Ewan McGregor is 'The Ghost Writer' in Roman Polanski's superb thriller.

Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ghost Writer’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Ewan McGregor is The Ghost Writer (2010), a scribe-for-hire in the celebrity autobiography business who is contracted to rewrite the dry memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), in the smart, gripping, subtly Hitchcockian thriller from director Roman Polanski and author Robert Harris. The writer has no other name in the film—he introduces […]

‘The Guilty’ – a rivetting Danish thriller on Hulu

There is a particular kind of challenge to making a movie tethered to a single, self-contained location where the dialogue is conducted almost entirely over the phone and the story plays out in real time. When it works—and look no farther than Steven Knight’s Locke (2013) with Tom Hardy navigating a life-altering action while driving […]

Bradley Cooper finds his potential ‘Limitless’ on Netflix

The premise behind Limitless (2011) is irresistible. How many times have we heard that we only consciously access 10% or so of our brains? Without complicated scientific blather, the film offers up a drug that gives the user access to the other 90%, making them more focused, more efficient, more perceptive, more creative, and, well, […]

Robert Altman's 'Gosford Park,' screenwriter Julian Fellowes's first foray into the culture that would become 'Downton Abbey'

‘Gosford Park’ on Netflix

In Gosford Park (2002), Robert Altman brings his gift for big, sprawling dramas knit with a fine weave of characters and a massive cast up to the task of filling them up with lives to the Merchant Ivory idiom of the manners and manors of Britain’s upper crust of yesteryear, 1932 to be specific. The […]

Albert Finney plays ‘Gumshoe’ on Amazon Prime Video

“I want to write The Maltese Falcon, record ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and play Las Vegas.” So proclaims Eddie Ginley (Albert Finney), a small-time bingo caller and wannabe stand-up comic, to his therapist in the opening scene of Gumshoe (1971). But he’ll settle for running an ad in the local paper offering his services as a […]

Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson in the science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer

‘Soylent Green’ – The future is bleak on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Set in 2022 New York City, population 40,000,000, the eco-conscious science fiction artifact Soylent Green (1973) looks more prescient than ever. In this overpopulated world, the gap between the rich and everyone else is enormous, poverty is rampant, unemployment high and “the greenhouse effect” (those very words are used in the film) has brought on […]

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

Bruce Willis and Reece Thompson in the film by Brett Simon

‘Assassination of a High School President’ on Amazon Prime Video

The name’s Bobby Funke. I write for the paper.” At least that’s how this picked-on sophomore imagines himself in Assassination of a High School President (2008): the loner who walks a straight line through the crooked halls of his corrupt Catholic high school. Funke (who is inevitably called “Funky” by his schoolmates) narrates his tale […]

Orson Welles is Harry Lime on Carol Reed's classic

Continental noir: ‘The Third Man’ on Netflix and The Criterion Channel

Carol Reed’s continental film noir The Third Man (1949), written by Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten as a cynical American pulp novelist playing detective in the rubble-strewn underworld of post-war Vienna and Orson Welles as a charming but ruthless black marketeer, is one of the true classics. The film is directed by Reed but […]