Cyril Raffaelli and Dany Verissimo in 'District B13,' aka 'Banlieue 13'

‘District B13’ – Stunning stunt action on Hulu

District B13 (2004), Pierre Morel’s twist on Escape From New York set in a near-future Paris, is a lean, clean, adrenaline and indignation-fueled B-movie action machine. Urban athlete David Belle, one of the creators of the extreme sport known as Parkour, stars as ghetto hero Leito and he set the tone, the pace, and the […]

‘Inglourious Basterds’ rewrites history on Netflix

I don’t know of another American filmmaker who brings such joy to the act of cinematic storytelling as Quentin Tarantino. I don’t mean tackling big issues or making epic statements. I’m talking about the sheer pleasure of telling audiences a tale that takes them places they don’t expect and ways they haven’t quite experienced before. […]

Paul Schrader’s ‘Affliction’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Paul Schrader made his mark on American cinema revealing the scarred psyches of American men trying to reconcile the contradictions of masculine fantasy and social reality, from his screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull to his own movies, beginning with Blue Collar. Affliction (1998), adapted from the novel by Russell Banks, is his most […]

Pam Grier is Jackie Brown in Quentin Tarantino's film of Elmore Leonard's novel 'Rum Punch'

Pam Grier is ‘Jackie Brown’ on Amazon Prime

Quentin Tarantino’s challenge with Jackie Brown (1997) was how make someone else’s story—Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, to be specific—his own. His solution: set it in his own reference riddled world. From the film’s opening shot—a quote from The Graduate overlaid with early seventies movie lettering and set to a Motown tune—we know we’re in Tarantino […]

Jennifer Lawrence stars in the Oscar nominated film by Debra Granik

‘Winter’s Bone’ – Jennifer Lawrence on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone (2010), set in the crime and poverty of the Ozark Mountains, is a coming-of-age survival story in an outlaw culture where meth labs have replaced moonshine stills and the code of silence is enforced with pitiless finality. Jennifer Lawrence was revelation as the 17-year-old Ree, who has grown up fast to […]

Oscar-winning drama ‘Manchester by the Sea’ on Amazon Prime

Some emotional wounds can’t be healed. Manchester by the Sea (2016), the third film from playwright and screenwriter turned filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, takes on that proposition in family drama, or rather a drama about what we do for family even when there are things we can’t do for ourselves. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) lives on […]

Meryl Streep is "Florence Foster Jenkins."

Meryl Streep is ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ on Amazon Prime

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) may sound like a one-joke contrivance—a rich, generous, arts-loving heiress in 1940s New York City gives private recitals to a select group of high society insiders who never let on to the oblivious woman that she is quite possibly the worst singer to ever trod a stage—but it is both a […]

Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher are an improv comedy team in this comic drama

‘Don’t Think Twice’ – Improvising life on Netflix

Whether you call Don’t Think Twice (2016) a hilarious drama or a serious comedy, it is a bittersweet story of frustrated dreams and difficult passages of funny people in a pitiless business. Mike Birbiglia, a standup comedian and “This American Life” contributor turned filmmaker, writes, directs, and co-stars in the film as Miles, founder and […]