Sean Connery in ‘The Wind and the Lion’ on HBO Max

The Wind and the Lion (1975), the sophomore feature of director John Milius, is a small-scale version of the kind of grand historical epic that blossomed in the 1960s. Set in 1904 Morocco and loosely based on a true historical incident, the 1972 historical adventure stars Sean Connery as Berber chieftain and rebel leader Mulai […]

Last chance: Jessie Eisenberg is Mark Zuckerberg in ‘The Social Network’ on Netflix

The Social Network (2010) presents Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as a self-involved nerd genius in Harvard who wants social acceptance but hasn’t a clue as to how to social interaction really works, either on a date or with his friends. The irony inherent in the film is that this young, arrogant genius with no people […]

‘Topsy-Turvy’ – Gilbert and Sullivan reborn on Peacock

Set in the world of London theater in the mid-1880s, Topsy-Turvy (1999) tackles the creative partnership between W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, the reigning kings of light operetta, at a turning in their career. Their work has become repetitive, their latest show a disappointment, and the partnership is under strain as composer Sullivan (Allan […]

Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Wind Rises’ on HBO Max

The Wind Rises (Japan, 2013) is a very different kind of feature from Hayao Miyazaki, the beloved filmmaker and animation legend famed for his lush, ambitious, inventive fantasies and mythical adventures. It was a passion project for the director and he chose it as his fitting swan song, a final feature before retiring from filmmaking […]

‘Public Enemies’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Public Enemies (2009) is Michael Mann’s take on the gangster glory days of the depression, when the most flamboyant and notorious bank robbers became the outlaw heroes of the day. That makes Johnny Depp great casting as John Dillinger, whose spree of daylight bank robberies and daring getaways between May 1933 (when he was paroled […]

Burt Lancaster is the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ on Amazon Prime Video

Filmmaker John Frankenheimer earned his first major big screen success with Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), his third theatrical feature and his second collaboration with producer/star Burt Lancaster (they would make five films together all told). Lancaster delivers an angry, brooding performance as real life criminal Robert Stroud, a violent killer who developed into an internationally […]

‘Escape at Dannemora’ on Amazon Prime and Showtime Anytime

In 2015 Richard Matt and David Sweat, two inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York, escaped with the help of Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, who ran the sewing shop and engaged in sexual affairs with both men. The eight-hour limited series Escape at Dannemora (2018), originally produced for Showtime, dramatizes the true story. Benicio […]

What to stream: ‘The Assistant’ on Hulu, ‘Radioactive’ on Amazon, ‘Fear City’ and ‘Last Dance’ on Netflix

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   Julia Garner plays a personal assistant to a powerful executive (unnamed and largely unseen yet a provocative presence) in “The Assistant” (2019, R), a drama of power dynamics and abuse in a toxic […]

Donnie Yen is legendary martial artist ‘Ip Man’ on Netflix

Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen plays the legendary Ip Man (Hong Kong, 2008), teacher and grandmaster of Wing Chun, in this biographical drama (one in a long line of such tributes) based on the master’s life during the Japanese occupation of China. Yen is a superb screen fighter with an often bland presence. […]

Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, and Brian d'Arcy James in 'Spotlight,' directed by Tom McCarthy.

Oscar-winning ‘Spotlight’ on Netflix

Winner of the Academy Awards for Best Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, as well as Best Ensemble Cast by the Screen Actors Guild, Best Screenplay by the Writer’s Guild of America, Best Picture by the American Film Institute, and scores of other awards from professional and critics organizations, Spotlight (2015) is the kind of film that […]