‘Inception’ – Christopher Nolan’s mind-heist on Netflix

Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), a caper film that heists dreams instead of treasure, is surely the most cerebral action thriller to become a blockbuster. It’s a genre film that reshuffles the rules and lays them out in a mind-bending pattern. Playing out on multiple planes of dream reality, it’s also another Nolan film to completely […]

‘No Blade of Grass’ – Surviving the end of the world on Criterion Channel

Cornel Wilde’s grim No Blade of Grass (1970) is a forgotten dystopian classic due for rediscovery. Gritty and brutal, built on fears of ecological devastation through pollution and overcrowding (with hints of genetic manipulation gone bad), this 1970 end-of-the-world thriller seems to have gotten lost in the overcrowded apocalypse now science fiction cinema of the […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Prime Video and free on Kanopy

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010) comes from the land of the original Father Christmas but he’s no cuddly old man who hands out presents at Christmas. This Santa Claus, who has been buried in a man-made glacier like a wooly mammoth, is a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of […]

‘Babylon Berlin’ – Wiemer noir on Netflix

Originally published on the Film Noir Foundation website The most expensive German TV series ever produced, Babylon Berlin (Germany, 2017-2018) is Weimar noir, a detective drama turned conspiracy thriller set against the backdrop of decadence and poverty and corruption in 1929 Berlin just before the Nazi party rode the swell of nationalism to power. Think […]

John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the Euro-action film from producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel

‘From Paris With Love’ on Netflix and Hulu

From Paris With Love (2009), starring John Travolta as a cowboy of an American agent and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as an ambitious but untrained low-level agent assigned to assist, is another of Luc Besson’s English language Euro-action films, the contemporary equivalent to the drive-in action movie of decades past. Besson has perfected the formula in […]

Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Riley Keough star in the horror thriller from Trey Edward Shults

‘It Comes at Night’ on Netflix and free on Kanopy

The title of It Comes at Night (2017) sets certain expectations. What exactly comes at night? But the survival thriller from writer/director Trey Edward Shults, set sometime after the ravages of an unnamed and unexplained plague have ripped through the cities and sent survivors into the isolation of the wilderness, isn’t about monsters (human or […]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson star in the Oscar-winning gangster film

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ on Netflix

The Departed (2006), Martin Scorsese’s return to American urban crime cinema, became the biggest hit of his career and earned him his very first Academy Award for Best Director. Leonardo DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, a street thug working for South Boston crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, a rising […]

‘District 9’ on Netflix

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 […]