Channing Tatum is 'Magic Mike' in an unexpectedly compelling story inspired by the actor's real life experiences. Steven Soderbergh directs.

‘Magic Mike’ on HBO Max

Magic Mike (2012) was an underdog success story of 2012. While megabudget spectacles and potential tentpole films collapsed under the weight of heavy productions over flimsy scripts, Steven Soderbergh took a story inspired by actor Channing Tatum’s early experiences as a male stripper and a budget that wouldn’t pay for the reshoots on Battleship and […]

‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ – Tom Hanks vs. the USSR on Amazon Prime

If you think it was Rambo who led the American support of Afghan rebels against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the early eighties, here’s a hilarious reality check. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) is the story of an otherwise minor Texas congressman who worked behind the scenes to create a coalition of Arab states, secretly […]

Robert De Niro in the Martin Scorese gangster epic with Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Casino’ on Peacock

“In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.” Five years after his gangland masterpiece GoodFellas, Martin Scorsese reunited with writer Nicholas Pileggi and stars Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci […]

Matthew McConaughey won an Academy Award for playing Ron Woodroof in the film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Last chance: Oscar-winning ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ on Netflix

Matthew McConaughey is so good in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) that he shows up the limitations of this drama based on true events. McConaughey lost a lot weight to play Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider in the late 1980s whose reckless lifestyle leaves him with AIDS, a diagnosis this redneck homophobe denies […]

Emile Hirsch stars in Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild,' adapted from Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book

Head ‘Into the Wild’ on Netflix

Into the Wild (2007), Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book, is a bracing cinematic plunge into the odyssey of Christopher McCandless. The real-life young man fled a middle-class life of what he perceived to be the compromises and corruptions of the material world to embark on an “Alaskan Adventure,” a quest of self-reliance […]

Donnie Yen is legendary martial artist ‘Ip Man’ on Netflix

Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen plays the legendary Ip Man (Hong Kong, 2008), teacher and grandmaster of Wing Chun, in this biographical drama (one in a long line of such tributes) based on the master’s life during the Japanese occupation of China. Yen is a superb screen fighter with an often bland presence. […]

‘Moneyball’ – the business of baseball on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Brad Pitt makes it look effortless in Moneyball (2011), a drama about the business of baseball in the era of multi-million dollar payrolls. Pitt plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics struggling to field a competitive team against organizations with much deeper pockets. His solution is to—with the help of unprepossessing Peter […]

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the Oscar-nominated drama "Loving." from filmmaker Jeff Nichols

‘Loving’ – The couple behind the history on Netflix

Loving (2016), Jeff Nichols’s portrait of Richard and Mildred Loving, does more than put a face to a landmark Supreme Court decision. Their 1958 marriage was a crime in the state of Virginia because Richard (played by Joel Edgerton with a terse determination) was a white man and Mildred (Ruth Negga, vulnerable yet hopeful) was […]

‘Fruitvale Station’ on Netflix

Fruitvale Station (2013) embraces simplicity to remind us of the human being behind the news story. 22-year-old Oscar Grant was killed in an unprovoked shooting by BART officers as a station stop on early New Year’s Day 2009. Ryan Coogler’s film accomplishes what so many films fail to do: put us in touch with the life […]

Sean Connery in ‘The Wind and the Lion’ on HBO Max

The Wind and the Lion (1975), the sophomore feature of director John Milius, is a small-scale version of the kind of grand historical epic that blossomed in the 1960s. Set in 1904 Morocco and loosely based on a true historical incident, the 1972 historical adventure stars Sean Connery as Berber chieftain and rebel leader Mulai […]