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

‘Ex Machina’ on Kanopy

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 […]

Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's 'Mean Streets,' starring Harvey Keitel, Amy Robinson, and David Proval.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Mean Streets’ on Amazon Prime Video

“You don’t pay for your sins in church. You pay for them on the street. All the rest is bullshit.” Mean Streets (1973) is not Martin Scorsese’s first film, but it is the film in which he came into his own. Passionate, energetic, stylistically inventive and personally driven, it is the first mature, full blooded “Martin […]

Ethan Hawke in the film by Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ on Amazon Prime Video 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 […]

‘Zombies of Mass Destruction’ – Undead hysteria on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

A horror goof movie with gay heroes, a Iranian-American leading lady (Janette Armand), and a farcical look at the of the post-9/11 world of culture wars mixed in with the splattery special effects, Zombies of Mass Destruction (2010) is a movie made for anyone tired of the religious hysteria, anti-Islamic paranoia and patriotic rhetoric used […]

Arch Oboler's 1951 nuclear holocaust classic

‘Five’ – the last people on Earth on Amazon Prime Video

Arch Oboler’s Five (1951) is not the first end-of-the-world film, but it is the first to end it by nuclear holocaust: it opens on the familiar mushroom cloud and Oboler proceeds to scrubs the wonders of the world and the landmarks of civilization free of human habitation with a few simple visual effects and the […]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the high school neo-noir by Rian Johnson

‘Brick’- High school noir on Netflix

Brick (2005), the debut feature from Star Trek: The Last Jedi filmmaker Rian Johnson, puts the collected works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in a blender with a jigger of teenage melodrama and pours it into a high school mold. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays things so close to his chest that he’s almost unreadable as […]

Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau star in the film by Donna Deitch

‘Desert Hearts’ – an American indie landmark on FilmStruck

An early example of modern American independent cinema and a landmark film in the presentation of same-sex romance in American movies, Desert Hearts (1985) follows the journey of Vivian (Helen Shaver), a college professor who arrives in Reno for a six-week stay at a vacation ranch set up for women who have come to Nevada […]

Viggo Mortensen stars in "Captain Fantastic."

‘Captain Fantastic’ – Alternative family values on Showtime Anytime

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 […]

Anne Carlisle in the cult film by Slava Tsukerman

Androgyny and aliens in eighties cult film ‘Liquid Sky’ on Amazon Prime Video

An avant-garde artifact straddling the eighties movie underground and the growing American independent movement, Liquid Sky (1982) broke into the college film circuit thanks to a trippy mix of drug culture, sexual androgyny, and indie sci-fi weirdness playing out in the New York eighties bohemian scene. Director Slava Tsukerman was a Russian émigré who studied […]

‘Inside Deep Throat’ – Porn in the USA on Netflix

With its party rock soundtrack, colorful (and at times damaged) characters, and portrait of the pornography industry on the cusp of a cultural shift, Inside Deep Throat (2005) is something of a real life Boogie Nights. Documentary directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato offer the story of a grubby historical event: an explicit but otherwise […]