Viggo Mortensen stars in "Captain Fantastic."

‘Captain Fantastic’ – Alternative family values on Netflix and Kanopy

Captain Fantastic (2016) is a road movie, a family drama, a tale of loss, and a loving portrait of an alternative family that is prepared to face everything but the modern world. Viggo Mortensen is Ben, the father who (with his equally committed but currently absent wife) moved into the deep woods of the Pacific […]

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ on Peacock

Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, offers his most poignant and touching work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). You wouldn’t even know it was his work from the opening of the film, an awkwardly sweet romantic flirtation between shy sad sack Joel (Jim Carrey in his least mannered […]

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 Pee-wee, the spastic child with a neat, out-of-date preppie suit and a […]

Meryl Streep is "Florence Foster Jenkins."

Meryl Streep is ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) may sound like a one-joke contrivance—a rich, generous, arts-loving heiress in 1940s New York City gives private recitals to a select group of high society insiders who never let on to the oblivious woman that she is quite possibly the worst singer to ever trod a stage—but it is both a […]

Daniel Day-Lewis is ‘Lincoln’ on HBO Max

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012), scripted by Tony Kushner, guided by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “A Team of Rivals,” ” casts a spotlight on one of the most important political actions in American history: passing the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution, which abolished slavery. In compelling detail, this film shows the art and craft of […]

Jason Statham in 'The Bank Job,' directed by Roger Donaldson

‘The Bank Job’ on Netflix

The Bank Job (2008) may sound like a generic crime vehicle from the title and the casting of genre action star Jason Statham, a stalwart tough guy with stocky presence and limited range, but don’t let that stop you from digging into this British film. Based on (or more accurately inspired by) the real life […]

Dominique Sanda and Stefania Sandrelli in Bernardo Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' starring Jean-Louis Trintignant

Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Conformist’ on Criterion Channel

Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970), his dense, visually intricate, and stylistically ornate adaptation of the revered novel by Alberto Moravio, tosses sex, desire, politics, and personal responsibility into the Fascist era before World War II. Marcello (an actively repressed Jean-Louis Trintignant), a petty bourgeois man in late 1930s Italy, joins the Italian Fascist party as […]

‘Argo’ – a stranger than fiction rescue tale on HBO Max

Winner of the 2013 Academy Award for best picture, Argo (2012) is also the name of a fake movie and a real-life rescue stranger-than-fiction mission to rescue the six Americans who escaped the U.S. Embassy in Iran when it was stormed in 1980. Ben Affleck directs (it’s his third film behind the camera) and takes […]

Tatsuya Nakadai in the Akira Kurosawa epic

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ on Amazon Prime

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