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 […]

Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Nicolas Cage star in the superhero movie by Matthew Vaughn

‘Kick-Ass’ – wicked superhero fun on Peacock

Kick-Ass (2010) is a comic book movie with a killer premise: what if regular people in the real world became costume vigilantes like the superheroes in comic books? Based on the uber-violent comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., this film tosses a high school teenager (Aaron Johnson) into a crime-fighting culture he isn’t the […]

‘District 9’ – the aliens have arrived on Hulu

The aliens arrived almost thirty years ago, their crippled spacecraft hovering to a halt over Johannesburg, where it remains floating over the city. That defining image hovers over the entirety of District 9 (2009), a savagely whipsmart satire of first contact with an alien species that has been reduced to repressed immigrant population stranded in […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Peacock

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

John Carpenter directs the cult movie satire starring Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David

John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ on Peacock

A year after Oliver Stone elevated the phrase “Greed is good” to a satirical double-edged mantra in Wall Street, John Carpenter put it more bluntly in They Live (1988), a scruffy little genre movie with a subversive subtext. “Why do we worship greed?” asks an pirate broadcaster in the opening scenes, as images of homeless […]

Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick's political satire of mutually assured destruction

‘Dr. Strangelove’ – the screwball satire of mutually assured destruction on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Stanley Kubrick’s screwball satire of cold war posturing and mutually assured destruction, is the funniest film ever made about nuclear holocaust. But it didn’t begin as a comedy. The source novel, Peter George’s Red Alert, was a grave contemplation of the […]

Lucy Davis, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran, Simon Pegg, Penelope Wilton, and Nick Frost in the film by Edgar Wright

‘Shaun of the Dead’ – the funniest zombie comedy ever on HBO Max

The apocalyptic hysteria of the zombie film has always been pitched on the edge of comedy: a horrible black joke played on humanity by a god with a sick sense of humor. Director/co-writer Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg’s self-proclaimed “rom-zom-com” (romantic zombie comedy) Shaun of the Dead (2004) simply nudges it over the edge. […]

Johnny Depp is a lizard in the old West in ‘Rango’ on Netflix

Johnny Depp taps into his inner lizard for the animated adventure Rango (2011). He provides the voice of a pet chameleon with thespian ambitions who gets lost in the desert and takes the role of sheriff in a desert town, only find that what he thought was on old Hollywood oater is actually a spaghetti […]

‘Black Dynamite’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

A tongue-in-cheek tribute to the black exploitation action cinema of the seventies, Black Dynamite (2009) is a dead-on parody of the sloppy filmmaking, aggressive overacting and slapdash writing of the cheapest films of the genre. Michael Jai White, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, dons a neatly sculpted afro and a tough guy mustache […]