Dennis Hopper is Tom Ripley in Wim Wender's take on Patricia HIghsmith

‘The American Friend’ on Criterion Channel and Blu-ray/DVD

The American Friend (Germany, 1977) – “What’s wrong with a cowboy in Hamburg?” Dennis Hopper’s Tom Ripley is nothing like the character that Patricia Highsmith created and explored in five novels, and while Wim Wender’s adaptation of Ripley’s Game, the sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley, remains more or less faithful to the plot (with […]

Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert , and Rudy Vallee in the classic romantic comedy from Preston Sturges

‘The Palm Beach Story’ on VOD and Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Leave it to Preston Sturges to create the funniest, sexiest, and most grown-up romantic comedy of his day. Claudette Colbert has never been more desirable as Gerry Jeffers, the flirtatious pragmatist with a clear-eyed take on the realities of men, women, and sex, and Sturges turns Joel McCrea’s All-American […]

Juliette Binoche and William Shimell star in Abbas Kiarostami's first European production

‘Certified Copy’ on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

The Certified Copy (2010) of Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s first European production refers to artworks—Why do we value a reproduction less than an original and what does authenticity even mean?—but resonates just as effectively with the art of filmmaking and its relationship to reproduction and recreation. “It’s our perception that gives it value,” to quote […]

Kim Jin-kyu and Lee Eun-shim in Kim Ki-young's original "The Housemaid" from South Korea

‘The Housemaid’ – The 1960 Korean classic on VOD and Criterion DVD

Kim Ki-young’s The Housemaid (South Korea, 1960) is a classic of South Korean cinema but until Criterion released the film on disc in 2013 it was largely unknown (or at least unseen) to even the most dedicated cinephile apart from its inspiration for Im Sang-soo’s 2010 remake. As I discovered, the two films couldn’t be […]

Patrick McGoohan, Paul Harris, Marti Stevens star, Basil Dearden directs

‘All Night Long’ – Jazz Othello on Criterion Channel

Set over the course of a single night in a sleek jazz club carved out of a waterfront warehouse (the passion of a jazz-loving millionaire played by Richard Attenborough), All Night Long (1962) reworks Shakespeare’s Othello for the 1960s jazz culture culture of musicians and singers and nightclub showbiz dealings. Iago here is America drummer […]

Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux star in 'Blue is the Warmest Color,' directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ on Netflix and Sundance Now

Filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche explores the lives of outsiders looking for their place in Blue is the Warmest Color, an intimate love story based on a graphic novel. Thanks to Academy rules for foreign films, it wasn’t eligible for an Oscar nomination due to the timing of its French theatrical release. But it took home the […]

Matteo Garrone's 'Gomorrah ' from Italy

‘Gomorrah’ – The real Italian mob on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sundance Now

The signature image of Gomorrah (Italy, 2008), Matteo Garrone’s adaptation of Robert Saviano’s book about the dominance of organized crime in Naples and Caserta, is a pair of teenage boys running around a deserted beach in their underwear while shooting off automatic weapons. That’s as much glamour as you can expect from this portrait of […]

Harold Lloyd in 'Safety Last,' his most famous thrill comedy.

Criterion Streams: Harold Lloyd’s ‘Safety Last’ on Hulu

Safety Last (1923) is the most famous of Harold Lloyd’s silent comedies and first of his “thrill pictures,” films that he built around slapstick ingenuity in the midst of daredevil stunts. This one has a doozy: Lloyd scales an office building in downtown Los Angeles, fumbling and fighting with obstacles the entire way. The image […]