Yasujiro Ozu's 1932 silent family comedy 'I Was Born But.'

‘I Was Born, But…’ – Ozu’s cheeky comedy on The Criterion Channel

If all you know of Yasujiro Ozu, Japan’s national treasure of a film director in the 20th century, is the quiet restraint and rigorous simplicity of his sound films, then you only have half of the story of the director’s remarkable career. The artist called the most “Japanese” of Japanese directors was a voracious film […]

Danny Pudi stars in the immigration experience comedy by Lena Khan

‘The Tiger Hunter’ – Coming to America on Netflix

The Tiger Hunter (2016) – Danny Pudi (Abed from the cult sitcom Community) plays an engineer who travels from his village in India, where he runs the local electronic repair shop, to Chicago to take a high-paying position in an American firm. He’s determined to live up to the reputation of his father, revered in […]

Woody Allen and friend in the comedy co-starring Diane Keaton

Woody Allen’s ‘Love and Death’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

In Love and Death (1975), Woody Allen spoofs epic Russian literature, Chekov plays, and Bergman movies with a mix of philosophical vaudeville and Borscht Belt one-liners and sight gags. It was his sixth feature as a director and his third screen appearance with Diane Keaton, who gets as many punchlines as Allen does, and often […]

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell star in the Howard Hawks comedy

Howard Hawks’s ‘His Girl Friday’ on Amazon Prime Video

His Girl Friday (1940) is based on the rapid-fire newspaper comedy The Front Page, originally a snappy, cynical, double-barrel Broadway hit by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (themselves veteran reporters) and then a 1931 film directed by Lewis Milestone, with Pat O’Brien and Adolph Menjou in the lead roles. Barely a decade later, Howard Hawks […]

Odette Joyeux and Jacques Tati in the romantic ghost story by Claude Autant-Lara

DVD: ‘Claude Autant-Lara: Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France’ on Eclipse

Claude Autant-Lara: Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France (Eclipse, DVD) Confession time: I had never seen a film by French director Claude Autant-Lara before this set and frankly had no concept of his reputation beyond the distaste that the critics-turned-filmmakers of the La Nouvelle Vague held for his work. He was the tradition of quality […]

Vincent Pastore and Michael Rispoli star in the film by Raymond De Felitta

‘Two Family House’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Raymond De Felitta’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Winner Two Family House (2000) is a sweet little romantic drama set in the insular Italian and Irish neighborhoods of 1956 Staten Island. Narrated with the conversational ease of a bar story, it stars characters actor Michael Rispoli as Buddy, a blue collar Italian American with big dreams, […]

Adam Sandler and Emily Watson star in Paul Thomas Anderson's offbeat romantic comedy

‘Punch-Drunk Love’ on Hulu

Paul Thomas Anderson, fresh off the critical successes of Boogie Nights and Magnolia, wrote Punch-Drunk Love (2002) for Adam Sandler while he was riding high on the success of doofus comedies. He channels the familiar Sandler personas—the meek boy-man, the repressed powerkeg who explodes with uncontrollable rage, the mumble mouth goofball, the socially retarded misfit—into […]

Anna Magnani stars in Jean Renoir's adaptation of the Prosper Merimee play

Jean Renoir’s ‘The Golden Coach’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

Anna Magnani stars as the earthy, vivacious diva of The Golden Coach (France/Italy, 1952), an adaptation of a Prosper Merimee play about a traveling troupe of Italian commedia dell’arte players in a Peruvian backwater where three men (a viceroy, a bullfighter, and a fellow performer) vie for the affections of the company’s leading lady. An […]

Nola Darling and Tommy Redmond Hicks star in Spike Lee's debut feature

Spike Lee’s original ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ on Netflix

“Please baby, please baby, please baby baby baby please!” Spike Lee exploded in the independent film world with his debut feature She’s Gotta Have It (1986), an inventive low budget romance with a strong-willed heroine. Tracy Camilla Johns is the confident and sexually independent Nola Darling, a young professional Brooklynite who is happy to sample […]