‘Babylon Berlin’ – Wiemer noir on Netflix

Originally published on the Film Noir Foundation website The most expensive German TV series ever produced, Babylon Berlin (Germany, 2017-2018) is Weimar noir, a detective drama turned conspiracy thriller set against the backdrop of decadence and poverty and corruption in 1929 Berlin just before the Nazi party rode the swell of nationalism to power. Think […]

‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) written and directed by California-based filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, is a vampire movie that stirs American movie references into a stylized Iranian street drama. The Girl (as she is identified in the credits), played by Sheila Vand (Argo), walks the streets (and at one point rides a purloined […]

Lina Leandersson and Kare Hedebrant in Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire film / young love horror piece 'Let the Right One In '

‘Let the Right One In’ – A Swedish vampire tale, free on Kanopy

Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish vampire film / young love horror piece Let the Right One In (2008) is grounded in a devoted friendship that bonds two outcasts in a predatory world. Bullied schoolboy Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a loner so blond he looks albino, meets twelve-year-old Eli (Lina Leandersson), a fellow loner hanging around the snow-covered playground of […]

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

‘House’/’Hausu’ – Japanese madness on Criterion Channel

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 […]

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ on Criterion Channel

Before Hellboy, Pan’t Labyrinth, and his Academy Award winning The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro directed the elegant and harrowing ghost story The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, 2001). Set in the collapsing days of the Spanish Civil War, in a makeshift orphanage where the sons of fallen Republican soldiers are protected by a war widow […]

Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’ on Netflix

Ip Man was the martial arts master who became a hero during World War II and a respected teacher who mentored, among others, Bruce Lee. And there’s been a cottage industry in Ip Man films in the last decade, most famously with Donnie Yen in the lead as the modest, unassuming master martial artist. The […]

Vera Clouzot in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Hitchcockian thriller with Simone Signoret

The original ‘Diabolique’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Henri-Georges Clouzot was called the Hitchcock of France for his shadowy thrillers and the atmosphere of distrust and suspicion that ran through so many of his films. Diabolique (France, 1955, not rated, with subtitles), his 1955 thriller about a plot to commit a perfect murder and the wrenching tension when the corpse disappears, plays like […]

‘Le Doulos’ – the French criminal code on Criterion Channel

If classic French cinema is any indication, then gangsters were the great Gallic underground hero. Where the prototypical American gangsters are invariably cultural outsiders and immigrants who muscle their way to power in sprays of bullets, their French counterparts are dapper men with a code of loyalty who walk the tightrope between respect and disrepute. […]