‘Okko’s Inn’ – an orphaned girl finds purpose on Netflix

An orphaned girl finds purpose when she goes to live with her grandmother, the aging innkeeper of a small spa in a country vacation town known for the healing waters of its natural springs, in the lively animated feature Okko’s Inn (Japan, 2018). Okko, an urban girl who loses her parents in a devastating car […]

‘Ratatouille’ – Food glorious food on Disney+

“I’m a rat, which makes life hard.” That’s an understatement. In Ratatouille (2007), the dynamic animated film from writer/director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant and The Incredibles) and Pixar Studios, Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) may be a rat but he’s also a budding gourmand. Where his family is content to raid trash cans and scarf […]

Mowgli and friends in Disney's live-action 'The Jungle Book.'

‘The Jungle Book’ – 2016 remake on Disney+

The Jungle Book (2016), Jon Favreau’s live action (or at least photo-realistic) version of the Rudyard Kipling stories, offers far more than the bare necessities as it combines Kipling’s stories and Walt Disney’s 1967 animated musical adaptation for a marvelous new version of the classic story of a boy quite literally raised by wolves. The […]

Fay Wray in the ape's paw in the original 1933 classic

The original ‘King Kong’ on HBO Max

King Kong (1933) is the king of the jungle of giant creature features. The acting and the dialogue verges on kitsch, but the production from explorers, adventurers, and real-life adventure filmmaking pioneers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack is still awe-inspiring and the special effects of Willis O’Brien, groundbreaking in their day, are beautifully […]

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ on HBO Max

Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan, 1989) carries us into the experiences of a young witch as she charts her path in the real world. Sincere, spirited Kiki has turned thirteen, the age when witches leave the nest for a year of solo training. She’s ready to take on the world with her broomstick and her best […]

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson in the third "Harry Potter" feature

‘Harry Potter’ – the complete saga on HBO Max

Looking back on the original Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), directed by Chris Columbus, we see a painstakingly literal translations of J.K Rowling’s first novel, a near-perfect replica created with a kind of funhouse spectacle of the wonders of the magical world come to life. Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) is a lush, lavishly produced […]

Felicity Jones leads the mission Gareth Edwards' Star Wars stand-alone

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ on Disney+

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) is exactly as the title promises. Set in the margins of the original Star Wars, it stars starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, an orphaned survivor living on the fringes of Empire-controlled territory. Part scavenger opportunist and part scheming survivor, she’s been raised in hiding by a revolutionary […]

‘The Incredibles’ – super-powered family dynamics on Disney+

Brad Bird works with the computer animation pros at Pixar for the first (but not the last) time in The Incredibles (2004), which drops cartoonishly exaggerated super-heroics into the typical (by all outside appearances) suburban nuclear family, creating a super-powered dynamo of dysfunction and frustration in hiding (they’re in witness protection from years of personal […]

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

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

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 35 years 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 […]

Jackie Chan’s ‘Police Story’ and ‘Police Story 2’ on Criterion Channel

In the Hong Kong action movie explosion of the eighties, when the craziest, most kinetically energetic and narratively surreal action movies were pouring out of the Hong Kong film studios at a breakneck pace, Jackie Chan’s Police Story (Hong Kong, 1985) was one of the films that both defined and redefined the industry while firmly […]