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

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on Netflix

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 […]

Peter Jackson directs the first film in J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on Hulu and HBO Max

With The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), New Zealand genre film maverick Peter Jackson does the impossible: he makes a faithful, magical, thrilling, and—most importantly—compelling film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s great cult fantasy epic. Streamlining the complex story and wealth of detail from the novel, Jackson manages to introduce a […]

Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ vs. The Joker on Peacock

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

What to stream: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and ‘Mosul’ on Netflix, ‘Uncle Frank’ on Amazon, ‘The Flight Attendant’ on HBO Max

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   “Hillbilly Elegy” (2020, R), based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, stars Gabriel Basso as a Yale law student drawn back to his Northern Kentucky home to deal with his meth-addict mother […]

‘Real Steel’ with Hugh Jackman on Netflix

Distill Rocky and The Champ, add a dash of The Rumble in the Jungle, shake well and serve in larger-than-life rock ’em sock ’em robots. That’s basically what you get with Real Steel (2011), and somehow all those second-hand pieces come together in a rousing (if awfully inevitable) underdog story. Ostensibly based on the same […]

‘CQ’ – Groovy moviemaking in the sixties on Amazon Prime

There’s a real love of 1960s movie lore in CQ (2002), the feature film debut of Roman Coppola (son of Francis Ford, brother of Sofia, creative assistant to both). Jeremy Davies is the American in Paris hero, an aspiring director in the funky days of 1969. By days he edits a pop-art sci-fi spy adventure […]

Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey star in the science fiction drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron

‘Children of Men’ on Peacock

Children of Men (2007), Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of by P.D. James’ dystopian thriller, is set in a bleak, impoverished near future where two decades of infertility have created a mood of hopelessness as devastating and destructive as a nuclear holocaust. Britain has thrown up walls around the borders and is actively deporting immigrants, becoming a […]

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 […]

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the Oscar-nominated drama "Loving." from filmmaker Jeff Nichols

‘Loving’ – The couple behind the history on Netflix

Loving (2016), Jeff Nichols’s portrait of Richard and Mildred Loving, does more than put a face to a landmark Supreme Court decision. Their 1958 marriage was a crime in the state of Virginia because Richard (played by Joel Edgerton with a terse determination) was a white man and Mildred (Ruth Negga, vulnerable yet hopeful) was […]