Tim Streeter and Doug Cooeyate star in the directorial debut of Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant’s ‘Mala Noche’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Mala Noche (1986), the feature debut of Gus Van Sant adapted from the autobiographical novel by Portland “street poet” Walt Curtis, is an intimate black and white tale of l’amour fou steeped in the culture of Portland, Oregon’s (now long gone) skid row. Walt (Tim Streeter), a counter jockey at a grimy liquor store in […]

Federico Luppi stars in the vampire film from Guillermo Del Toro

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Cronos’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Cronos (Mexico, 1993, R, with subtitles), the feature debut of Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, is an alchemic twist on vampire lore and the costs of eternal life. It’s also the first expression of the budding genre master’s affinity for cinema fantasy and horror as a crucible for exploring humanity. Federico Luppi stars as Jesus, […]

Jacques Tati directs, writes, and stars in this sublime comedy from France.

‘Playtime’ – Jacques Tati’s comic masterpiece on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

A film comedy directed with the grace of a ballet, the painstaking detail of an action painting and the affection of a love song, Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967) is one of the most sublime celebrations of individualism in the alienated landscape of modern urban life and consumer culture. This is a different kind of symphony of […]

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 'World on a Wire'

‘World on a Wire’ – the first virtual reality thriller on FilmStruck

World on a Wire (Germany, 1973), made by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973 for German television, is to the best of my knowledge the first film to explore virtual reality. And this from a director who never made a science film before or since. There are no Matrix visuals here—you might say that Fassbinder suggests his […]

Rod Steiger and Marlon Brandon in the Oscar-winning film by Elia Kazan

Essential Viewing: Marlon Brando in ‘On the Waterfront’ on Hulu

On the Waterfront (1954) –”I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” Marlon Brando won his first Academy Award as Terry Malloy, the former prize fighter turned longshoreman on the mob-dominated docks of New York. Directed by Elia Kazan and starring Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, […]

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 […]

‘The Red Shoes’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger’s The Red Shoes (1948) has been called the greatest ballet film ever made. To girls of a certain age and a predisposition to the romance and beauty of ballet, this film is a touchstone that remains an impassioned favorite long after their invitation to the dance is over. To me, […]

Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Alain Delon stars in the Jean-Pierre Melville French crime film classic

Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Samourai’ on Criterion Channel

Alain Delon is the coolest killer hit the screen, a film noir loner for the modern era, in Jean-Pierre Melville’s austere 1967 French crime classic Le Samourai (France, 1967). Delon’s impassive hitman Jeff Costello is a professional’s professional, an assassin with a face of stone, nerves of ice, and the patience of a monk. He […]

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

‘Two Days, One Night’ on Hulu

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne developed their own stable of actors when they moved from documentaries to fiction films about working class folks and life on the margins of society—Olivier Gourmet and Jérémie Renier have both gone on to great success—but steered clear of working with major movie stars. Until Two Days, One Night, with bona-fide […]