Ringo Lam directs the lavish Hong Kong action film

‘Sky on Fire’ – Hong Kong action on Netflix

Ringo Lam made his name as Hong Kong cinema’s grittier, leaner alternative to John Woo’s flamboyant action films with Prison on Fire (1987) and City on Fire (1987), the latter most famous as one of the primary inspirations of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (the heist, the undercover cop, and the image of the multi-gun stand-off […]

Tim Streeter and Doug Cooeyate star in the directorial debut of Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant’s ‘Mala Noche’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Mala Noche (1986), the feature debut of Gus Van Sant adapted from the autobiographical novel by Portland “street poet” Walt Curtis, is an intimate black and white tale of l’amour fou steeped in the culture of Portland, Oregon’s (now long gone) skid row. Walt (Tim Streeter), a counter jockey at a grimy liquor store in […]

Jackie Chan and Yuen Siu-tin in the martial arts classic by Yuen Woo-ping

Blu-ray: Jackie Chan begins in ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow / Drunken Master’ from Twilight Time

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow / Drunken Master (Twilight Time) Boyish, baby-faced Jackie Chan trained at the famed Peking Opera Academy, had an early career as a stunt man, supporting player and fight choreographer in scores of Hong Kong films, and was unexpectedly chosen as “the next Bruce Lee” in a series of stiff, serious […]

Hiroshi Abe and Yôko Maki star in the family drama by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda

‘After the Storm’ on Amazon Prime

Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda directs the most perceptive and compassionate films about the difficult relations that put strains on families and the generosity and understanding that helps overcome those difficulties. After the Storm (Japan, 2017) is one of his most understated family dramas, a lovely, low-key film about divorce and disappointment that, like the title […]

Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Riley Keough star in the horror thriller from Trey Edward Shults

‘It Comes at Night’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The title of It Comes at Night (2017) sets certain expectations. What exactly comes at night? But the survival thriller from writer/director Trey Edward Shults, set sometime after the ravages of an unnamed and unexplained plague have ripped through the cities and sent survivors into the isolation of the wilderness, isn’t about monsters (human or […]

Nicolas Cage stars in the drama by Andrew Niccol

Nicolas Cage is the ‘Lord of War’ on Netflix

“There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?” The opening line of Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War (2005) captures the film in a phrase: it’s serious, it’s sardonic, and it has both a […]

Una Stubbs, Simon Callow, Virginia McKenna, and Bernard Hill star in the British caper comedy

‘Golden Years’ – Senior citizen crime wave on Acorn TV

Golden Years (2016) – Think of this caper comedy as a British twist on Going in Style with a side of social commentary on the treatment of aging pensioners. Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna star as retirees who have lost their retirement savings in the financial crisis and turn to robbing banks, targeting the bonuses […]

Federico Luppi stars in the vampire film from Guillermo Del Toro

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Cronos’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Cronos (Mexico, 1993, R, with subtitles), the feature debut of Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, is an alchemic twist on vampire lore and the costs of eternal life. It’s also the first expression of the budding genre master’s affinity for cinema fantasy and horror as a crucible for exploring humanity. Federico Luppi stars as Jesus, […]

Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen star in the hobo drama by William Wellman

Silents Please! – ‘Beggars of Life’ with Louise Brooks, ‘Varieté’ from Germany, and more

Catching up on some of the silent films released to Blu-ray and DVD in the past months… Beggars of Life (Kino Lorber) William Wellman was one of the most versatile directors of his day, making everything from comedies and musicals to gritty dramas and war movies, and his World War I epic Wings (1927) won […]