‘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 […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

Last chance: The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Netflix

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse star in the raunchy comedy

‘Superbad’ – teenage kicks on Netflix

The raucous and raunchy comedy Superbad (2007) is the love child of American Pie and Dazed and Confused. Behind its floridly foul streams of profanity and adolescent preoccupation with sex and alcohol is a savvy evocation of teenage insecurity and the confused ideas and feelings about the opposite sex. It’s produced by Judd Apatow and […]

Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick's political satire of mutually assured destruction

‘Dr. Strangelove’ – the screwball satire of mutually assured destruction on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Stanley Kubrick’s screwball satire of cold war posturing and mutually assured destruction, is the funniest film ever made about nuclear holocaust. But it didn’t begin as a comedy. The source novel, Peter George’s Red Alert, was a grave contemplation of the […]

‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’ on Netflix and Hulu

A town gets a buffet line for a weather system in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009), a colorful animated feature based on a children’s storybook tale. Director/writer team Phil Lord and Chris Miller cobble a story around the storybook’s premise but it’s the whimsical imagery of raining hamburgers, a Jell-O mold castle, an […]

Lucy Davis, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton, and Nick Frost in the film by Edgar Wright

‘Shaun of the Dead’ – the funniest zombie comedy ever on HBO Max

The apocalyptic hysteria of the zombie film has always been pitched on the edge of comedy: a horrible black joke played on humanity by a god with a sick sense of humor. Director/co-writer Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg’s self-proclaimed “rom-zom-com” (romantic zombie comedy) Shaun of the Dead (2004) simply nudges it over the edge. […]

‘I Married a Witch’ – Veronica Lake casts a spell on Criterion Channel

“Long ago, when people still believed in witches …” I Married a Witch (1942), René Clair’s sexy ghost story by way of a cockeyed American romantic comedy, is a delightful and deftly made little trifle with Veronica Lake at her best as the daughter of an ancient supernatural trickster (played by Cecil Kellaway). Resurrected hundreds […]

Johnny Depp is a lizard in the old West in ‘Rango’ on Netflix

Johnny Depp taps into his inner lizard for the animated adventure Rango (2011). He provides the voice of a pet chameleon with thespian ambitions who gets lost in the desert and takes the role of sheriff in a desert town, only find that what he thought was on old Hollywood oater is actually a spaghetti […]