Jo Jin-woong stars in the South Korean thriller from Lee Soo-young

‘Bluebeard’ – A South Korean serial killer on Netflix

In Bluebeard (South Korea, 2017), a meek, newly-divorced doctor starting over as a junior staff physician at a clinic serving a largely elderly population become the unwitting witness to what appears to be a confession to a series of unsolved serial killings by an old man under sedation. Dr. Byun Seung-hoon (Jo Jin-woong), already suffering […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Amazon Prime

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Vera Clouzot in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Hitchcockian thriller with Simone Signoret

The original ‘Diabolique’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Henri-Georges Clouzot was called the Hitchcock of France for his shadowy thrillers and the atmosphere of distrust and suspicion that ran through so many of his films. Diabolique (France, 1955, not rated, with subtitles), his 1955 thriller about a plot to commit a perfect murder and the wrenching tension when the corpse disappears, plays like […]

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Who would have predicted that the second revival of the Planet of the Apes series would be so smart, so moving, so… human? Whatever your feelings on the 1969 original, at the time a startlingly unique film built on a warped-mirror fantasy premise, the sequels were exercises in diminishing ambition and the ridiculous 2001 Tim […]

Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in Mabrouk El Mechri self-aware thriller

‘JCVD’ – Jean-Claude at 47 on Amazon Prime

In the opening scene of JCVD (2008), Jean-Claude Van Damme takes out one heavily-armed, vaguely military bad guy after another with his bare hands (and whatever blunt instruments and discarded weapons he grabs along the way) in an elaborately choreographed long take. He comes out the other end huffing and winded as the set falls […]

Riki Takeuchi and Sho Aikawa in Miike Takashi's Dead or Alive trilogy

Takashi Miike’s extreme ‘Dead or Alive’ trilogy on Amazon Prime

Takashi Miike made his reputation as Japan’s gonzo gun-for-hire, a genre madman who pumped manic energy and wild style into films he pushed to the extremes in every way, from violence to surreal twists. He once described himself as “an arranger, not an author.” Taking a cue from one of his own film titles, I […]

Bertrand Bonello write and directs this mesmerizing political thriller

‘Nocturama’ – A different kind of terrorism on Netflix

Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama (France, 2017) is mesmerizing. Ostensibly a terrorist thriller about a group of French millennials who stage an attack on the symbols of global capitalism, it becomes a portrait of anger and resistance transformed into an exacting yet vaguely-defined assault on property and information and cultural landmarks. The first half is a crisply […]