Ethan Hawke in the film by Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ on Showtime Anytime and Kanopy

Anyone who has followed the career of Paul Schrader could fall into the trap of simply cataloguing the ways in which First Reformed (2018) is a summation of his themes and inspirations. Imagine the promotional possibilities: “From the author of “Transcendental Cinema” and “Notes on Film Noir” and the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and The Last […]

Jesse Eisenberg stars in the Kelly Reichardt film with Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning

Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Night Moves’ on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

Night Moves (2013), the fourth film that New York-based director Kelly Reichardt made in Oregon with screenwriter Jon Raymond, was her most commercial project to that time, though you won’t mistake this drama of eco-terrorists who blow a dam on a southern Oregon river for a Hollywood thriller. Reichardt and longtime screenwriting partner Jon Raymond […]

Ian Richardson stars in the original BBC mini-series

The original British ‘House of Cards’ on Amazon Prime and Hoopla

The original The House of Cards Trilogy, a series of BBC mini-series produced in the 1990s, stars Ian Richardson as Francis Urqhart (F.U. to his friends), the Machiavellian Chief Whip of Britain’s conservative party and the most seductively ruthless politician you’ve ever had the pleasure to watch claw his way to the top (over the […]

Elle Fanning stars in Nicholas Winding Refn's "The Neon Demon"

‘The Neon Demon’ on Amazon Prime and free on Hoopla

The Neon Demon (2016) – “I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t write… no real talent. But I’m pretty, and I can make money off pretty.” We first meet Jesse (Elle Fanning), a 16-year-old girl from Middle America looking to leverage her youth and innocent beauty into a modeling career in Los Angeles, made […]

‘Carnival of Souls’ on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

Carnival of Souls (1962), an imaginative tale of a chilly church organist who is haunted by apparitions (looking very zombie-like in greasepaint make-up) is a minor masterpiece of independent genre filmmaking of the sixties. Candace Hilligoss stars as a young woman who stumbles out of the river after the car she was in goes through […]

Bette Davis stars in the adaptation of the Lillian Hellman play directed by William Wyler

‘The Little Foxes’ – Bette Davis reigns supreme on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

Bette Davis could freeze almost anyone with her icy stare, the practiced look of a woman who’s learned how to operate in the man’s world of business, in The Little Foxes (1941), director William Wyler’s film version of Lillian Hellman’s chilly play of greed and power in a Southern family on the edge of financial […]

‘Peeping Tom’ – Michael Powell’s subversive masterpiece on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Michael Powell lays bare the cinema’s dark voyeuristic underside in his disturbing psychodrama Peeping Tom (1960). Handsome young Karlheinz Böhm (billed as Carl Boehm) is Mark Lewis, a shy, socially clumsy young man shaped by the psychic scars of an emotionally abusive parent, in this case a psychologist father (Michael Powell in a perverse cameo) […]

‘Eyes Without a Face’ – the poetry of horror on HBO Max, Criterion Channel, and Kanopy

George Franju’s perverse and poetic Eyes Without a Face (France, 1959) is at once lyrical, haunting, and deviant, an elegantly horrifying classic of sadism and shadowy grace. A famed plastic surgeon (Pierre Brasseur), wracked with guilt over disfiguring his once beautiful daughter (Edith Scob) in car wreck, lures young woman to his secluded mansion with […]

Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska star in the polish horror fantasy by Agnieszka Smoczynska

‘The Lure’ – Little Mermaids with teeth on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

The strangest take on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” ever put on the screen, The Lure (Poland, 2015) is a musical-horror-fantasy-romantic tragedy from Poland about mermaid sisters with a taste for human flesh. Like the sirens of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are feral creatures who […]

Gong Yoo stars in the South Korean zombie film directed by Yeon Sang-ho

‘Train to Busan’ – Korean zombie classic on Amazon Prime Video and more

You could call Train to Busan (South Korea, 2016) “Zombies on a Train”—it certainly makes a catchy logline and it frames the premise accurately and succinctly—but it reduces this fleet, fierce, unexpectedly human thriller to a mere gimmick. Apart from the slyly eerie prologue, the film opens without any hint of the viral rampage to […]