Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman in the original pre-code 'Star is Born' from George Cukor

‘What Price Hollywood?’ – the pre-code ‘A Star is Born’ on FilmStruck

What Price Hollywood? (1932) is one of the wittiest and most interesting Hollywood movies about Hollywood culture ever made. It’s a shame it’s not better known. This pre-code comedy stars Constance Bennett as an aspiring actress waiting tables at The Brown Derby who gets her big break when a drunken film director (Lowell Sherman) invites […]

Chloë Grace Moretz stars in the American remake of the Swedish horror film, directed by Kodi Smit-McPhee

‘Let Me In’ on Amazon Prime Video

Let Me In (2010), a remake of Let the Right One In, the Swedish coming-of-age horror movie-turned-adolescent survival drama in the wilds of suburban civilization, is as unexpected as can be: an American revision of a celebrated European film that honors the original while translating its anxiety and unease to a distinctly American setting. If […]

Arch Oboler's 1951 nuclear holocaust classic

‘Five’ – the last people on Earth on Amazon Prime Video

Arch Oboler’s Five (1951) is not the first end-of-the-world film, but it is the first to end it by nuclear holocaust: it opens on the familiar mushroom cloud and Oboler proceeds to scrubs the wonders of the world and the landmarks of civilization free of human habitation with a few simple visual effects and the […]

Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, and Mark Ruffalo in Rian Johnson's charming fantasy of a con movie 'The Brothers Bloom.'

‘The Brothers Bloom’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The Brothers Bloom (2008), the second feature from Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson, is a con artist comedy as living theater. After the almost color-leached images of his high-school noir Brick (2005), Johnson puts more brightness in his palette and more spring his step for this fantasy about stories and storytelling. In a […]

Essie Kent and Noah Wiseman in Jennifer Kent's horror film.

‘The Babadook’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The Babadook, one of the best and most original horror films in years, raises goosebumps with old-fashioned scares, relatable characters, and a provocative psychological foundation. Amelia (Essie Kent) is a single mother who is still in mourning for her dead husband—she barely seems to be able to rouse herself to face the world—and is unable […]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the high school neo-noir by Rian Johnson

‘Brick’- High school noir on Netflix

Brick (2005), the debut feature from Star Trek: The Last Jedi filmmaker Rian Johnson, puts the collected works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in a blender with a jigger of teenage melodrama and pours it into a high school mold. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays things so close to his chest that he’s almost unreadable as […]

Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey star in the science fiction drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron

‘Children of Men’ on Amazon Prime Video

Children of Men (2007), Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of by P.D. James’ dystopian thriller, is set in a bleak, impoverished near future where two decades of infertility have created a mood of hopelessness as devastating and destructive as a nuclear holocaust. Britain has thrown up walls around the borders and is actively deporting immigrants, becoming a […]

Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac. Lionel Stander, and Jack MacGowran star in the 1966 film by Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s ‘Cul-De-Sac’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Roman Polanski once cited Cul-De-Sac (1966), a sly little character piece set in an isolated medieval castle on the barren British coast, as his personal favorite of his films, and the closest he came to creating “pure cinema.” It’s Polanski’s third feature and his second English language film, and he wrote the original script with […]

Shauna Macdonald stars in the subterranean horror from Neil Marshall

‘The Descent’ – subterranean horror on HBO Now

British genre maven Neil Marshall howled his arrival with his werewolf combat thriller Dog Soldiers, a sly and inspired UK hit that made cult ripples stateside. With The Descent (2005), a nerve wracking, claustrophobic survival thriller about six spelunking women hunted by the creepiest cave dwellers to skitter across a screen, Marshall honed his skills […]

Matt Damon is Mark Whitacre in the movie by Steven Soderbergh

Matt Damon is ‘The Informant!’ on Netflix

Biochemical engineer and corporate whistleblower Mark Whitacre might have been a national hero for his help in exposing international price fixing. Too bad he was also a compulsive liar and an embezzler caught up in delusions of grandeur and secret-agent fantasies. Though based on a true story, The Informant! (2009) is not The Insider but […]