Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot star in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Life, death, and chess in Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ on Criterion Channel

Arguably the most famous of Ingmar Bergman’s films and certainly his most iconic, The Seventh Seal (Sweden, 1957) is Bergman at his most allegorical. Max von Sydow, young and blond and heroic, is a disillusioned knight returned from the Crusades in a state of spiritual desperation: his faith has been shaken by senseless death and […]

The stop-motion animation dark fairy tale 'Coraline' directed by Henry Selick

Last Chance: ‘Coraline’ on Netflix

Coraline (2009) opens on a rag doll efficiently taken apart by hands of skeletal steel (like Edward Scissorhands but with menacing needles for fingers) and then turned inside out and recreated in the image of the blue-haired heroine Coraline. It’s produced in the old-school stop motion animation style of articulated dolls and hand-crafted props increasingly […]

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 […]

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 […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

What to stream: ‘Dark Materials’ on HBO Now, Dr. Seuss and Hollywood classics on Netflix, ‘Delorean’ on Hulu

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 Oregonian, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers. HBO tackles another epic fantasy series with “His Dark Materials” (TV-14), adapted from the young adult trilogy by […]

Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 acid flashback horror fantasy 'House'

‘House’/’Hausu’ – Japanese madness on Criterion Channel

I can’t begin to find the words to describe House (1977), aka Hausu, an unclassifiable Japanese haunted house/high school romp/demon killer/surreal fantasy film from Nobuhiko Obayashi. Made in 1977 and recently revived and released to the rest of the world, it’s the archival cult find of the decade: a candy-colored style bomb of horror movie […]

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 […]