‘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 […]

John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the Euro-action film from producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel

‘From Paris With Love’ on Netflix and Hulu

From Paris With Love (2009), starring John Travolta as a cowboy of an American agent and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an ambitious but untrained low-level agent assigned to assist, is another of Luc Besson’s English language Euro-action films, the contemporary equivalent to the drive-in action movie of decades past. Besson has perfected the formula in […]

Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson star in the Oscar-winning gangster film

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ on Netflix

The Departed (2006), Martin Scorsese’s return to American urban crime cinema, became the biggest hit of his career and earned him his very first Academy Award for Best Director. Leonardo DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, a street thug working for South Boston crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, a rising […]

‘Drive’ – Ryan Gosling’s getaway on Netflix

Sleek pulp crime cool meets arthouse style thriller in Drive (2011, R) starring Ryan Gosling as a taciturn getaway driver. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (a veteran of gritty, brutal Danish underworld dramas) with a silky smoothness and a stylized cool that recalls Le Samourai and Walter Hill’s The Driver, and an eighties vibe and […]

Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on Criterion Channel

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

Al Pacino in Christopher Nolan's 'Insomnia' (2002), the American remake of the Norwegian thriller.

Al Pacino battles ‘Insomnia’ on Amazon Prime Video

Between his breakthrough hit Memento and his blockbuster smash Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan helmed Insomnia (2002), the American remake of the icy, sun-bright 1997 Norwegian noir. Relocated to Alaska and starring Al Pacino in the role played by Stellan Skarsgård in the original, it’s built on the same motif: the 24 hour daylight of the […]

Rudy Ray Moore is the original ‘Dolemite’ on Amazon Prime Video

Who’s the baddest mother (shut yo mouth!) to blow into the early seventies? Forget Shaft and just ask X-rated comic and “godfather of rap” Rudy Ray Moore. He’ll give you the gospel of Dolemite (1975). Street hustler, pimp, and all around ghetto superhero Dolemite began life as a character in Moore’s nightclub act and was […]

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 […]

'Sin City' from Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

‘Sin City’ – hard-boiled pulp fiction on Netflix

In Sin City (2005), Robert Rodriguez pulls out all stylistic stops to translate the most graphic of graphic novels—Frank Miller’s Sin City tales, all hard-boiled tributes to pulp fiction and film noir—from two-dimensional pages to free-floating big screen action, and he drafted Miller to help master not just the look, but whole hard-boiled extremism. Men […]