Miguel Sandoval, Spike Lee, and Ossie Davis

Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ on HBO Now

Do The Right Thing (1989), Spike Lee’s vibrant, vital, thoroughly accomplished third feature, opens on a call to action – “Fight the Power,” shouts Public Enemy in the credits – and ends with a call to “Wake up!” Rosie Perez pumps out an aggressive shout of a dance in the opening credits, staged in front […]

Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert , and Rudy Vallee in the classic romantic comedy from Preston Sturges

‘The Palm Beach Story’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Leave it to Preston Sturges to create the funniest, sexiest, and most grown-up romantic comedy of his day. Claudette Colbert has never been more desirable as Gerry Jeffers, the flirtatious pragmatist with a clear-eyed take on the realities of men, women, and sex, and Sturges turns Joel McCrea’s All-American […]

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ on Netflix

Olivier Assayas wrote this drama about a veteran actress facing a transition in her career after Juliette Binoche, arguably France’s greatest and certainly most ambitious actress working today, challenged him to write a film centered on women. It was a friendly challenge—she had already starred in two films he wrote for director André Téchiné and […]

Henry Silva and Woody Strode in Fernando di Leo's gangster classic

‘The Italian Connection’ – Mob schemes on FilmStruck and Fandor

The Italian Connection (Italy, 1972), from Italy’s king of crime cinema Fernando di Leo, stars Mario Adani (the top dog thug of the Americano’s gang in di Leo’s earlier Caliber 9) as Luca, a remarkably affable and well-liked pimp whose popularity on the street makes the Milan boss nervous. So he frames Luca for a […]

Meiko Kaji stars in the Japanese women-in-prison series

‘Female Prisoner Scorpion’ Saga on Amazon Prime

The women in prison genre has never been so much fun as the Female Prisoner Scorpion series from Japan. Gonzo doesn’t begin to describe this mad mix of outrageous exploitation, flamboyant art movie, and energetic comic-book craziness. Meiko Kaji gives a near silent performance as Nami Matsushima, aka Scorpion, a woman framed for a crime […]

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the film by Howard Hawks

Blu-ray: ‘His Girl Friday’ vs. ‘The Front Page’ on Criterion

His Girl Friday (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) should really be listed as a double feature, for the “bonus” movie—a new edition of the original screen version of The Front Page, adapted from the snappy, cynical, double-barrel Broadway hit by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur—is not just a home video debut but a major discovery. The Front […]