‘Sunshine’ – Set the controls to the heart of the sun on Hulu

The initial premise of Sunshine (2007) – the sun is dying and mankind has put all hope in a desperate effort to reignite our star with a nuclear payload of galactic dimensions – is more fantasy than science fiction, powered by nonsense physics. An international crew makes the voyage in a magnificent spaceship with a […]

‘Gun Crazy’ – a film noir classic on HBO Max

Gun Crazy (1950), the greatest of the criminal lovers-on-the-run thriller, explodes onto the screen in a fury of sex and guns and love and violence. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, it is a masterpiece of style and a blast of cinematic ecstasy on a budget barely bigger than a B movie. John Dall is a […]

Paul Dano is Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy'

‘Love & Mercy’ – Brian Wilson’s journey on Hulu and Peacock

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 (2014), a biopic that parallels the boyish enthusiasm and free-flowing creative drive of young visionary […]

‘Moonrise’ – dreamy rural noir free on Kanopy

The most authentically romantic filmmaker of classic Hollywood, Frank Borzage made films where the power of love conquered all, not simply narrative obstacles and stubborn complications but time and space itself. He’s the last filmmaker you would expect to produce a film noir masterpiece yet in Moonrise (1948) he delivers beautifully. Dane Clark is Danny […]

Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig are "20th Century Women."

’20th Century Women’ free on Kanopy and Hoopla

20th Century Women (2016) stars Annette Bening as Dorothea, a single mother of a teenage boy (Lucas Jade Zumann) determined to give him good life lessons with a little help from her friends. Elle Fanning is her son’s best friend, who escapes her troubled family and is warmly welcomed Dorothea, and Greta Gerwig and Billy […]

‘Not Fade Away’ – coming of age in the sixties on Hulu

Not Fade Away (2012), the autobiographical feature debut by The Sopranos creator David Chase, is not the usual rise-and-fall story of the rock and roll band. There is a band at the center of the film and Douglas (John Magaro), a Jersey kid who graduates from high school as an overlooked schlub looking for something […]

Patrick Fugit and Kate Hudson star in Cameron Crowe's autobiographical 'Almost Famous.'

‘Almost Famous’ – living the rock dream on Amazon Prime

Almost Famous (2000), Cameron Crowe’s thinly fictionalized autobiography, is deftly poised between rosy affection, thoughtful remembrance, and giddy adolescent awe. As perhaps it should be. The story of 15-year-old William (Crowe’s stand-in, played by Patrick Fugit) sent by Rolling Stone magazine to tour with an up-and-coming band (Stillwater, a fictional amalgamation of real-life bands The […]

‘A Most Wanted Man’ on Hulu and free on Hoopla

A Most Wanted Man (2014) is the final film completed by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death in 2014. 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. […]

‘Dirty Pretty Things’ – Life in the social margins of London in HBO Max

In Dirty Pretty Things (2003), Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Okwe, a once respected Nigerian doctor just trying to preserve his dignity and integrity under the radar of London society. As an immigrant awaiting resident status, he spends his days hustling as a cabbie with a counterfeit license and his nights working the front desk of a […]

‘Tears of the Black Tiger’ – Wild Thailand western on Amazon Prime

Tears of the Black Tiger (Thailand, 2000), Wisit Sasanatieng’s madcap new wave western, both a spoof and a celebration of the crazy conventions of movie melodramas and genre cinema from decades back. Imagine the Cisco Kid dropped into a Bollywood version of a Sergio Leone western, as re-imagined by Douglas Sirk with costumes out of […]