‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Peter Weir’s sweeping nautical adventure Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), based on the beloved novels of Patrick O’Brien, all but blows sea spray from the screen. Russell Crowe is Captain Jack Aubrey of the H.M.S. Surprise, an English officer on the high seas during the Napoleonic wars, and Paul Bettany […]

Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale star in Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel

Burt Lancaster is ‘The Leopard’ in Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece on Criterion Channel

The Leopard (Italy, 1963), Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel (said to be a national touchstone for Italy), is his masterpiece. Burt Lancaster (his voice is dubbed by a deep-voiced Italian) may seem an unusual choice to play Prince Don Fabrizio Salina, an idealistic 19th century Sicilian prince (Visconti favored Laurence Olivier, a […]

‘I Am Legend’ – Will Smith is the last man on earth on Netflix and Peacock

I Am Legend (2007), the third official adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel (and the first to carry the novel’s name) about the last human in Earth after a plague turns the survivors into undead creatures, strips the story down to essentials. This version, directed by Francis Lawrence, focuses on the visceral experience of roaming an […]

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

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on Criterion Channel

“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 […]

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka in the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel

The original ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ – a world of pure imagination

“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 […]

Paul Schrader’s ‘Affliction’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Paul Schrader made his mark on American cinema revealing the scarred psyches of American men trying to reconcile the contradictions of masculine fantasy and social reality, from his screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull to his own movies, beginning with Blue Collar. Affliction (1998), adapted from the novel by Russell Banks, is his most […]

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 […]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo in Martin Scorsese's film of the Dennis Lahane novel

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’ on Netflix

Shutter Island (2009) opens, appropriately, shrouded in fog. Then our hero, Detective Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), cuts through the gray, standing on the prow of a tug boat chugging toward an isolated island hospital for the criminally insane. Daniels and his partner (Mark Ruffalo), city cops from an era of fedoras and trench coats and […]

Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher star in the film directed by Milos Forman

‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ on HBO Max

A rare screen adaptation of a beloved novel to maintain the emotional and dramatic power of the original while establishing its own distinctive approach to the story, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) is an underdog masterpiece. Jack Nicholson stars as Randle P. McMurphy, a wild man of a petty crook who fakes insanity […]

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

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 […]