Poignant drama ‘Any Day Now’ on Amazon Prime Video

Any Day Now (2012) is the kind of American drama that Hollywood used to specialize in: character based, issue-focused, emotionally-grounded, and an actor’s showcase. It’s 1979 and two gay men-Alan Cumming as a flamboyant female impersonator and Garret Dillahunt as a newly-out and still uncomfortable gay man working for a conservative legal firm-take on the […]

Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star in 'The Lobster' from Yorgos Lanthimos.

Love is strange: ‘The Lobster’ on Netflix and Kanopy

Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos describes his English language debut The Lobster as his film about love (following Dogtooth, his film on life, and Alps, on death). Which is not necessarily to call it a love story. It is, in its own way, but it just as much about the social expectations of love and marriage […]

Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina

‘Ex Machina’ on Kanopy

Ex Machina (2014) plays the man-vs.-machine story as a chamber drama. Domhnall Gleeson is the socially naïve computer programmer Caleb who wins a company contest to spend a weekend in the private retreat of visionary company CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a software genius who can’t wait to show Caleb his new project: a sophisticated artificial intelligence […]

‘A Most Violent Year’ on Kanopy

A Most Violent Year (2014) should have been an Oscar contender. Written and directed by J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) and set in the crime-ridden culture of early 1980s New York City (which was the most violent year on record in the city’s history), smart, shadowy tribute to the crime dramas of the seventies and early eighties, […]

Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's 'Mean Streets,' starring Harvey Keitel, Amy Robinson, and David Proval.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Mean Streets’ on Amazon Prime Video

“You don’t pay for your sins in church. You pay for them on the street. All the rest is bullshit.” Mean Streets (1973) is not Martin Scorsese’s first film, but it is the film in which he came into his own. Passionate, energetic, stylistically inventive and personally driven, it is the first mature, full blooded “Martin […]

Harold and Lillian Michelson in the documentary by Daniel Raim

‘Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story’ on Netflix

Harold and Lillian Michelson were Hollywood’s best-kept secret for decades. Harold Michelson, who passed away in 2007, was an art director and storyboard artist on some of the greatest films ever made. Lillian Michelson ran a Hollywood research library that was an essential resource for hundreds of productions. Their work was strictly behind the scenes […]

Mick Jagger and James Fox in the 1970 film by Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell

‘Performance’ – British crime and counterculture collide on Amazon Prime Video

Performance (1970) may have been released in 1970 but this collision of London gangster machismo and drug culture, where “Nothing is true; everything is permitted,” is unmistakably a product of the sixties. Mick Jagger makes his feature acting debut as Turner, a reclusive rock star in a dilapidated manor home in a London slum, but […]

Evan Rachel Wood and Kate Winslet in the 2011 miniseries adaptation of the James M. Cain novel by Todd Haynes

‘Mildred Pierce’ – the miniseries on Amazon Prime and HBO Now

Mildred Pierce (2011) is less a remake than a new run at adapting the James M. Cain novel. Previously made into a Hollywood classic (which earned Joan Crawford her only Oscar), it’s been transformed into a five-hour mini-series by director Todd Haynes, who cast Kate Winslet in the title role as the mother blindly devoted […]

Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Claudine Vinasithamby in Jacques Audiard's award winning drama

‘Dheepan’ – Winner of the Palme d’Or on Hulu

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2016 and nominated for nine Cesar awards, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan (France, 2015) is a moving drama of alienation, assimilation, and survival. A guerilla soldier (Jesuthasan Antonythasan, a non-actor and former child soldier) in the brutal Tamil Tigers in the dying days of Sri Lanka’s civil war, burns his […]