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 […]

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 […]

‘Jingle Bell Rocks!’ – Cult Christmas music on Amazon Prime

Christmas music aficionado Mitchell Kezin turns filmmaker to document his passion for the most unusual, eccentric, and unbelievable Christmas songs ever released for Jingle Bell Rocks! (2014). This isn’t about the beloved hits everyone knows. It’s about forgotten greats (Nat King Cole’s devastating “The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot,” the director’s favorite song), alternative […]

Anna Magnani stars in Jean Renoir's adaptation of the Prosper Merimee play

Jean Renoir’s ‘The Golden Coach’ on The Criterion Channel

Anna Magnani stars as the earthy, vivacious diva of The Golden Coach (France/Italy, 1952), an adaptation of a Prosper Merimee play about a traveling troupe of Italian commedia dell’arte players in a Peruvian backwater where three men (a viceroy, a bullfighter, and a fellow performer) vie for the affections of the company’s leading lady. An […]

'Straight Outta Compton': The story of N.W.A.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ on VOD and disc

Billed as “The World’s Most Dangerous Group,” N.W.A. was a musical bomb that blew up the hip-hop world with such force that the reverberations were felt all through popular culture. Straight Outta Compton, developed by N.W.A. founding members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre and directed by F. Gary Gray, dramatizes origins and impact of the […]

Miike Takashi’s deliriously bizarre 2001 Japanese musical remake of the South Korean dark comedy The Quiet Family

‘The Happiness of the Katakuris’ – Musical madness on Amazon Prime

The Happiness of the Katakuris (Japan, 2001), Miike Takashi’s deliriously bizarre 2001 musical remake of the South Korean dark comedy The Quiet Family, is a bright, energetic, gonzo comedy about a dysfunctional family who run a secluded inn where guests check in but they don’t check out. Think The Sound of Music at the Bates […]