Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the high school neo-noir by Rian Johnson

‘Brick’- High school noir on Netflix

Brick (2005), the debut feature from Star Trek: The Last Jedi filmmaker Rian Johnson, puts the collected works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in a blender with a jigger of teenage melodrama and pours it into a high school mold. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays things so close to his chest that he’s almost unreadable as […]

Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey star in the science fiction drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron

‘Children of Men’ on Amazon Prime Video

Children of Men (2007), Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of by P.D. James’ dystopian thriller, is set in a bleak, impoverished near future where two decades of infertility have created a mood of hopelessness as devastating and destructive as a nuclear holocaust. Britain has thrown up walls around the borders and is actively deporting immigrants, becoming a […]

Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac. Lionel Stander, and Jack MacGowran star in the 1966 film by Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s ‘Cul-De-Sac’ on Criterion Channel

Roman Polanski once cited Cul-De-Sac (1966), a sly little character piece set in an isolated medieval castle on the barren British coast, as his personal favorite of his films, and the closest he came to creating “pure cinema.” It’s Polanski’s third feature and his second English language film, and he wrote the original script with […]

Shauna Macdonald stars in the subterranean horror from Neil Marshall

‘The Descent’ – subterranean horror on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray

British genre maven Neil Marshall howled his arrival with his werewolf combat thriller Dog Soldiers, a sly and inspired UK hit that made cult ripples stateside. With The Descent (2005), a nerve wracking, claustrophobic survival thriller about six spelunking women hunted by the creepiest cave dwellers to skitter across a screen, Marshall honed his skills […]

Matt Damon is Mark Whitacre in the movie by Steven Soderbergh

Matt Damon is ‘The Informant!’ on Netflix

Biochemical engineer and corporate whistleblower Mark Whitacre might have been a national hero for his help in exposing international price fixing. Too bad he was also a compulsive liar and an embezzler caught up in delusions of grandeur and secret-agent fantasies. Though based on a true story, The Informant! (2009) is not The Insider but […]

Donald Pleasance and Gary Bond in the 1971 Australian drama by Ted Kotcheff

Australian cult film ‘Wake in Fright’ on Amazon Prime Video

Wake in Fright (1971), one of the seminal works of the New Australian cinema of the seventies, is a brutal, blackly funny thriller of an urban schoolteacher (Gary Bond) posted to the Australian Outback, which is a sun-blasted nightmare as far as he’s concerned. He can’t leave fast enough when his Christmas vacation arrives, but […]

Joaquin Phoenix in the 2014 romantic drama from Spike Jonze

‘Her’ – Love in the digital world on Netflix

Her (2013), the first film from Spike Jonze since his underrated take on Where the Wild Things Are, returns to the territory of his debut film Being John Malkovich but without the satirical edge. Like his fellow filmmakers and former collaborators Michael Gondry and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, Jonze is narratively playful and challenging, but his […]

Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds in 'Mississippi Grind,' directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Ryan Reynolds works the ‘Mississippi Grind’ on Netflix

Mississippi Grind (2015) plays like a seventies character drama, a meandering road movie through the byways of American characters who populate the card rooms and dice tables and racetracks, and an oddball buddy movie built on a chance encounter and an instant kinship between two losers gambling their lives away. Ryan Reynolds is Curtis, a […]

Jacob Tremblay and Best Actress Oscar winner Brie Larson in 'Room,' directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Brie Larson in ‘Room’ on Netflix

It’s called Room (2015). Not The Room, simply Room, as if there were no others. And for Jack (Jacob Tremblay), the five-year-old son of a young mother (Brie Larson), there aren’t. It’s his entire world, his universe, and as far as he knows nothing exists outside the walls. His mother, known only as Ma in the film, […]