Film Reviews by David Walsh, WSWS Arts Editor
Toronto International Film Festival 2020: Part 4
By David Walsh, 8 October 2020
The position of contemporary filmmaking in relation to contemporary political and social realities is very poor. Little of the advanced, convulsive state of things comes through in the films currently being made.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 David Walsh, 11 November 2019
All in all, Morris treats Bannon with kid gloves.
By Joanne Laurier, 28 October 2019
The film, originally screened in 2017, fell victim to the scandal surrounding its producer, Harvey Weinstein.
By David Walsh, 24 October 2019
The lives and times of these two extremely complex artists inevitably raise a host of issues.
Toronto International Film Festival 2019: Part 5
Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat—on the Panama Papers—and The Goldfinch—the aftermath of a terror attack
Along with a valuable film adaptation of Jack London’s Martin Eden and The Traitor, a Mafia drama
By David Walsh, 28 September 2019
Soderbergh discards his generally non-committal stance in The Laundromat, offering a fairly withering critique of global corporate tax evasion and the financial elite generally.
By 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.
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).
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 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 David Walsh, 31 May 2019
Gilliam has famously been attempting to make a film inspired by Don Quixote, the 17th century novel by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, for decades.
By 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.
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.
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.
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 David Walsh, 5 April 2019
The opening of Peterloo in the US this week and next is an event of some importance. The film was inspired by important ideas and created with great seriousness and artistry.
By David Walsh, 3 April 2019
The most recent film by veteran American director Gus Van Sant focuses on quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan (1951-2010), based on the latter’s memoir.
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 David Walsh, 15 March 2019
The film is based on an episode from Jacques the Fatalist and His Master, a novel written by Denis Diderot (1713–1784), the great Enlightenment figure, in the years 1765 to 1780, but not published until after his death.
Why is there so little media skepticism about Leaving Neverland and its allegations against Michael Jackson?
By David Walsh, 6 March 2019
Leaving Neverland consists principally of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, detailing their claims that singer Michael Jackson sexually abused them over the course of many years, in the 1980s and 1990s.
By David Walsh, 12 February 2019
Dan Gilroy is one of the more interesting American filmmakers currently working.
By Joanne Laurier, 30 January 2019
The movie deals with the subject of drug addiction—a national public health emergency and social crisis, and the source of immense suffering.
By David Walsh, 23 January 2019
The 91st awards ceremony will be held February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 January 2019
The film centers on the love between two African American youth, one of whom faces a police frame-up, in New York City’s Harlem.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 29 December 2018
In regard to the Bush-Cheney administration, the WSWS pointed in the early 2000s to an unprecedented development, the “rise to the pinnacle of the American political system of elements of a gangster character.”
By Rafael Azul, 17 December 2018
Roma is a sensitive portrait of a family breaking apart in the broader context of a social crisis. It follows Cleo, a Mixtec Indian, as she performs her daily chores, which include caring for the family’s four children.
By David Walsh, 11 December 2018
Icebox focuses on a 12-year-old Honduran boy, Oscar (Anthony Gonzalez), forced by gang activity to flee his home country and head for the US, where an uncle lives.
By David Walsh, 4 December 2018
Given the film’s subject matter, the generally hostile or condescending treatment Submission received at the hands of the major film critics in March 2018 should not have come as a surprise.
By David Walsh, 26 November 2018
The Coens’ latest film is made up of six stories set in a mythical “Old West.” The thread connecting the various episodes is a generally nasty attitude toward humanity, and American humanity in particular.
… And two much weaker series, Maniac and Wanderlust
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 17 November 2018
Homecoming, a compelling, disturbing 10-episode web television series, concerns itself with a facility in Florida that supposedly helps Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.
By David Walsh, 1 November 2018
Each is a relatively unpretentious, low-budget, “independent” film. Each follows a group of middle-class adults as they attempt to navigate certain complicated moral or emotional situations. Each film is slight.
Two short films: The Overcoat, based on the Nikolai Gogol story, and Detainment, about the Jamie Bulger murder case
By David Walsh, 29 October 2018
The Overcoat, directed by Patrick Myles, is based on the famed 1842 short story by Russian author Nikolai Gogol. Detainment treats the aftermath of the killing of a toddler on Merseyside, England in 1993.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 5
Errol Morris provides Steven Bannon a platform (American Dharma), Werner Herzog celebrates Mikhail Gorbachev (Meeting Gorbachev) and other appalling developments
By David Walsh, 12 October 2018
Certain works either conceal critical features of contemporary life, falsify or are overwhelmed by them.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 4
Damien Chazelle’s First Man: Reduced in space—and opera singer Maria Callas, the Afghanistan war, small-town America
By Joanne Laurier, 8 October 2018
Damien Chazelle’s First Man—which opens in the US October 12—focuses on US astronaut Neil Armstrong and his role in Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 2
Capernaum, Screwdriver, Rosie, The Public and Black 47: Socially critical films from the Middle East, Ireland and the US
By Joanne Laurier, 1 October 2018
Film writers and directors live in this world too. There must be those who reject upper-middle class triviality and self-involvement.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018: Part 1
By David Walsh, 28 September 2018
The recent Toronto International Film Festival screened some 340 films (including 255 features) from 74 countries.
Toronto International Film Festival 2018
By David Walsh, 21 September 2018
Despite various criticisms of leading Democrats and the American liberal establishment as a whole, Moore urges his viewers to retain—or perhaps regain—confidence in the Democratic Party.
By David Walsh, 18 September 2018
Hal Ashby (1929-88) was an American film director, generally underrated or unrecognized today, responsible for a number of valuable or, in some cases, provocative works in the 1970s.
By Joanne Laurier, 10 September 2018
In July 1917, 1,200 striking copper miners in Bisbee, Arizona were illegally kidnapped, loaded in cattle cars and dumped in the southwest New Mexico desert. This episode is the subject of Bisbee ’17.
By David Walsh, 23 July 2018
Ramin Bahrani, the Iranian-American filmmaker, has directed a new version of Ray Bradbury’s well-known novel, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953.
By David Walsh, 30 June 2018
Michael Mayer has directed a new film version of Russian writer Anton Chekhov’s play, The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896.
By David Walsh, 5 May 2018
The blindness and stupidity of the identity politics-obsessed upper middle class knows no bounds. This issue comes up most recently in connection with the different critical responses generated by Isle of Dogs and Avengers: Infinity War.
Director of The Loves of a Blonde, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus
By David Walsh, 16 April 2018
Forman was originally identified with the so-called Czech New Wave, a group of directors whose lively and honest films came to international prominence in the mid-1960s.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 9 April 2018
The result is surprisingly optimistic and confident, not what one might have expected from Fassbinder, known for his emotionally dark, harsh and even cynical films.
By Elle Chapman and David Walsh, 7 April 2018
Takahata, one of Japan’s most influential animation filmmakers and co-founder of the famed Studio Ghibli, died from lung cancer in a Tokyo hospital April 5. We repost a review of his Grave of the Fireflies (1988).
By David Walsh, 9 March 2018
Ianucci’s new film about the demise of the gravedigger of the Russian Revolution is not so much maliciously anticommunist as it is, above all, historically clueless.
By David Walsh, 6 March 2018
The 90th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, as one media commentator observed, “passed off without a hitch.” How unfortunate.
Director of A World Not Ours, A Man Returned and A Drowning Man
An interview with Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel: “A film is like a historical document, it should be solid enough to endure”
By David Walsh, 4 January 2018
Fleifel’s A World Not Ours (2012), Xenos (2014), A Man Returned (2016) and A Drowning Man (2017) are some of the important films currently being made.
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.
By Joanne Laurier, 2 December 2017
Dan Gilroy’s Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a legal drama with an anti-establishment slant.
James Cameron’s 1997 film showing in the US for one week
Why are the critics lauding Titanic?
By David Walsh, 29 November 2017
To mark 20 years since its release in December 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic is being shown in 87 theaters in the US for a week, starting December 1. We are marking the occasion by re-posting two comments on Titanic that appeared on the WSWS in January and February 1998.
What the WSWS said about Titanic 20 years ago
By David Walsh, 29 November 2017
Originally posted February 25, 1998
By David Walsh, 14 November 2017
The new film, which involves two Vietnam War veterans who help a third bury his son, killed in Iraq, is set in December 2003. It is an indirect sequel of The Last Detail (1973).
By David Walsh, 7 November 2017
A would-be “black comedy,” directed and co-written by George Clooney, Suburbicon is set in 1959 in a bland suburban community.
Toronto International Film Festival: Part 4
The Death of Stalin, The Other Side of Everything, Insyriated—The filmmakers’ inability to deal with complex questions, or worse
By David Walsh, 30 September 2017
Several films on political and historical questions underscore ongoing intellectual and artistic difficulties.
Toronto International Film Festival 2017: Part 2
By David Walsh, 26 September 2017
Certain films at the recent Toronto film festival depict reality in important ways.
Toronto International Film Festival 2017: Part 1
Trouble in paradise: A comment on the economics and politics of the Toronto International Film Festival
By David Walsh, 22 September 2017
This year’s event screened 255 feature films, a 14 percent decline from a year ago, when the festival presented 296 features, and the lowest number of full-length films in a decade.
By David Walsh, 19 September 2017
The media was more or less agreed Monday that the highlight of the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was the brief appearance by Trump’s former press secretary.
By David Walsh, 31 August 2017
The Last Face, about relief workers in Africa, met with a savage critical response at the Cannes film festival. Meanwhile, the American film industry is deservedly suffering through one of its worst summers in decades.
By Joanne Laurier, 30 August 2017
Two current films, Ingrid Goes West, a cautionary tale about social media, and Wind River, a murder investigation near a Native American reservation, skirt around significant issues.
By David Walsh, 26 August 2017
The new film is set in West Virginia and North Carolina and involves the robbery of the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a major race.
By David Walsh, 23 August 2017
Lewis was a performer of extraordinary talent. At his improvisational and manic best, with a rapid-fire delivery, a variety of personas and all manner of physical contortions, he represented something anarchic and disruptive.
By David Walsh, 26 July 2017
British director Nolan’s new film is about the famed evacuation of large numbers of British and French troops from northern France in May-June 1940.
By David Walsh, 17 June 2017
Roger Michell’s film, based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier set in the 19th century, follows a callow young man who falls for his sophisticated, perhaps calculating older “cousin.”
Three intriguing new films that should not disappear unnoticed: Sami Blood, Past Life and Radio Dreams
By David Walsh, 10 June 2017
Most of the films in movie theaters in the US at the moment are poor, or worse. As a result, the public is increasingly turning away. But there are exceptions.
By David Walsh, 1 June 2017
The HBO film is an account of the downfall of Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff, whose multi-billion-dollar stock and securities fraud unraveled in December 2008.
By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 11 May 2017
The film broaches a dozen subjects and avoids treating any of them in depth, and often fails to take a clear position of any kind.
San Francisco International Film Festival—Part 4
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.
Lecture at San Diego State University
By David Walsh, 27 April 2017
This is an edited version of a talk given at San Diego State University on April 18 by WSWS arts editor David Walsh. Audio of the talk is included.
By David Walsh, 26 April 2017
The 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival screened some 180 films from 50 countries or so. This is the first of several articles.
San Diego Latino Film Festival—Part 1
By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 3 April 2017
The festival screened films from Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Peru, Honduras, Brazil, the US and other countries.
By Kevin Martinez and Toby Reese, 3 April 2017
The WSWS conducted an interview with Mexican film director Jose Ramon Pedroza.
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.
By David Walsh, 28 February 2017
The 89th Academy Awards ceremony, held Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, was an even more complex and peculiar affair than usual.
By Joanne Laurier, 26 January 2017
John Lee Hancock’s The Founder is a biographical drama about Ray Kroc, known as the man who established the McDonald’s global fast food chain.
New York Times film critics watch “while white”
By David Walsh, 19 January 2017
It would be very nearly possible at present to post a daily column devoted to the fixation of the American media and Hollywood filmmaking with race.
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.
By David Walsh, 29 December 2016
The announcement Tuesday that Carrie Fisher had died at only 60 was sad news. The actress, writer and humorist was an appealing figure and personality.
By David Walsh, 15 November 2016
The drama takes place in 2004. A unit of American soldiers, who have survived a brief but fierce battle with Iraqi insurgents, are being celebrated as “heroes” on a nationwide tour.
By David Walsh, 29 October 2016
The film and novel follow the life and eventual terrible misfortune of Seymour “Swede” Levov, the son of a glove manufacturer in Newark, in the 1960s and 1970s.
Toronto International Film Festival 2016: Part 2
By David Walsh, 29 September 2016
The appearance of an honest and accurate film about the plot to assassinate Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940 is a welcome—and long overdue—event.
Toronto International Film Festival 2016: Part 1
By David Walsh, 27 September 2016
This year’s Toronto International Film Festival screened some 400 feature and short films from 83 countries at 1,200 public screenings.
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.
By David Walsh, 10 August 2016
David Ayer’s film concerns a team of psychotics and criminals recruited by the US government as part of a top-secret program to combat terrorism.
By David Walsh, 20 July 2016
The new film comprises four stories, loosely linked by the presence of a “wiener-dog” (dachshund). Each has at least one or more satirical, telling moments or elements.
By David Walsh, 14 July 2016
The Iranian director will be best remembered and long honored for the series of feature films, including documentaries, that he made between 1987 and 1997.
By David Walsh, 2 July 2016
British director Michael Grandage’s film is about American novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and his famous editor, Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth).
Charles Blow of the New York Times
By David Walsh, 30 June 2016
Free State of Jones, about a white farmer in Mississippi who led an insurrection against the Confederacy from 1863 to 1865, has come under sharp attack from the “new right” of identity politics advocates.