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

‘The Dark Knight’ vs. The Joker on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

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 […]

Richard Burton is ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ on Amazon Prime Video and free on Kanopy

Richard Burton is Alec Leamas, a once-sturdy MI-6 agent who has become a disillusioned burn-out after seeing too many fellow agents die, in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Martin Ritt’s superb film of John le Carré’s novel. The author was a British agent in his own right and his books were […]

‘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 […]

Robert Redford stars in the ski drama directed by Michael Ritchie

Robert Redford is a ‘Downhill Racer’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Downhill Racer (1969) is the feature debut of Michael Ritchie, the first project that frustrated actor and future movie star Robert Redford developed for himself and the first of Redford’s proposed trilogy about the meaning of “winning” in American culture. That’s what gives such a riveting perspective to what would otherwise be called a “sports […]

David Bradley stars in the 1969 drama by Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s ‘Kes’ on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

The story of a boy and his bird, Kes (1969) is something of a small cinematic treasure in Britain. Set and shot in the North of England and cast overwhelming with non-professional locals from the area, it cast its lens on the dreary life and hopeless future of a scrawny, fatherless teenager, Billy Casper (David […]

Michael Palin, Carol Cleveland, and the group in 'The Lumberjack Song'

The Essential ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ on Netflix

And now for something completely different. In 1969, five overeducated British comics and an American illustrator ambushed the BBC with the strangest show in British history. How they got on the air is anyone’s guess (rumors of blackmail were quickly hushed, though the Python’s penchant for sheep gags… but enough of speculation), but their irreverent […]

Dave Johns stars in the Cannes Film Festival award-winning film from Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ on Netflix

Ken Loach won the Palm d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake (2016), a classic Loach social commentary taking on the struggles of the working classes and underclasses let down by society. This one, about a 59-year-old carpenter and widower in Newcastle recovering from a heart attack while fighting for assistance, […]

Oscar-winning ‘The Lives of Others’ on Netflix

Is there anything more dangerous than a true believer who approaches his mission with unshakable certainty and unwavering dogma? Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006) follows the odyssey of a staunchly patriotic Stasi agent (a brilliant Ulrich Mühe), the secret police of the GDR (Communist East Germany), and his surveillance of […]