discussed some of the conceptions underpinning his musical approach and his forthcoming album during the Australian leg of his recent Asian tour.
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 David Walsh, 17 August 2019
On August 13, the Associated Press posted an article by Jocelyn Gecker alleging that Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo had sexually harassed a number of women over a period of several decades.
An interview with historian Brenda Wineapple, author of books on Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson
“Writing is a solitary and private act … I’m going to say what I think is true”
By David Walsh, 13 August 2019
Brenda Wineapple has written a number of intriguing books, including White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson; Hawthorne: A Life; and The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation.
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.
By Toby Reese, 7 August 2019
The George Washington High School was opened for two hours for a viewing of the 13-panel mural by left-wing Depression Era muralist Victor Arnautoff depicting the “Life of Washington.”
By Hiram Lee, 7 August 2019
This latest work stands out as an unusually open and humane collection of songs in a genre that has been lacking in those elements far too much in recent years.
By Clara Weiss, 5 August 2019
Under conditions of an international resurgence of fascist forces, the series, which had an enormous impact in West Germany in 1979, has lost none of its relevance.
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.
The 2008 music vault fire
By Kevin Reed, 30 July 2019
The social and legal fallout from the June 2008 music vault fire in Hollywood, which destroyed an invaluable popular music archive at Universal Studios and which Universal Music Group (UMG) covered up for years, is ongoing.
By Fred Mazelis, 29 July 2019
Whitman made a unique contribution both as a poet and public figure. He has much to say in the 21st century.
By Matthew MacEgan, 27 July 2019
Stranger Things, created by the Duffer Brothers, continues with its tribute to the 1980s, science fiction and horror themes.
By Sybille Fuchs, 26 July 2019
The exhibition at the Brücke Museum represents a welcome change in favour of art appreciation based on a critical examination of contemporary history.
By Sybille Fuchs and Stefan Steinberg, 24 July 2019
Two art exhibitions currently running in Berlin raise important questions about the relationship of certain modern artists to the Nazi regime.
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.
“The university and its teachers have a responsibility toward history”
An interview with veteran French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier about actress Lillian Gish and director D. W. Griffith
Bowling Green State University recently removed the famed actress’s name from its film theater
By David Walsh, 20 July 2019
French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (Round Midnight, Coup de Torchon, Life and Nothing But, It All Starts Today, In the Electric Mist) is one of the most admirable figures in cinema over the past 45 years.
By Kayla Costa, 15 July 2019
The dismissal of the case would be a blow to the witch-hunt as a whole, which has ruined or threatened dozens of artists’ careers, creating an atmosphere of censorship and intimidation.
By Hiram Lee, 13 July 2019
Together with the composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto pioneered a “new wave” in Brazilian popular music during the mid-to-late 1950s that had a worldwide impact.
A conversation with Mike Kaplan, the producer of The Whales of August (1987), Lillian Gish’s final film
The famed actress “was filled with curiosity, creativity and imagination”
By David Walsh, 6 July 2019
Kaplan helped organize the petition urging Bowling Green State University to restore the names of famed actresses Dorothy and Lillian Gish to its film theater.
Marching Song, play co-written by Orson Welles about abolitionist John Brown, to be published after 85 years
By David Walsh, 2 July 2019
Todd Tarbox has edited the play and Rowman & Littlefield will publish it in August. This is a significant cultural event. Marching Song is an important historical drama.
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.
By Matthew Brennan, 29 June 2019
His early recordings spanned a remarkable musical range, from funk-driven pop songs and New Orleans jazz and blues to at least a half-dozen other musical styles and influences.
By Ed Hightower, 27 June 2019
Barry follows a discharged Marine-turned-assassin as he attempts to shed the moral baggage of his military service, with tragi-comic results.
Artists, writers, film scholars protest Bowling Green State University decision to remove Lillian Gish’s name
By David Walsh, 25 June 2019
More than 50 filmmakers, actors, writers, academics and film scholars have signed a petition urging Bowling Green State University in Ohio to restore the names of famed actresses Lillian and Dorothy Gish to its film theater.
24 June 2019
The San Francisco Board of Education is considering either destroying or covering over a series of 13 frescoes on the life of George Washington at a local high school. The WSWS spoke to professor emeritus of history Robert Cherny about the issue.
By Harvey Simpkins, 22 June 2019
If the lockout continues until September and the summer session is not reinstated, the musicians will lose more than $2.5 million in wages and benefits.
21 June 2019
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.
Miniseries about the 1986 nuclear disaster
By Andrea Peters, 15 June 2019
Director Johan Renck and scriptwriter Craig Mazin capture the reality of the explosion that tore open the facility’s nuclear reactor core and spewed radioactive material over large swathes of the western USSR and Europe.
“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.
Director of Boyz n the Hood, Higher Learning and other films focusing on the African-American working class and poor
By Nick Barrickman, 29 May 2019
At his best, Singleton’s work shows warmth and concern for his films’ struggling and imperfect characters.
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 David Walsh, 15 May 2019
Her most compelling performances came in films such as Young Man with a Horn (1950), Love Me or Leave Me (1955) and, above all, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).
By Toby Reese, 13 May 2019
A “Reflection and Action Group,” dominated by identity politics, has recommended removing murals at George Washington High School. The action would erase a striking work that treats important issues in US history.
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.
By Fred Mazelis, 6 May 2019
The film is loosely based on the case of Melita Norwood, arrested in 1999 and accused of passing classified information to the Soviet Union.
Documentary about the brutal 2014 disappearance of teachers’ college students
By Rafael Azul and Don Knowland, 4 May 2019
The documentary on Netflix exposes the role of the military in the 2014 disappearance of 43 rural teaching students and the government’s cover-up of this atrocity.
Michigan State University performs stirring rendition of Babi Yar, Dmitri Shostakovich’s anti-fascist symphony
By Nancy Hanover, 1 May 2019
Shostakovich’s masterpiece was performed by the Michigan State Symphony Orchestra, the University Chorale, the State Singers, noted baritone Mark Rucker and conductor Christopher James Lees at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall on April 27-28.
By Emanuele Saccarelli, 27 April 2019
Dogman, which has now opened in the US, is a serious attempt to deal with a difficult, and in this climate not especially promising subject—a notorious and horrific murder in Rome in 1988.
Some films from the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 1
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.
By David Walsh, 24 April 2019
Lubitsch, born in Berlin in 1892, first directed silent films in Germany and, after his move to Hollywood in 1922, directed silent and then sound films in the US. He is best known today for his American movies of the 1930s and 1940s.
By David Walsh, 24 April 2019
David Walsh recently spoke to Joseph McBride, the author of a new study of filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch, famed for The Marriage Circle, Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living, The Shop Around the Corner, To Be or Not to Be and other films.
By James McDonald, 20 April 2019
For the most part, these are eminently safe poems, carefully dressed, peer reviewed and scrupulously attentive to contemporary cultural regulations of taste.
By Alex Lantier, 17 April 2019
The inferno was caused by a horrific breakdown of fire safety in restoration work, for which the French government and ruling elite bear the responsibility.
Freep Film Festival 2019 in Detroit—Part 1
Glimpses of social life: The Feeling of Being Watched, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool and Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts, among others
By David Walsh and Helen Halyard, 17 April 2019
The Detroit film festival organizers made an obvious effort to program works oriented toward contemporary reality and recent social history, including many of their difficult and painful aspects.
By Kristina Betinis, 13 April 2019
As CSO strike enters sixth week, a right-wing pressure campaign is being mounted to try to force the musicians to make concessions on their pensions.
And Working Woman from Israel
By David Walsh, 13 April 2019
Jia Zhangke has demonstrated a concern with the fate of workers and others whose lives have been turned upside down by the full integration of China into the global capitalist economy.
By Joanne Laurier, 11 April 2019
A group of homeless people in Cincinnati resist being thrown out of a public library onto the streets on an especially frigid night.
Flint, a play at the University of Michigan: Stuck, unfortunately, in the quagmire of racial politics
By Joanne Laurier, 10 April 2019
José Casas’ drama is a response to the horrendous Flint, Michigan water crisis, which began in April 2014. As a result, the city’s poisoned population has suffered disease, death and untold misery.
“Tarrafal Never Again!” exhibition in Lisbon exposes horrors of Portugal’s fascist concentration camp
By Charles Hixson and Paul Mitchell, 9 April 2019
The museum exhibition includes photographs of the arid, isolated prison, Portuguese government dossiers detailing the lives and deaths of individual prisoners under the most wretched conditions, and moving testimony from survivors.
By Nick Barrickman, 8 April 2019
With Trigger Warning, rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render combines occasional flashes of insight and intellectual courage with a tendency to resort to mere shock tactics or juvenile behavior.
By Kevin Martinez, 6 April 2019
Director Jordan Peele’s latest horror film tells the story of a vacationing family stalked by their doppelgängers. The results are murky, pretentious and strangely unaffecting.
Major retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York City
By Erik Schreiber, 30 March 2019
A recent retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art provided an occasion to re-examine Warhol’s work and evaluate what it means for American and global art.
By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 28 March 2019
Fathom Events, TCM and Universal Pictures are screening To Kill a Mockingbird in select cinemas this week. The Robert Mulligan movie is based on Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title.
By Joanne Laurier, 26 March 2019
An Amazon Prime original, This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy is an eight-episode documentary series that purports to make sense of a complex global situation.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 9
Three Turkish films (A Tale of Three Sisters, Daughters of Two Worlds, Oray)—Hoping for a better life
By Bernd Reinhardt, 25 March 2019
Three films at the Berlinale exude a humanistic spirit of enlightenment and dialogue. They suggest that everyone, regardless of their ethnic, religious or cultural background, has the right to a better life.
Don McCullin at Tate Britain in London
By Paul Mitchell, 23 March 2019
“There isn’t a city in England you can’t go to and find some poverty and unhappiness and tragedies.”—Don McCullin
By Josh Varlin, 22 March 2019
The show is too savvy to be a simple #MeToo parable about its protagonist’s fall from grace, although the anti-democratic campaign does find reflection.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 8
By Stefan Steinberg, 21 March 2019
In February, the deputy director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department declared that the country’s filmmakers “must have a clear ideological bottom line and cannot challenge the political system.”
By David Walsh, 20 March 2019
The production and release of Captain Marvel, the new science fiction adventure from Marvel and Disney, has a number of remarkable features, but none of them involve the film’s drama, action or characters.
By Hiram Lee, 19 March 2019
Drummer Hal Blaine died March 11, one month past his 90th birthday. Blaine was an incredibly prolific studio musician who appeared on countless recordings during the 1960s and 1970s.
69th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 7
By Bernd Reinhardt, 16 March 2019
The pursuit of naked profit interests and government-imposed austerity dominate an ever broader swath of life. Some of the German films at this year’s Berlinale point to the consequences.
“This is not just about Tchaikovsky, it’s about culture as a whole”
By Kristina Betinis, 12 March 2019
CSO players and supporters demand funding for the arts, not wars.
By Clara Weiss, 12 March 2019
A central concern of the drive in Berlin against Barenboim must be his longstanding criticism of Israeli occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people.