Pam Grier, Robert Forster and Samuel L. Jackson star in Quentin Tarantino's adaptation of Elmore Leonard

Pam Grier is ‘Jackie Brown’ on Netflix

Jackie Brown (1997) – “Amateurs borrow, professionals steal,” goes the maxim, and Quentin Tarantino steals like a pro. Where directors of the previous generation peppered their films with classic cinematic quotes, Tarantino plunders the films of his formative years for ideas—mostly B-movies and exploitation films about cars and capers and criminals—and riffs on them with […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Amazon Prime Video and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in 'Taxi Driver'

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ on Netflix

Taxi Driver (1976), Martin Scorsese’s incendiary masterpiece of alienation and anger and urban anxiety may be the most maverick vision of seventies American cinema. It is certainly one of the most visceral portraits of the American urban underbelly ever put on film, a movie bathed in blood as much as in light, and almost forty years […]

‘For All Mankind’ – To the moon and back on The Criterion Channel

For All Mankind (1989), Al Reinert’s celebration of the nine manned space flights between 1968 and 1972, was released to theaters in 1989, twenty years after first manned moon landing. It’s a stunning tribute composed entirely of the film documentation shot and archived by NASA, not a documentary of an Apollo mission but the story […]

Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Frog’ on Netflix

Pixar auteur John Lasseter gave new life to animated cinema with his CGI revolution but he never forgot the old-school art of hand drawn animation that made Disney’s reputation and he courted John Musker and Ron Clements to make the studio’s first new “princess” film since their own The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. The Princess […]

Bruno Ganz is Adolph Hitler in the Oscar-nominated film from Oliver Hirschbiegel

‘Downfall’ – The last days of Hitler on Amazon Prime Video

Downfall (2004), Oliver Hirschbiegel’s ambitious and complex dramatization of the final days of Adolf Hitler and the collapse of Germany, is a compelling history lesson and a riveting drama. Bruno Ganz plays Hitler with creepy charm and paternal affection amidst his ping-ponging emotional instability. His megalomania and paranoia take over in an adrenaline rush and […]

‘Easy Rider’ – On the road to find America on Criterion Channel

Peter Fonda was already a counterculture icon when he suited up in black leather and a star-spangled helmet, mounted a Harley-Davidson chopper, tossed his watch to the desert floor, and drove off with a shaggy Dennis Hopper in search of America. The film was Easy Rider (1969), an independent film produced by Fonda, directed by Hopper, […]

Viggo Mortensen offers ‘Eastern Promises’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

David Cronenberg returns to A History of Violence territory and Viggo Mortensen comes with him to bring Eastern Promises (2007) to ambiguous, shadowy life. Nikolai (Mortensen), a chauffeur and foot soldier in a Russian crime family in London, wears his shadow of a smile like an impenetrable mask. One minute he’s indifferently hacking up and […]

Jake Gyllenhaal is Louis Bloom in Dan Gilroy's 'Nightcrawler'

‘Nightcrawler’ on Showtime Anytime

Nightcrawler (2014) earned an Oscar nomination for director Dan Gilroy’s screenplay, a wicked satire of the tabloid news television that chases sensationalistic stories for ratings (the cliché “if it bleeds, it leads” is the guiding philosophy). It should also have earned a nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal, whose Louis Bloom is a twisted Horatio Alger with […]

‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’ on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

There’s something of a shaggy dog story quality to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), an offbeat road movie / caper film starring Clint Eastwood as Thunderbolt, an ex-thief on the run from his former partners, and Jeff Bridges as a hotshot kid who calls himself Lightfoot and decides to become this flinty veteran’s sidekick. They’re unlikely […]