Sam Rockwell in the debut feature from Duncan Jones

‘Moon’ – Sam Rockwell’s great star turn on Netflix

In Moon (2009), Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is on the verge of unraveling. He’s the lone operator of a moonbase operation mining the new moon rock wonder fuel that has solved Earth’s energy, with only a computerized robot named Gertie (voiced by Kevin Spacey in a dispassionate HAL-9000 tone with just a hint of human […]

Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson present this documentary

‘A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies’ on Amazon Prime Video

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995) is both the title and the description of this idiosyncratic production made as part of the BFI’s A Century of Cinema celebration. The assignment was to make a 52-minute program. Scorsese and his collaborator Michael Henry Wilson overshot their target length by quite a distance: […]

‘Fruitvale Station’ on Netflix

Fruitvale Station (2013) embraces simplicity to remind us of the human being behind the news story. 22-year-old Oscar Grant was killed in an unprovoked shooting by BART officers as a station stop on early New Year’s Day 2009. Ryan Coogler’s film accomplishes what so many films fail to do: put us in touch with the life […]

Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan in Neil Jordan's 'Byzantium'

‘Byzantium’ – Women and men and life immortal on Netflix

Byzantium (2012), Neil Jordan’s take on the vampire genre (from a play by Moira Buffin), is not a traditional horror film. There is blood, of course, and there is sex, but it’s less eros and more survival. Clara (Gemma Arterton) walks the streets (or in this case, the boardwalk of a British coastal town in […]

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 […]

‘Gates of Heaven’ and ‘Vernon, Florida’ – the early documentaries of Errol Morris on Netflix

Errol Morris is one of the most celebrated—and most distinctive—documentary filmmakers of our time and his interest in unconventional portraits and offbeat subjects began with his first films. Gates of Heaven (1978, not rated) profiles two pet cemeteries—one that went out of business and another, more financially stable business where the graves were relocated—and the […]

Ethan Hawke stars in the Shakespeare adaptation from filmmaker Michael Almereyda

Ethan Hawke is ‘Hamlet’ on Amazon Prime

This is not your father’s Hamlet (2000). This melancholy Dane is son of the deceased Chairman of Denmark Corporation. His castle is a sleek but alienating New York high rise dotted with omnipresent surveillance cameras, his kingdom city streets lined with paparazzi and tabloid reporters. Ethan Hawke is the youngest actor to tackle the role […]

Emile Hirsch stars in Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild,' adapted from Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book

Head ‘Into the Wild’ on Netflix

Into the Wild (2007), Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book, is a bracing cinematic plunge into the odyssey of Christopher McCandless. The real-life young man fled a middle-class life of what he perceived to be the compromises and corruptions of the material world to embark on an “Alaskan Adventure,” a quest of self-reliance […]

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, […]