Tatsuya Nakadai in the Akira Kurosawa epic

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ on Amazon Prime

Akira Kurosawa Ran (Japan, 1985), the story of an aging warlord who hands power to his sons is loosely inspired by the story of sixteenth century warlord Mōri Motonari, who conquered his rivals and extended his kingdom with the help of his three sons. The script, however, is firmly built on King Lear, with sons […]

Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker on Netflix

Last chance: Oscar winner ‘The Hurt Locker’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

“Tell me something. What’s the best way to disarm one of these things?” “The way you don’t die, sir.” Set in the Iraq war after the proclamation of “Mission Accomplished” and the transformation of a battlefield army into an occupation force, The Hurt Locker (2008) follows the finals days in the rotation of a bomb disposal […]

Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, and Kenneth Branagh star in Christopher Nolan's World War II drama

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ on HBO Max

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan called in his favors from Warner Bros., where made the hit Batman / Dark Knight trilogy as well as Inception and Interstellar, to make Dunkirk (2017), a big-budget World War II drama that would never have been financed on the scale Nolan envisioned without his clout behind it. Warner may have been […]

Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick's political satire of mutually assured destruction

‘Dr. Strangelove’ – the screwball satire of mutually assured destruction on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Stanley Kubrick’s screwball satire of cold war posturing and mutually assured destruction, is the funniest film ever made about nuclear holocaust. But it didn’t begin as a comedy. The source novel, Peter George’s Red Alert, was a grave contemplation of the […]

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman

‘Wonder Woman’ on HBO Max

Wonder Woman (2017) is, if you’ll pardon such an obvious comment, a wonder of a superhero movie, a film that doesn’t transcend the genre but most certainly sets a high bar, especially next to the ponderous, humorless films of the new big screen universe of interconnected DC Comics heroes. Gal Gadot debuted as Amazon princess […]

Gary Cooper bids ‘A Farewell to Arms’ on Amazon Prime

A Farewell to Arms (1932), the first screen version of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, is not the most faithful adaptation—at 90 minutes, it was greatly reduced and Hemingway himself was quite vocal with his displeasure at the adaptation of his semi-autobiographical story—but almost a century later it is still the most passionate and moving version. Gary […]

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’ on Amazon Prime

Is there another American filmmaker who takes such joy in telling stories and spinning cinematic spells as Quentin Tarantino? I don’t mean tackling big issues or making epic statements. I’m talking about the sheer pleasure of telling audiences a tale that takes them places they don’t expect and ways they haven’t quite experienced before. The […]

Sean Connery in ‘The Wind and the Lion’ on HBO Max

The Wind and the Lion (1975), the sophomore feature of director John Milius, is a small-scale version of the kind of grand historical epic that blossomed in the 1960s. Set in 1904 Morocco and loosely based on a true historical incident, the 1972 historical adventure stars Sean Connery as Berber chieftain and rebel leader Mulai […]

John Wayne storms the ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’ on HBO Max

Sands of Iwo Jima (1950) is the best war film that John Wayne made outside of John Ford’s masterpiece They Were Expendable. Made four years after the end of the war in 1949, it was the biggest picture that Allan Dwan, once a major director of big silent movie spectacles and handsome star vehicles, had […]