Patrick McGoohan and Leo McKern in the cult TV classic

‘The Prisoner: Complete Series’ on Amazon Prime Video

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered. I am my own man.” There are those who proclaim The Prisoner: Complete Series (1968), Patrick McGoohan’s cerebral spy show and portrait of personal freedom as an existential prison, the greatest TV show of all time. I won’t argue the point. His insidiously […]

Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, and Frank in Richard Kelly's cult movie of teen confusion

‘Donnie Darko’ – Life’s a mystery on Amazon Prime Video

Donnie Darko (2001) – Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an otherwise normal rebellious, angry kid who slumps and frumps his way through the confusion of his life. He just happens to have a little more confusion than the most of us, much of it caused by visitations from a demonic looking six-foot rabbit named Frank […]

Orson Welles is Harry Lime on Carol Reed's classic

Continental noir: ‘The Third Man’ on Netflix

Carol Reed’s continental film noir The Third Man (1949), written by Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten as a cynical American pulp novelist playing detective in the rubble-strewn underworld of post-war Vienna and Orson Welles as a charming but ruthless black marketeer, is one of the true classics. The film is directed by Reed but […]

Angie Dickinson in the thriller by Brian De Palma with Angie Dickinson, Keith Gordon and Nancy Allen

Brian De Palma’s ‘Dressed to Kill’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Dressed to Kill (1980), Brian De Palma’s signature thriller and one of his best films ever, has been called De Palma’s take on Hitchcock’s Psycho and the parallels are undeniable: a sexually independent heroine (Angie Dickinson) who is murdered in the opening act, the amateur detectives (Keith Gordon and Nancy Allen) who team up to […]

Johnny Depp and Frank Langella in the 1999 thriller directed by Roman Polanski

Johnny Depp searches for ‘The Ninth Gate’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The horror of Roman Polanski is not about spectacle and shock, but a goose-pimply sense of something evil lurking just outside the frame and hidden behind the faces of its slightly unsettling characters. At times The Ninth Gate (1999), adapted from the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, recaptures the beautiful uneasiness of such […]

Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac. Lionel Stander, and Jack MacGowran star in the 1966 film by Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s ‘Cul-De-Sac’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

Roman Polanski once cited Cul-De-Sac (1966), a sly little character piece set in an isolated medieval castle on the barren British coast, as his personal favorite of his films, and the closest he came to creating “pure cinema.” It’s Polanski’s third feature and his second English language film, and he wrote the original script with […]

François Leterrier in the 1956 Robert Bresson film

‘A Man Escaped’ – Robert Bresson’s prison break on FilmStruck

“This story is true. I give it as it is, without embellishment.” That’s an understatement of an opening remark. A Man Escaped (France, 1956) is a mesmerizing meeting of opposites: a prison escape thriller directed by the austere, introspective Robert Bresson. Based on the memoir by Andre Devigny, a member of the French Resistance imprisoned […]

Matt Damon is Mark Whitacre in the movie by Steven Soderbergh

Matt Damon is ‘The Informant!’ on Netflix

Biochemical engineer and corporate whistleblower Mark Whitacre might have been a national hero for his help in exposing international price fixing. Too bad he was also a compulsive liar and an embezzler caught up in delusions of grandeur and secret-agent fantasies. Though based on a true story, The Informant! (2009) is not The Insider but […]

Jean-Pierre Melville directs the French Resistance classic starring Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret

‘Army of Shadows’ – Jean-Pierre Melville’s French Resistance on FilmStruck

Legendary gangster movie director Jean-Pierre Melville turned his familiar crime film iconography on its head with Army of Shadows (France, 1969), his gravely personal drama about the early days of the French Resistance in World War II. Gangster movie icon Lino Ventura plays Resistance leader Philippe Gerbier with an observant stillness and coiled calm different […]

Kirk Douglas stars in Billy's Wilder's noir-tinged newspaper drama from 1951

‘Ace in the Hole’ – newspaper noir at its most acidic on FilmStruck

Billy Wilder is the American cinema’s most famous cynic, but nothing in his career is as scathing as his noir-tinged newspaper drama Ace in the Hole (1951), his indictment of the American media circus. There’s not a more amoral hero in Wilder’s filmography than Kirk Douglas’s Chuck Tatum, an arrogant big city newsman stuck in […]