Mohammad Rasoulof directs this Iranian thriller

‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’ on Amazon Prime

What’s most startling about Mohammad Rasoulof’s Iranian thriller Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Iran, 2013, not rated, with subtitles) is its audacity. Iranian filmmakers have a history of couching their criticisms of life in Iran in metaphor. This film puts its portrait of authoritarian oppression out in the open. We open on a contract murder that plays like […]

Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Ed Burns in Steven Spielberg's World War II platoon drama

‘Saving Private Ryan’ – Spielberg, Hanks, and WWII on Hulu

Saving Private Ryan (1998) was the first major World War II film made by Hollywood in decades and the timing was right. The 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994 brought the cultural conversation back to the sacrifice of American soldiers. After a generation of films revisiting Vietnam, Steven Spielberg steered Hollywood back to the pride […]

'Straight Outta Compton': The story of N.W.A.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ on VOD and disc

Billed as “The World’s Most Dangerous Group,” N.W.A. was a musical bomb that blew up the hip-hop world with such force that the reverberations were felt all through popular culture. Straight Outta Compton, developed by N.W.A. founding members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre and directed by F. Gary Gray, dramatizes origins and impact of the […]

Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in Noah Baumbach's family satire

Nicole Kidman is ‘Margot at the Wedding’ on Netflix

Nicole Kidman is Margot, a tightly wound author and dubiously maternal mother who breaks the silence with her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to attend her wedding, in Noah Baumbach’s savagely funny satire Margot at the Wedding (2007). Nicole Kidman plays brittle and chilly beautifully, but her self-involved and judgmental Margo is something else altogether. […]

Tim Streeter and Doug Cooeyate star in the directorial debut of Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant’s ‘Mala Noche’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Mala Noche (1986), the feature debut of Gus Van Sant adapted from the autobiographical novel by Portland “street poet” Walt Curtis, is an intimate black and white tale of l’amour fou steeped in the culture of Portland, Oregon’s (now long gone) skid row. Walt (Tim Streeter), a counter jockey at a grimy liquor store in […]

Hiroshi Abe and Yôko Maki star in the family drama by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda

‘After the Storm’ on Amazon Prime

Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda directs the most perceptive and compassionate films about the difficult relations that put strains on families and the generosity and understanding that helps overcome those difficulties. After the Storm (Japan, 2017) is one of his most understated family dramas, a lovely, low-key film about divorce and disappointment that, like the title […]

Nicolas Cage in Andrew Niccol's 'Lord of War'

Nicolas Cage is the ‘Lord of War’ on Netflix

“There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?” The opening line of Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War (2005) captures the film in a phrase: it’s serious, it’s sardonic, and it has both a […]

Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish star in Jan Campion's drama about John Keats and Fanny Brawne

What to stream: ‘Bright Star’ on Netflix, ‘Images’ and ‘Sophie’s Choice’ on Amazon

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, FilmStruck, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Lose yourself in the romantic passions of Jane Campion’s Bright Star (2009, PG), the love story of impoverished poet John Keats (a frighteningly fragile Ben Whishaw) and the self-assured and fashionable […]

Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig star in the film directed by Noah Baumbach

Ben Stiller is ‘Greenberg’ on Netflix

In Greenberg (2010), Ben Stiller delivers the youngest curmudgeon in the movies. Roger Greenberg is a fortysomething guy recovering from a nervous breakdown and avoiding confronting the mid-life crisis he’s been tangling with since his twenties, apparently. Noah Baumbach, directing from a story developed with his wife, Jenifer Jason Leigh, is a shrewd student of […]