Amy Adams in 'Arrival,' directed by Denis Villeneuve

‘Arrival’ – First contact on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Arrival (2016) is the most cerebral of first contact films, a science fiction drama about communicating across cultures and across species and even across time without a common language, while failing to communicate within our own world. It is a film that looks out beyond our galaxy and inward to our own souls, to challenge […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Amazon Prime

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and Ed Burns in Steven Spielberg's World War II platoon drama

‘Saving Private Ryan’ – Spielberg, Hanks, and WWII on Hulu

Saving Private Ryan (1998) was the first major World War II film made by Hollywood in decades and the timing was right. The 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994 brought the cultural conversation back to the sacrifice of American soldiers. After a generation of films revisiting Vietnam, Steven Spielberg steered Hollywood back to the pride […]

Harold Russell, Dana Andrews, and Fredric March in William Wyler's 1946 drama

‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ – Coming home on FilmStruck

By all rights, the homecoming drama The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) should have been another well intentioned film left to the dated dustbins of history, but World War II vet William Wyler (working from an original Robert Sherwood script) put more soul into this picture than anything else in his career. Clocking in […]

Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in 'Million Dollar Baby'

‘Million Dollar Baby’ on VOD and disc

Always one of America’s most undervalued directors, Clint Eastwood is proving himself the American cinema’s national treasure in the third act of his impressive career. Million Dollar Baby (2004), an understated, unpretentious, powerfully told drama, adapted from F.X. Toole stories by Paul Haggis, earned Eastwood his second round of Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture […]

Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw star in Steven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster

‘Jaws’ – the original summer blockbuster on Netflix

Jaws (1995), Steven Spielberg’s meticulously-directed, tension-filled, career-redefining thrill machine, has been pegged as the original modern summer blockbuster. And while that is true, this pop-culture masterpiece is more than simply a well-tooled thriller. Spielberg brings a sense of community, family, and humanity to the supermarket thriller from Peter Benchley, a book more designed than written. […]

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, […]

‘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, […]