Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Netflix

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

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 […]

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot star in the Swedish classic by Ingmar Bergman

Life, death, and chess in Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ on Criterion Channel

Arguably the most famous of Ingmar Bergman’s films and certainly his most iconic, The Seventh Seal (Sweden, 1957) is Bergman at his most allegorical. Max von Sydow, young and blond and heroic, is a disillusioned knight returned from the Crusades in a state of spiritual desperation: his faith has been shaken by senseless death and […]

Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Paul Sorvino, and Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese's gangster classic.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘GoodFellas’ on Netflix

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” GoodFellas (1990), Martin Scorsese’s violent, dynamic, exhilarating adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Wiseguy, about real-life wiseguy-turned-witness against the mob Henry Hill, exploded across screens in 1990 and was embraced as the first great American gangster movie since Coppola’s The Godfather […]

Steven Spielberg makes compelling drama from the statesmanship it took to pass the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution

Daniel Day-Lewis is ‘Lincoln’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) is a remarkable historical drama. Scripted by Tony Kushner, guided by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book A Team of Rivals, Lincoln casts a spotlight on one of the most important political actions in American history: passing the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution, which abolished slavery. In compelling detail, this film shows […]

Al Pacino stars in 'Serpico',' directed by Sidney Lumet

Al Pacino is ‘Serpico’ on Hulu

“It’s incredible but I feel like a criminal because I don’t take money.” So says Al Pacino in Serpico (1973), Sidney Lumet’s take on the true story of frustrated New York policeman Frank Serpico. As portrayed by Al Pacino, Serpico is the resident nonconformist in the working class New York Police Department, a college-educated street […]

‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ – the definitive version of the SF classic on Netflix

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 […]

Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in Alexander Mackendrick's great Broadway noir

‘Sweet Smell of Success’ – Broadway noir on Criterion Channel

“I love this dirty town.” The first and only time that Burt Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker drops the cynical twist from his clenched smile and allows genuine appreciation cross his face in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is when he drops that line while strolling down the nighttime streets of Broadway. It’s not a proclamation or […]

Bette Davis stars in the adaptation of the Lillian Hellman play directed by William Wyler

‘The Little Foxes’ – Bette Davis reigns supreme on Criterion Channel

Bette Davis could freeze almost anyone with her icy stare, the practiced look of a woman who’s learned how to operate in the man’s world of business, in The Little Foxes (1941), director William Wyler’s film version of Lillian Hellman’s chilly play of greed and power in a Southern family on the edge of financial […]

‘Rebel Without a Cause’ on Netflix

Before the 1950s, there were no teenagers in the movies, at least not as such. There were adults and children, and that awkward age in between was largely seen as, well, that awkward period in between. You had kids on the cusp, troubled young adults, and juvenile delinquents, but the teenager, with his / her […]