Simone Simon and Kent Smith star in Jacques Tourneur's classic horror film for producer Val Lewton

The original ‘Cat People’ on Criterion Channel

The original Cat People (1942) was made on a low budget for RKO’s B-movie unit, the first in an amazing series of B-horror films from producer Val Lewton that transcended its origins. It’s a masterpiece of mood and psychological ambiguity masquerading as a cheap exploitation knock-off. Cheap it is, but Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur […]

Maribel Verdú in Pablo Berger's 'Blancanieves' from Spain

‘Blancanieves’ on The Criterion Channel

Blancanieves (2009), an inventive retelling of Snow White as a silent-movie melodrama in the 1920s world of bullfighting royalty and flamenco style in Spain, stirs in grand melodrama, circus fantasy, and toreador hero worship with a mix of silent film conventions and contemporary storytelling. We’re talking the same sort of modern silent film as The […]

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in 'Jupiter Ascending' from the Wachowskis

‘Jupiter Ascending’ – Space opera silliness on Netflix

Jupiter Ascending (2015) was a player at the Razzie Awards, the snarky organization that puts the spotlight in the worst and most over-hyped films of the year. Not exactly the kind of attention you seek out as a filmmaker, and maybe not completely deserved, though that’s admittedly a minority opinion. This is old fashioned space […]

Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Frog’ on Netflix

Pixar auteur John Lasseter gave new life to animated cinema with his CGI revolution but he never forgot the old-school art of hand drawn animation that made Disney’s reputation and he courted John Musker and Ron Clements to make the studio’s first new “princess” film since their own The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. The Princess […]

‘Perceval’ on Amazon Prime Video

Eric Rohmer’s unique retelling of the tale of Perceval (France, 1978) is a great and glorious anomaly in the career of the nouvelle vague filmmaker. Adapted by Rohmer from the 12th century book by Cretien de Troyes, it’s a strange, sophisticated mix of ancient theater, medieval painting, music and prose in a beautifully stylized film […]

What to stream: ‘Good Omens’ on Amazon, ‘When They See Us’ on Netflix, ‘Deadwood’ ends on HBO

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Michael Sheen is an epicurean angel and David Tennant a rebellious demon who team up to stop Armageddon in the Amazon Original limited series Good Omens (2019), a comic fantasy scripted by Neil Gaiman […]

Samantha Robinson is The Love Witch in Anna Biller's retro-styled feminist / horror / fantasy / melodrama

‘The Love Witch’ – Sex, magic, and sixties style on The Criterion Channel

The Love Witch (2016), Anna Biller’s collision of feminism, romantic fantasy, power, sex, and horror opens with its cool heroine Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a slim, raven-haired beauty with a smear of turquoise eye shadow and eyelashes like wings, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway in a candy apple red convertible and matching outfit. She could […]

Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska star in the polish horror fantasy by Agnieszka Smoczynska

‘The Lure’ – these Little Mermaids have teeth on The Criterion Channel

The strangest take on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” ever put on the screen, The Lure (Poland, 2015) is a musical-horror-fantasy-romantic tragedy from Poland about mermaid sisters with a taste for human flesh. Like the sirens of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are feral creatures who […]

‘Wings of Desire’ – Angels over Berlin on The Criterion Channel

“There are angels over the streets of Berlin,” insists Wim Wenders in his lyrical fantasy Wings of Desire (Germany, 1987), but these are like no angels you’ve never seen. Bundled in dark overcoats, they watch over the city with ears open to the heartbeat of the human soul, listening to the internal musings and yearnings […]

What to stream: ‘A Quiet Place’ on Amazon and Hulu, ‘Kojo’ on Netflix, the new ‘Twilight Zone’ on CBS All Access

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … A Quiet Place (2018, PG-13), starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski (who also directs) as parents in the apocalypse, is a horror film with a high-concept premise (alien invaders hunt humans by sound) but behind […]