Ian Richardson stars in the original BBC mini-series

The original British ‘House of Cards’ on Amazon Prime and Hoopla

The original The House of Cards Trilogy, a series of BBC mini-series produced in the 1990s, stars Ian Richardson as Francis Urqhart (F.U. to his friends), the Machiavellian Chief Whip of Britain’s conservative party and the most seductively ruthless politician you’ve ever had the pleasure to watch claw his way to the top (over the […]

‘Winter Kills’ – The great American conspiracy movie on Amazon Prime

Though technically a work of fiction, Winter Kills (1979, R) is the maddest and most entertaining of Kennedy conspiracy thrillers, a wild kaleidoscope of clashing theories directed with wit and performed with gusto by an astounding cast. Jeff Bridges is the half-brother of an assassinated President who digs up the “truth” 20 years later and […]

‘Hollywood Boulevard’ – The glamorous world of B-movies on Amazon Prime

Joe Dante and Allan Arkush graduated from the trailer department of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures with their feature film debut Hollywood Boulevard (1976), an affectionate tribute to (what else?) the kinds of exploitation movies that Corman was churning out. New World starlet Candice Rialson is surprisingly funny as the Midwest blonde with dreams of […]

Reese Witherspoon in Alexander Payne's satire 'Election' with Matthew Broderick

‘Election’ – Vote Tracy Flick on Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Criterion Channel

Election (1999), Alexander Payne’s wicked satire of power and (social) politics set in the overheated incubator of a high school student body election, is as sharp and perceptive now as it was in 1999. Matthew Broderick is the passionately dedicated and somewhat condescending civics teacher Jim McAllister, whose extra-curricular involvement helps compensate for a passionless […]

‘District 9’ on Showtime Anytime

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 […]

Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli star in the Swedish drama from Ruben Östlund

‘Force Majeure’ from Sweden on Amazon Prime and Hulu

One of the surprises in the 2015 Oscar nominations was that Force Majeure (Sweden, 2014), Sweden’s official entry for the foreign language film category and a Cannes film festival winner, did not place among the five nominated films. Director Ruben Östlund gives us a family on vacation and what appears to be the inciting event […]

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 […]