Jesse Eisenberg stars in the Kelly Reichardt film with Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning

Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Night Moves’ on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

Night Moves (2013), the fourth film that New York-based director Kelly Reichardt made in Oregon with screenwriter Jon Raymond, was her most commercial project to that time, though you won’t mistake this drama of eco-terrorists who blow a dam on a southern Oregon river for a Hollywood thriller. Reichardt and longtime screenwriting partner Jon Raymond […]

‘Fruitvale Station’ on Netflix

Fruitvale Station (2013) embraces simplicity to remind us of the human being behind the news story. 22-year-old Oscar Grant was killed in an unprovoked shooting by BART officers as a station stop on early New Year’s Day 2009. Ryan Coogler’s film accomplishes what so many films fail to do: put us in touch with the life […]

Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, and Angourie Rice in Shane Black's 'The Nice Guys'

‘The Nice Guys’ – wise guy action on Hulu

Shane Black helped remake the modern American action movie with his screenplays Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. For The Nice Guys (2016), he slips into flashback mode for a tribute to the old school action movies and private eye thrillers of the 1970s mixed with Black’s knowing sense of humor. Ryan Gosling is Holland […]

‘Drive’ – Ryan Gosling’s getaway on VOD and DVD/Blu-ray

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 […]

‘Written on the Wind’ – the bad and the beautiful on Peacock

Douglas Sirk puts the opera back into “soap opera” in the exquisitely baroque melodrama Written on the Wind (1956). And it kicks it from the opening credits: a rushing car, a brewing storm kicking up leaves and whipping the trees, a gunshot, and a man stumbling out of the mansion before the pages of the […]

‘Quadrophenia’ – It’s Mod world on HBO Max

“I don’t wanna be like everybody else. That’s why I’m a mod, see?” Quadrophenia, the 1979 film of Pete Townsend’s landmark rock opera (originally performed by The Who) about teen rebellion and alienation in 1965 London hit the screen under the direction of Franc Roddam with Phil Daniels as the restless, Vespa-riding Jimmy, a Mod […]

Reese Witherspoon in Alexander Payne's satire 'Election' with Matthew Broderick

‘Election’ – Vote Tracy Flick on Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Criterion Channel

Election (1999), Alexander Payne’s wicked satire of power and (social) politics set in the overheated incubator of a high school student body election, is as sharp and perceptive now as it was in 1999. Matthew Broderick is the passionately dedicated and somewhat condescending civics teacher Jim McAllister, whose extra-curricular involvement helps compensate for a passionless […]

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ – a dreamy Maurice Sendak adaptation on HBO Max

Maurice Sendak’s masterpiece of a picture book comes to the screen in Where the Wild Things Are (2009), a film as unique and heartfelt as the book itself. Director Spike Jonze (whose vision received the blessing of Sendak) and co-scripter Dave Eggars expand and reimagine the story of the defiant Max, a young boy in […]

‘Carnival of Souls’ on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

Carnival of Souls (1962), an imaginative tale of a chilly church organist who is haunted by apparitions (looking very zombie-like in greasepaint make-up) is a minor masterpiece of independent genre filmmaking of the sixties. Candace Hilligoss stars as a young woman who stumbles out of the river after the car she was in goes through […]

‘District 9’ on Showtime Anytime

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 […]