George Clooney is ‘The American’ on Amazon Prime

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. […]

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

Last chance: Roman Polanski’s ‘The Ghost Writer’ on Hulu

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 […]

‘Point Blank’ – pulse-pounding French thriller on Amazon Prime

The French crime thriller Point Blank (France, 2010), not to be confused with John Boorman’s 1967 post-noir masterpiece, opens in full sprint and pretty much stays in that adrenaline-pumping state. There is one peaceful interlude, a flashback to the calm before the storm with nursing student Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) and his pregnant wife (Elena Anaya), […]

Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Prime Video, Hulu, Shudder and more

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 […]

‘Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster’ on Netflix

Our story so far: the title character (played by Hong Kong martial arts maestro Donnie Yen) is the real-life martial Chinese arts teacher and proponent of Wing Chun style who was a hero during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria but is more famous to the western world for mentoring the young Bruce Lee. Which is […]

Sylvain Chomet's animated film of a Jacques Tati script

‘The Illusionist’ on Criterion Channel

With The Illusionist (France, 2010), animator Sylvain Chomet (of the delirious The Triplets of Belleville) transforms an unproduced script by they great French auteur Jacques Tati (Mon Oncle) into a tender tale of a French magician and a Scottish girl in the theater-folk society of London as the old world of stage performance gives way […]

‘The Expendables’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Sylvester Stallone has a spotty track record as a writer/director: passably effective at best, painfully misguided and lost in blind alleys of melodramatic kitsch as worst (Driven). He’s best at serving his own screen image (especially if already established by a previous filmmaker, as in the Rocky and Rambo sequels). With The Expendables (2010), he […]

‘Red’ – Bruce Willis is deadly funny on Showtime Anytime

Red (2010) isn’t a name (or a color) in this comic-book movie about retired covert agents who are roused back to action to teach the new breed a thing or two about the spy game. It’s a designation that stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous.” Bruce Willis headlines an ensemble that includes John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman […]