Anna Magnani in Roberto Rossellini's Rome Open City

Blu-ray: ‘Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy’ on The Criterion Collection

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy (Criterion). Roberto Rossellini had been a journeyman director working within Mussolini’s Italian film industry when he redefined his career and all but inaugurated the neo-realist movement with this trio of films made at the end of World War II. Though he was no partisan, he started working on Rome Open City […]

Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Claudine Vinasithamby in Jacques Audiard's award winning drama

‘Dheepan’ on Netflix and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2016 and nominated for nine Cesar awards, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan (France, 2015) is a moving drama of alienation, assimilation, and survival. A guerilla soldier (Jesuthasan Antonythasan, a non-actor and former child soldier) in the brutal Tamil Tigers in the dying days of Sri Lanka’s civil war, burns his […]

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Blu-ray: ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’ from Arrow

Dario Argento takes sole writing credit for his directorial debut but The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Italy, 1970) is actually an unofficial adaptation of Fredric Brown’s novel The Screaming Mimi (previously made into a 1958 film) that Argento developed with popular mystery novelist Bryan Edgar Wallace. Wallace wrote a number of gruesome murder mysteries […]

Blu-ray: Gloria Swanson is ‘Zaza’ and Rudolph Valentino is ‘The Sheik’ and ‘Son of the Sheik’

Zaza (Kino Lorber) Gloria Swanson plays the music hall star Zaza (1923), Allan Dwan’s spirited silent film adaptation of the 19th century play by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon. This is “the Zaza of today,” reads the introduction, a 20th century version with Swanson as the temperamental star attraction of the top music hall in […]

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett , and Taraji P. Henson star in the film by David Fincher

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story is expanded into a sweeping survey of 20th century history and culture as seen through the eyes of a man who is born old and grows younger through the century. Brad Pitt completely commits to the part of the old/young man who […]

Emmy-winning drama ‘Playing for Time’ on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Playing for Time (1980), based on the memoir by Holocaust survivor Fania Fénelon and scripted for television by Arthur Miller, arrived a couple years after the excellent 1978 mini-series Holocaust to present a far more intimate drama and one of the most powerful TV events of its era. Vanessa Redgrave was a controversial choice to […]

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the Oscar-nominated drama "Loving." from filmmaker Jeff Nichols

‘Loving’ – The couple behind the history on HBO

Loving (2016), Jeff Nichols’s portrait of Richard and Mildred Loving, does more than put a face to a landmark Supreme Court decision. Their 1958 marriage was a crime in the state of Virginia because Richard (played by Joel Edgerton with a terse determination) was a white man and Mildred (Ruth Negga, vulnerable yet hopeful) was […]

Peter Sellers is Inspector Clouseau in six Pink Panther comedies directed by Blake Edwards

Blu-ray: ‘The Pink Panther Film Collection’ on Shout! Factory

All six Pink Panther features directed by Blake Edwards and starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau are featured in this six-disc Blu-ray collection, four of them making their respective Blu-ray debuts. Clouseau was but a supporting character in The Pink Panther (1963), a comic heist film with David Niven as the legendary jewel thief “the […]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Oliver Stone's "Snowden."

Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ on Showtime Anytime

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is disillusioned idealist Edward Snowden in Snowden (2016), Oliver Stone’s drama about the controversial NSA whistleblower. Framed by the famous meeting in a Hong Kong hotel room where Snowden (played with modest integrity by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shared top-secret files revealing illegal surveillance programs with journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and documentarian Laura Poitras […]