‘Moneyball’ – the business of baseball on Netflix

Brad Pitt makes it look effortless in Moneyball (2011), a drama about the business of baseball in the era of multi-million dollar payrolls. Pitt plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics struggling to field a competitive team against organizations with much deeper pockets. His solution is to—with the help of unprepossessing Peter […]

Zoe Saldana kills in ‘Colombiana’ on Netflix

Zoe Saldana was a rising star when she took the lead as a sexy assassin in Colombiana (2011), a revenge thriller from producer Luc Besson’s international action movie factory. But where his other productions tend to drop American badasses in European locales, this one reworks La Femme Nikita in a South American context. Saldana is […]

‘The Muppets’ return on Netflix

The Muppets (2011) brings the felt comedy stars back to the big screen for a new comedy that asks the eternal questions: What becomes a Muppet in the days of CGI and motion capture animation? Can their brand of innocent whimsy and madcap nonsense hold the attentions of a new generation of fans? And does […]

Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Zachary Quinto star in 'Margin Call'

‘Margin Call’ – the banality of greed on Amazon Prime and Hulu

The Big Short earned raves for explaining the economics of the financial crash of 2008 but the first dramatic feature to explore the subject, Margin Call (2011). The fictionalized drama, which echoes the real-life activities of Leman Brothers, digs into the how and why of the market crash, not just in terms of economics but in […]

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ from Hiyao Miyazaki and son on HBO Max

If your idea of Japanese animation is space opera, cyberbpunk action, and Hiyao Miyazaki’s modern fairy tales, then From Up on Poppy Hill (Japan, 2011), might surprise you. Produced and co-scripted by Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki, this is a gentle, somewhat slight story of student life and young love in early […]

Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, and Oscar Isaac star in Zach Snyder's incoherent fantasy

‘Sucker Punch’ – Zack Snyder’s film maudit on Netflix and Hulu

Incoherent, absurd, confused, and strangely fascinating, there is no doubt that Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (2011), the director’s first original script, is a mess of movie. Even the term “original” is a questionable description, as the wide range of influences define the film as much as his own pop sensibilities. Yet Sucker Punch was so critically […]

Owen Wilson in Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris'

‘Midnight in Paris’ on Amazon Prime Video

Who would have predicted that Midnight in Paris (2011) would become Woody Allen’s most financially successful film ever? On the one hand, the wish fulfillment fantasy of an American screenwriter (Owen Wilson) on a Paris vacation who is whisked back in time and welcomed into the company of the Lost Generation artists of the twenties, […]

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender star in the adaptation from director Cary Fukunaga

‘Jane Eyre’ with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender on HBO Max

Jane Eyre (2011), starring Mia Wasikowska as the fiercely self-possessed governess Jane and Michael Fassbender as the darkly attractive and grimly tormented Edward Rochester, is the best kind of reminder why the classics remain alive after centuries and can be effectively remade every generation or so. This one comes from American director Cary Fukunaga and […]

‘X-Men: First Class’ on HBO Max and HBO Now

X-Men: First Class (2011) is both a reboot and a prequel to the big screen comic book series about a team of mutant superheroes with new, younger models of the series elders Charles “Professor X” Xavier (James McAvoy as a flirtatious, precocious incarnation of Patrick Stewart’s more professorial figure) and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, […]