‘Being John Malkovich’ on Peacock

Being John Malkovich (1999), a devastatingly funny portrait of unhappiness, desperation, desire, and the vicious things we do for love, catapulted Spike Jonze from music video wunderkind to visionary director and Charlie Kaufman from sitcom scribe to brilliant screenwriter. In 1999, when our obsession with celebrity was mainly fed by gossip magazines and entertainment programs, […]

‘Get Low’ with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray on Amazon Prime

A lovely film about regret, self-punishment and redemption on a scale both human and mythic (or at least American folkloric), Get Low (2009) is a feature film with the personality of a short story, filled with quietly offbeat characters and directed with a deft balance of comedy and tragedy. Which is why it had a […]

Sanaa Lathan navigates ‘Love & Basketball’

Using sports as a metaphor for life and love is nothing new but filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood, a former college athlete, puts her spin on it with Love & Basketball (2000). Sanaa Lathan is the fiercely driven, hot tempered tomboy Monica, who gives her all for basketball. Omar Epps is Quincy, the son of an NBA […]

Emayatzy Corinealdi in Ava Duverny's 'Middle of Nowhere'

Ava DuVernay’s ‘Middle of Nowhere’ on Netflix

Before directing Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay made Middle of Nowhere (2012), a small story about a woman who put her aspirations on hold when her husband goes to prison. Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) drops out of medical school and takes a nursing job so that she can be at home for daily calls from […]

‘Sideways’ – a road trip through wine country on Hulu

“A bottle of wine is actually alive; it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks – like your ’61 – and begins its stead, inevitable decline. And it tastes so f***ing good.” Sideways (2004), Alexander Payne’s road movie about best friends taking a bachelor party on the road through California vineyard country, […]

Matthew McConaughey is ‘Mud’ on Netflix and HBO Max

Mud (2012), the third film from director Jeff Nichols, is a story of childhood adventure steeped in the rural culture of life on the Mississippi and the mythology of Huckleberry Finn, but this boy’s adventure is also tangled in the world of adults and family bonds. Matthew McConaughey is the man called Mud, a scruffy […]

Channing Tatum is 'Magic Mike' in an unexpectedly compelling story inspired by the actor's real life experiences. Steven Soderbergh directs.

‘Magic Mike’ on HBO Max

Magic Mike (2012) was an underdog success story of 2012. While megabudget spectacles and potential tentpole films collapsed under the weight of heavy productions over flimsy scripts, Steven Soderbergh took a story inspired by actor Channing Tatum’s early experiences as a male stripper and a budget that wouldn’t pay for the reshoots on Battleship and […]

‘Reservoir Dogs’ – Quentin Tarantino begins on Amazon Prime and HBO Max

Reservoir Dogs (1992), Quentin Tarantino’s quotable blast of post-modern crime movie cool, is one of the most attention grabbing directorial debuts in history. Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Steve Buscemi—all dressed in identical black suits with thin ties and dark glasses—are gangsters who regroup in an empty warehouse in the aftermath of jewel […]

Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster star in the modern outlaw western from director David Mackenzie

‘Hell or High Water’ – Outlaws of the new west on Hulu

Hell or High Water (2016) is as good an American drama as you’ll see this year. Jeff Bridges stars as a Texas Ranger on the trail of a pair of bank robbers and his playfully crusty performance as a laconic frontier lawman on the verge of retirement gives an easy, laid back quality to a […]

Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Zachary Quinto star in 'Margin Call'

‘Margin Call’ – the banality of greed on Peacock

The Big Short earned raves for explaining the economics of the financial crash of 2008 but the first dramatic feature to explore the subject, Margin Call (2011). The fictionalized drama, which echoes the real-life activities of Leman Brothers, digs into the how and why of the market crash, not just in terms of economics but in […]