Jean Daste and Dita Parlo in Jean Vigo's 'L'Atalante'

‘L’Atalante’ – Poetry on the water on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

L’Atalante (France, 1934), the sole feature from French filmmaker Jean Vigo, is a vision of everyday poetry. The romantic story of a young couple (Jean Daste and Dita Parlo) who marry and move onto a cramped barge that drifts through the canals of France is a simple tale, as much a visual song as a […]

Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Claudine Vinasithamby in Jacques Audiard's award winning drama

‘Dheepan’ – Winner of the Palme d’Or on Hulu

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2016 and nominated for nine Cesar awards, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan (France, 2015) is a moving drama of alienation, assimilation, and survival. A guerilla soldier (Jesuthasan Antonythasan, a non-actor and former child soldier) in the brutal Tamil Tigers in the dying days of Sri Lanka’s civil war, burns his […]

Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, and Yayan Ruhian star in the film by Gareth Huw Evans

‘The Raid: Redemption’ – Extreme action on Netflix

Set almost entirely in an apartment building in the slums of Jakarta, the extreme action film The Raid: Redemption (Indonesia, 2011) has a reputation as one of the fiercest, most brutal crime thrillers around. It’s a well-earned reputation. Directed by Gareth Huw Evans, a Brit (actually Welsh) in Asia, and starring martial arts professionals in […]

Masaki Kobayashi directs the quartet of Japanese ghost stories

‘Kwaidan’ – Japanese ghost stories on FilmStruck

Kwaidan (Japan, 1964), Masaki Kobayashi’s quartet of ancient ghost stories, may not be strictly speaking a horror film. It’s not scary or particularly unsettling apart for a few exquisitely created images. It is, however, breathtakingly lovely, visually composed like a painting, scored and sound designed by Toru Takemitsu with a spareness that leans on silence, […]

‘People on Sunday’ on Amazon Prime Video

People on Sunday (Germany, 1920) is a delightful, effervescent rarity from the late silent era with irresistible bona fides. Not only did this low-budget 1930 German film influence a generation of filmmakers, it launched the careers of some mighty impressive talents who, as hungry young filmmakers, collaborated on this buoyant little portrait of a lazy […]

Jackie Chan in the Hong Kong action film from Leo Zhang

‘Bleeding Steel’ – Jackie Chan is still in action on Amazon Prime Video

Now well over 60 years old, Jackie Chan remains a charismatic actor with some impressive moves that he puts on display in Bleeding Steel (China, 2017), a colorful but awfully silly science fiction action thriller from writer/director Leo Zhang. Jackie plays a Special Forces officer whose duty takes him from his dying young daughter to […]

François Civil, Pio Marmaï, and Ana Girardot in the film by Cedric Klapisch

‘Back to Burgundy’ – A year in wine country on Amazon Prime Video

Back to Burgundy (France, 2017), the sweet and sentimental drama by French filmmaker Cédric Klapisch, is in many ways a gorgeous travelogue of the winemaking life through the seasons of a family vineyard set against the gentle melodrama of three siblings who inherit their father’s legacy along with a big inheritance bill. Jean (Pio Marmaï), […]

Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 acid flashback horror fantasy 'House'

‘House’/’Hausu’ – Japanese madness on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

I can’t begin to find the words to describe House (1977), aka Hausu, an unclassifiable Japanese haunted house/high school romp/demon killer/surreal fantasy film from Nobuhiko Obayashi. Made in 1977 and recently revived and released to the rest of the world, it’s the archival cult find of the decade: a candy-colored style bomb of horror movie […]

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

‘In the Mood for Love’ on Amazon Prime Video

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 […]

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

‘Train to Busan’ – Korean zombies on Netflix

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 […]