David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Dr.’ on Amazon Prime Video

Mulholland Dr. (2001) – David Lynch pulled a near magic trick in what can only be an exercise in creative rewriting and re-conception. Taking an open ended TV pilot rejected by the networks, he added 45 minutes and created closure in a weird, mystical logic that, in its unique Lynchian way, makes a twisted emotional […]

James Cagney plays George M. Cohan in the musical directed by Michael Curtiz

‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ – James Cagney is George M. Cohan in FilmStruck

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – James Cagney won his only Academy Award playing George M. Cohan in the rousing bio-pic directed by Michael Curtiz, who was the top director at Warner Bros. and arguably the studio’s most versatile filmmaker at the time. Cagney was a song-and-dance man before he found fame as a movie tough […]

Paul Giamatti is John Adams in the HBO miniseries

‘John Adams’ and the birth of American democracy on Amazon Prime Video and HBO Now

One of the small moments of powerful insight offered in John Adams (2008), the superb HBO miniseries adapted from the biography by David McCullough and dramatized with a vivid sense of immediacy and historical texture, is the reminder that it wasn’t the election of George Washington that defined our democracy. It was the non-violent succession […]

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in 'Taxi Driver'

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ on Hulu and Criterion Channel

Taxi Driver (1976), Martin Scorsese’s incendiary masterpiece of alienation and anger and urban anxiety may be the most maverick vision of seventies American cinema. It is certainly one of the most visceral portraits of the American urban underbelly ever put on film, a movie bathed in blood as much as in light, and almost forty years […]

Takeshi Kitano directs and stars in "Violent Cop"

‘Violent Cop’ and ‘Boiling Point’ – The volatile Takeshi Kitano on FilmStruck and Sundance Now

In Violent Cop (1989) and Boiling Point (1990), actor-turned-filmmaker Takeshi Kitano has a way of transforming stillness into tension in his crime films. In the opening shot of Violent Cop, Kitano’s 1990 directorial debut, the camera holds on the smiling face of a toothless derelict. Like a pebble dropping into a pond the calm is […]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorsese's film of the Dennis Lahane novel

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Shutter Island (2009) opens, appropriately, shrouded in fog. Then our hero, Detective Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), cuts through the gray, standing on the prow of a tug boat chugging toward an isolated island hospital for the criminally insane. Daniels and his partner (Mark Ruffalo), city cops from an era of fedoras and trench coats and […]