Rod Steiger is ‘The Pawnbroker’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

The Pawnbroker (1964), the Sidney Lumet-directed 1964 film based on the novel by Edward Lewis, is a real time capsule. It’s the first American film to really take on the legacy of the Holocaust on a personal level, and it’s set in a Harlem pawnshop where a stream of slum stereotypes wander in and out […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator on Netflix

“I’ll be back” – The original ‘The Terminator’ on Amazon Prime

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 […]

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

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 […]

‘Easy Rider’ – On the road to find America on HBO Max

Peter Fonda was already a counterculture icon when he suited up in black leather and a star-spangled helmet, mounted a Harley-Davidson chopper, tossed his watch to the desert floor, and drove off with a shaggy Dennis Hopper in search of America. The film was Easy Rider (1969), an independent film produced by Fonda, directed by Hopper, […]

Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in 'Taxi Driver'

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’

Taxi Driver (1976), Martin Scorsese’s incendiary masterpiece of alienation and anger and urban anxiety may be the most maverick vision of seventies American cinema. It is certainly one of the most visceral portraits of the American urban underbelly ever put on film, a movie bathed in blood as much as in light, and almost forty years […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Paramount+ and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

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

‘The Big Lebowski’ abides on Peacock

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 […]

‘Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ – the definitive version of a visionary film on HBO Max

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1981/2007) – Ridley Scott’s visionary reworking of Philip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep,” was a box-office flop. Maybe it was too dark for a public flying away on the fantasy of E.T. in the summer of 1982, or too downbeat for audiences looking for a Harrison […]

‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ on Criterion Channel

The title may sound like pure pulp but The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Jack Arnold’s screen adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel The Shrinking Man, is compassionate, intelligent, and the most metaphysical American science fiction film until Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Scott Carey (Grant Williams), just a guy on a daylong boating excursion, drifts […]

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

‘Dr. Strangelove’ – the screwball satire of mutually assured destruction on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

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 […]