John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the Euro-action film from producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel

‘From Paris With Love’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

From Paris With Love (2009), starring John Travolta as a cowboy of an American agent and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an ambitious but untrained low-level agent assigned to assist, is another of Luc Besson’s English language Euro-action films, the contemporary equivalent to the drive-in action movie of decades past. Besson has perfected the formula in […]

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 […]

Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as young John Lennon in the story of his early life directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

‘Nowhere Boy’ – John Lennon before the Beatles on Netflix

Nowhere Boy (2009) tells the story of the early life of John Lennon, the man who would put together the Beatles as a teenage boy. What’s marvelous about the film is that it isn’t elevated into some mythological status. There are none of those clichéd lines where someone in the group or some prescient member […]

Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson star the homefront war drama directed by Oren Movermen

‘The Messenger’ – The bearer of bad news on Hulu

In The Messenger (2009), combat veteran Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) may be “a goddamn hero,” in the words of his commanding officer, but in the final months of his enlistment he’s assigned to the most challenging mission of his career: casualty notification and the emotional minefield of civilians dealing with the death of a loved […]

Johnny Hallyday stars in the Johnnie To crime thriller from Hong Kong

Johnny Hallyday gets ‘Vengeance,’ Johnnie To style, on FilmStruck

Johnnie To, the reigning king of the crime movie and the romantic code of gangster brothers within the mercenary world of organized crime, delivers another perfect little genre piece with Vengeance (Hong Kong, 2009). French pop legend Johnny Hallyday stars as Costello, a retired pro who comes to Macau to take revenge on the men […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Netflix

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

Lars von Trier directs Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe in his dark psychological thriller

Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ on FilmStruck

I’m not sure how I manage to keep my simultaneous fascination with /repulsion for Lars von Trier in balance, but it’s there with a vengeance in Antichrist (Denmark, 2009), another provocation that is at once beautiful and perverse, personal and cynical, and filled with his sour vision of the emotional small-mindedness (small-heartedness?) of the human […]

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Greg Mottola's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film 'Adventureland.' Photo credit: Miramax

‘Adventureland’ on Netflix and Hulu

Adventureland (2009, R) is more than just a chintzy theme park outside of Pittsburgh, where college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) spends a summer trying to save money for graduate school. It’s the real world adventures of life in the space between college and independence, that place where you think that you’re an adult but […]