John Huston directs ‘Moby Dick’ on Amazon Prime Video

“Call me Ishmael.” John Huston’s 1956 film of Moby Dick (1956), Herman Melville’s whaling drama turned epic odyssey and a classic of American literature and a staple of high school and college literature courses, remains the most famous screen version of the novel. Gregory Peck plays the obsessed Captain Ahab, who lost his leg to […]

Peter Jackson directs the first film in J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy

Last chance: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on Netflix

With The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), New Zealand genre film maverick Peter Jackson does the impossible: he makes a faithful, magical, thrilling, and—most importantly—compelling film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s great cult fantasy epic. Streamlining the complex story and wealth of detail from the novel, Jackson manages to introduce a […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Kanopy

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]

František Vláčil directs this epic from Czechoslovakia

‘Marketa Lazarova’ – Czech epic on 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 […]

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender star in the adaptation from director Cary Fukunaga

‘Jane Eyre’ with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender on Amazon Prime Video

Jane Eyre (2011), starring Mia Wasikowska as the fiercely self-possessed governess Jane and Michael Fassbender as the darkly attractive and grimly tormented Edward Rochester, is the best kind of reminder why the classics remain alive after centuries and can be effectively remade every generation or so. This one comes from American director Cary Fukunaga and […]

Brad Bird directs the animated feature based on the Ted Hughes book

‘The Iron Giant’ – A boy and his robot buddy on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

“I’m the luckiest kid in the world,” cheers adolescent Hogarth, halfway to sci-fi heaven in the hand of a friendly ten story robot— a clanking metal man who acts like a combination little brother, big brother, and playful puppy dog all rolled into one magnificent structure who looks like he stepped off a vintage cover […]

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 […]

Emile Hirsch stars in Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild,' adapted from Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book

Head ‘Into the Wild’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Into the Wild (2007), Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book, is a bracing cinematic plunge into the odyssey of Christopher McCandless. The real-life young man fled a middle-class life of what he perceived to be the compromises and corruptions of the material world to embark on an “Alaskan Adventure,” a quest of self-reliance […]

Marlon Brando stars in the Oscar-winning film by Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather’ trilogy on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

“It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s bestseller remains the great American epic of the immigrant dream turned family business. Al Pacino stars as Michael Corleone, the clean-cut white sheep and patriotic soldier boy son of New York Godfather Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in an Oscar–winning performance), and this […]

Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in the Oscar-winning film by Anthony Minghella

‘The English Patient’ – Love in wartime on Netflix

The African desert, WWII, and romance… no doubt about it, The English Patient (1996) is a Casablanca for the 90s, directed with sweep, elegance, and grand passions by Anthony Minghella from his screenplay adaptation of Michael Ondaatje’s novel. Ralph Fiennes, scarred by fire and buried under bandages like an Egyptian mummy, is the mysterious patient […]