Dominique Sanda and Stefania Sandrelli in Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' starring Jean-Louis Trintignant

Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Conformist’ on Criterion Channel

Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), his dense, visually intricate, and stylistically ornate adaptation of the revered novel by Alberto Moravio, tosses sex, desire, politics, and personal responsibility into the Fascist era before World War II. Marcello (an actively repressed Jean-Louis Trintignant), a petty bourgeois man in late 1930s Italy, joins the Italian Fascist party as […]

Tatsuya Nakadai in the Akira Kurosawa epic

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ on Amazon Prime

Akira Kurosawa Ran (Japan, 1985), the story of an aging warlord who hands power to his sons is loosely inspired by the story of sixteenth century warlord Mōri Motonari, who conquered his rivals and extended his kingdom with the help of his three sons. The script, however, is firmly built on King Lear, with sons […]

Marlene Dietrich stars in Josef von Sternberg's 'The Blue Angel.'

‘The Blue Angel’ – Marlene Dietrich’s breakthrough on Criterion Channel

The Blue Angel (1930) – American director Josef von Sternberg went to Germany to direct Emil Jannings in his transition from silent to sound cinema and returned to Hollywood with an international hit and a new star: Marlene Dietrich. Not exactly what Jannings had in mind, but then how could he know that his thick, […]

Marion Cotillard and Mathieu Amalric in the French drama by Arnaud Desplechin

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ – Life, art, and love on Amazon Prime

French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin makes films about the messiness of families, lovers, and creative lives that can become quite messy in their telling. Ismael’s Ghosts (France, 2018) jumps abruptly back and forth in time and between biography and fiction and dreams, smudging the line between biography, fiction, and artistic imagination. Desplechin regular Mathieu Amalric is […]

Ham Tran directs this Vietnamese caper film

‘Bitcoin Heist’ – Caper film from Vietnam on Amazon Prime

Bitcoin Heist (Vietnam, 2016) is a conundrum of a title. After all, Bitcoin is a virtual currency and a heist suggests, well, something a little more physical than computer hacking. That’s part of the fun of this colorful and zippy Vietnamese action film: old-fashioned heist thriller meets the high-tech world of cybercrime, a production modeled […]

Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar-Wai's award-winning film

‘In the Mood for Love’ on Criterion Channel

There may be no more sensual director in the world than Hong Kong’s Wong Kar-Wai, and In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong, 2000) is one of his richest and most melancholy works, a shadow dance of would-be lovers sketched in suggestions and intimations. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai star as next door neighbors […]

Diane Kruger stars in the German drama directed by Fatih Akin

Diane Kruger is ‘In the Fade’ on Amazon Prime

Director Fatih Akin, a German filmmaker of Turkish heritage, likes to dig deep into raw emotion and conflict, both personal and cultural. In the Fade (Germany, 2017) takes on the rise of white nationalism and domestic terrorism through the ordeal of a young widow grieving over the brutal bombing murder of her family. Diane Kruger […]

‘Point Blank’ – pulse-pounding French thriller on Amazon Prime

The French crime thriller Point Blank (France, 2010), not to be confused with John Boorman’s 1967 post-noir masterpiece, opens in full sprint and pretty much stays in that adrenaline-pumping state. There is one peaceful interlude, a flashback to the calm before the storm with nursing student Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) and his pregnant wife (Elena Anaya), […]

‘Night is Short, Walk on Girl’ on HBO Max

A teenage girl’s long, eventful night on the town becomes a fantastical adventure in Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Japan, 2017), an animated feature from Japanese filmmaker Masaaki Yuasa. A high school sophomore, known only as “The Girl with Black Hair” (or Otome), joins a pair of harmless con artists for a night on […]

‘Tokyo Drifter’ – A lonely hitman on a wild odyssey on Criterion Channel

Weird, wild, and nearly incomprehensible, Seijun Suzuki’s gangster movie masterpiece Tokyo Drifter (Japan, 1967) recreates the Yakuza genre as a pop-art James Bond cartoon as directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It opens on a gangland beating on the docks of the grimy waterfront, a dynamic widescreen image in stark, overexposed black and white. As a trumpet […]