‘Greenland’ – Surviving the end of the world on HBO Max

As Greenland (2020) opens, families around the world gather in front to their TVs to see the spectacle of pieces from a comet entering the Earth’s atmosphere and landing harmlessly in the ocean. Then structural engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) receives a startling government alert telling him to report to a nearby Air Force Base […]

Walter Hill’s ‘Streets of Fire’ on Netflix

A self-described “A Rock and Roll Fable” from “another time, another place,” I think of Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire (1984) as a rock and roll western dropped into the urban badlands of a brick and neon noir. It opens on what appears to be the 1950s frozen in time, a working class neighborhood forgotten […]

Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ vs. The Joker on Hulu

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino star in the film noir by Nicholas Ray

Robert Ryan is ‘On Dangerous Ground’ on Criterion Channel

On Dangerous Ground (1952), directed by Nicholas Ray from a script he developed with A.I. Bezzerides and producer John Houseman, opens on the urgent yet fractured dramatic score by Bernard Herrmann, a theme that rushes forward anxiously, pauses with quieter instruments, then jumps again as we watch the nocturnal city streets in the rain through […]

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Peacock

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

Zoe Saldana kills in ‘Colombiana’ on Amazon Prime

Zoe Saldana was a rising star when she took the lead as a sexy assassin in Colombiana (2011), a revenge thriller from producer Luc Besson’s international action movie factory. But where his other productions tend to drop American badasses in European locales, this one reworks La Femme Nikita in a South American context. Saldana is […]

Christian Bale is Batman in Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins'

‘Batman Begins’ – Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight on Hulu

One of the defining films in the elevation of comic book movies to adult fare, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back to the shadows, both figuratively and literally. It’s quite a leap from the previous Batman revival launched by Tim Burton’s 1989 […]

The cast of NBC's 'Hannibal,' starring Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, and Mads Mikkelsen

‘Hannibal: Complete Series’ on Hulu

Hannibal (2013-2015) reimagines the universe created by author Thomas Harris in the cycle of novels that began with Red Dragon and introduced Dr. Hannibal Lecter to the world. Freely drawing inspiration for the novels and characters, creator and showrunner Bryan Fuller images the relationship between Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played with enigmatic intensity and cool charm by Mads […]

Sun Honglei and Louis Koo headline 'Drug War' from Hong Kong action maestro Johnnie To

Johnnie To’s ‘Drug War’ on Amazon Prime

Drug War (2012) relocates Hong Kong director / producer Johnnie To, the most rigorous and disciplined (and the most socially observant and politically savvy) of Asian crime movie auteurs, to the Chinese mainland. He trades the urban overcrowding and overheated capitalism of Hong Kong for the open plains and lonely highways of Tianjin but otherwise […]

Last chance: ‘X-Men: First Class’ on HBO Max

X-Men: First Class (2011) is both a reboot and a prequel to the big screen comic book series about a team of mutant superheroes with new, younger models of the series elders Charles “Professor X” Xavier (James McAvoy as a flirtatious, precocious incarnation of Patrick Stewart’s more professorial figure) and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, […]