Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train’ on Netflix

Strangers on a Train (1951) is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s undisputed masterpieces, a thriller of demented wish fulfillment turned into a waking nightmare that turns on a chance meeting. Demented playboy Bruno (Robert Walker, whose insidious insincerity is unsettling from his first scene) meets champion tennis player Guy (Farley Granger). Bruno knows that Guy has […]

George Clooney is ‘The American’ on Amazon Prime Video

Anton Corbijn’s The American (2010) is a cool, continental thriller starring George Clooney as the titular American, a professional in the assassination game in Europe. I use the term “thriller” in the generic sense, as this plays out more like Jean-Pierre Melville portrait of isolated underworld professionals, freelancers in the international network of criminal enterprise. […]

Christian Bale is Batman in Christopher Nolan's 'Batman Begins'

‘Batman Begins’ – Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight on Hulu

One of the defining films in the elevation of comic book movies to adult fare, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back to the shadows, both figuratively and literally. It’s quite a leap from the previous Batman revival launched by Tim Burton’s 1989 […]

Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker on Netflix

Oscar winner ‘The Hurt Locker’ on Netflix

“Tell me something. What’s the best way to disarm one of these things?” “The way you don’t die, sir.” Set in the Iraq war after the proclamation of “Mission Accomplished” and the transformation of a battlefield army into an occupation force, The Hurt Locker (2008) follows the finals days in the rotation of a bomb disposal […]

‘Let the Corpses Tan’ on Amazon Prime Video and Kanopy

The Belgian filmmaking team of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are carving a distinctive and specialized career melding stylized art movies with flamboyant genre pictures drawn from expressive techniques of Italian exploitation movies. With Let the Corpses Tan (Belgium/France, 2018), their third feature, they turn an adaptation of a cult pulp novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette […]

Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw star in Steven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster

‘Jaws’ – the original summer blockbuster on Netflix

Jaws (1995), Steven Spielberg’s meticulously-directed, tension-filled, career-redefining thrill machine, has been pegged as the original modern summer blockbuster. And while that is true, this pop-culture masterpiece is more than simply a well-tooled thriller. Spielberg brings a sense of community, family, and humanity to the supermarket thriller from Peter Benchley, a book more designed than written. […]

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

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Amazon Prime Video

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 […]

Richard Linklater's 'Dazed and Confused

‘Dazed and Confused’ on Hulu

Dazed and Confused (1993) – Cinema has the unique ability to create a sensory experience vivid enough to make the past suddenly present and alive. Richard Linklater’s cinematic flashback Dazed and Confused captures a rich pageant of high-school life, circa 1976, in a mere 100 minutes, leaning on nostalgia without wallowing in it. Jason London […]