‘Inception’ – Christopher Nolan’s mind-heist on Netflix

Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), a caper film that heists dreams instead of treasure, is surely the most cerebral action thriller to become a blockbuster. It’s a genre film that reshuffles the rules and lays them out in a mind-bending pattern. Playing out on multiple planes of dream reality, it’s also another Nolan film to completely […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Leonardo DiCaprio is Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator,' directed by Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s’The Aviator’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The Aviator (2004), Martin Scorsese’s epic biography of the life of Howard Hughes, is his love-letter to the old-Hollywood bio-pic. This is high-style filmmaking wrapped up in a tormented hero whose soaring flights of greatness are matched by the mortal pull of his devils, which Scorsese establishes (perhaps too patly) in a childhood prologue bathed […]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson star in the Oscar-winning gangster film

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ on Netflix

The Departed (2006), Martin Scorsese’s return to American urban crime cinema, became the biggest hit of his career and earned him his very first Academy Award for Best Director. Leonardo DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, a street thug working for South Boston crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, a rising […]

What to stream: Apple TV+ launches with ‘The Morning Show,’ ‘The King’ on Netflix, more ‘Jack Ryan’ 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 …  The weekly column is featured in The Seattle Times, The Oregonian, The Spokesman-Review, and other newspapers. Apple TV+ launches this Friday with a slate of original shows led by “The Morning Show” (TV-MA), a […]

Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski's 'Rosemary's Baby'

The original ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ on Netflix

Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Roman Polanski’s American directing debut, is one of the most celebrated American horror films of all time, but horror isn’t really the right description for this film. Yes, it is about a cabal of devil worshippers in modern day (circa late 1960s) and an innocent served up to bear Satan’s child, but Polanski […]

Citizenfour, a documentary by Laura Poitras with Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald

‘Citizenfour’ – Edward Snowden on Amazon Prime

Citizenfour (2014), winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, is the story of Edward Snowden and his release of classified NSA documents that revealed the systematic surveillance of phone calls, E-mails, and internet activities of American citizens by the government. It was the biggest act of government whistleblowing since Daniel Ellsberg and […]

Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina

Free stream: ‘Ex Machina’ on Kanopy and Hoopla

Ex Machina (2014) plays the man-vs.-machine story as a chamber drama. Domhnall Gleeson is the socially naïve computer programmer Caleb who wins a company contest to spend a weekend in the private retreat of visionary company CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a software genius who can’t wait to show Caleb his new project: a sophisticated artificial intelligence […]

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz star in Martin Scorsese's love letter to the movies and his first PG movie

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ on Amazon Prime Video

Hugo (2011), Martin Scorsese’s first family film (it’s PG!) and his first engagement with 3D, is a love letter to the magic of cinema. Based on the novel by Brian Selznick, it is a tribute to early film pioneer George Méliès (played by Ben Kinsgley), a child’s adventure through a grown-up world of loss and […]