Albert Brooks is ‘Lost in America’ on Criterion Channel

Albert Brooks has been making his offbeat brand of satirical comedies about the neuroses and anxieties of affluent Americans, lost in the bubble of their own insular cultures, for more than 40 years. His third feature Lost in America (1985) remains his most incisive satire and most popular film. Brooks is David, a successful Los […]

‘Being John Malkovich’ on Netflix

Being John Malkovich (1999), a devastatingly funny portrait of unhappiness, desperation, desire, and the vicious things we do for love, catapulted Spike Jonze from music video wunderkind to visionary director and Charlie Kaufman from sitcom scribe to brilliant screenwriter. In 1999, when our obsession with celebrity was mainly fed by gossip magazines and entertainment programs, […]

‘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 […]

‘Watchmen’ – Superhero redux on HBO Max

Zach Snyder delivers perhaps the most faithful adaptation of Watchmen (2009, R), the landmark graphic novel by writer Alan Moore (uncredited on screen, as is his tradition) and artist Dave Gibbons, that anyone could hope for. Moore’s story reimagines the history of comic book superheroes in the real world of global politics and complicated (and […]

‘District 9’ on Netflix

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 […]

George Clooney in 'Hail, Caesar!,' the loving Hollywood studio satire from Joel and Cthan Coen.

‘Hail, Caesar!’ from the Coen Bros. on Netflix

Hail, Caesar! (2015), the Coen Bros.’s sly lampoon of 1950s Hollywood, is an affectionate and satirical tribute to studio filmmaking and a wittily skewed comedy of cultural politics in early 1950s America, the beginning of the end of the studio era. Set at the fictional Capitol Pictures, an MGM-like studio, and centered on Eddie Mannix […]

What to stream: ‘Little Women’ on VOD, ‘Parasite’ on Hulu, ‘Quibi’ launches short form streaming programs

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   Greta Gerwig directs and adapts “Little Women” (2019, PG) and her take on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel brings a modern perspective to the lives of women in Civil War-era America. Saoirse Ronan […]

What to stream: ‘The Outsider’ and ‘The New Pope’ on HBO Now, ‘Troop Zero’ on Amazon, more ‘Grace and Frankie’ on Netflix

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …  The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers. HBO launches “The Outsider,” a murder mystery with a supernatural twist, adapted from the Stephen King novel by Richard Price […]

‘Vampire’s Kiss’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Nicolas Cage is perfectly cast in the devious black comedy Vampire’s Kiss (1989) as a New York literary agent whose latest one night stand lands him in bed with vampire Jennifer Beals, who takes a big, bloody bite out of his identity. The emotionally unstable executive develops an aversion to sunlight, a fear of crosses, […]