Oscar-winning drama ‘Manchester by the Sea’ on Amazon Prime

Some emotional wounds can’t be healed. Manchester by the Sea (2016), the third film from playwright and screenwriter turned filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, takes on that proposition in family drama, or rather a drama about what we do for family even when there are things we can’t do for ourselves. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) lives on […]

Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher are an improv comedy team in this comic drama

‘Don’t Think Twice’ – Improvising life on Netflix

Whether you call Don’t Think Twice (2016) a hilarious drama or a serious comedy, it is a bittersweet story of frustrated dreams and difficult passages of funny people in a pitiless business. Mike Birbiglia, a standup comedian and “This American Life” contributor turned filmmaker, writes, directs, and co-stars in the film as Miles, founder and […]

Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in "American Honey," directed by Andrea Arnold

‘American Honey’ – Youth unbound on Amazon Prime

American Honey (2016), the first American film from British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, is a road movie powered by the restlessness and passion of its young heroine Star (newcomer Sasha Lane), the eldest daughter of a deadbeat mom and a skeezy father (step-father?) who won’t stop pawing her teenage body. Recruited by Jake (Shia LaBeouf), a […]

Samantha Robinson is The Love Witch in Anna Biller's retro-styled feminist / horror / fantasy / melodrama

‘The Love Witch’ – Sex, magic, and sixties style on Amazon Prime

The Love Witch (2016), Anna Biller’s collision of feminism, romantic fantasy, power, sex, and horror opens with its cool heroine Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a slim, raven-haired beauty with a smear of turquoise eye shadow and eyelashes like wings, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway in a candy apple red convertible and matching outfit. She could […]

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in David Lowery's 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ on Netflix and Hulu

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), second feature from director / writer David Lowery, plays like the cinematic answer to an outlaw folk song. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play lovers Ruth and Bob, young adults who grew up fast under the watch of dubious father figure Skerrit (Keith Carradine) and ended up as small-time hold-up […]

Kim Tae-ri, Kim Min-hee, and Ha Jung-woo star in the film by Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook’s ‘The Handmaiden’ on Amazon Prime

Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (Sony, DVD) leaves behind the austerity and cool tone of his superb but unheralded American debut Stoker to return to the intense imagery, twisting narratives, perverse subcultures, and elevated emotions of his Sympathy trilogy. The story of con artists in 1930s Korea, adapted from the British novel “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters […]

Kurt Russell stars in the cult film from John Carpenter

The original ‘Escape from New York’ on FilmStruck

Escape from New York (1981) – “Plissken? I heard you were dead.” “Call me Snake.” Maybe it’s not John Carpenter’s best film, but it’s one of his most fun and the premise is irresistible: in the future, Manhattan has been turned into a high security island prison and Liberty Island is the guard station. When […]