Peter Weir directs 'The Way Back,' a survival drama starring Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and Saoirse Ronan

Peter Weir’s ‘The Way Back’ on Hulu

The Way Back (2010), filmmaker Peter Weir’s first film since Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World in 2003, is a protean survival drama with a human grounding. The film was barely seen in theaters, receiving a belated, haphazard release after studio delays and critical neglect. Even with a cast headed by Ed […]

‘Southern Comfort’ – Swamp survival on Amazon Prime Video

Walter Hill’s savage survival drama Southern Comfort (1981) sends a platoon of weekend warrior National Guardsman into the Louisiana swamps for a training exercise: not just strangers in a strange land but urban good ‘ol boys with no understanding of the world they’ve blundered into. To the Cajun swamp folk, the trappers and hunters living […]

Emile Hirsch stars in Sean Penn's 'Into the Wild,' adapted from Jon Krakauer's non-fiction book

Head ‘Into the Wild’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Into the Wild (2007), Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book, is a bracing cinematic plunge into the odyssey of Christopher McCandless. The real-life young man fled a middle-class life of what he perceived to be the compromises and corruptions of the material world to embark on an “Alaskan Adventure,” a quest of self-reliance […]

‘A Most Wanted Man’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

A Most Wanted Man is the final film completed by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death in February and that alone is reason enough to see the film, adapted from the post 9/11 novel by John le Carré and directed by Anton Corbijn, a music video veteran who becomes more accomplished with each feature. […]

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 […]