Donald Pleasance and Gary Bond in the 1971 Australian drama by Ted Kotcheff

Australian cult film ‘Wake in Fright’ on Amazon Prime Video

Wake in Fright (1971), one of the seminal works of the New Australian cinema of the seventies, is a brutal, blackly funny thriller of an urban schoolteacher (Gary Bond) posted to the Australian Outback, which is a sun-blasted nightmare as far as he’s concerned. He can’t leave fast enough when his Christmas vacation arrives, but […]

Tatsuya Nakadai in the Akira Kurosawa epic

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ on FilmStruck

Akira Kurosawa Ran (Japan, 1985), the story of an aging warlord who hands power to his sons is loosely inspired by the story of sixteenth century warlord Mōri Motonari, who conquered his rivals and extended his kingdom with the help of his three sons. The script is firmly built on King Lear, with sons taking […]

Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer star in Rob Reiner's 'This is Spinal Tap'

‘This Is Spinal Tap’ – crank it to 11 on Hulu

“It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” – Nigel Tufnel Rob Reiner walks that fine line in his hilarious mockrockumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984), ostensibly the portrait of a has-been metal band resurrected from a well-deserved obscurity for a disastrous comeback tour. Improv comedy veterans Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer don’t […]

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman in the 1955 film by Douglas Sirk

‘All that Heaven Allows’ – Love as suburban opera on Amazon Prime Video

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman were so successful in Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession that they all reteamed for All that Heaven Allows (1955) as Sirk became Universal’s house melodramatist. He turned improbable plots into social commentary and pulling back the covers of middle class hypocrisy with an ironic visual style and an almost operatic emotional […]

James Cagney and Jean Harlow star in the gangster classic by William Wellman

‘The Public Enemy’ – James Cagney’s original gangster on FilmStruck

James Cagney became an overnight sensation as the streetwise dynamo Tom Powers, a Chicago slum kid turned brutal mob goon in The Public Enemy (1931), William A. Wellman’s archetypal gangster classic. In the first depression-era films of the mob rats blasting their way to big screen glory like Molotov cocktails, Cagney’s Tom Powers was the […]

Tommy Lee Jones in the Coen Bros.'s Oscar-winning 'No Country for Old Men'

Oscar-winner ‘No Country for Old Men’ on Netflix

No Country for Old Men (2007), adapted from Corman McCarthy’s novel by directors/screenwriters/auteurs-of-our-age Ethan and Joel Coen, is a perfect match of story and storyteller. Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss, a cowboy in modern Texas who returns from poaching trip with a fortune in drug money, is just smart enough to outrun trouble, but he’s a […]

Lucy Davis, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton, and Nick Frost in the film by Edgar Wright

‘Shaun of the Dead’ – the funniest zombie comedy ever on Hulu

The apocalyptic hysteria of the zombie film has always been pitched on the edge of comedy: a horrible black joke played on humanity by a god with a sick sense of humor. Director/co-writer Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg’s self-proclaimed “rom-zom-com” (romantic zombie comedy) Shaun of the Dead (2004) simply nudges it over the edge. […]

‘Inside Deep Throat’ – Porn in the USA on Netflix

With its party rock soundtrack, colorful (and at times damaged) characters, and portrait of the pornography industry on the cusp of a cultural shift, Inside Deep Throat (2005) is something of a real life Boogie Nights. Documentary directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato offer the story of a grubby historical event: an explicit but otherwise […]