Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in 'American Ultra.' Photo credit: Lionsgate

‘American Ultra’ – stoners and spies on Netflix

American Ultra (2015) reworks The Bourne Identity as a slacker comedy with a killer punchline. Jesse Eisenberg is Mike Howell, a sweet, underachieving stoner prone to panic attacks. He gets by as convenience store clerk in a dead-end West Virginia town with a supportive girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), who is almost impossibly understanding when it […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Conan the Barbarian on Netflix

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the original ‘Conan the Barbarian’ on Peacock

Arnold Schwarzenegger was the defining action hero of Hollywood from the mid-1980s through the 1990s, yet before he made his breakthrough, he seem the most unlikely American screen icon to lumber his way up the Hollywood ladder. The former Austrian bodybuilder turned Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia (he retired his crown undefeated) seemed destined to […]

'Back to the Future' and its sequels with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd

‘Back to the Future’ trilogy on Peacock

“The future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” Michael J. Fox goes backwards, forwards, and sideways through time as Marty McFly in a souped-up DeLorean for the first time in Back to the Future (1985), where he jaunts back to 1955, meets his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson), and […]

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star in the film by David Gordon Green

‘Prince Avalanche’ – A summer buddy comedy on Amazon Prime

Before David Gordon Green directed the stoner hit Pineapple Express (2008) and took a turn into comedy, he was an indie filmmaker whose intimate dramas were seeped in his southern origins. Prince Avalanche (2013) brought him back to his origins with a modest, warm-hearted tale of two guys on a rural road crew, painting traffic […]

Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine , and James Franco star in Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers'

‘Spring Breakers’ free on Kanopy and Hoopla

Spring Breakers (2012) is not your traditional fun in the sun spring break movie. But then you wouldn’t expect that from Harmony Korine, the self-appointed agent provocateur of American indie cinema confrontation, even with a cast that includes Disney Channel sweethearts Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. They play two of the four college girls (Ashley […]

‘My Neighbor Totoro’ on HBO Max

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s living treasures, a beloved filmmaker whose animated films number among the most beautiful and most enchanting productions ever drawn by hand. In this day of CGI productions, the aging artist still personally draws his key frames and defining characters, with a love and craft that comes through every frame. […]

‘Fast & Furious’ – the rubber hits the road on Peacock

The fast cars and daring heists franchise fishtailed all over the place with in-name-only sequels to the 2001 hit The Fast and the Furious until the original cast—outlaw racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), maverick FBI agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Dominic’s partner-in crime girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and good girl Mia (Jordana Brewster)—finally reunited for […]

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ on Amazon Prime and Disney+

There is something very appealing in the gee-whiz earnestness and plucky patriotism of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), a red, white and blue superhero journey wrapped up in the nostalgia of the World War II era, where American pluck and moral certainty made the battle. As the title hints, it is something of a […]

‘Big Hero 6’ on Disney+

Big Hero 6 (2014) is an adaptation of a Marvel Comics title but the filmmakers thoroughly transform it into a Disney feature, complete with issues of loss and family at the center of the creation of a student superhero team, with the spark of Pixar in its visual invention and knowing wit. The comic book […]