Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning ‘Unforgiven’ on HBO Max

“I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.” “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western Unforgiven earned the director his first Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Director. In a way, it finally made official what critics and fans had slowly come to realize over the last […]

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ from Hiyao Miyazaki and son on HBO Max

If your idea of Japanese animation is space opera, cyberbpunk action, and Hiyao Miyazaki’s modern fairy tales, then From Up on Poppy Hill (Japan, 2011), might surprise you. Produced and co-scripted by Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki, this is a gentle, somewhat slight story of student life and young love in early […]

Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, and Oscar Isaac star in Zach Snyder's incoherent fantasy

‘Sucker Punch’ – Zack Snyder’s film maudit on Netflix and Hulu

Incoherent, absurd, confused, and strangely fascinating, there is no doubt that Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (2011), the director’s first original script, is a mess of movie. Even the term “original” is a questionable description, as the wide range of influences define the film as much as his own pop sensibilities. Yet Sucker Punch was so critically […]

‘Son of Rambow’ – a homemade odyssey on Amazon Prime Video

Meek Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), a wide-eyed naïf in a repressive religious sect, and “devil child” Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a belligerent school troublemaker, becomes unlikely partners in Garth Jennings’ fanciful, funny Son of Rambow (2008). They’re odd couple buddies born of convenience (on Lee’s part) and naiveté (that would be Will) but forged in […]

Al Pacino in Christopher Nolan's 'Insomnia' (2002), the American remake of the Norwegian thriller.

Al Pacino battles ‘Insomnia’ on HBO Max

Between his breakthrough hit Memento and his blockbuster smash Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan helmed Insomnia (2002), the American remake of the icy, sun-bright 1997 Norwegian noir. Relocated to Alaska and starring Al Pacino in the role played by Stellan Skarsgård in the original, it’s built on the same motif: the 24 hour daylight of the […]

‘Gun Crazy’ – a film noir classic on Criterion Channel

Gun Crazy (1950), the greatest of the criminal lovers-on-the-run thriller, explodes onto the screen in a fury of sex and guns and love and violence. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, it is a masterpiece of style and a blast of cinematic ecstasy on a budget barely bigger than a B movie. John Dall is a […]

Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on HBO Max

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]

‘Escape at Dannemora’ on Amazon Prime and Showtime Anytime

In 2015 Richard Matt and David Sweat, two inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, escaped with the help of Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, who ran the sewing shop and engaged in sexual affairs with both men. The eight-hour limited series Escape at Dannemora (2018), originally produced for Showtime, dramatizes the true story. Benicio […]

Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on Peacock

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever 35 years after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind […]

Mia Wasikowska is an American heiress in a British haunted manor in Guillermo Del Toro's 'Crimson Peak'

Last chance: ‘Crimson Peak’ on HBO Max and all HBO platforms

Crimson Peak (2015) revives a kind of filmmaking and storytelling that isn’t made anymore. It’s been described, incorrectly, as a Gothic horror. This is Gothic romance with notes of horror, bathed in the unreal and magical colors of a baroque Italian horror and brought to life by Guillermo Del Toro’s beating heart of compassion in the […]