Last chance: The glory of Astaire and Rogers in ‘Swing Time’ on HBO Max

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the most elegant of Hollywood’s dance teams in the golden age of American musicals and Swing Time (1936) is the peak of their ten-film output. The plot is as absurd as anything from the era: Astaire is a dancer and gambler who is set to marry his hometown sweetheart […]

Alfred Hitchcock’s original ‘Psycho’ on Peacock

Psycho (1960) shocked America in 1960. Suburban theatergoers headed to the theaters to see the latest offering from the director of the glamorous and sexy Rear Window and the Technicolor confection North by Northwest. Who expected the droll host of TV’s showcase for suspense, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to get so down and dirty and tawdry. […]

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in the 1948 western classic by Howard Hawks

‘Red River’ – the great cattle drive epic on Amazon Prime

Howard Hawks reworks Mutiny on the Bounty as a frontier epic in Red River (1948), the sweeping tale of a journey that can’t be made and the story of a son forced to battle the father he loves and adores. Montgomery Clift made his film debut opposite grand old icon John Wayne, playing Matthew Garth, […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator on Netflix

“I’ll be back” – The original ‘The Terminator’ on Hulu and Paramount+

After three underwhelming sequels to James Cameron’s hard-wired hardware time travel thriller The Terminator (1984) in the past dozen years, it’s time to remind ourselves just how tight and clever and entertaining the original film was. Made for a mere $6 million and released in the fall of 1984 by a small independent sudio to instant […]

Miguel Sandoval, Spike Lee, and Ossie Davis

Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ on Peacock

Do The Right Thing (1989), Spike Lee’s vibrant, vital, thoroughly accomplished third feature, opens on a call to action – “Fight the Power,” shouts Public Enemy in the credits – and ends with a call to “Wake up!” Rosie Perez pumps out an aggressive shout of a dance in the opening credits, staged in front […]

Peter Sellers stars in Stanley Kubrick's political satire of mutually assured destruction

‘Dr. Strangelove’ – the screwball satire of mutually assured destruction on HBO Max

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Stanley Kubrick’s screwball satire of cold war posturing and mutually assured destruction, is the funniest film ever made about nuclear holocaust. But it didn’t begin as a comedy. The source novel, Peter George’s Red Alert, was a grave contemplation of the […]

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in the 1971 western by Robert Altman

Last chance: Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ on Criterion Channel

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Robert Altman’s third film since staking out his claim on 1970s cinema with M*A*S*H (1970), turns the western myth into a metaphor for the fantasy of the American Dream colliding with the power of big business. Warren Beatty is John McCabe, a drifting gambler who rides into the mining camp […]

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Larry Fishburne in 'The Matrix'

‘The Matrix’ trilogy on Peacock

The Matrix (1999) has become such a touchstone of American pop culture—referenced, copied, parodied, and parroted—that it’s hard to remember just how new and different and distinctive it was when it debuted in 1999. Which is not to say that it is completely original. Image Tron as a Greek Myth, or Sim City as an […]

Charles Bronson in Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on Hulu

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) puts the opera into “horse opera.” Leave it to the Italians to put genuine operatic dimension into the great American saga of western expansion. Sergio Leone’s loving tribute to the myth of the American West leaves the cool, cruel mercenary world of the Clint Eastwood Dollar films […]

Jeff Bridges is the Dude in 'The Big Lebowski' from Joel and Ethan Coen.

‘The Big Lebowski’ abides on Netflix

Rolling Stone once called The Big Lebowski (1998) “the most worshipped comedy of its generation.” I like to think of it as the Book of Duderonomy, the lost gospel of the post-modern Testament. Jeff Bridges is brilliant as the Dude, one of the most strangely centered individuals in the movies. This bowler/stoner/free spirit is mistaken […]