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 […]

‘Topsy-Turvy’ – Gilbert and Sullivan reborn on Criterion Channel

Set in the world of London theater in the mid-1880s, Topsy-Turvy (1999) tackles the creative partnership between W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, the reigning kings of light operetta, at a turning in their career. Their work has become repetitive, their latest show a disappointment, and the partnership is under strain as composer Sullivan (Allan […]

Satyajit Ray’s ‘Charulata’ on Criterion Channel

Satyajit Ray considered Charulata (India, 1964) his masterpiece. An historical piece about the forces of modernity in 19th century India, the story focuses on young Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), the gifted and sensitive wife of an idealistic newspaper editor, Bhupati (Shaileen Mukherjee) who gives lip service to women’s rights yet neglects Charu (both emotionally and artistically) […]

Last chance: Errol Flynn is ‘Captain Blood’ on HBO Max

Errol Flynn was Warner Bros. contract player, barely a supporting actor on the Hollywood scene, when he shot to stardom in the starring role of Captain Blood (1935), Warner Bros.’ lavish adaptation of Rafael Sabatini’s novel. His bravado and charisma brings to life the rousing tale Peter Blood, a courageous British doctor who, unjustly sold […]

Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen in the 1973 escape drama from director Franklin J. Schaffner

Last chance: Steve McQueen is ‘Papillon’ on HBO Max

Ten years after Steve McQueen made his name in the most famous prison break thriller of them all—The Great Escape—he stepped into the role of Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere, the real-life French safecracker convicted of murder (unjustly, he maintained) and sentenced to the prison colony in French Guyana and, later, Devil’s Island. Directed by Franklin J. […]

What to stream: ‘The Underground Railroad’ on Amazon, ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ on HBO Max, ‘The Woman’ on Netflix

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   “The Underground Railroad” (2021, TV-14), based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead, follows the odyssey of Cora (Thuso Mbedu), an enslaved woman on a Georgia plantation in the early 1800s […]

Shu Qi in Hou Hsiou-Hsien's rapturous wuxia 'The Assassin'

Hou Hsiou-Hsien’s ‘The Assassin’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

The Assassin (China, 2015) is a martial arts drama as cinematic poem. Chinese filmmaker Hou Hsiou-Hsien won the Best Director Award at Cannes for his direction, which reimagines the genre from a spectacle of action and choreography and acrobatic skill to a vision of stillness and tension. The first film from Hou in eight years, […]

Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard in 'The Immigrant,' directed by James Gray.

‘The Immigrant’ with Marion Cotillard on HBO Max

Marion Cotillard earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in the Dardenne Brothers’ Two Days, One Night but I think her best performance that year was in The Immigrant (2014). Cotillard plays Ewa, a Polish immigrant in 1921 New York who, turned away by relatives, is dependent on a mercenary burlesque producer and pimp (played […]

Sean Connery and Michael Caine star in John Huston's adaptation

Last chance: John Huston’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ on HBO Max

The Man Who Would Be King (1975) – John Huston originally wanted to make a film of Rudyard Kipling’s grand adventure in the late 1950s with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable in the leading roles. It would’ve made a hell of a picture. And, as a matter of fact, it did, only with Sean Connery […]

Last chance: Sean Connery in ‘The Wind and the Lion’ on HBO Max

The Wind and the Lion (1975), the sophomore feature of director John Milius, is a small-scale version of the kind of grand historical epic that blossomed in the 1960s. Set in 1904 Morocco and loosely based on a true historical incident, the 1972 historical adventure stars Sean Connery as Berber chieftain and rebel leader Mulai […]