‘Haywire’ – bad-ass action on HBO Max

Haywire (2011) is Steven Soderbergh’s drive-in assassin action movie by way of a sleek art-house conspiracy thriller. According to the director, the film sprung from his desire to develop a film around the talents and skill of mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, and the finished film — which casts Carano as a covert agent […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator on Netflix

“I’ll be back” – The original ‘The Terminator’ on Amazon Prime

After three underwhelming sequels to James Cameron’s hard-wired hardware time travel thriller The Terminator (1984) in the past dozen years, it’s time to remind ourselves just how tight and clever and entertaining the original film was. Made for a mere $6 million and released in the fall of 1984 by a small independent sudio to instant […]

‘The Limey’ – Terence Stamp’s revenge on Amazon Prime

The Limey (1999), Steven Soderbergh’s immediate follow-up to his sexy and stylish Out of Sight, is an equally stylish but far more austere crime drama, cool and removed and filled with regret where Out of Sight was warm and romantic and sexy. Terence Stamp is Wilson, an aging cockney criminal fresh out of prison who […]

Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale star in Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel

Burt Lancaster is ‘The Leopard’ in Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece on Criterion Channel

The Leopard (Italy, 1963), Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel (said to be a national touchstone for Italy), is his masterpiece. Burt Lancaster (his voice is dubbed by a deep-voiced Italian) may seem an unusual choice to play Prince Don Fabrizio Salina, an idealistic 19th century Sicilian prince (Visconti favored Laurence Olivier, a […]

‘Black Dynamite’ on HBO Max

A tongue-in-cheek tribute to the black exploitation action cinema of the seventies, Black Dynamite (2009) is a dead-on parody of the sloppy filmmaking, aggressive overacting and slapdash writing of the cheapest films of the genre. Michael Jai White, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, dons a neatly sculpted afro and a tough guy mustache […]

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 horror film from Japan is one of his greatest

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s haunting horror film ‘Pulse’ on Amazon Prime

“Do you want to meet a ghost?” The meditative and metaphysical horror cinema of Kiyoshi Kurosawa made him one of the masters of Japanese horror during its amazing cycle of surreal and nightmarish horror films of the 1990s and 2000s, but his films never really crossed over to the general audience in the U.S. His […]

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ on Peacock

FBI agent Tom Hanks chases check forger Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can (2002), Steven Spielberg’s take on the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. The real-life Abagnale successfully passed himself off as a pilot, a lawyer, and a doctor, and passed over $4 million in forged checks, all before his 21st birthday. […]

‘The Pianist’ – the devastating Oscar-winning drama on Netflix

The Pianist (2002), Roman Polanski’s film of the true story of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, is uncompromising in its portrayal of survival. We see the Holocaust through his eyes (via actor Adrien Brody) as the occupying Nazi military slowly but inexorably takes away the rights, the property, the humanity, and in most cases the lives […]

Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance as Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell in the BBC miniseries 'Wolf Hall'

‘Wolf Hall’ – power and privilege on Amazon Prime

The BBC historical miniseries Wolf Hall (2015) stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell (not to be confused with Oliver Cromwell), advisor and legal counsel to Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII. Rylance is a theatrical legend in Britain but not so well known in the U.S., although that’s changing thanks to his sublime performance in […]