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

08Into 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 […]

Daniel Day-Lewis earned his second Best Actor Academy Award for his riveting performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's sinewy film

‘There Will be Blood’ on Amazon Prime

There Will be Blood (2007) – “I built my hate bit by bit.” Daniel Day-Lewis earned his second Best Actor Academy Award for his riveting performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s sinewy film. Loosely adapted from Sinclair Lewis’ novel “Oil!,” it reworks the American entrepreneurial success story as an elemental frontier myth, roughly hewn out of […]

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in David Lowery's 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ on Netflix and Hulu

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), second feature from director / writer David Lowery, plays like the cinematic answer to an outlaw folk song. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play lovers Ruth and Bob, young adults who grew up fast under the watch of dubious father figure Skerrit (Keith Carradine) and ended up as small-time hold-up […]

James Caviezel is Jesus in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'

‘The Passion of the Christ’ on Amazon Prime

The Passion of the Christ (2004), Mel Gibson’s passionate, personal, and visceral take on the final 12 hours of Christ’s life on Earth is, in its own way, as controversial as Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. Taking the Gospels as his source, Gibson creates his own cinematic version of […]

Essie Kent and Noah Wiseman in Jennifer Kent's horror film.

‘The Babadook’ on Netflix and Hulu

The Babadook, one of the best and most original horror films in years, raises goosebumps with old-fashioned scares, relatable characters, and a provocative psychological foundation. Amelia (Essie Kent) is a single mother who is still in mourning for her dead husband—she barely seems to be able to rouse herself to face the world—and is unable […]

Kim Tae-ri, Kim Min-hee, and Ha Jung-woo star in the film by Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook’s ‘The Handmaiden’ on Amazon Prime

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (Sony, DVD) leaves behind the austerity and cool tone of his superb but unheralded American debut Stoker to return to the intense imagery, twisting narratives, perverse subcultures, and elevated emotions of his Sympathy trilogy. The story of con artists in 1930s Korea, adapted from the British novel “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters […]

The animated adventure 'Kubo and the Two Strings' from Laika

‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ – An animated Japanese odyssey on Netflix

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) – In the age of CGI and Pixar’s animation domination, the Oregon-based Laika is keeping the art of stop-motion animation alive in inventive, engaging, and engrossing features filled with textures and details you won’t find in even the greatest Pixar accomplishments. “If you must blink, do it now,” recommends […]

Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance star in Steven Spielberg's "The BFG."

‘The BFG’ – Spielberg meets Roald Dahl on Netflix

The BFG (2016) – Steven Spielberg directs this big screen version of Roald Dahl’s storybook fantasy, the tale of orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the dreamcatching giant she names BFG (Mark Rylance), short for Big Friendly Giant. And though big to Sophie—he can carry her in the palm of his hand and set her on […]