Brie Larson stars in the award-winning 'Short Term 12,' inspired by the personal experience of filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton

‘Short Term 12’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Brie Larson earned an Oscar for her performance in Room (2015) but her breakout role was in Short Term 12 (2013), a tender and touching drama set in a facility for at risk, abandoned, or otherwise homeless kids that can’t get placement with foster families. What could be a portrait of instability and institutional failings, however, […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Netflix

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

Vincent Pastore and Michael Rispoli star in the film by Raymond De Felitta

‘Two Family House’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Raymond De Felitta’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Winner Two Family House (2000) is a sweet little romantic drama set in the insular Italian and Irish neighborhoods of 1956 Staten Island. Narrated with the conversational ease of a bar story, it stars characters actor Michael Rispoli as Buddy, a blue collar Italian American with big dreams, […]

Matthew McConaughey won an Academy Award for playing Ron Woodroof in the film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Oscar-winning ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ on Netflix

Matthew McConaughey is so good in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) that he shows up the limitations of this drama based on true events. McConaughey lost a lot weight to play Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider in the late 1980s whose reckless lifestyle leaves him with AIDS, a diagnosis this redneck homophobe denies […]

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 […]

Aaron Staton, Hattie Morahan, and Owen McDonnell in the BBC homefront drama

‘My Mother & Other Strangers’ – Growing up in wartime on Amazon Prime

Set in a rural Irish town during World War II, My Mother & Other Strangers (2017) is another British TV homefront drama, this one viewed through the memories of an adolescent boy. Francis Coyne (Michael Nevin) is the son of Rose (Hattie Morahan), who is London born and bred and treated like an outsider by […]

Michelle Williams stars in the film by Kelly Reichardt

The ballad of ‘Wendy and Lucy’ on Hulu

New York-based filmmaker Kelly Reichardt found great inspiration in the state of Oregon. After making Old Joy on a DIY budget, she reunited with Oregon writer Jon Raymond for an indie feature with a somewhat larger scope but the same intimate qualities. Wendy and Lucy (2008) isn’t the romantic road movie of Alexander Supertramp in […]

Marlon Brando stars in the Oscar-winning film by Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’ trilogy on Netflix

“It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s bestseller remains the great American epic of the immigrant dream turned family business. Al Pacino stars as Michael Corleone, the clean-cut white sheep and patriotic soldier boy son of New York Godfather Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in an Oscar–winning performance), and this […]

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 […]

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche in the romantic drama from Fred Schepisi

‘Words and Pictures’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Words and Pictures is both a romantic drama, with Clive Owen as passionate but alcoholic English teacher at an expensive prep school and Juliette Binoche as the new art teacher who clashes with the brash Owen, and a pedagogical drama where a “war” between the written word and the image inspires the student body to […]