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 […]

What to stream: ‘Altered Carbon’ and ‘Babylon Berlin’ on Netflix, spy drama ‘Absentia’ on Amazon Prime

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, FilmStruck, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Babylon Berlin (Germany, with subtitles), a lavish limited series crime drama set in the decadence and depression 1929 Weimar Germany, is based on the detective novels of Volker Kutscher and developed […]

Klaus Kinski stars in Werner Herzog's eerie color remake of F.W. Murnau's original vampire classic

Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’ on FilmStruck

Nosferatu the Vampyre (Germany, 1979), Werner Herzog’s eerie color remake of F.W. Murnau’s original vampire classic (itself an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula), is at once faithful to Murnau’s film and quintessentially Herzogian. Klaus Kinski, Herzog’s demon alter ego, is both hideous and haunting as the chalk-skinned gargoyle, a melancholy monster seeking an end […]

Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld in Christian Petzold's 'Phoenix'

‘Phoenix’ – from the ashes on Criterion Channel

Just as the title suggests, Phoenix (Germany, 2014) is about rising from the ashes, but filmmaker Christian Petzold is more interested than the smudged moral world in the ashes of Germany after World War II than in the promise of the rise. Nina Hoss, one of the great actresses of our time and star of […]

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 […]