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

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 […]

‘Wings of Desire’ – Angels over Berlin on The Criterion Channel

“There are angels over the streets of Berlin,” insists Wim Wenders in his lyrical fantasy Wings of Desire (Germany, 1987), but these are like no angels you’ve never seen. Bundled in dark overcoats, they watch over the city with ears open to the heartbeat of the human soul, listening to the internal musings and yearnings […]

Robert Carlyle and the cast of the SyFy series 'Stargate Universe'

The complete ‘Stargate Universe’ on Amazon Prime

Stargate Universe: Seasons 1-2 (2009-2011) – For a time, the Stargate franchise was the Star Trek universe of the SyFy channel. I confess I was never a fan of the original Stargate SG-1 series (which began on Showtime and then moved to SyFy) and never got past the first episodes of Stargate: Atlantis but Stargate […]

French filmmaker and film historian Bertrand Tavernier is your tour guide in this personal documentary

Bertrand Tavernier presents ‘My Journey Through French Cinema’ on Kanopy

Bertrand Tavernier is both an essential French filmmaker and a dedicated film historian. His epic (over three hours long) documentary My Journey Through French Cinema (France, 2016) combines the two professional callings in a decidedly personal look at the cinema that shaped and excited him as both a cinephile and a filmmaker. Forget the familiar […]

The original ‘Cloverfield’ on Amazon Prime Video

A 21st century Godzilla movie for the (pre-video phone) camcorder generation, Cloverfield (2008) is a high-concept reworking of an old-fashioned creature feature with a DIY aesthetic. The conceit of the film is essentially the home video record of an alien invasion as shot by a wise-cracking default cameraman recording every movement of a group of […]

James Franco and Seth Rogen ride the ‘Pineapple Express’ on Netflix

The Judd Apatow factory refreshed the coming-of-age comedy (for all ages of adolescent men) in comedies like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall before stretching itself thin (that’s my best explanation for Drillbit Taylor and Step Brothers). One of the smartest things he did was to seek out directors not normally associated with his […]

George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga in Jason Reitman's 'Up in the Air.'

‘Up in the Air’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

“To know me is to fly with me,” proclaims philosopher-in-flight Ryan Bingham. “This is where I live.” And it’s clear in the opening moments of Up in the Air (2009) as Ryan—as played by George Clooney—walks through the airport, perfectly at home as checks in to the preferred customer counter and eases through security with […]

Oscar-winning ‘The Lives of Others’ on Netflix

Is there anything more dangerous than a true believer who approaches his mission with unshakable certainty and unwavering dogma? Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006) follows the odyssey of a staunchly patriotic Stasi agent (a brilliant Ulrich Mühe), the secret police of the GDR (Communist East Germany), and his surveillance of […]

‘Farscape: Complete Series’ on Amazon Prime Video

Farscape (1999-2003), created by Rockne S. O’Bannon (who wrote the cult science fiction film Alien Nation) for the Sci-Fi channel (long before they rebranded themselves SyFy), is like no other SF show on TV. If you missed the trip through the wormhole, here’s the gist of it: Ben Browder is John Crichton, an American astronaut […]