Catherine Deneuve stars in the bittersweet musical from Jacques Demy

‘Umbrellas’ and ‘Young Girls’ – the essential Jacques Demy on Kanopy

Jacques Demy, the most romantic of the French nouvelle vague filmmakers, loved American movies, especially musicals, but his taste for American musicals and candy-colored romance was balanced with a bittersweet sensibility. For all the energizing music and dreamy love affairs, his romances more often than not don’t really get happy endings. Kanopy presents these essentials. […]

‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ – Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on Hulu

Howard Hawks discovered one of the great female screen teams in bubbly gold digger Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and wry, unapologetically man-hungry Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), a musical take on the Jazz Age novel by screenwriting great Anita Loos. Lorelei and Dorothy are showgirls and best friends on a luxury […]

Mick Jagger and James Fox in the 1970 film by Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell

‘Performance’ – British crime and counterculture collide on Amazon Prime Video

Performance (1970) may have been released in 1970 but this collision of London gangster machismo and drug culture, where “Nothing is true; everything is permitted,” is unmistakably a product of the sixties. Mick Jagger makes his feature acting debut as Turner, a reclusive rock star in a dilapidated manor home in a London slum, but […]

John Entwistle, Pete Townsend, Keith Moon and Roger Daltry perform at Shepperton

‘The Kids Are Alright’ – Long live rock on Amazon Prime Video

There isn’t another rock documentary in the world like The Kids Are Alright (1979). This is no familiar biographical narrative or historical overview talking about their generation, but a scrappy, vibrant musical portrait painted in the bold colors of rock itself: impassioned lyrics, power chords, crashing drums and smashing guitars. Die-hard fans of The Who […]

‘The Wrecking Crew!’ – the musicians behind the sixties hits on Hulu

The Wrecking Crew! (2008/2015) was the secret weapon of the Los Angeles recording studio culture of the sixties and seventies. Hal Blaine, Plas Johnson, Carol Kaye, Earl Palmer, Don Randi and Tommy Tedesco played on literally hundreds of pop songs and albums, working with everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys, Herb Albert to The […]

James Cagney plays George M. Cohan in the musical directed by Michael Curtiz

‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ – James Cagney is George M. Cohan in FilmStruck

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – James Cagney won his only Academy Award playing George M. Cohan in the rousing bio-pic directed by Michael Curtiz, who was the top director at Warner Bros. and arguably the studio’s most versatile filmmaker at the time. Cagney was a song-and-dance man before he found fame as a movie tough […]

P.J. Soles and The Ramones

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ on Amazon Prime Video

“Do your parents know you’re Ramones?” If Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) isn’t the greatest rock and rebellion film of all time it is certainly on the short list, a pure, cheerfully juvenile blast of blitzkrieg guitar rock, Looney Tunes sight gags, teenage hormones, and rebellion against authority because it’s there. They aren’t exactly […]

Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as young John Lennon in the story of his early life directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

‘Nowhere Boy’ – John Lennon before the Beatles on Netflix

Nowhere Boy (2009) tells the story of the early life of John Lennon, the man who would put together the Beatles as a teenage boy. What’s marvelous about the film is that it isn’t elevated into some mythological status. There are none of those clichéd lines where someone in the group or some prescient member […]

Young Dais and Ryohei Suzuki in the hip-hop musical gang war thriller from Japan

‘Tokyo Tribe’ – gonzo gang war musical on Amazon Prime Video

The films of Sion Sono, who is fast closing in on Miike Takashi as Japan’s cinema wildman rebel, are increasingly outrageous, unhinged, extreme, and unpredictable, pushing expectations as well as boundaries, and trying anything and everything in a wildly creative (if unfocused) attempt to refresh familiar genres. Tokyo Tribe (Japan, 2014), adapted from a graphic […]

Y.K. Kim produces and stars one of the most entertainingly incompetent bad movies ever made

‘Miami Connection’ – Gonzo bad movie hilarity on Amazon Prime

Another chapter in the cult canon of movies that are so bad that they become inadvertent comedies, Miami Connection (1988) is a gonzo B-movie from the eighties created by Y.K. Kim, a martial arts instructor and inspirational speaker who took his talents to the big screen despite a complete lack of screen charisma or acting […]