‘The Wrecking Crew!’ – the musicians behind the sixties hits on Hulu

The Wrecking Crew! (2008/2015) was the secret weapon of the Los Angeles recording studio culture of the sixties and seventies. Hal Blaine, Plas Johnson, Carol Kaye, Earl Palmer, Don Randi and Tommy Tedesco played on literally hundreds of pop songs and albums, working with everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys, Herb Albert to The […]

James Cagney plays George M. Cohan in the musical directed by Michael Curtiz

‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ – James Cagney is George M. Cohan in FilmStruck

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – James Cagney won his only Academy Award playing George M. Cohan in the rousing bio-pic directed by Michael Curtiz, who was the top director at Warner Bros. and arguably the studio’s most versatile filmmaker at the time. Cagney was a song-and-dance man before he found fame as a movie tough […]

P.J. Soles and The Ramones

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ on Amazon Prime Video

“Do your parents know you’re Ramones?” If Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) isn’t the greatest rock and rebellion film of all time it is certainly on the short list, a pure, cheerfully juvenile blast of blitzkrieg guitar rock, Looney Tunes sight gags, teenage hormones, and rebellion against authority because it’s there. They aren’t exactly […]

Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as young John Lennon in the story of his early life directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

‘Nowhere Boy’ – John Lennon before the Beatles on Netflix

Nowhere Boy (2009) tells the story of the early life of John Lennon, the man who would put together the Beatles as a teenage boy. What’s marvelous about the film is that it isn’t elevated into some mythological status. There are none of those clichéd lines where someone in the group or some prescient member […]

Young Dais and Ryohei Suzuki in the hip-hop musical gang war thriller from Japan

‘Tokyo Tribe’ – gonzo gang war musical on Amazon Prime Video

The films of Sion Sono, who is fast closing in on Miike Takashi as Japan’s cinema wildman rebel, are increasingly outrageous, unhinged, extreme, and unpredictable, pushing expectations as well as boundaries, and trying anything and everything in a wildly creative (if unfocused) attempt to refresh familiar genres. Tokyo Tribe (Japan, 2014), adapted from a graphic […]

Y.K. Kim produces and stars one of the most entertainingly incompetent bad movies ever made

‘Miami Connection’ – Gonzo bad movie hilarity on Amazon Prime

Another chapter in the cult canon of movies that are so bad that they become inadvertent comedies, Miami Connection (1988) is a gonzo B-movie from the eighties created by Y.K. Kim, a martial arts instructor and inspirational speaker who took his talents to the big screen despite a complete lack of screen charisma or acting […]

Catherine Deneuve stars in the bittersweet musical from Jacques Demy

‘Umbrellas,’ ‘Young Girls,’ and the essential Jacques Demy on FilmStruck

Jacques Demy, the most romantic of the French nouvelle vague filmmakers, loved American movies, especially musicals, but his taste for American musicals and candy-colored romance was balanced with a bittersweet sensibility. For all the energizing music and dreamy love affairs, his romances more often than not don’t really get happy endings. FilmStruck presents a collection […]

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 […]

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 […]