Jake Gyllenhaal is Louis Bloom in Dan Gilroy's 'Nightcrawler'

‘Nightcrawler’ on Amazon Prime

Nightcrawler earned an Oscar nomination for director Dan Gilroy’s screenplay, a wicked satire of the tabloid news television that chases sensationalistic stories for ratings (the cliché “if it bleeds, it leads” is the guiding philosophy). It should also have earned a nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal, whose Louis Bloom is a twisted Horatio Alger with the […]

Johnny Hallyday stars in Patrice Leconte's French crime drama with Jean Rochefort

‘Man on the Train’ – Elegiac French crime drama on Amazon Prime

Man on the Train (France, 2004), Patrice Leconte’s elegiac crime drama is a well-tuned character piece starring screen legend Jean Rochefort and French pop icon Johnny Hallyday as strangers with nothing in common whose chance meeting sparks a powerful friendship. Rochefort is the droopy, self-effacing dreamer Monsieur Manesquier, a retired teacher who would like nothing […]

Brian Dennehy and James Woods as cop and killer in 'Best Seller,' written by Larry Cohen and directed by John Flynn

‘Best Seller’ – James Woods kills on SVOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Best Seller (1987) is a modest but smartly-scripted thriller that holds up remarkably well, thanks to near-perfect casting and a savvy script by Larry Cohen, who was better known at the time as a cagey director of high-concept, low-budget exploitation films. James Woods brings charm to the role of Cleve, a pathologically vindictive hitman who […]

Charlize Theron goes ‘Atomic Blonde’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Lean, mean, swift, and sure, Atomic Blonde (2017) is the kind of action movie we need in the contemporary morass of CGIed to mush spectacle. That’s not to say it eschews digital effects but director David Leitch, a co-creator and uncredited co-director of John Wick and a veteran stuntman and stunt choreographer, uses digital manipulation […]

Jo Jin-woong stars in the South Korean thriller from Lee Soo-young

‘Bluebeard’ – A South Korean serial killer on Netflix

In Bluebeard (South Korea, 2017), a meek, newly-divorced doctor starting over as a junior staff physician at a clinic serving a largely elderly population become the unwitting witness to what appears to be a confession to a series of unsolved serial killings by an old man under sedation. Dr. Byun Seung-hoon (Jo Jin-woong), already suffering […]

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner appear in Wind River by Taylor Sheridan, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. © 2016 Sundance Institute.

‘Wind River’ – Frontier justice on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Wind River (2017) isn’t actually the directorial debut of Taylor Sheridan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Siccario and Hell And High Water, but it may as well be. It most certainly is his film (unlike his forgotten 2011 horror film, Vile) and, like his earlier screenplays, a drama of frontier justice in the modern world (when […]

John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands

John Cassavetes is ‘Machine Gun McCain’ on Amazon Prime

John Cassavetes was doing his Orson Welles thing—by that I mean acting in whatever movie paid well so he could finance his own, personal productions—when he took the lead in Machine Gun McCain (Italy, 1968), an Italian mob picture/heist movie hybrid shot in large part on location in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. […]

Stephen Chow in Kung Fu Hustle

Kung Fu Comedy: ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ on Hulu

In the early 2000s, Hong Kong comedy star Stephen Chow stole Jackie Chan’s crown as Hong Kong’s clown prince of kung fu comedy. He was dubbed the Jim Carrey of Hong Kong by American critics, but that completely misses his appeal. Sure, Chow is a brilliant physical comedian with an unpredictable streak, but he also […]