‘Whip It’ – grrrl power on the roller derby rink on Hulu

Whip It (2009), the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore, is a grrrl power movie on wheels. Set in the funky DIY world of local roller derby leagues, it stars Elliot Page in their best role since Juno. Bliss Cavendar is neither as smart-ass nor as confident as the sardonic Juno MacGuff. This restless girl in […]

Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in 'Million Dollar Baby'

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Million Dollar Baby’ on Amazon Prime

Always one of America’s most undervalued directors, Clint Eastwood proved himself American cinema’s national treasure in the third act of his impressive career. Million Dollar Baby (2004), an understated, unpretentious, powerfully told drama, adapted from F.X. Toole stories by Paul Haggis, earned Eastwood his second round of Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture (his […]

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 […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger pumps himself up for success in George Butler's documentary 'Pumping Iron.'

‘Pumping Iron’ – Arnold Schwarzenegger begins on Amazon Prime

Anyone who believes that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to Hollywood superstar was a fluke needs to see Pumping Iron (1977), George Butler’s documentary on bodybuilding culture of the 1970s which did more to popularize the sport in the culture at large than anything before or since. The film follows a handful of bodybuilders preparing for the […]

Robert Redford stars in the ski drama directed by Michael Ritchie

Robert Redford is a ‘Downhill Racer’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Downhill Racer (1969) is the feature debut of Michael Ritchie, the first project that frustrated actor and future movie star Robert Redford developed for himself and the first of Redford’s proposed trilogy about the meaning of “winning” in American culture. That’s what gives such a riveting perspective to what would otherwise be called a “sports […]

Gary Cooper is ‘The Pride of the Yankees’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Gary Cooper, that great Oak of an American actor, progresses from the awkward and naively shy rookie to the seasoned “Iron Man” first baseman of the New York Yankees without losing his idealism or modesty in The Pride of the Yankees (1942). Nominated for 11 Academy awards (winning one for film editing), this handsome biographical […]