Arts Review

SensoSan Francisco International Film Festival 2010
Part 1: A few introductory words on this year’s event

By David Walsh, 7 May 2010

The recently concluded San Francisco International Film Festival was one of the more interesting in the last number of years. The festival screened some 177 films (including shorts) originating from several dozen countries.

A presentation by WSWS arts editor David Walsh

The crisis of American filmmaking & cultural life

By David Walsh, March 18, 2010

Arts editor David Walsh addressed some of the current problems in American cultural life, and their historical roots, in a recent talk.

Coverage of the Roman Polanski case »


Recent Film Reviews

The Pacific offers character and emotions but little understanding

The Pacific (2010), HBO miniseries, ten episodes

By Charles Bogle, May 6, 2010

HBO has aired seven of the ten episodes of the Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg production of the miniseries The Pacific, which focuses on the Pacific theater during World War II.

On the road to ruin: The Runaways

By Hiram Lee, April 27, 2010

The Runaways tells the story of the all-girl rock band with the same name that began performing in the 1970s and whose rise to fame was as much a tragedy as it was a success.

Jacques Audiard’s Un prophète: An extreme case of making a virtue out of necessity

By Joanne Laurier, April 20, 2010

A 19-year-old homeless youth of North African descent is jailed in a French prison, where he develops into a new type of gangster.

Welcome from France: A compassionate exposure of anti-immigrant measures

By Richard Phillips, April 17, 2010

Welcome, the ironically titled latest feature by French director Philippe Lioret, is an intelligent antidote to the ongoing drum-beat of government and media dehumanisation of undocumented immigrants ...

“Crime is common. Logic is rare”: Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes

By Kevin Martinez, April 14, 2010

British director Guy Ritchie’s portrait of the famous Victorian detective, in his recent Sherlock Holmes, more closely resembles a quasi-superhero who likes to brawl and fight opponents with his bar...

Repo Men lingers on all the wrong things

By Hiram Lee, April 13, 2010

Repo Men is science fiction set at a time when artificial organs are sold on a payment plan and may be repossessed in the event that a transplant recipient can no longer pay his or her bills.

Greenberg: Not the most important problems in life

By David Walsh, April 3, 2010

Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding) has directed a new film, Greenberg. Its lead character, Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), has come out to Los Angeles from New York, afte...

Creation: When Darwin was writing his groundbreaking work

By Kevin Martinez and Hiram Lee, March 31, 2010

Creation, directed by John Amiel, attempts to tell the story behind the writing and publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

The Blind Side: No one-eyed man or woman in this kingdom

By Joanne Laurier, March 26, 2010

The story of African-American football player Michael Oher, rescued as a teenager from poverty and homelessness by a well-to-do white family in Memphis, Tennessee.

Make Way for Tomorrow: Remarkable Depression-era film released on DVD

By Charles Bogle, March 25, 2010

Acclaimed as “Hollywood’s greatest humanist” by Jean Renoir, director Leo McCarey deserves greater recognition. The 2010 Criterion Collection re-release of his Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) will ...

Vincere—the tragic life of Ida Dalser, Mussolini’s first wife

By Richard Phillips, March 24, 2010

The latest feature by veteran Italian director Marco Bellocchio treats the life of Ida Dalser, the first wife of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The audacious work premiered at the Cannes film fest...

Green Zone: Some very belated questions timidly posed

By Jane Stimmen, March 19, 2010

Green Zone, the new film directed by British-born Paul Greengrass, is based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City. That work documented the preparations for and invasion of Ira...

Invictus, Clint Eastwood's uncritical tribute to Nelson Mandela

By Hiram Lee, March 18, 2010

Clint Eastwood's Invictus tells the story, based on real events, of Nelson Mandela's efforts to unite black and white South Africans in support of the national rugby team in an effort to ease racial t...

Film Festivals

60th Berlin International Film Festival

Part 1: Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, a new version of Metropolis, and other matters

By Stefan Steinberg, February 24, 2010

There was a dearth of substantial social and political films at the Berlinale, despite the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. Nevertheless, a small number of the works on view made an attempt to...

Part 2: Moloch Tropical and Jew Suss: Rise and Fall
Part 3: Kanikosen: a Japanese “proletarian novel,” updated
Part 4: This year’s German films: In general, a more serious tone
Part 5: Romania, Bosnia, and the problems of immigrants

Part 6: The jurist Fritz Bauer and Germany’s Nazi past

Toronto International Film Festival 2009

Part 1: Polarization and protest

By David Walsh, September 30, 2009

To make useful sense of an event as large and contradictory as the Toronto film festival, which screened 273 feature films from 64 countries this year, is no easy matter.

Part 2: “The Iraq war poisoned the water—you can’t undo that, it’s there forever”
Part 3: Filmmakers on violence and social tension in the Middle East
Part 4: More human (and artistic) problems
Part 5: Compassion, vision, genius
Part 6: Thoroughly lost, or playing at it
Filmmakers, writers protest Toronto festival spotlight on Tel Aviv

By David Walsh, September 10, 2009

Dozens of filmmakers, writers and others have signed an Open Letter to the Toronto International Film Festival, criticizing the festival’s decision “to host a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv.”

Protest against Toronto film festival collusion with Israeli regime continues

By David Walsh, September 16, 2009

Organizers of a protest against the Toronto film festival’s spotlight on Tel Aviv held a press conference Monday afternoon to explain their purposes and respond to attacks by pro-Israeli forces.

An interview with Asli Özge, director of Men on the Bridge

By David Walsh, October 10, 2009

Asli Özge is the director of Men on the Bridge, a Turkish film screened at the recent Toronto film festival. We spoke during the festival.

Sydney Film Festival 2009

Part 1: Courage and audacity sadly lacking

By Richard Phillips, July 9, 2009

The quality of new work screened at this year’s Sydney Film Festival was patchy and generally undemanding, with critical human issues largely unexplored.

Part 2: Competition movies: largely passive reflections

By Ismet Redzovic, July 10, 2009

Part 3: Some perceptive documentaries

By Richard Phillips and Ismet Redzovic, July 13, 2009

Part 4: Vital ingredients missing

By George Morley, July 14, 2009

Part 5: Several movies well worth revisiting

By Richard Phillips, July 17, 2009

San Francisco International Film Festival 2009

Part 1: Painful truths

By David Walsh, 20 May 2009

The recent San Francisco film festival, its 52nd, presented 151 films from 55 countries to a combined audience of some 82,000 people.

Severe artistic unevenness, a sharp contrast between advanced technical means and the inadequacy of thought and expression, a lagging behind the realities of contemporary life—these are some of the qualities of international filmmaking in recent years. And that continues in the first year following the greatest economic crash since 1929.

Part 2: Human drama, partially treated

By David Walsh, 22 May 2009

Part 3: The trauma produced by events

By Joanne Laurier, 25 May 2009


See also: An interview with He Jianjun, director of River People, June 25, 2009

The 59th Berlinale

Part 1
Lagging alarmingly behind the times

By Stefan Steinberg, February 19, 2009

Perhaps most striking about the latest Berlinale was the absence of any comprehension of the urgency of the current crisis. None of the burning issues at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century were adequately addressed at the festival.

See also The 59th Berlinale—Part 2: A few healthy shoots and Intimations of changes to come—but nothing more: On the film series After Winter Comes Spring—Films presaging the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Vancouver International Film Festival 2008

World Socialist Web Site arts critics David Walsh and Joanne Laurier wrote extensively on new films shown during the 2008 Vancouver International Film Festival, which ran from September 25 to October 10.

Part 1, "Life in its incontrovertible reality," was published October 13; Part 2, "Art, artists, the difficulties of the 20th century," was published October 16; Part 3, "The oppressed and excluded," followed on October 20; Part 4, "Repentance, betrayal and the less dramatic," was published October 23; and Part 5, "Six films: problems of perspective, passivity," concluded the series on October 27.

See also Walsh's interviews with Li Yifan, director of The Longwang Chronicles, published October 20, Azharr Rudin, director of This Longing, published October 27, and Ying Liang, director of Good Cats, published November 15.

The Toronto International Film Festival

A series of film reviews and director interviews published September 18-29 2008, devoted to the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival (September 4-13).

See Part 1, 2, 3 , 4, and 5, as well as the WSWS interview with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, directors of Lorna’s Silence.