Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen star in the hobo drama by William Wellman

Silents Please! – ‘Beggars of Life’ with Louise Brooks, ‘Varieté’ from Germany, and more

Catching up on some of the silent films released to Blu-ray and DVD in the past months… Beggars of Life (Kino Lorber) William Wellman was one of the most versatile directors of his day, making everything from comedies and musicals to gritty dramas and war movies, and his World War I epic Wings (1927) won […]

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 'World on a Wire'

‘World on a Wire’ – the first virtual reality thriller on FilmStruck

World on a Wire (Germany, 1973), made by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1973 for German television, is to the best of my knowledge the first film to explore virtual reality. And this from a director who never made a science film before or since. There are no Matrix visuals here—you might say that Fassbinder suggests his […]

Dennis Hopper is Tom Ripley in Wim Wender's take on Patricia HIghsmith

‘The American Friend’ on Criterion Channel

The American Friend (Germany, 1977) – “What’s wrong with a cowboy in Hamburg?” Dennis Hopper’s Tom Ripley is nothing like the character that Patricia Highsmith created and explored in five novels, and while Wim Wender’s adaptation of Ripley’s Game, the sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley, remains more or less faithful to the plot (with […]

Nicole Heesters and Rainer Werner Fassbinder in Wolfgang Kremm's "Kamikaze '89"

‘Kamikaze ’89’ – Fassbinder goes cyberpunk on Amazon Prime and Sundance Now

Kamikaze ’89 (Germany, 1982) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder takes a rare onscreen lead in what would be his last screen appearance in Wolfgang Kremm’s 1982 new wave science fiction cop drama. Based on a satirical science fiction novel by Swedish crime writer Per Wahlöö, it’s a cyberpunk murder mystery in a totalitarian near future, where […]

Bruno Ganz is Adolph Hitler in the Oscar-nominated film from Oliver Hirschbiegel

‘Downfall’ – The last days of Hitler on Netflix

Downfall (2004), Oliver Hirschbiegel’s ambitious and complex dramatization of the final days of Adolf Hitler and the collapse of Germany, is a compelling history lesson and a riveting drama. Bruno Ganz plays Hitler with creepy charm and paternal affection amidst his ping-ponging emotional instability. His megalomania and paranoia take over in an adrenaline rush and […]