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 […]

Valora Noland and John Hanek in the 1965 film 'Summer Children,' a lost indie film restored in 2011.

Lost and Found: ‘Summer Children’ on Amazon Prime

With the news that the Vilmos Zsigmond, the great cinematographer of McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Deliverance, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, and many other defining American films of the seventies, passed away this week, I’ve revived this review of an early Zsigmond feature, a lost American indie from the sixties discovered early this century. Produced in […]

Bernadette Lafont, Stephane Audran, and Clotilde Joano in Claude Chabrol's 'Les Bonnes Femmes'

‘Les Bonnes Femmes’ on Amazon Prime

The “bonnes femmes” of Claude Chabrol’s Les Bonnes Femmes (1960) are four shopgirls at a small appliance store in Paris. Good time girl Bernadette Lafont spends her nights in empty flirtations with boorish womanizers, social climbing Lucile Saint-Simon withers under the disdainful gaze of her boyfriend’s haughty parents, seemingly confident Stephane Audran secretly follows her […]

Billy Zane and Gina Gershon star in musky, low-ley adaptation of the Jim Thompson pulp crime novel.

‘This World, Then the Fireworks’ on Amazon Prime

The disturbed world of pulp crime novelist Jim Thompson’s deformed psyches and demented morality comes to life in This World, Then the Fireworks (1997), one of the more unpredictable works in a career defined by the author’s disturbingly treacherous tales. What makes this dreamy adaptation by director Michael Oblowitz and screenwriter Larry Gross work is […]