Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet in the Blake Edwards comedy

Peter Sellers joins ‘The Party’ on Amazon Prime Video

The Party (1968) reunited Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers after a falling out during the second Pink Panther movie for a different kind of comedy: a modern sound version of a silent movie comedy. They don’t pretend it’s a silent film, mind you, but rather build a series of visual gags on a basic premise—Peter […]

Bong Joon-ho's 2006 South Korean monster movie 'The Host'

‘The Host’ – Bong Joon-ho’s monster mash on Hulu

The Host (2006), Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean monster movie hit, is neither a parody, subversion, or revision of the often campy horror movie genre. It stirs a stew of genre conventions, from political commentary to dysfunctional family satire to earnest emotional pathos, into an often thrilling monster movie as indebted to the B-movies of seventies American […]

Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder in the classic Mel Brooks comedy

‘Blazing Saddles’ on Hulu

When singer Frankie Laine was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air many years ago, he confessed that when he was engaged to record the theme song to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974), he was not told that the film (and the song) was a spoof. He simply thought it was a bad song […]

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Netflix

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

‘The Naked Prey’ on Criterion Channel

The Naked Prey (1966), Cornel Wilde’s take on the Most Dangerous Game survival drama, may not be the first but it’s arguably the definitive, most visceral and primal example of the genre. Inspired by an account on the American frontier but shifted to 19th century colonial South Africa, the simple story begins with a bush […]

‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ – the definitive version of the SF classic on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1981/2007) – Ridley Scott’s visionary reworking of Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep,” was a box-office flop. Maybe it was too dark for a public flying away on the fantasy of E.T. in the summer of 1982, or too downbeat for audiences looking for a Harrison […]

Gong Yoo stars in the South Korean zombie film directed by Yeon Sang-ho

‘Train to Busan’ – Korean zombie classic on Netflix and Amazon Prime

You could call Train to Busan (South Korea, 2016) “Zombies on a Train”—it certainly makes a catchy logline and it frames the premise accurately and succinctly—but it reduces this fleet, fierce, unexpectedly human thriller to a mere gimmick. Apart from the slyly eerie prologue, the film opens without any hint of the viral rampage to […]

‘The Dirty Dozen’ – the original World War II caper on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The 1960s were full of big budget wartime caper-style films—The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare, Kelley’s Heroes, just to name a few—but none of them have the brawny machismo and wily bad boy gusto of The Dirty Dozen (1967), Robert Aldrich’s testosterone-fueled tough guy classic. Lee Marvin is the hard-as-nails Major who is “volunteered” to […]

Joan Crawford in Nicholas Ray's cult western Johnny Guitar

Frontier women rule in ‘Johnny Guitar’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

In Johnny Guitar (1954), Joan Crawford’s Vienna is the most masculine of women western heroes. A former saloon girl who earned her way to owning her own gambling house, she’s a mature woman with a history and she’s not ashamed of what she did to carve out her claim for a future. Directed by Nicholas […]

The original ‘The Wicker Man’ on Netflix

The original The Wicker Man (1973) begins as a murder mystery and turns into something else entirely. Edward Woodward stars as the stiff English police detective who is sent to a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl and discovers a culture living a happy “heathen” lifestyle, lorded over (literally) by […]