Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Riley Keough star in the horror thriller from Trey Edward Shults

‘It Comes at Night’ on Netflix and free on Kanopy

The title of It Comes at Night (2017) sets certain expectations. What exactly comes at night? But the survival thriller from writer/director Trey Edward Shults, set sometime after the ravages of an unnamed and unexplained plague have ripped through the cities and sent survivors into the isolation of the wilderness, isn’t about monsters (human or […]

Sanaa Lathan navigates ‘Love & Basketball’ on Netflix

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 […]

Paul Dano is Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy'

‘Love & Mercy’ on Hulu

Capturing the life of Brian Wilson, the troubled genius who pushed the surf pop sound of The Beach Boys into psychedelic symphonies as he spiraled into depression, in just a few key years is a tricky proposition. Love & Mercy, a biopic that parallels the boyish enthusiasm and free-flowing creative drive of young visionary Brian […]

Kathryn Bigelow's 'Near Dark.'

There’s a price for the night – ‘Near Dark’ on Criterion Channel

They hunt by night, picking off stray hitchhikers, wandering loners and anyone else unlucky enough to stray into their path. They keep to back roads and lonely towns of the American southwest. They are a feral clan, more a pack than a gang. They are family. And they feed off the blood of humans. To […]

‘Good Night, and Good Luck.’ – Why journalism matters on Netflix

David Strathairn plays broadcast journalism godfather Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005, PG), George Clooney’s austere, astounding drama about his career-threatening decision to use the airwaves to take on Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953. Directing in a stripped down style, Clooney’s direction captures the […]

Burl Ives and Robert Ryan star in the western noir by Andre de Toth

‘Day of the Outlaw’ – snowbound western noir on Amazon Prime Video

Day of the Outlaw (1959), a western set in a snowbound mountain town on the high frontier, is one of the toughest, most tension-filled pictures from Andre de Toth, a studio filmmaker who could be counted on to bring a savage edge to his assignments. The town is already coiled like a spring thanks to […]

‘Drive’ – Ryan Gosling’s getaway on Netflix

Sleek pulp crime cool meets arthouse style thriller in Drive (2011, R) starring Ryan Gosling as a taciturn getaway driver. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (a veteran of gritty, brutal Danish underworld dramas) with a silky smoothness and a stylized cool that recalls Le Samourai and Walter Hill’s The Driver, and an eighties vibe and […]

Ewan McGregor is 'The Ghost Writer' in Roman Polanski's superb thriller.

Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ghost Writer’ on Amazon Prime Video

Ewan McGregor is The Ghost Writer (2010), a scribe-for-hire in the celebrity autobiography business who is contracted to rewrite the dry memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), in the smart, gripping, subtly Hitchcockian thriller from director Roman Polanski and author Robert Harris. The writer has no other name in the film—he introduces […]

‘District 9’ on Netflix

The aliens arrived almost thirty years ago, their crippled spacecraft hovering to a halt over Johannesburg, where it remains floating over the city. That defining image hovers over the entirety of District 9 (2009), a savagely whipsmart satire of first contact with an alien species that has been reduced to repressed immigrant population stranded in […]