Tom Hanks in 'A Hologram for the King,' directed by Tom Tykwer

‘A Hologram for the King’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

You could call A Hologram for the King (2016) a mid-life crisis drama, which is true enough, but it is really a crisis of purpose and identity for an old-school middle-aged businessman trying to remain relevant in the modern world. Tom Hanks is former golden boy executive Alan Clay, whose reputation went down in flames […]

Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, and Jackie Gleason, directed by Robert Rossen

Paul Newman is ‘The Hustler’ on HBO Max

The Hustler (1961) – Paul Newman is cocky poolroom hustler “Fast” Eddie Felson, a swaggering pool shark punk who works his trade in dingy bars and seedy poolrooms, in Robert Rossen’s atmospheric adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel. Crashing into a pit of self-pity after losing big to king of the poolroom Minnesota Fats (a […]

‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Peter Weir’s sweeping nautical adventure Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), based on the beloved novels of Patrick O’Brien, all but blows sea spray from the screen. Russell Crowe is Captain Jack Aubrey of the H.M.S. Surprise, an English officer on the high seas during the Napoleonic wars, and Paul Bettany […]

Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance as Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in the BBC miniseries 'Wolf Hall'

‘Wolf Hall’ – power and privilege on Amazon Prime

The BBC historical miniseries Wolf Hall (2015) stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell (not to be confused with Oliver Cromwell), advisor and legal counsel to Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII. Rylance is a theatrical legend in Britain but not so well known in the U.S., although that’s changing thanks to his sublime performance in […]

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in the 1971 western by Robert Altman

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ on Criterion Channel

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Robert Altman’s third film since staking out his claim on 1970s cinema with M*A*S*H (1970), turns the western myth into a metaphor for the fantasy of the American Dream colliding with the power of big business. Warren Beatty is John McCabe, a drifting gambler who rides into the mining camp […]

‘I Am Legend’ – Will Smith is the last man on earth on Netflix and Peacock

I Am Legend (2007), the third official adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel (and the first to carry the novel’s name) about the last human in Earth after a plague turns the survivors into undead creatures, strips the story down to essentials. This version, directed by Francis Lawrence, focuses on the visceral experience of roaming an […]

John Wayne is ‘Hondo’ in the classic Louis L’Amour western

The leathery frontier drama Hondo (1953) stars John Wayne as a Cavalry scout who comes across a lonely homestead where a toughened settler (Geraldine Page) and her son await the return of her brutish husband (Leo Gordon), refusing to leave even as tensions between the Apache nation and the Cavalry heat up into war. Wayne […]

Peter Cushing is Sherlock Holmes in the Hammer version of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic

‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ – Hammer’s Gothic Holmes

Hammer Films had just launched their full color revivals of the classic movie monsters when they tackled Sherlock Holmes with The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), giving him the Gothic treatment in a mix mystery and supernatural horror. Peter Cushing is perfectly cast as the great detective, the very embodiment of science and reason (which […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Paramount+ and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

Casey Affleck in Ben Affleck's directorial debut

‘Gone Baby Gone’ on Paramount+

Ben Affleck made a confident and compelling directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone (2007), his adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s mystery novel about a pair of young private detectives (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) hired to look for the missing daughter of a junkie mother (Amy Ryan, who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance). It’s […]