Wim Wenders’ ‘The Road Trilogy’ on Criterion Channel

Wim Wenders was never exactly a household name but the German filmmaker made a reputation as a thoughtful, sensitive director of stories about wanderers, travelers, and outsiders whose journeys are both an escape and a road back. His American odyssey Paris, Texas (1984) and Wings of Desire (1987), a journey of a celestial being from […]

‘Sullivan’s Travels’ – Preston Sturges takes on Hollywood on Criterion Channel

Preston Sturges simultaneously lampoons and embraces Hollywood in his comedy masterpiece Sullivan’s Travels (1941). A very low-key Joel McCrea play John Sullivan, a popular Hollywood director  of lowbrow hits like Ants in Your Pants of 1939 who decides to make a serious film about social strife and human suffering called O Brother, Where Art Thou […]

Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds in 'Mississippi Grind,' directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Ryan Reynolds works the ‘Mississippi Grind’ on Showtime and free on Kanopy and Hoopla

Mississippi Grind (2015) plays like a seventies character drama, a meandering road movie through the byways of American characters who populate the card rooms and dice tables and racetracks, and an oddball buddy movie built on a chance encounter and an instant kinship between two losers gambling their lives away. Ryan Reynolds is Curtis, a […]

Michelle Williams in Kelly Reichardt's frontier western

‘Meek’s Cutoff’ – Lost on the Oregon Trail on Amazon Prime

Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff (2010) opens without preamble. We are given a place and a year—”Oregon, 1845,” stitched into a piece of homespun embroidery—and then dropped in the high desert to observe three frontier families ford a river. They wordlessly, almost morosely, march across, then take the opportunity to fill canteens, wash and check the […]

Jafar Panahi’s ‘3 Faces’ free on Kanopy

In 2010, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was arrested and charged for “Propaganda against the Iranian government.” His sentence: he was forbidden to leave Iran or make any films for 20 years. 3 Faces (Iran, 2018) is the fourth feature he has made since the sentence was passed. And once again Panahi plays himself on screen, […]

Peter Weir directs 'The Way Back,' a survival drama starring Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and Saoirse Ronan

Peter Weir’s ‘The Way Back’ on Hulu

The Way Back (2010), filmmaker Peter Weir’s first film since Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World in 2003, is a protean survival drama with a human grounding. The film was barely seen in theaters, receiving a belated, haphazard release after studio delays and critical neglect. Even with a cast headed by Ed […]

Victor Sjöström and Ingrid Thulin in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Ingmar Bergman recalls the ‘Wild Strawberries’ of youth on Criterion Channel

In Wild Strawberries (Sweden, 1957), Ingmar Bergman takes that most venerable of modern genres, the road movie, and transforms it into the contemplative journey of an aging professor into his unexamined past. Victor Sjöström, one of the great Swedish director of the silent era as well as an actor (and one of Bergman’s heroes), was […]

Harry Dean Stanton in the film by Wim Wenders

‘Paris, Texas’ – Wim Wenders’ America on Criterion Channel

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, Paris, Texas (1984) was not Wim Wenders’ first American film—that would be Hammett (1982), which proved to be a dispiriting experience when producer Francis Ford Coppola decided to step in and re-edit Wenders’ vision to something more commercial (so much for the creative freedom […]