Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska star in the polish horror fantasy by Agnieszka Smoczynska

‘The Lure’ – these Little Mermaids have teeth on Criterion Channel

The strangest take on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” ever put on the screen, The Lure (Poland, 2015) is a musical-horror-fantasy-romantic tragedy from Poland about mermaid sisters with a taste for human flesh. Like the sirens of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are feral creatures who […]

Lars von Trier directs Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe in his dark psychological thriller

Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ on FilmStruck

I’m not sure how I manage to keep my simultaneous fascination with /repulsion for Lars von Trier in balance, but it’s there with a vengeance in Antichrist (Denmark, 2009), another provocation that is at once beautiful and perverse, personal and cynical, and filled with his sour vision of the emotional small-mindedness (small-heartedness?) of the human […]

Kim Hunter and David Niven in the classic by Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger

It’s ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ for Michael Powell on FilmStruck

Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) (originally released in the U.S. as Stairway to Heaven) is as gorgeous and rapturously romantic as movies come. The film opens with a celestial prologue and narration that offers the sense of cosmic comfort of someone watching over it all, of some divine authority in […]

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka in the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel

The original ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ on Netflix

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Gene Wilder is the weird, wonderful, slightly sinister candy bar king who invites five children into his factory kingdom in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy. It is a rare breed: an imaginative live-action […]

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in the third "Harry Potter" feature

‘Harry Potter’ – the complete saga on HBO Now

HBO launches 2018 with the entire cinematic Harry Potter saga: all eight films based on the seven books by J.K. Rowling. On cable it’s being presented in a day-long marathon followed by nightly screenings of each film in order, but for the next few months you can also stream them via your subscription, whether it’s […]

Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever 35 years after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind […]

Joe Dante’s zany ‘Gremlins 2: The New Batch’ on Amazon Prime

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) is not merely the rare sequel that is funnier than the original, it is one of the funniest comedies of its time, a veritable live-action cartoon from Joe Dante at his most unrestrained. Set in a New York skyscraper, Gizmo, the cuddly, the sweet-natured teddy bear of a pet […]

Jane Fonda stars in the campy psychedelic romp from director Roger Vadim

‘Barbarella’ – Sexy space camp on Hulu

Barbarella (1968), a campy psychedelic romp produced by Italian Dino de Laurentiis, directed by French eroticist Roger Vadim, adapted from a risqué French comic strip by American satirist Terry Southern, and featuring an international cast, was Buck Rogers reworked as a sex kitten in space for the 1960s culture of free love and pop art. […]

Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwanten, Peter Dinklage, and Summer Glau star in the horror-fantasy comedy set in the Live Action Role Playing world

‘Knights of Badassdom’ – Nerds vs. demons on Amazon Prime

Knights of Badassdom (2013), a modest little horror comedy set in the fantasy gaming LARP (that’s Live Action Role Playing) culture, has a good time sending up its obsessive nerds and cosplay veterans gathered for a weekend championship of stage combat and mock-Shakespearean patter. Then it unleashes a succubus from hell on them. Actually it’s […]

Jean Rollin’s weird, trashy, and dreamy ‘Requiem for a Vampire’ on Amazon Prime

There was no director like Jean Rollin, the French horror fantasist who died in the waning days of 2010 at the age of 72 and left behind a strange and wonderful (and sometimes horrible) legacy in his distinctive films. His reputation never really extended beyond cult circles but the weird sensibility and distinctive style and […]