Kim Ok-bin stars in the South Korean action hit from Byung-gil Jung

‘The Villainess’ – a ferocious South Korean Nikita on Hulu

The Villainess (South Korea, 2017) is not a remake of La Femme Nikita but it is surely built from the DNA of that defining action classic. It opens on an amazing action sequence, a seemingly unbroken take from the jittery POV of some ferocious but still-unseen fighter wiping out armies of thugs with bullets, knives, […]

Jesse Eisenberg stars in the Kelly Reichardt film with Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning

Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Night Moves’ on Amazon Prime

Night Moves (2013), the fourth film that New York-based director Kelly Reichardt made in Oregon with screenwriter Jon Raymond, was her most commercial project to that, though you won’t mistake this drama of eco-terrorists who blow a dam on a southern Oregon river for a Hollywood thriller. Reichardt and longtime screenwriting partner Jon Raymond focus […]

Peter Wyngarde and Janet Blair star in the adaptation of the Fritz Leiber novel from director Sidney Hayers

‘Burn, Witch, Burn!’ on Amazon Prime

Burn, Witch, Burn! (1962), also called Night of the Eagle, is a smartly-turned thriller about witchcraft, skepticism and dark magic adapted from the Fritz Leiber novel “Conjure Wife” by two of the masters of fantasy, horror and suspense: Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont (both veteran Twilight Zone scriptwriters). Peter Wyngarde stars as the college psychology […]

Jack Hawkins stars in the British caper film with military order from Basil Dearden

‘The League of Gentlemen’ – a very British heist on Criterion Channel

Basil Dearden’s The League of Gentlemen (1960) is a sturdy and meticulous heist film built on an appreciation of teamwork, camaraderie and hard work: a professional work about professionals working. That’s the foundation of many a classic heist or men-on-a-mission thriller and this film offers it as a kind of skewed redemption for a misfit […]

The complete ‘Lost’ on Hulu

Lost: Complete Series (2004-2010) – The very definition of high-concept television, this addictive survival series turned metaphysical mystery is arguably the most successful and certainly the most richly and deeply woven show of its kind. What began as an exotic Gilligan’s Island through The Twilight Zone turned into a mind-bending show with supernatural echoes and […]

Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. in the David Fincher thriller

David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Zodiac (2007), David Fincher’s drama about the notorious unsolved Zodiac killings that had San Francisco gripped in fear during the early seventies, was the filmmaker’s most disciplined, focused, and mesmerizing film to date when it was released in 2007. Based on the non-fiction book by Robert Graysmith, a newspaper cartoonist who became obsessed with the […]

Vince Vaughn in the prison thriller by S. Craig Zahler

‘Brawl in Cellblock 99’ – Vince Vaughn picks a fight on Amazon Prime

Brawl in Cellblock 99 (2017) is my pick for the smartest piece of cinematic pulp fiction in 2017. It didn’t draw audiences to theaters, perhaps due to the extremes of the violent action. But if it lacks the elaborate choreography and martial grace of John Wick (by design), it more than makes up for it […]

Song Kang-ho stars in the South Korean spy thriller by Kim Jee-woon

‘The Age of Shadows’ – Korean spy thriller on Netflix

Kim Jee-woon, director of such hits as hits The Good the Bad the Weird and I Saw the Devil, announced his return to South Korea after his Hollywood tryout with The Age of Shadows (South Korea, 2016, not rated, with subtitles), a sprawling spy thriller set in the underground resistance to the Japanese occupation of […]

John Huston in the film by William Richert

‘Winter Kills’ – The great American conspiracy movie on Amazon Prime

Though technically a work of fiction, Winter Kills (1979, R) is the maddest and most entertaining of Kennedy conspiracy thrillers, a wild kaleidoscope of clashing theories directed with wit and performed with gusto by an astounding cast. Jeff Bridges is the half-brother of an assassinated President who digs up the “truth” 20 years later and […]