Last chance: ‘Jubal’ – Frontier Othello on The Criterion Channel

Delmer Daves was a Hollywood pro with a long career and an impressive filmography when he made Jubal (1956). A screenwriter turned director, Daves moved easily between all genres—war pictures, romances, westerns, Biblical epics, and a few noir-inflected dramas—and oddly enough found his biggest success in glossy melodrama A Summer Place, but I think he […]

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

Last chance: ‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Netflix

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

Last chance: ‘Easy Rider’ – On the road to find America on Hulu

Peter Fonda was already a counterculture icon when he suited up in black leather and a star-spangled helmet, mounted a Harley-Davidson chopper, tossed his watch to the desert floor, and drove off with a shaggy Dennis Hopper in search of America. The film was Easy Rider (1969), an independent film produced by Fonda, directed by Hopper, […]

Joan Crawford stars with Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, and Jack Carson

Last chance: Joan Crawford is ‘Mildred Pierce’ on The Criterion Channel

Is Mildred Pierce (1945) film noir or melodrama? I say why choose? Film noir is almost entirely associated with crime stories and life in the shadows and at night in the city and sure enough Mildred Pierce, based on the novel by James M. Cain, opens with death and darkness and the twilight of the […]

Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden, and Ernest Borgnine star in Sam Peckinpah's western masterpiece 'The Wild Bunch.'

Last chance: ‘The Wild Bunch’ – Sam Peckinpah’s frontier apocalypse on Netflix

The film that branded Sam Peckinpah with the nickname “Bloody Sam,” The Wild Bunch (1969) blazed onto theater screens in the era of Bonnie and Clyde, when genre conventions were being blasted away and directors pushed the boundaries of what was once considered “acceptable.” Peckinpah, ever the irascible maverick, rode roughshod over every unspoken rule […]

Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame star, Nicholas Ray directs from the Dorothy B. Hughes novel

Last chance: Humphrey Bogart ‘In a Lonely Place’ on The Criterion Channel

In a Lonely Place (1950) hasn’t much to do with the Dorothy B. Hughes novel on which it was ostensibly based, beyond the title (one of the most evocative in noir history), the Los Angeles setting, and the murder of a young woman that puts our ostensible hero, volatile, hard-drinking Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey […]

Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu in Cristian Mungiu’s beautiful and harrowing Romanian drama '4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days'

‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ on The Criterion Channel

Cristian Mungiu’s beautiful and harrowing Romanian drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and Best Film at the European Film Awards, yet didn’t even make the short list for Best Foreign Language Film nominations. I can’t fathom this defiant snubbing of such a powerful and provocative film, […]

‘A Silent Voice’ – a moving story of bullying and redemption on Netflix

The animated feature A Silent Voice (Japan, 2016), adapted from a popular manga serial by Yoshitoki Oima and directed by Naoka Yamada, takes on the issue of school bullying through the story of Shoya, a fun-loving rascal who feeds off the attention he gets when he starts making fun of Shoko, a deaf girl who […]

Robert Redford stars in the ski drama directed by Michael Ritchie

Robert Redford is a ‘Downhill Racer’ on Amazon Prime Video

Downhill Racer (1969) is the feature debut of Michael Ritchie, the first project that frustrated actor and future movie star Robert Redford developed for himself and the first of Redford’s proposed trilogy about the meaning of “winning” in American culture. That’s what gives such a riveting perspective to what would otherwise be called a “sports […]

Tatsuya Nakadai in the Akira Kurosawa epic

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ on The Criterion Channel

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 is firmly built on King Lear, with sons taking […]