Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on Amazon Prime

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever decades after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind when […]

'Back to the Future' and its sequels with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd

‘Back to the Future’ trilogy on Amazon Prime

“The future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” Michael J. Fox goes backwards, forwards, and sideways through time as Marty McFly in a souped-up DeLorean for the first time in Back to the Future (1985), where he jaunts back to 1955, meets his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson), and […]

Ruby Barnhill and Mark Rylance star in Steven Spielberg's "The BFG."

‘The BFG’ – Spielberg meets Roald Dahl on Netflix

The BFG (2016) – Steven Spielberg directs this big screen version of Roald Dahl’s storybook fantasy, the tale of orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and the dreamcatching giant she names BFG (Mark Rylance), short for Big Friendly Giant. And though big to Sophie—he can carry her in the palm of his hand and set her on […]

The original ‘The Muppet Show’ on Disney+

The Muppet Show: Complete Series (1977-1981) is the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational variety show to ever hit prime time. More than forty years later, it’s still funny, fast-paced, utterly madcap, and tremendous fun. Jim Henson was already a household name for bringing his Muppets to Sesame Street but his ambitions took him in all […]

‘Steamboy’ – steampunk animation on Amazon Prime

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated landmark Akira is one of the essential titles of cyberpunk cinema. With Steamboy (Japan, 2004), he steps to the industrial revolution of 1866 England to take on steampunk, a historical genre of science fiction with an alternate reality of scientific advancement. Idealistic boy inventor Ray Steam is happy to tinker over […]

Steven Spielberg directs the big screen adventure adapted from the Herge graphic novels

‘The Adventures of Tintin’ on Paramount+

The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Steven Spielberg’s first foray into motion capture filmmaking, turns the legendary boy journalist and globe-trotting adventurer from the early graphic novels of Herge into a big screen hero, complete with trademark cowlick and best friend canine Snowy watching his back. Spielberg and his collaborators (notably co-producer Peter Jackson) chose to […]

Paul Reubens is Pee-wee Herman in 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure.'

‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ on HBO Max

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) is the big screen debut for both the Paul Reubens alter ego Pee-wee Herman, the children’s TV show character he originally created in a live comedy revue, and director Tim Burton, and it was a perfect melding of sensibilities. Pee-wee, the spastic child with a neat, out-of-date preppie suit and a […]

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka in the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel

The original ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ – a world of pure imagination

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Gene Wilder is the weird, wonderful, slightly sinister candy bar king who invites five children into his factory kingdom in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy. It is a rare breed: an imaginative live-action […]

‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’ on Netflix and Hulu

A town gets a buffet line for a weather system in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009), a colorful animated feature based on a children’s storybook tale. Director/writer team Phil Lord and Chris Miller cobble a story around the storybook’s premise but it’s the whimsical imagery of raining hamburgers, a Jell-O mold castle, an […]

‘My Neighbor Totoro’ on HBO Max

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s living treasures, a beloved filmmaker whose animated films number among the most beautiful and most enchanting productions ever drawn by hand. In this day of CGI productions, the aging artist still personally draws his key frames and defining characters, with a love and craft that comes through every frame. […]