Albert Brooks is ‘Lost in America’ on Criterion Channel

Albert Brooks has been making his offbeat brand of satirical comedies about the neuroses and anxieties of affluent Americans, lost in the bubble of their own insular cultures, for more than 40 years. His third feature Lost in America (1985) remains his most incisive satire and most popular film. Brooks is David, a successful Los […]

The original ‘The Killers’ on Criterion Channel

The first 15 minutes of Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946) remains the most the most faithful adaptation of Ernest Hemingway ever put on screen. Two gunmen from the city (Charles McGraw and William Conrad) take over a small town diner to wait for their target. When he doesn’t show, they take the hit to him, […]

Henry Thomas and friend in Steven Spielberg's beloved science fiction fantasy

‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ on Peacock

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Steven Spielberg’s suburban fairy tale for kids who think they are too hip to believe in fairies, is as glorious as ever decades after its debut. Henry Thomas is Elliot, an emotionally bruised kid suffering under his parents’ separation who finds another lonely, lost soul, a benevolent alien left behind when […]

Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank in 'Million Dollar Baby'

Clint Eastwood’s ‘Million Dollar Baby’ on HBO Max

Always one of America’s most undervalued directors, Clint Eastwood proved himself American cinema’s national treasure in the third act of his impressive career. Million Dollar Baby (2004), an understated, unpretentious, powerfully told drama, adapted from F.X. Toole stories by Paul Haggis, earned Eastwood his second round of Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture (his […]

Miguel Sandoval, Spike Lee, and Ossie Davis

Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ on Peacock

Do The Right Thing (1989), Spike Lee’s vibrant, vital, thoroughly accomplished third feature, opens on a call to action – “Fight the Power,” shouts Public Enemy in the credits – and ends with a call to “Wake up!” Rosie Perez pumps out an aggressive shout of a dance in the opening credits, staged in front […]

Alfred Hitchcock’s original ‘Psycho’ on Peacock

Psycho (1960) shocked America in 1960. Suburban theatergoers headed to the theaters to see the latest offering from the director of the glamorous and sexy Rear Window and the Technicolor confection North by Northwest. Who expected the droll host of TV’s showcase for suspense, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to get so down and dirty and tawdry. […]

‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ – the definitive version of the SF landmark on HBO Max

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1981/2007) – Ridley Scott’s visionary reworking of Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep,” was a box-office flop. Maybe it was too dark for a public flying away on the fantasy of E.T. in the summer of 1982, or too downbeat for audiences looking for a Harrison […]

Robert Hays and Julie Haggerty lead the cast in the disaster movie farce from David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams

‘Airplane!’ turns 40 on Netflix

Airplane! (1980, PG), the directorial debut of the writing/directing team of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams (who apprenticed on the screenplay of Kentucky Fried Movie), has my vote for the funniest film ever made. Ostensibly a goof on the barely remembered 1957 aviation thriller Zero Hour! (note the exclamation mark) by way of […]

Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning ‘Unforgiven’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

“I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.” “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western Unforgiven earned the director his first Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Director. In a way, it finally made official what critics and fans had slowly come to realize over the last […]

Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale in the beloved screen adaptation of Frank L. Baum's fantasy

‘The Wizard of Oz’ – Over the rainbow on HBO Max

When gingham-clad farm girl Dorothy Gale rode the tornado out of the somber, sepia-tinged black and white of her Kansas dustbowl farm and into the sparkling Technicolor fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow, she changed the lives of her audiences (both then and now) as assuredly as she changed her own. The Wizard of Oz […]