Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

Last chance: ‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Netflix

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

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

Last chance: 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 […]

Tatsuya Nakadai in the Akira Kurosawa epic

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ on The Criterion Channel

Akira Kurosawa Ran (Japan, 1985), the story of an aging warlord who hands power to his sons is loosely inspired by the story of sixteenth century warlord Mōri Motonari, who conquered his rivals and extended his kingdom with the help of his three sons. The script is firmly built on King Lear, with sons taking […]

Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ vs. The Joker on Netflix

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

Mahershala Ali and Alex Hibbert in the Oscar-winning film from Barry Jenkins

What to stream: ‘Moonlight’ and ‘What/If’ in Netflix, ‘Ben is Back’ on Hulu, ‘The Vanishing’ on Amazon

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … Winner of three Academy Awards (including best picture), Moonlight (2016, R) is a poetic and provocative portrait of a young black child, the sensitive, bullied son of a crack-addict single mom in a tough […]

Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

‘To Catch a Thief’ on Amazon Prime Video

To Catch a Thief (1955), Alfred Hitchcock’s frothiest entertainment, stars Cary Grant as a reformed jewel thief on the French Riviera who immediately comes under suspicion when a cat burglar goes to work on the rich and famous staying in the local luxury hotels. Heiress Grace Kelly decides to play detective the best way she […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Amazon Prime Video

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]

Robert Altman's 'Gosford Park,' screenwriter Julian Fellowes's first foray into the culture that would become 'Downton Abbey'

‘Gosford Park’ on Netflix

In Gosford Park (2002), Robert Altman brings his gift for big, sprawling dramas knit with a fine weave of characters and a massive cast up to the task of filling them up with lives to the Merchant Ivory idiom of the manners and manors of Britain’s upper crust of yesteryear, 1932 to be specific. The […]

Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfus, and Robert Shaw star in Steven Spielberg’s summer blockbuster

‘Jaws’ – the original summer blockbuster on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Jaws (1995), Steven Spielberg’s meticulously-directed, tension-filled, career-redefining thrill machine, has been pegged as the original modern summer blockbuster. And while that is true, this pop-culture masterpiece is more than simply a well-tooled thriller. Spielberg brings a sense of community, family, and humanity to the supermarket thriller from Peter Benchley, a book more designed than written. […]

What to stream; ‘Beale Street’ on Hulu and VOD, ‘the Highwaymen’ on Netflix, ‘Hanna’ on Amazon,

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, FilmStruck, video-on-demand, and other streaming services … If Beale Street Could Talk (2018, R), Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” is the touching and powerful drama of a young African-American couple (KiKi Layne and Stephan James) in […]