Takeshi Kitano in 'Battle Royale,' directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

‘Battle Royale’ – The original ‘Hunger Games’ on Amazon Prime Video

Battle Royale (Japan, 2000), the gleefully gruesome splatter satire of teenage nihilism, adult paranoia, and social sadism, was released in Japan in 2000 to big success and instant cult status. It was a 21st century version of a fifties youth gang drama, rooted in the adult panic at the sudden rise of youth violence in […]

What to stream: ‘Diagnosis’ on Netflix, ‘The Chaperone’ on PBS, ‘Our Boys’ on HBO, ‘Avengers’ ends on VOD

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Avengers: Endgame (2019, PG-13) brings practically every superhero of the Marvel big screen universe together to save the universe and bring the second phase of the interconnected stories to a close. It’s now the […]

I Wake Up Streaming – August 2019

Small Screen Noir and Neo-Noir The history of television is full of great crime shows, from Dragnet to Hill Street Blues to Homicide: Life on the Street to The Wire and beyond, but small screen noir is a rare treasure indeed. Let’s face it, TV rarely embraced the visual style or hard-bitten, world-weary, often cynical attitude that defined noir as much as subject […]

What to stream: ‘Wu Assassins’ and ‘The Family’ on Netflix, ‘Fosse/Verdon’ on Hulu, ‘Free Meek’ on Amazon

Indonesian action star Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption) plays a young chef who is gifted with the power of a thousand monks to fight evil in Wu Assassins: Season 1, a martial arts action series with a dash of fantasy set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Katheryn Winnick and Mark Dacasos costar. 10 episodes streaming on […]

Robert Hossein directs and stars in 'Cemetery Without Crosses,' a spaghetti western with French seasonings

‘Cemetery Without Crosses’ on Amazon Prime

A spaghetti western with French seasonings, Cemetery Without Crosses (1969) is a Franco-Italian co-production shot in Almeria, Spain, the definitive badlands landscape of the Euro-western. The director, screenwriters, two stars, and even composer are French and the supporting cast largely Italian. And while this is not shot in the widescreen dimension of CinemaScope, de rigueur […]

The original crew of the Starship Enterprise reunited for 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan'

‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ and eight more ‘Star Trek’ movies on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), still the best of the big screen Star Trek movies, features Ricardo Montalban reprising his role from the original series TV episode “The Space Seed,” but now the genetically perfect human has become a man obsessed with revenge against Captain Kirk. This a veritable swashbuckler of a […]

What to stream: ‘Red Sea Diving’ and ‘Otherhood’ on Netflix, ‘Four Weddings’ on Hulu, ‘Share’ on HBO

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Chris Evans plays an Israeli Mossad agent smuggling Ethiopian Jews from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel through an abandoned seaside hotel in The Red Sea Diving Resort (2019, not rated), an Argo-like drama […]

Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski's 'Rosemary's Baby'

The original ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Roman Polanski’s American directing debut, is one of the most celebrated American horror films of all time, but horror isn’t really the right description for this film. Yes, it is about a cabal of devil worshippers in modern day (circa late 1960s) and an innocent served up to bear Satan’s child, but Polanski […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]

The United States of ‘Zombieland’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The zombie comedy was hardly fresh territory when Zombieland (2009) came along (and really, will anyone top Shaun of the Dead?) but it nonetheless does a fine job of mining the humor inherent in the end of the world. Jesse Eisenberg is the loner college geek who finds that his obsessive-compulsive instincts are just what […]