Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

Christian Bale is Batman in Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins'

‘Batman Begins’ – Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray

One of the defining films in the elevation of comic book movies to adult fare, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back to the shadows, both figuratively and literally. It’s quite a leap from the previous Batman revival launched by Tim Burton’s 1989 […]

James Cagney and Jean Harlow star in the gangster classic by William Wellman

‘The Public Enemy’ – James Cagney’s original gangster on FilmStruck

James Cagney became an overnight sensation as the streetwise dynamo Tom Powers, a Chicago slum kid turned brutal mob goon in The Public Enemy (1931), William A. Wellman’s archetypal gangster classic. In the first depression-era films of the mob rats blasting their way to big screen glory like Molotov cocktails, Cagney’s Tom Powers was the […]

Leo Gordon and Neville Brand in the prison drama by Don Siegel

‘Riot in Cell Block 11’ on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD

It may not have been obvious at the time but Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) was a perfect match of film and filmmaker. Don Siegel later made a name for himself with his gritty Clint Eastwood collaborations (not to mention his brilliant Invasion of the Body Snatchers) but was just a promising journeyman director […]

Woo-sung Jung, Byung-hun Lee, and Kang-ho Song in the Korean action blast from Kim Jee-Woon

‘The Good, the Bad, the Weird’- Kim Jee-won’s “Oriental Western” on Hulu

Kim Jee-won’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird (South Korea, 2008) is a self-proclaimed “Oriental Western.” That about pegs this treasure hunt right out of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by way of Peking Opera Blues and Dragon Gate Inn, set in thirties Manchuria and filled with Korean expatriates, Chinese bandits, Japanese occupiers, […]

Yael Stone and Noah Taylor in the Australian crime drama 'Deep Water'

‘Deep Water’ on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Acorn TV

Noah Taylor is veteran police detective Nick Manning and Yael Stone (180 degrees from her Orange is the New Black Jersey girl Lorna) his young partner Tori Lustigman in the Australian crime drama miniseries Deep Water (2016). It’s set in Bondi Beach, a suburb of Sydney famous for its tourist beaches and nightclubs that was […]

Takeshi Kitano directs and stars in "Violent Cop"

‘Violent Cop’ and ‘Boiling Point’ – The volatile Takeshi Kitano on FilmStruck and Sundance Now

In Violent Cop (1989) and Boiling Point (1990), actor-turned-filmmaker Takeshi Kitano has a way of transforming stillness into tension in his crime films. In the opening shot of Violent Cop, Kitano’s 1990 directorial debut, the camera holds on the smiling face of a toothless derelict. Like a pebble dropping into a pond the calm is […]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorsese's film of the Dennis Lahane novel

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Shutter Island (2009) opens, appropriately, shrouded in fog. Then our hero, Detective Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), cuts through the gray, standing on the prow of a tug boat chugging toward an isolated island hospital for the criminally insane. Daniels and his partner (Mark Ruffalo), city cops from an era of fedoras and trench coats and […]