Al Pacino in Christopher Nolan's 'Insomnia' (2002), the American remake of the Norwegian thriller.

Al Pacino battles ‘Insomnia’ on HBO Max

Between his breakthrough hit Memento and his blockbuster smash Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan helmed Insomnia (2002), the American remake of the icy, sun-bright 1997 Norwegian noir. Relocated to Alaska and starring Al Pacino in the role played by Stellan Skarsgård in the original, it’s built on the same motif: the 24 hour daylight of the […]

Karl Malden and James Franciscus in the giallo by Dario Argento

Dario Argento’s ‘Cat O’Nine Tails’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

The Cat O’Nine Tails (Italy, 1971), Dario Argento’s second feature, follows up his directorial debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in genre, style and “animal” theme (stretched into a trilogy with Four Flies on Gray Velvet). In Bird, Argento explores, pushes at, and plays with the mechanics of suspense and murder mystery spectacle in […]

Susanne Wuest in the German horror drama 'Goodnight Mommy,' directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz

‘Goodnight Mommy’ on Hulu

Goodnight Mommy (Germany, 2015) is an unsettling horror film built on scars (physical and psychological) that upset the connection between a mother (Susanne Wuest) and her sons, adolescent twins named Lukas and Elias played by real-life twin brothers Lukas Schwarz and Elias Schwarz. That fraternal connection is apparent in every scene, not just affection but […]

‘Moonrise’ – dreamy rural noir on Criterion Channel and free on Kanopy

The most authentically romantic filmmaker of classic Hollywood, Frank Borzage made films where the power of love conquered all, not simply narrative obstacles and stubborn complications but time and space itself. He’s the last filmmaker you would expect to produce a film noir masterpiece yet in Moonrise (1948) he delivers beautifully. Dane Clark is Danny […]

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 horror film from Japan is one of his greatest

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s haunting horror film ‘Pulse’ on Amazon Prime

“Do you want to meet a ghost?” The meditative and metaphysical horror cinema of Kiyoshi Kurosawa made him one of the masters of Japanese horror during its amazing cycle of surreal and nightmarish horror films of the 1990s and 2000s, but his films never really crossed over to the general audience in the U.S. His […]

Orson Welles is Harry Lime on Carol Reed's classic

Continental noir: ‘The Third Man’ on Criterion Channel

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 […]

‘The Woman in the Window’ on Amazon Prime

Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window (1944) is a film noir nightmare in every definition of the term. Edward G. Robinson is the middle-aged philosophy professor who meets beautiful young model Kitty (Joan Bennett) on the street. His wife and kids are out of town for vacation so he joins this single, sexy young […]

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

‘To Catch a Thief’ on Amazon Prime and Paramount+

To Catch a Thief (1955), Alfred Hitchcock’s frothiest entertainment, stars Cary Grant as a reformed jewel thief on the French Riviera who immediately comes under suspicion when a cat burglar goes to work on the rich and famous staying in the local luxury hotels. Heiress Grace Kelly decides to play detective the best way she […]

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

‘Ace in the Hole’ – newspaper noir on Amazon Prime

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 […]

David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Dr.’ on HBO Max

Mulholland Dr. (2001) – David Lynch pulled a near magic trick in what can only be an exercise in creative rewriting and re-conception. Taking an open ended TV pilot rejected by the networks, he added 45 minutes and created closure in a weird, mystical logic that, in its unique Lynchian way, makes a twisted emotional […]