Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on Amazon Prime

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]

Richard Farnsworth and Sissy Spacek star in the G-rated drama by David Lynch

David Lynch’s ‘The Straight Story’ on Showtime Anytime

The Straight Story (1999) is not the kind of film you expect from David Lynch, a G-rated, family friendly tale from America’s most subversive filmmaker. Yet it’s a genuine David Lynch movie. His often mesmerizing, measured pacing, and out-of-step conversational style is put the true story of Alvin Straight, the 73 year old man who […]

David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga in Disney's "Queen of Katwe."

‘Queen of Katwe’ – The inspiring true story on Netflix

Queen of Katwe (2016) tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a poor, uneducated girl in Uganda who sells corn on the street of her impoverished slum until an encounter with chess offers her the possibility of something more. Newcomer Madina Nalwanga plays Phiona, the nine-year-old daughter of single mother Nakku Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o), taking […]

The animated adventure 'Kubo and the Two Strings' from Laika

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ – An animated Japanese odyssey on Netflix

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) – In the age of CGI and Pixar’s animation domination, the Oregon-based Laika is keeping the art of stop-motion animation alive in inventive, engaging, and engrossing features filled with textures and details you won’t find in even the greatest Pixar accomplishments. “If you must blink, do it now,” recommends […]

Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance star in Steven Spielberg's "The BFG."

‘The BFG’ – Spielberg meets Roald Dahl on Netflix

The BFG (2016) – Steven Spielberg directs this big screen version of Roald Dahl’s storybook fantasy, the tale of orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the dreamcatching giant she names BFG (Mark Rylance), short for Big Friendly Giant. And though big to Sophie—he can carry her in the palm of his hand and set her on […]

The stop-motion animation dark fairy tale 'Coraline' directed by Henry Selick

‘Coraline’ on Netflix

Coraline (2009) opens on a rag doll efficiently taken apart by hands of skeletal steel (like Edward Scissorhands but with menacing needles for fingers) and then turned inside out and recreated in the image of the blue-haired heroine Coraline. It’s produced in the old-school stop motion animation style of articulated dolls and hand-crafted props increasingly […]

Ellen DeGeneres voices Dory in Pixar's animated adventure 'Finding Dory'

Pixar’s ‘Finding Dory’ on Netflix

Finding Dory (2016), Pixar’s sequel to its gorgeous animated aquatic masterpiece, can’t shake off its sequel-ness—it plays like a variation on the theme rather than an original take on the familiar tale—but it’s a Pixar picture with all the care and love and storytelling magic that the studio brings to every project. Which makes this […]

Directed by Rémi Chayé

‘Long Way North’ – Animated odyssey on Amazon Prime and Blu-ray/DVD

Long Way North (Shout! Factory) is a gorgeous French-Danish animated feature about a 15-year-old girl from an aristocratic family in 1880s Saint Petersburg who flees her palatial home for the far north to search for the lost ship of her explorer grandfather Oloukine. He disappeared in his attempt to conquer the North Pole in the […]

Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood star, George Seaton directs

The original ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Is there a more warmhearted celebration of Christmas cheer amid the urban reality of modern America than the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947)? It’s a Wonderful Life may be the cult film of the Christmas season, a holiday noir that slips into nightmare before pulling out its happy ending. But the idealized small town […]