Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, in 'Carlos,' from filmmaker Olivier Assayas

‘Carlos’ – The making of a terrorist superstar on The Criterion Channel

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas’ epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of a committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal (a name he appropriates from a Fredrick Forsythe […]

Korean action epic ‘The Great Battle’ on Netflix

Grandly mounted and filled with sweeping battle scenes, the costume battle epic The Great Battle (South Korea, 2018), retells the true story of the invasion of Goguryeo, a kingdom on the Korean peninsula, by the Chinese Yang Empire in the 600s. Korean pop star Zo In-sung stars as General Yang, the commander of the Ansi […]

Oscar-winning ‘The Lives of Others’ on Netflix

Is there anything more dangerous than a true believer who approaches his mission with unshakable certainty and unwavering dogma? Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006) follows the odyssey of a staunchly patriotic Stasi agent (a brilliant Ulrich Mühe), the secret police of the GDR (Communist East Germany), and his surveillance of […]

Warren Oates is ‘Dillinger’ on Amazon Prime Video

John Dillinger was the most notorious of the Depression-era gangsters and his exploits (and attendant newspaper coverage) made him a romantic anti-hero to many of the folks who felt betrayed by the bankers and businessmen of the country. Dillinger (1973), the directorial debut of John Milius, plays on that image of the gentleman gangster who […]

‘Zulu’ on Amazon Prime Video

The sun sets on the British Empire in Zulu (1964), an historical epic built around a legendary colonial battle of the late 19th century. Legendary to British history, that is. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa would be all but unknown in the U.S outside of historical societies were it not for Zulu. […]

‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ on Netflix

The wacky minds of Monty Python took on the legend of King Arthur for Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, PG), their first “real” feature film (I’m not counting their skit comedy And Now For Something Completely Different) and Camelot has never been the same. Graham Chapman is King Arthur (the closest the film […]

‘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 […]

František Vláčil directs this epic from Czechoslovakia

‘Marketa Lazarova’ – Czech epic on The Criterion Channel and Kanopy

Marketa Lazarova (Czechoslovakia, 1967), an epic based on one of the revered masterpieces of Czech literature (considered unfilmmable by many), was voted the greatest Czech film ever made in a 1998 poll of Czechoslovakian film critics and professionals. Yet it is all but unknown in the U.S., rarely revived and never on home video before […]

Randolph Scott in ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ on Amazon Prime Video

The 1936 version of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans stars Randolph Scott stars as trapper and frontiersman Hawkeye. As in the novel, the Caucasian Hawkeye travels with Chingahook (Robert Barrat), the last chief of the Mohican tribe, and Uncas (Phillip Reed), Chingahook’s son, and refuses to join the war against the French […]