‘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 […]

‘A Most Violent Year’ – free on Kanopy and Hoopla

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, […]

Amy Adams is Margaret Keane in 'Big Eyes.' directed by Tim Burton

‘Big Eyes’ – The Keanes and the kitsch on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Big Eyes (2014) is Tim Burton’s second foray into strange but true stories of American termite art culture. Where Ed Wood was a valentine to artistic oddballs and eccentrics on the fringes told with an optimism that was certainly not mirrored in Wood’s real life, this is a story about the pain behind the façade of […]

Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain in Liv Ullman's 'Miss Julie'

Jessica Chastain is ‘Miss Julie’ on Amazon Prime Video

You can imagine Miss Julie (2014), Liv Ullman’s screen adaptation of the August Strindberg play, as a call back to the classic 1951 Swedish screen adaptation by Alf Sjöberg, who was a mentor to Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish master who directed Ullman to some of her greatest performances. Ullman directed Bergman’s screenplay in Faithless and […]

Young Dais and Ryohei Suzuki in the hip-hop musical gang war thriller from Japan

‘Tokyo Tribe’ – gonzo gang war musical on Amazon Prime Video

The films of Sion Sono, who is fast closing in on Miike Takashi as Japan’s cinema wildman rebel, are increasingly outrageous, unhinged, extreme, and unpredictable, pushing expectations as well as boundaries, and trying anything and everything in a wildly creative (if unfocused) attempt to refresh familiar genres. Tokyo Tribe (Japan, 2014), adapted from a graphic […]