Cyril Raffaelli and Dany Verissimo in 'District B13,' aka 'Banlieue 13'

‘District B13’ – Stunning stunt action on Hulu

District B13 (2004), Pierre Morel’s twist on Escape From New York set in a near-future Paris, is a lean, clean, adrenaline and indignation-fueled B-movie action machine. Urban athlete David Belle, one of the creators of the extreme sport known as Parkour, stars as ghetto hero Leito and he set the tone, the pace, and the […]

The Italian TV crime drama

‘Romanzo Criminale: The Complete Series’ on FilmStruck

Romanzo Criminale: The Complete Series (Italy, 2008-2010) – In the late 1970s, ambitious young thug Lebano (short for The Lebanese) hatches a plan to leave the petty robberies behind and, in partnership with another gang, take over the drug trade in Rome, a city that is divided up by a number of small, unorganized gangs. […]

Bong Joon-ho's 2006 South Korean monster movie 'The Host'

‘The Host’ on Netflix and Hulu

The Host (2006), Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean monster movie hit, is neither a parody, subversion, or revision of the often campy horror movie genre. It stirs a stew of genre conventions, from political commentary to dysfunctional family satire to earnest emotional pathos, into an often thrilling monster movie as indebted to the B-movies of seventies American […]

Hafsia Herzi and Habib Boufares in Abdellatif Kechiche's Cesar-winning film

‘The Secret of the Grain’ on Criterion Channel

The Secret of the Grain (France, 2007) – Tunisian-French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche’s rich drama of an aging French-Arab shipwright who, with the help of his extended family, transforms an abandoned ship left for scrap into a floating restaurant, is a magnificent journey through culture and family and community. The old man Slimane (Habib Boufares), divorced […]

Kim Tae-ri, Kim Min-hee, and Ha Jung-woo star in the film by Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook’s ‘The Handmaiden’ on Amazon Prime

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (Sony, DVD) leaves behind the austerity and cool tone of his superb but unheralded American debut Stoker to return to the intense imagery, twisting narratives, perverse subcultures, and elevated emotions of his Sympathy trilogy. The story of con artists in 1930s Korea, adapted from the British novel “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters […]

Jo Shishido stars in the Japanese gangster film from Yasuharu Hasebe

‘Massacre Gun’ – Japanese Gangster action on Amazon Prime

Massacre Gun (Japan, 1967) – Yasuharu Hasebe, a disciple of Nikkatsu’s maverick filmmaker Suzuki Seijun, made his directorial debut with Black Tight Killers (1966), a crazy, campy spy adventure fun shot in bright, pop-art color. His follow-up feature remains in the action genre but takes a turn into the dark alleys of gangster noir with […]