Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett , and Taraji P. Henson star in the film by David Fincher

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ on HBO Max and HBO Now

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story is expanded into a sweeping survey of 20th century history and culture as seen through the eyes of a man who is born old and grows younger through the century. Brad Pitt completely commits to the part of the old/young man who […]

Gary Cooper is ‘Beau Geste’ on Peacock

Golden-age Hollywood adventures don’t come more rousing than Beau Geste (1939). Gary Cooper, Ray Milland and Robert Preston are the boisterous Geste brothers, orphans raised by a society lady as gentlemen with a sense of playful camaraderie and undaunted chivalry. Their sense of honor and sacrifice inspires all three of them take the blame for […]

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

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on HBO Max

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 […]

Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on HBO Max

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, and others star in the film by Lana and Lilly (formerly Andy) Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

‘Cloud Atlas’ on Netflix

Cloud Atlas (2012) wants nothing for ambition. Jumping between six distinctive stories in six different eras, with a cast that plays different (yet connected) parts in the various storyline, it’s at once literal and evasive, a film that wears its heart on its beautifully stitched sleeve and its meaning in its design and yet finds […]

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

‘Jane Eyre’ with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender on HBO Max

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 […]

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet in the film adapted from the Dashiell Hammett novel by John Huston.

‘The Maltese Falcon’ – the stuff dreams are made of on HBO Max

If there is a cooler, tougher, more shrewd and self-sufficient private detective in the movies than Humphrey Bogart’s incarnation of Sam Spade in John Huston’s note-perfect adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1941), I’ve yet to see him in action. The 1941 classic wasn’t the first screen version of Hammet’s iconic novel, but it […]

Johnny Depp and Frank Langella in the 1999 thriller directed by Roman Polanski

Johnny Depp searches for ‘The Ninth Gate’ on Amazon Prime Video

The horror of Roman Polanski is not about spectacle and shock, but a goose-pimply sense of something evil lurking just outside the frame and hidden behind the faces of its slightly unsettling characters. At times The Ninth Gate (1999), adapted from the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, recaptures the beautiful uneasiness of such […]

David Lean’s ‘Great Expectations’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

Great Expectations (1946), David Lean’s handsome adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel, captures the warm humor and richness of character that so many filmmakers miss in their reverent recreations of Victorian England. From the nightmarish opening sequence on the windswept graveyard where young orphan Pip (Anthony Wager) meets the desperate escaped criminal Magwitch (Finlay Currie) […]

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle star in the 1995 mini-series

The definitive ‘Pride and Prejudice’ on HBO Max and BritBox

Pride and Prejudice (1995) – Movies are great for spectacle but the miniseries format has the luxury of time. This co-production between the BBC and the American cable channel A&E is still considered by Jane Austen fans to be the definitive adaptation of Austen’s most famous novel and her work in general. Jennifer Ehle is […]