‘The Limey’ – Terence Stamp’s revenge on Amazon Prime

The Limey (1999), Steven Soderbergh’s immediate follow-up to his sexy and stylish Out of Sight, is an equally stylish but far more austere crime drama, cool and removed and filled with regret where Out of Sight was warm and romantic and sexy. Terence Stamp is Wilson, an aging cockney criminal fresh out of prison who […]

‘Black Dynamite’ on HBO Max

A tongue-in-cheek tribute to the black exploitation action cinema of the seventies, Black Dynamite (2009) is a dead-on parody of the sloppy filmmaking, aggressive overacting and slapdash writing of the cheapest films of the genre. Michael Jai White, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, dons a neatly sculpted afro and a tough guy mustache […]

Jamie Chung in 'Eden,' directed by Megan Griffiths

‘Eden’ – Surviving sexual slavery on Amazon Prime

Eden (2012) is the name given to Hyun-Jae (Jamie Chung), an 18-year-old Korean-American teenager kidnapped and imprisoned in a sex slavery ring in the American southwest, in Megan Griffiths’s dramatization of the true story of Chong Kim (who collaborated on the screen story). Hyun-Jae is held captive with dozens of other girls in what can […]

‘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 […]

Sanaa Lathan navigates ‘Love & Basketball’

Using sports as a metaphor for life and love is nothing new but filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood, a former college athlete, puts her spin on it with Love & Basketball (2000). Sanaa Lathan is the fiercely driven, hot tempered tomboy Monica, who gives her all for basketball. Omar Epps is Quincy, the son of an NBA […]

The off-center horror of ‘The Dead Center’ on Amazon Prime

Filmmaker Billy Senese plays more upon suggestion and dread than visceral imagery in the low-budget indie horror thriller The Dead Center (2019). Shane Carruth (director and star of the indie science fiction films Primer and Upstream Color) centers the film as a driven psychiatrist in the Emergency Psychiatric Ward of a city hospital who is […]

Austin Stoker, Laurie Zimmer, and Darwin Joston in the John Carpenter film

John Carpenter’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ on HBO Max

The first real solo flight by young filmmaker John Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) is the film where he announced his influences, found his strengths, and began to develop his style. It’s is a siege picture, a cross between a Howard Hawks western and a horror film that meets in a desolate Los Angeles […]

‘The Killing Floor’ – integrating the union on Criterion Channel and free on Hoopla

The Killing Floor (1984) is the slaughterhouse of the Chicago stockyards where Mississippi sharecropper Frank Custer (played by Damien Leake) finds work when he heads north for better opportunities during World War I. Working his way up to better-paying work as a butcher, he brings his wife (Alfre Woodard) and kids to Chicago, but he […]

Viggo Mortensen stars in "Captain Fantastic."

‘Captain Fantastic’ – Alternative family values on Netflix and Kanopy

Captain Fantastic (2016) is a road movie, a family drama, a tale of loss, and a loving portrait of an alternative family that is prepared to face everything but the modern world. Viggo Mortensen is Ben, the father who (with his equally committed but currently absent wife) moved into the deep woods of the Pacific […]

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in David Lowery's 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ on Criterion Channel

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), second feature from director / writer David Lowery, plays like the cinematic answer to an outlaw folk song. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play lovers Ruth and Bob, young adults who grew up fast under the watch of dubious father figure Skerrit (Keith Carradine) and ended up as small-time hold-up […]