Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 horror film from Japan is one of his greatest

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s haunting horror film ‘Pulse’ on Amazon Prime

“Do you want to meet a ghost?” The meditative and metaphysical horror cinema of Kiyoshi Kurosawa made him one of the masters of Japanese horror during its amazing cycle of surreal and nightmarish horror films of the 1990s and 2000s, but his films never really crossed over to the general audience in the U.S. His […]

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ on Peacock

FBI agent Tom Hanks chases check forger Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can (2002), Steven Spielberg’s take on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. The real-life Abagnale successfully passed himself off as a pilot, a lawyer, and a doctor, and passed over $4 million in forged checks, all before his 21st birthday. […]

‘The Pianist’ – the devastating Oscar-winning drama on Netflix

The Pianist (2002), Roman Polanski’s film of the true story of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, is uncompromising in its portrayal of survival. We see the Holocaust through his eyes (via actor Adrien Brody) as the occupying Nazi military slowly but inexorably takes away the rights, the property, the humanity, and in most cases the lives […]

Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance as Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in the BBC miniseries 'Wolf Hall'

‘Wolf Hall’ – power and privilege on Amazon Prime

The BBC historical miniseries Wolf Hall (2015) stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell (not to be confused with Oliver Cromwell), advisor and legal counsel to Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII. Rylance is a theatrical legend in Britain but not so well known in the U.S., although that’s changing thanks to his sublime performance in […]

Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray star, Harold Ramis directs

‘Caddyshack’ – Slobs vs. snobs on HBO Max

Caddyshack (1980), the definitive slobs versus snobs comedy, is ostensibly the story of a working-class golf caddy (Michael O’Keefe) at an exclusive country club trying to land a scholarship and plan his future, but his coming-of-age story becomes just another thread in the comic chaos. Chevy Chase, fresh off Saturday Night Live, takes top billing […]

‘Get Low’ with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray on Amazon Prime

A lovely film about regret, self-punishment and redemption on a scale both human and mythic (or at least American folkloric), Get Low (2009) is a feature film with the personality of a short story, filled with quietly offbeat characters and directed with a deft balance of comedy and tragedy. Which is why it had a […]

Orson Welles is Harry Lime on Carol Reed's classic

Continental noir: ‘The Third Man’ on Criterion Channel

Carol Reed’s continental film noir The Third Man (1949), written by Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten as a cynical American pulp novelist playing detective in the rubble-strewn underworld of post-war Vienna and Orson Welles as a charming but ruthless black marketeer, is one of the true classics. The film is directed by Reed but […]

‘Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter’ – swashbuckling horror on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Forget Van Helsing. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974) is the great swashbuckling dispatcher of the bloodsucking undead. Hard-faced Horst Janson is the brooding Kronos, a rangy, sword-wielding soldier who hunts the vampire scourge with his jovial hunchbacked partner, Grost (John Cater) and takes time out from his athletic battles and meditative interludes for a few […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Conan the Barbarian on Netflix

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the original ‘Conan the Barbarian’ on Peacock

Arnold Schwarzenegger was the defining action hero of Hollywood from the mid-1980s through the 1990s, yet before he made his breakthrough, he seem the most unlikely American screen icon to lumber his way up the Hollywood ladder. The former Austrian bodybuilder turned Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia (he retired his crown undefeated) seemed destined to […]

Jeffrey Hunter is Jesus in Nicholas Ray's take on the story of Christ

‘King of Kings’ – the 1961 Biblical epic free on Hoopla

King of Kings (1961), Nicholas Ray’s epic drama of the story of Christ (and ostensible remake of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 silent classic), has less spectacle than the other epics of its era but it remains one of the most interesting and perceptive Biblical epics of its era. Narration (by Orson Welles) takes us back […]