Joaquin Phoenix in the 2014 romantic drama from Spike Jonze

‘Her’ – Love in the digital world on Netflix

Her (2013), the first film from Spike Jonze since his underrated take on Where the Wild Things Are, returns to the territory of his debut film Being John Malkovich but without the satirical edge. Like his fellow filmmakers and former collaborators Michael Gondry and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, Jonze is narratively playful and challenging, but his […]

Michael Fassbender stars in the darkly absurdist frontier odyssey 'Slow West'

‘Slow West’ – Michael Fassbender on the frontier on Netflix

Slow West (2015), which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2015, stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as 16-year-old Jay Cavendish, the son of Scottish aristocrats on a romantic (and foolhardy) journey to find the girl he loves on the 19th century American frontier, and Michael Fassbender as bounty hunter Silas who volunteers to be the […]

Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds in 'Mississippi Grind,' directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Ryan Reynolds works the ‘Mississippi Grind’ on Netflix

Mississippi Grind (2015) plays like a seventies character drama, a meandering road movie through the byways of American characters who populate the card rooms and dice tables and racetracks, and an oddball buddy movie built on a chance encounter and an instant kinship between two losers gambling their lives away. Ryan Reynolds is Curtis, a […]

Jacob Tremblay and Best Actress Oscar winner Brie Larson in 'Room,' directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Brie Larson in ‘Room’ on Netflix

It’s called Room (2015). Not The Room, simply Room, as if there were no others. And for Jack (Jacob Tremblay), the five-year-old son of a young mother (Brie Larson), there aren’t. It’s his entire world, his universe, and as far as he knows nothing exists outside the walls. His mother, known only as Ma in the film, […]

Ethan Hawks stars in the adaptation of Robert Heinlein's All You Zombies from the Spierig Brothers

‘Predestination’ – Ethan Hawke in a time travel twister on Amazon Prime

Predestination (2015) is a generic title for a perversely clever time travel tale but you can understand why The Spierig Brothers, the screen credit for filmmaking team Michael and Peter Spierig, didn’t go with the title of the famous Robert Heinlein short story they adapted. “—All You Zombies—” would give audiences the wrong idea. There […]

‘Miss Hokusai’ on Netflix

Miss Hokusai (Japan, 2015) is actually an artist from early 19th century Japan by the name of O-Ei Katsushika, a young woman who trained under her father, the legendary Japanese painter Hokusai Katsushika. Based on the biographical manga “Sarusuberi” by Hinako Sugiura, this is an episodic animated feature, like a collection of memories and vignettes […]