Last chance: ‘A Most Violent Year’ on Netflix

A Most Violent Year (2014) should have been an Oscar contender. Written and directed by J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) and set in the crime-ridden culture of early 1980s New York City (which was the most violent year on record in the city’s history), smart, shadowy tribute to the crime dramas of the seventies and early eighties, […]

‘Veronica Mars’ – the movie on Hulu

We used to be friends, a long time ago, Veronica Mars and I. Okay, that’s not exactly true, but it sure felt like it. I watched the show faithfully and was impressed by the display of support when creator Rob Thomas turned to Kickstarter to get starter funds to convince Warner there was an audience […]

‘A Most Wanted Man’ on Amazon Prime Video

A Most Wanted Man (2014) is the final film completed by Philip Seymour Hoffman before his untimely death in 2014. That alone is reason enough to see the film, adapted from the post 9/11 novel by John le Carré and directed by Anton Corbijn, a music video veteran who becomes more accomplished with each feature. […]

‘Listen Up Philip’ on Amazon Prime Video

Philip Lewis Friedman (Jason Schwartzman), an abrasive, narcissistic thirtysomething New York novelist who follows up his acclaimed debut with a sophomore effort he doesn’t want to promote. That’s simply the first of the self-destructive impulses he follows down the rabbit hole of arrogance in Listen Up Philip (2014), the third feature from indie filmmaker Alex […]

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Last Chance: ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ on Netflix

Olivier Assayas wrote this drama about a veteran actress facing a transition in her career after Juliette Binoche, arguably France’s greatest and certainly most ambitious actress working today, challenged him to write a film centered on women. It was a friendly challenge—she had already starred in two films he wrote for director André Téchiné and […]

Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig are ‘The Skeleton Twins’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The Skeleton Twins (2014) stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged siblings who are brought together after the failed suicide of one interrupts the attempted suicide of the other. This is a damaged family and Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader) are self-destructive in their depression, almost willfully making choices doomed to ruin whatever equilibrium […]

‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) written and directed by California-based filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, is a vampire movie that stirs American movie references into a stylized Iranian street drama. The Girl (as she is identified in the credits), played by Sheila Vand (Argo), walks the streets (and at one point rides a purloined […]

Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina

Free stream: ‘Ex Machina’ on Kanopy and Hoopla

Ex Machina (2014) plays the man-vs.-machine story as a chamber drama. Domhnall Gleeson is the socially naïve computer programmer Caleb who wins a company contest to spend a weekend in the private retreat of visionary company CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a software genius who can’t wait to show Caleb his new project: a sophisticated artificial intelligence […]

Jake Gyllenhaal is Louis Bloom in Dan Gilroy's 'Nightcrawler'

‘Nightcrawler’ on Showtime Anytime

Nightcrawler (2014) earned an Oscar nomination for director Dan Gilroy’s screenplay, a wicked satire of the tabloid news television that chases sensationalistic stories for ratings (the cliché “if it bleeds, it leads” is the guiding philosophy). It should also have earned a nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal, whose Louis Bloom is a twisted Horatio Alger with […]

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren in 'The Hundred-Foot Journey,' directed by Lasse Hallstrom

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ on Netflix

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) is a film for our culture: a feel-good foodie drama of racial tolerance, cross-cultural acceptance, and fusion cuisine. It’s produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (the classiest of contemporary feel-good filmmakers) and it stars Helen Mirren as the bastion of fine French cuisine and unshakable […]