‘Millennium Actress’ – Satoshi Kon’s celebration of cinema on Amazon Prime

As loving and perceptive a tribute to the power and legacy of movies as I’ve ever seen, Satoshi Kon’s animated drama Millennium Actress (Japan, 2001) deftly weaves history and film and memory into an imaginative meditation on way the movies become a part of our lives. It’s Not exactly the first thing you’d expect from […]

Eric Johnson, Eve Hewson, and Clive Owen in the Cinemax original series 'The Knick,' available on HBO On Demand, HBO Go, and HBO Now for a limited time

Clive Owen in ‘The Knick’ on HBO Max

The Knick (2014-2015), a medical drama period piece set at a struggling hospital in 1900 New York City, is the project to which Steven Soderbergh committed himself after he announced his retirement from filmmaking. So instead of directing a film, he directed all twenty episodes of the two seasons of this original series. Clive Owen […]

Ava Gardner and James Mason star in the ravishing romantic drama from Albert Lewin

‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ on Criterion Channel

I have a soft spot for Albert Lewin, a literary Hollywood writer/producer turned director with a continental sensibility and an eye for handsome imagery (if not always cinematic storytelling). His productions tended toward literary adaptations (The Good Earth, which he produced, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he scripted and directed) but Pandora and […]

Leonardo DiCaprio is Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator,' directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Aviator’ on Paramount+

The Aviator (2004), Martin Scorsese’s epic biography of the life of Howard Hughes, is his love-letter to the old-Hollywood bio-pic. This is high-style filmmaking wrapped up in a tormented hero whose soaring flights of greatness are matched by the mortal pull of his devils, which Scorsese establishes (perhaps too patly) in a childhood prologue bathed […]

‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ on Amazon Prime

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium, 2012) is devastating. And I mean that in all the best ways. The story of a passionate love rocked by tragedy, it is both joyous and anguished, celebratory and sad. It’s set in a subculture of bluegrass aficionados in Belgium (who knew?), where it is practically love at first sight […]

Kirk Douglas stars in Billy's Wilder's noir-tinged newspaper drama from 1951

‘Ace in the Hole’ – newspaper noir on Amazon Prime

Billy Wilder is the American cinema’s most famous cynic, but nothing in his career is as scathing as his noir-tinged newspaper drama Ace in the Hole (1951), his indictment of the American media circus. There’s not a more amoral hero in Wilder’s filmography than Kirk Douglas’s Chuck Tatum, an arrogant big city newsman stuck in […]

Ewan McGregor is 'The Ghost Writer' in Roman Polanski's superb thriller.

Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ghost Writer’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Ewan McGregor is The Ghost Writer (2010), a scribe-for-hire in the celebrity autobiography business who is contracted to rewrite the dry memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), in the smart, gripping, subtly Hitchcockian thriller from director Roman Polanski and author Robert Harris. The writer has no other name in the film—he introduces […]

Nicolas Cage in Andrew Niccol's 'Lord of War'

Nicolas Cage is the ‘Lord of War’ on Amazon Prime

“There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?” The opening line of Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War (2005) captures the film in a phrase: it’s serious, it’s sardonic, and it has both a […]

Morgan Freeman is Nelson Mandella in ‘Invictus’ on Netflix

Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandella as the newly-elected President of South Africa in Invictus (2009), Clint Eastwood’s reverent tribute to Nelson Mandella’s efforts to unite post-apartheid South Africa. This isn’t a biography of Mandella. Audiences come to the film with the understanding that Nelson Mandella spent 24 years in prison for protesting South Africa’s apartheid […]