Toshiro Mifune in Akira Kurosawa's 'Drunken Angel,' co-starring Takashi Shimura

‘Drunken Angel’ and ‘Stray Dog’: Kurosawa Noir on The Criterion Channel

Like filmmakers all over the world, Akira Kurosawa’s films took a darker turn after the end of World War II, when the national demands of rousing propaganda films were no longer an industry imperative and filmmaker and audiences faced the challenges of life after war. Here are two of his most interesting and most compelling […]

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 original Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy with Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist

The original ‘Dragon Tattoo Trilogy’ on Amazon Prime Video

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, a trio of novels that teams up a disgraced journalist with a punk hacker, was an international phenomenon. The books sold millions in translation across the globe and were brought to the screen in Sweden, both in feature films and extended versions for TV. David Fincher directed an English-language version of […]

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot star in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Life, death, and chess in Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ on Criterion Channel

Arguably the most famous of Ingmar Bergman’s films and certainly his most iconic, The Seventh Seal (Sweden, 1957) is Bergman at his most allegorical. Max von Sydow, young and blond and heroic, is a disillusioned knight returned from the Crusades in a state of spiritual desperation: his faith has been shaken by senseless death and […]

Ingrid Thulin and Max Von Sydow in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Dark theater: Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Magician’ on Criterion Channel

Ingmar Bergman created The Magician (Sweden, 1958), in the midst of his most fertile and prolific period of filmmaking. It’s a chamber drama about a travelling medicine show fronted by a mute mesmerist (Max von Sydow) that enters into a battle of wills with the Minister of Health (Gunnar Björnstrand), a rationalist who considers the […]

What to stream: indie hit ‘The Farewell’ on Amazon Prime, ‘High Fidelity: The Series’ on Hulu, Oscar-winners on VOD

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   The gentle indie comic-drama “The Farewell” (2019, PG, with subtitles) follows the story of a Chinese-American woman (Awkwafina) who can’t understand why her family won’t tell her Chinese grandmother she has cancer. It […]

Marlon Brando in ‘Last Tango in Paris’ on HBO Now

Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972) was one of the most controversial films of the 1970s, rated X upon its original release for nudity and sexuality (since rerated NC-17). The drama of a widower who escapes his anguish and despair after his wife’s suicide in a purely physical relationship with a free-spirited young beauty […]

‘Day For Night’ –a love letter to moviemaking on Criterion Channel

Day For Night (France, 1973), François Truffaut’s Oscar-winning love letter to the cinema, celebrates the glorious chaos and creative heartache of making movies. Truffaut himself reigns over the on-screen cinema circus as director Ferrand, an aloof figure juggling productions delays, budget cuts, and the personal crises of his cast and crew as he tries to […]

John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands

John Cassavetes is ‘Machine Gun McCain’ on Amazon Prime Video

John Cassavetes was doing his Orson Welles thing—by that I mean acting in whatever movie paid well so he could finance his own, personal productions—when he took the lead in Machine Gun McCain (Italy, 1968), an Italian mob picture/heist movie hybrid shot in large part on location in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. […]

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Last Chance: ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ on Netflix

Olivier Assayas wrote this drama about a veteran actress facing a transition in her career after Juliette Binoche, arguably France’s greatest and certainly most ambitious actress working today, challenged him to write a film centered on women. It was a friendly challenge—she had already starred in two films he wrote for director André Téchiné and […]