Jake Gyllenhaal is Louis Bloom in Dan Gilroy's 'Nightcrawler'

‘Nightcrawler’ on Amazon Prime

Nightcrawler earned an Oscar nomination for director Dan Gilroy’s screenplay, a wicked satire of the tabloid news television that chases sensationalistic stories for ratings (the cliché “if it bleeds, it leads” is the guiding philosophy). It should also have earned a nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal, whose Louis Bloom is a twisted Horatio Alger with the […]

Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Riley Keough star in the horror thriller from Trey Edward Shults

‘It Comes at Night’ on Amazon Prime

The title of It Comes at Night (2017) sets certain expectations. What exactly comes at night? But the survival thriller from writer/director Trey Edward Shults, set sometime after the ravages of an unnamed and unexplained plague have ripped through the cities and sent survivors into the isolation of the wilderness, isn’t about monsters (human or […]

Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse star in the raunchy comedy

‘Superbad’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

The raucous and raunchy comedy Superbad (2007) is the love child of American Pie and Dazed and Confused. Behind its floridly foul streams of profanity and adolescent preoccupation with sex and alcohol is a savvy evocation of teenage insecurity and the confused ideas and feelings about the opposite sex. It’s produced by Judd Apatow and […]

Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, and John Hurt star in the film adapted from the Alan Moore graphic novel

‘V For Vendetta’ – Fighting tyranny on Netflix

V For Vendetta (2005) – “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. The government should be afraid of the people.” His name is nowhere to be seen in the credits but this futuristic thriller about an authoritarian government out of 1984 and a lone revolutionary who takes them on comes from Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic […]

George Clooney stars in the political thriller by Tony Gilroy

George Clooney is ‘Michael Clayton’ on Netflix

“I’m not a miracle worker. I’m a janitor.” George Clooney simmers as Michael Clayton (2007), a legal “fixer” who works behind the scenes of a powerful New York law firm, in Tony Gilroy’s smart, sharp legal drama. When he’s sent to clean up the moral meltdown of the firm’s leading litigator (Tom Wilkinson), he unwittingly […]

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in the Oscar-winning film

Oscar-winner ‘Fences’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Fences (2016) – Denzel Washington and Viola Davis earned Tony Awards for their performances in the 2010 Broadway revival of August Wilson’s play “Fences,” the story of a working class African-American family in 1950s Pittsburgh. With the blessing of Wilson’s widow (the playwright passed away in 2005), Washington brought the play to the big screen, […]

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom,' starring Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, and more

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ – Wes Anderson’s endless summer on Netflix

Wes Anderson has made a career exploring the childhood neuroses that keep adult characters in an arrested state of adolescence and stasis. It’s been a lively career with creatively energetic high points like Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums but an approach with diminishing returns. Until Fantastic Mr. Fox, a film that refracted his portraits of dysfunctional families […]

Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof star in the modern dress Shakespeare adaptation from Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon does ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ on Hulu

Joss Whedon shot Much Ado About Nothing (2012), his modern-dress take on the Shakespeare farce, in two weeks at his own house during down-time in the middle of making The Avengers, and his invited old friends and collaborators to join him. Angel co-stars Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof take the lead roles of Beatrice and Benedick […]

Nola Darling and Tommy Redmond Hicks star in Spike Lee's debut feature

Spike Lee’s original ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ on Netflix

“Please baby, please baby, please baby baby baby please!” Spike Lee exploded in the independent film world with his debut feature She’s Gotta Have It (1986), an inventive low budget romance with a strong-willed heroine. Tracy Camilla Johns is the confident and sexually independent Nola Darling, a young professional Brooklynite who is happy to sample […]

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

‘Election’ – Vote Tracy Flick on Amazon Prime and 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 […]