George Clooney stars in 'Burn After Reading' from Joel and Ethan Coen

‘Burn After Reading’ – unclassified CIA laughs on Peacock

Burn After Reading (2008) – After the darkness of No Country for Old Men, the Coen Bros. eased up with a deadpan espionage farce played out by small fish convinced that they are in deep waters, a film much lighter and significantly slighter but put together with such perfection that you can’t help but be […]

‘The Tall Target’ – steam noir on Criterion Channel

Anthony Mann’s The Tall Target (1951) is a rare period piece noir. This one is set in 1860 and the tall target of the title is President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Dick Powell plays the lone police detective who believes in the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln on his journey to be sworn in as President and, in […]

‘Ministry of Fear’ – World War II spy noir on Criterion Channel

You could call the conspiratorial wartime thriller Ministry of Fear (1944) Hitchcockian, at least in its play with an innocent man swept up in international intrigue, but the sensibility comes from its director, Fritz Lang. Ray Milland is the wrong man here, recently released from a mental asylum (he was sentenced for the mercy killing […]

‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ – Matt Damon’s final run on Amazon Prime and Peacock

Matt Damon returns in the “Bourne” franchise in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), playing the great anti-Bond of Hollywood action cinema for his third and final time. Jason Bourne is a former covert assassin essentially programmed by the CIA to be an emotionless killing machine, and he’s determined to reclaim his identity and his humanity. His […]

Richard Burton is ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ on Amazon Prime

Richard Burton is Alec Leamas, a once-sturdy MI-6 agent who has become a disillusioned burn-out after seeing too many fellow agents die, in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Martin Ritt’s superb film of John le Carré’s novel. The author was a British agent in his own right and his books were […]

‘A Most Wanted Man’ free on Hoopla

A Most Wanted Man (2014) is the final film completed by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death in 2014. That alone is reason enough to see the film, adapted from the post 9/11 novel by John le Carré and directed by Anton Corbijn, a music video veteran who becomes more accomplished with each feature. […]

Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris in 'Our Kind of Traitor,' based on the John le Carré novel

‘Our Kind of Traitor’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Our Kind of Traitor (2016), based on the 2010 novel by John le Carré, drops a civilian couple in the midst of international intrigue involving Russian mobsters and British Intelligence. Ewan McGregor is a professor of poetics trying to salvage a petrified romance on a vacation trip in Morocco with his girlfriend Gail (Naomie Harris), […]

Daniel Craig is James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Peacock

For its 21st entry, the producers of the most resilient movie series in American cinema reintroduce British agent James Bond with a faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first novel. In Casino Royale (2006), Daniel Craig—the sixth actor to play Bond in the official series—has a streetwise scrappiness and a ruthless, reckless, cold-blooded intensity missing since […]

‘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 […]