Michelle Williams in Kelly Reichardt's frontier western

‘Meek’s Cutoff’ – Lost on the Oregon Trail on Amazon Prime

Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff (2010) opens without preamble. We are given a place and a year—”Oregon, 1845,” stitched into a piece of homespun embroidery—and then dropped in the high desert to observe three frontier families ford a river. They wordlessly, almost morosely, march across, then take the opportunity to fill canteens, wash and check the […]

‘The Runaways’ – the story of the original grrrl rockers on Netflix

The Runaways (2010) – The Runaways may have been more phenomenon than phenomenal but the hard-rocking quintet of teenage girls made their mark on the music world with a blast of grrrl power and teen rebellion. They were tossed into the culture in 1976 as a gimmick—the original all-girl rock band (and I do mean […]

‘The House of the Devil’ on Amazon Prime Video

Ti West was a young horror director with old-school sensibilities when he made his name with The House of the Devil (2010), a film that seems to come from another time, specifically the boom of the early eighties. Jocelin Donahue (who recalls a young Karen Allen) is well cast as the small-town college girl, future […]

Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Prime Video and free on Kanopy

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010) comes from the land of the original Father Christmas but he’s no cuddly old man who hands out presents at Christmas. This Santa Claus, who has been buried in a man-made glacier like a wooly mammoth, is a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of […]

Ewan McGregor is 'The Ghost Writer' in Roman Polanski's superb thriller.

Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ghost Writer’ on Amazon Prime Video

Ewan McGregor is The Ghost Writer (2010), a scribe-for-hire in the celebrity autobiography business who is contracted to rewrite the dry memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), in the smart, gripping, subtly Hitchcockian thriller from director Roman Polanski and author Robert Harris. The writer has no other name in the film—he introduces […]

Jennifer Lawrence stars in the Oscar nominated film by Debra Granik

Jennifer Lawrence arrives in ‘Winter’s Bone’ on Netflix

Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone (2010), set in the crime and poverty of the Ozark Mountains, is a coming-of-age survival story in an outlaw culture where meth labs have replaced moonshine stills and the code of silence is enforced with pitiless finality. Jennifer Lawrence was revelation as the 17-year-old Ree, who has grown up fast to […]

Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, in 'Carlos,' from filmmaker Olivier Assayas

‘Carlos’ – The making of a terrorist superstar on The Criterion Channel

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas’ epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of a committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal (a name he appropriates from a Fredrick Forsythe […]

George Clooney is ‘The American’ on Amazon Prime Video

Anton Corbijn’s The American (2010) is a cool, continental thriller starring George Clooney as the titular American, a professional in the assassination game in Europe. I use the term “thriller” in the generic sense, as this plays out more like Jean-Pierre Melville portrait of isolated underworld professionals, freelancers in the international network of criminal enterprise. […]

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 […]

Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Nicolas Cage star in the superhero movie by Matthew Vaughn

‘Kick-Ass’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Kick-Ass (2010) is a comic book movie with a killer premise: what if regular people in the real world became costume vigilantes like the superheroes in comic books? Based on the uber-violent comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., this film tosses a high school teenager (Aaron Johnson) into a crime-fighting culture he isn’t the […]