Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder in the classic Mel Brooks comedy

‘Blazing Saddles’ on Hulu

When singer Frankie Laine was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air many years ago, he confessed that when he was engaged to record the theme song to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974), he was not told that the film (and the song) was a spoof. He simply thought it was a bad song […]

‘Two Knights’ and a ‘Mummy’ – early African-American slapstick cinema on Netflix and Criterion Channel

The legacy of films made by and for African-American audiences before Hollywood integrated its casts is largely unknown to even passionate films buffs. They were rarely seen by white audiences in their day and were rarely preserved with the same dedication given to the maverick films of Hollywood. Netflix and Criterion Channel present over 20 […]

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka in the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel

The original ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ on Netflix

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Gene Wilder is the weird, wonderful, slightly sinister candy bar king who invites five children into his factory kingdom in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy. It is a rare breed: an imaginative live-action […]

George Clooney in 'Hail, Caesar!,' the loving Hollywood studio satire from Joel and Cthan Coen.

‘Hail, Caesar!’ from the Coen Bros. on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Hail, Caesar! (2015), the Coen Bros.’s sly lampoon of 1950s Hollywood, is an affectionate and satirical tribute to studio filmmaking and a wittily skewed comedy of cultural politics in early 1950s America, the beginning of the end of the studio era. Set at the fictional Capitol Pictures, an MGM-like studio, and centered on Eddie Mannix […]

What to stream: ‘Hunters’ on Amazon, ‘Gentefied’ on Netflix, more ‘Outlander’ on Starz

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers. Al Pacino makes his streaming TV debut in the Amazon Original series “Hunters” (2020), a thriller with a twist of […]

What to stream: indie hit ‘The Farewell’ on Amazon Prime, ‘High Fidelity: The Series’ on Hulu, Oscar-winners on VOD

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   The gentle indie comic-drama “The Farewell” (2019, PG, with subtitles) follows the story of a Chinese-American woman (Awkwafina) who can’t understand why her family won’t tell her Chinese grandmother she has cancer. It […]

What to stream: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ on Starz, ‘Fighting With My Family’ on Amazon and Hulu, Taylor Swift on Netflix

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers. “Spider-Man: Far from Home” (2019, PG) sends the web-slinging teenage superhero (played by Tom Holland) to Europe, where he takes […]

Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig are ‘The Skeleton Twins’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The Skeleton Twins (2014) stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged siblings who are brought together after the failed suicide of one interrupts the attempted suicide of the other. This is a damaged family and Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader) are self-destructive in their depression, almost willfully making choices doomed to ruin whatever equilibrium […]

Meryl Streep is "Florence Foster Jenkins."

Meryl Streep is ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ – free on Kanopy

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) may sound like a one-joke contrivance—a rich, generous, arts-loving heiress in 1940s New York City gives private recitals to a select group of high society insiders who never let on to the oblivious woman that she is quite possibly the worst singer to ever trod a stage—but it is both a […]