Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

Frances O’Conner is Fanny Price in Patricia Rozema's adaptation of the Jane Austen novel

Patricia Rozema’s ‘Mansfield Park’ on Hulu

Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of Mansfield Park (1999) combines Jane Austen’s novel with elements of her letters and journals to turn heroine Fanny Price (played by Frances O’Conner) into a woman of self-possession and confidence. The strong-willed, creative girl in an impoverished family is sent to live with snooty rich relatives, where she is more than […]

Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks star in this family drama based on a true story

‘People Like Us’ on Netflix

People Like Us (2012), a based-on-a-true-story family drama, offers some touching moments between the Hollywood contrivances and some moving moments that remind us of the power of family ties. Chris Pine stars as Sam, an amoral wheeler dealer in financial straits who has to be pushed by his girlfriend (a terribly underserved Olivia Wilde) to […]

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in the J.J. Abrams revival of the original Enterprise crew

‘Star Trek’ – The beginning on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Talk about boldly going: Star Trek (2009)—no numbers, no subtitles, no tags—is not simply a prequel to the franchise. It’s an entire relaunch and director J.J. Abrams dares to rewrite Trek lore with an origin story that chronicles the first voyage of the Enterprise crew with a mission that sends them into a whole new Federation […]