‘Wings of Desire’ – Angels over Berlin on FilmStruck

“There are angels over the streets of Berlin,” insists Wim Wenders in his lyrical fantasy Wings of Desire (Germany, 1987), but these are like no angels you’ve never seen. Bundled in dark overcoats, they watch over the city with ears open to the heartbeat of the human soul, listening to the internal musings and yearnings […]

Harry Dean Stanton stars in the Palm d'or winning film by Wim Wenders

‘Paris, Texas’ on FilmStruck

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, Paris, Texas (1984) is the first American film where German filmmaker Wim Wenders carved his own vision into the American landscape (both physical and cinematic). Just two years after his dispiriting experience directing Hammett for producer Francis Ford Coppola, he returned to the U.S. […]

Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni in Michelangelo Antonioni's drama from his "trilogy of alienation"

Mastroianni and Moreau in ‘La notte’ on FilmStruck

La notte (Italy, 1961), the second film in Michelangelo Antonioni’s “trilogy of alienation” (it’s bracketed by L’avventura, 1961, and L’eclisse, 1962), stars Marcello Mastroianni as a celebrated novelist in Milan who has nothing left to say and Jeanne Moreau as his quietly unsettled wife who can’t seem to express all the disappointment building up behind […]

Robert Redford stars in the ski drama directed by Michael Ritchie

Robert Redford is a ‘Downhill Racer’ on Hulu

Downhill Racer (1969) is the feature debut of Michael Ritchie, the first project that frustrated actor and future movie star Robert Redford developed for himself and the first of Redford’s proposed trilogy about the meaning of “winning” in American culture. That’s what gives such a riveting perspective to what would otherwise be called a “sports […]

1931 drama by G.W. Pabst from Germany

Blu-ray: G.W. Pabst’s ‘Westfront 1918’ and ‘Kameradschaft’ on Criterion

Westfront 1918 (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Kameradschaft (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Georg Wilhelm Pabst was not only one of the great German directors of the silent film era, he (along with Fritz Lang) explored the expressive possibilities of sound in the early days of sound cinema. Criterion presents two of his earliest sound features, a pair that […]

‘Gates of Heaven’ and ‘Vernon, Florida’ – the early documentaries of Errol Morris on Netflix

Errol Morris is one of the most celebrated—and most distinctive—documentary filmmakers of our time and his interest in unconventional portraits and offbeat subjects began with his first films. Gates of Heaven (1978, not rated) profiles two pet cemeteries—one that went out of business and another, more financially stable business where the graves were relocated—and the […]

Odette Joyeux and Jacques Tati in the romantic ghost story by Claude Autant-Lara

DVD: ‘Claude Autant-Lara: Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France’ on Eclipse

Claude Autant-Lara: Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France (Eclipse, DVD) Confession time: I had never seen a film by French director Claude Autant-Lara before this set and frankly had no concept of his reputation beyond the distaste that the critics-turned-filmmakers of the La Nouvelle Vague held for his work. He was the tradition of quality […]

Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in Alexander Mackendrick's great Broadway noir

‘Sweet Smell of Success’ – Broadway noir on FilmStruck

“I love this dirty town.” The first and only time that Burt Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker drops the cynical twist from his clenched smile and allows genuine appreciation cross his face in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is when he drops that line while strolling down the nighttime streets of Broadway. It’s not a proclamation or […]

Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska star in the polish horror fantasy by Agnieszka Smoczynska

‘The Lure’ – these Little Mermaids have teeth on Criterion Channel

The strangest take on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” ever put on the screen, The Lure (Poland, 2015) is a musical-horror-fantasy-romantic tragedy from Poland about mermaid sisters with a taste for human flesh. Like the sirens of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are feral creatures who […]

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 […]