Juliette Binoche and William Shimell star in Abbas Kiarostami's first European production

‘Certified Copy’ on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

The Certified Copy (2010) of Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s first European production refers to artworks—Why do we value a reproduction less than an original and what does authenticity even mean?—but resonates just as effectively with the art of filmmaking and its relationship to reproduction and recreation. “It’s our perception that gives it value,” to quote […]

Nicole Heesters and Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Wolfgang Kremm's "Kamikaze '89"

‘Kamikaze ’89’ – Fassbinder goes cyberpunk on Amazon Prime and Sundance Now

Kamikaze ’89 (Germany, 1982) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder takes a rare onscreen lead in what would be his last screen appearance in Wolfgang Kremm’s 1982 new wave science fiction cop drama. Based on a satirical science fiction novel by Swedish crime writer Per Wahlöö, it’s a cyberpunk murder mystery in a totalitarian near future, where […]

Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve, directed by Arnaud Desplechin

‘A Christmas Tale’ – A messy family holiday on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

A Christmas Tale (France, 2008), Arnaud Desplechin’s mercurial, knotty and cinematically vibrant drama of family dysfunction stirred up over a Christmas gathering, was my pick for best film of 2008. Directing with restless energy, Desplechin sketches out a family tragedy, the untimely death of a first-born, that precedes the story by decades and then only […]

'The Great Train Robbery' is one of the features films in Mark Cousins ' documentary 'The Story of Film: An Odyssey '

‘The Story of Film: An Odyssey’ on Hulu and Sundance Now

In The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011), Mark Cousins takes an unconventional, expansive, and almost exhaustive approach to the history of cinema. I can’t imagine that anyone who is not already captivated by cinema would even begin this immersive, ambitious 15-hour documentary series that attempts to encapsulate cinema, from birth to the present, and […]

Matteo Garrone's 'Gomorrah ' from Italy

‘Gomorrah’ – The real Italian mob on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sundance Now

The signature image of Gomorrah (Italy, 2008), Matteo Garrone’s adaptation of Robert Saviano’s book about the dominance of organized crime in Naples and Caserta, is a pair of teenage boys running around a deserted beach in their underwear while shooting off automatic weapons. That’s as much glamour as you can expect from this portrait of […]

Michelle Williams stars in Kelly Reichardt's 'Meeks' Cutoff,' a story of 19th century settlers lost on the Oregon Trail

‘Meek’s Cutoff’ on Netflix and Sundance Now

Meek’s Cutoff (2011) – The time is 1845. The place: the Oregon Trail. Three frontier families ford a river in the high desert. They wordlessly, almost morosely, march across, then take the opportunity to fill canteens, wash, and check the wagons before setting off again. These pilgrims in the desert are a long way from […]

Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, in 'Carlos,' from filmmaker Olivier Assayas

‘Carlos’ – The making of a terrorist superstar on Netflix and Sundance Now

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas’ epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of a committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal (a name he appropriates from a Fredrick Forsythe […]