Angelina Jolie is ‘Maleficent’ on Disney+

Maleficent (2014) does sort of a “Wicked” number on the story of Sleeping Beauty’s evil sorceress, casting her as the tragic figure of a dark fantasy (but not too dark for children—barely) of a revisionist fairy tale. Angelina Jolie plays the adult Maleficent, a fairy who watches over and defends the natural and supernatural wilds […]

Taika Waititi’s ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ on Netflix

Based on title alone, you might expect Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) to follow the mockumentary spoofing of Taika Waititi’s previous film What We Do in the Shadows, his deadpan portrait of ancient vampires as eternal idiots on the fringes of Wellington nightlife. In fact it’s a coming of age comedy with a heartwarming soul […]

‘The Muppets’ return on Netflix

The Muppets (2011) brings the felt comedy stars back to the big screen for a new comedy that asks the eternal questions: What becomes a Muppet in the days of CGI and motion capture animation? Can their brand of innocent whimsy and madcap nonsense hold the attentions of a new generation of fans? And does […]

Gary Cooper is ‘Beau Geste’ on Peacock

Golden-age Hollywood adventures don’t come more rousing than Beau Geste (1939). Gary Cooper, Ray Milland and Robert Preston are the boisterous Geste brothers, orphans raised by a society lady as gentlemen with a sense of playful camaraderie and undaunted chivalry. Their sense of honor and sacrifice inspires all three of them take the blame for […]

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

‘Harry Potter’ – the complete saga on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

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 […]

‘Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius’ on Netflix

Little Jimmy Neutron is an Einstein in short pants with the vision of a junior Jules Verne. He races with Air Force pilots and launches satellites before breakfast, invents shrink rays for show-and-tell, and has even created a mechanical dog, Goddard, who is infinitely loyal, endearingly playful, and sports more gadgets than a Swiss Army […]

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom,' starring Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, and more

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ – Wes Anderson’s endless summer on Peacock

Wes Anderson has made a career exploring the childhood neuroses that keep adult characters in an arrested state of adolescence and stasis. It’s been a lively career with creatively energetic high points like Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums but an approach with diminishing returns. Until Fantastic Mr. Fox, a film that refracted his portraits of dysfunctional families […]

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ from Hiyao Miyazaki and son on HBO Max

If your idea of Japanese animation is space opera, cyberbpunk action, and Hiyao Miyazaki’s modern fairy tales, then From Up on Poppy Hill (Japan, 2011), might surprise you. Produced and co-scripted by Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki, this is a gentle, somewhat slight story of student life and young love in early […]

‘Son of Rambow’ – a homemade odyssey on Amazon Prime Video

Meek Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), a wide-eyed naïf in a repressive religious sect, and “devil child” Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a belligerent school troublemaker, becomes unlikely partners in Garth Jennings’ fanciful, funny Son of Rambow (2008). They’re odd couple buddies born of convenience (on Lee’s part) and naiveté (that would be Will) but forged in […]

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 […]