Ava Gardner and James Mason star in the ravishing romantic drama from Albert Lewin

‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

I have a soft spot for Albert Lewin, a literary Hollywood writer/producer turned director with a continental sensibility and an eye for handsome imagery (if not always cinematic storytelling). His productions tended toward literary adaptations (The Good Earth, which he produced, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he scripted and directed) but Pandora and […]

Martin Scorsese and Michael Henry Wilson present this documentary

‘A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies’ on Amazon Prime Video

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995) is both the title and the description of this idiosyncratic production made as part of the BFI’s A Century of Cinema celebration. The assignment was to make a 52-minute program. Scorsese and his collaborator Michael Henry Wilson overshot their target length by quite a distance: […]

‘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 […]

Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan in Neil Jordan's 'Byzantium'

‘Byzantium’ – Women and men and life immortal on Netflix

Byzantium (2012), Neil Jordan’s take on the vampire genre (from a play by Moira Buffin), is not a traditional horror film. There is blood, of course, and there is sex, but it’s less eros and more survival. Clara (Gemma Arterton) walks the streets (or in this case, the boardwalk of a British coastal town in […]

‘Gates of Heaven’ and ‘Vernon, Florida’ – the early documentaries of Errol Morris on Netflix

Errol Morris is one of the most celebrated—and most distinctive—documentary filmmakers of our time and his interest in unconventional portraits and offbeat subjects began with his first films. Gates of Heaven (1978, not rated) profiles two pet cemeteries—one that went out of business and another, more financially stable business where the graves were relocated—and the […]

Ethan Hawke stars in the Shakespeare adaptation from filmmaker Michael Almereyda

Ethan Hawke is ‘Hamlet’ on Amazon Prime

This is not your father’s Hamlet (2000). This melancholy Dane is son of the deceased Chairman of Denmark Corporation. His castle is a sleek but alienating New York high rise dotted with omnipresent surveillance cameras, his kingdom city streets lined with paparazzi and tabloid reporters. Ethan Hawke is the youngest actor to tackle the role […]

Brie Larson stars in the award-winning 'Short Term 12,' inspired by the personal experience of filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton

‘Short Term 12’ on Netflix

Brie Larson earned an Oscar for her performance in Room (2015) but her breakout role was in Short Term 12 (2013), a tender and touching drama set in a facility for at risk, abandoned, or otherwise homeless kids that can’t get placement with foster families. What could be a portrait of instability and institutional failings, however, […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Netflix

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

Vincent Pastore and Michael Rispoli star in the film by Raymond De Felitta

‘Two Family House’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Raymond De Felitta’s Sundance Film Festival Audience Winner Two Family House (2000) is a sweet little romantic drama set in the insular Italian and Irish neighborhoods of 1956 Staten Island. Narrated with the conversational ease of a bar story, it stars characters actor Michael Rispoli as Buddy, a blue collar Italian American with big dreams, […]