Sanaa Lathan navigates ‘Love & Basketball’

Using sports as a metaphor for life and love is nothing new but filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood, a former college athlete, puts her spin on it with Love & Basketball (2000). Sanaa Lathan is the fiercely driven, hot tempered tomboy Monica, who gives her all for basketball. Omar Epps is Quincy, the son of an NBA […]

Ava Gardner and James Mason star in the ravishing romantic drama from Albert Lewin

‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ on Criterion Channel

I have a soft spot for Albert Lewin, a literary Hollywood writer/producer turned director with a continental sensibility and an eye for handsome imagery (if not always cinematic storytelling). His productions tended toward literary adaptations (The Good Earth, which he produced, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he scripted and directed) but Pandora and […]

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling face ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ on Netflix

I don’t want to oversell Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011), but this film about love and family (written by Dan Fogelman years before he created This Is Us) is a genuine romantic comedy for grown-ups. Steve Carell, playing the kind of easy-going, regular guy he’s rarely called upon for, stars as a complacent husband and father […]

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ on Peacock

Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, offers his most poignant and touching work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). You wouldn’t even know it was his work from the opening of the film, an awkwardly sweet romantic flirtation between shy sad sack Joel (Jim Carrey in his least mannered […]

‘Bell, Book and Candle’ – James Stewart, Kim Novak and a touch of witchcraft

Kim Novak glows in Bell, Book and Candle (1958) as the bewitching downstairs neighbor of staid, secure publisher James Stewart in this colorful romantic comedy adapted from the lighthearted Broadway comedy by John Van Druten. Novak is at her best as Gillian, a modern day witch in Greenwich Village, halfway between the worlds of magical […]

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in David Lowery's 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ on Criterion Channel

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), second feature from director / writer David Lowery, plays like the cinematic answer to an outlaw folk song. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play lovers Ruth and Bob, young adults who grew up fast under the watch of dubious father figure Skerrit (Keith Carradine) and ended up as small-time hold-up […]

Peter Segel writes and stars in the comedy of heartbreak, humiliation, and recovery for producer Judd Apatow

‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ -the humor of heartbreak on Peacock

Peter Segel joined the ranks of Freaks and Geeks alumni who went on to successful writing and/or directing careers (the list includes James Franco, Seth Rogan, and John Francis Daley) with Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), which he wrote and starred in for producer Judd Apatow. It’s a plot you can recount in a sentence—a guy […]

Marion Cotillard and Mathieu Amalric in the French drama by Arnaud Desplechin

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ – Life, art, and love on Amazon Prime

French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin makes films about the messiness of families, lovers, and creative lives that can become quite messy in their telling. Ismael’s Ghosts (France, 2018) jumps abruptly back and forth in time and between biography and fiction and dreams, smudging the line between biography, fiction, and artistic imagination. Desplechin regular Mathieu Amalric is […]

‘Sideways’ – a road trip through wine country on Hulu

“A bottle of wine is actually alive; it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks – like your ’61 – and begins its stead, inevitable decline. And it tastes so f***ing good.” Sideways (2004), Alexander Payne’s road movie about best friends taking a bachelor party on the road through California vineyard country, […]

Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung in Wong Kar-Wai's award-winning film

‘In the Mood for Love’ on Criterion Channel

There may be no more sensual director in the world than Hong Kong’s Wong Kar-Wai, and In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong, 2000) is one of his richest and most melancholy works, a shadow dance of would-be lovers sketched in suggestions and intimations. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai star as next door neighbors […]