Apichatpong Weerasethakul's 'Cemetery of Splendor' from Thailand

‘Cemetery of Splendor’ from Thailand on Netflix

In Thailand filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendor (2015), the world we live in and the world we dream are one and the same. An elementary school has been turned into a makeshift hospital for soldiers suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness and Jen (Jenjira Pongpas Widner), a volunteer with a debilitating limp caused by […]

Paul Dano is Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy'

‘Love & Mercy’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Capturing the life of Brian Wilson, the troubled genius who pushed the surf pop sound of The Beach Boys into psychedelic symphonies as he spiraled into depression, in just a few key years is a tricky proposition. Love & Mercy, a biopic that parallels the boyish enthusiasm and free-flowing creative drive of young visionary Brian […]

Reese Witherspoon in Alexander Payne's satire 'Election' with Matthew Broderick

‘Election’ – Vote Tracy Flick on Hulu

Election (1999), Alexander Payne’s wicked satire of power and (social) politics set in the overheated incubator of a high school student body election, is as sharp and perceptive now as it was in 1999. Matthew Broderick is the passionately dedicated and somewhat condescending civics teacher Jim McAllister, whose extra-curricular involvement helps compensate for a passionless […]

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

Head ‘Into the Wild’ on Amazon Prime

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 […]

Michelle Williams stars in Kelly Reichardt's 'Meeks' Cutoff,' a story of 19th century settlers lost on the Oregon Trail

‘Meek’s Cutoff’ on Netflix and Sundance Now

Meek’s Cutoff (2011) – The time is 1845. The place: the Oregon Trail. Three frontier families ford a river in the high desert. They wordlessly, almost morosely, march across, then take the opportunity to fill canteens, wash, and check the wagons before setting off again. These pilgrims in the desert are a long way from […]

Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry in 'Things We Lost in the Fire,' directed by Susanne Bier

‘Things We Lost in the Fire’ on Netflix

Things We Lost in the Fire (2007) – Grieving widow Audrey (Halle Berry) reluctantly tracks down her husband’s best friend, the down-and-out heroin addict Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), for the funeral. She disliked Jerry in life but her husband wouldn’t abandon his friend (flashbacks show their connection). Now she unexpectedly invites him to move in […]

Jamie Chung in 'Eden,' directed by Megan Griffiths

‘Eden’ – Surviving sexual slavery on Amazon Prime

Eden (2012) is the name given to Hyun-Jae (Jamie Chung), an 18-year-old Korean-American teenager kidnapped and imprisoned in a sex slavery ring in the American southwest, in Megan Griffiths’s dramatization of the true story of Chong Kim (who collaborated on the screen story). Hyun-Jae is held captive with dozens of other girls in what can […]