I Wake Up Streaming – October 2019

Joseph H. Lewis never again matched the dizzying heights of the delirious masterpiece Gun Crazy, but he did create at least one additional classic in the noir canon. The Big Combo (1955) stars Cornel Wilde (also an uncredited producer) as a driven cop hounding preening mobster Richard Conte, an arrogant kingpin who has made sleek blonde debutante Jean […]

Last Chance: ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ on Amazon Prime Video

Nicolas Cage is perfectly cast in the devious black comedy Vampire’s Kiss (1989) as a New York literary agent whose latest one night stand lands him in bed with vampire Jennifer Beals, who takes a big, bloody bite out of his identity. The emotionally unstable executive develops an aversion to sunlight, a fear of crosses, […]

Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in Susan Seidelman's 'Desperately Seeking Susan'

‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Desperately Seeking Susan (1982) is remembered for giving Madonna her first starring role; she’s the Susan of the title, a free spirit in thrift store chic fashions who connects up with her musician boyfriend through personal ads in the local weekly papers. This modern bohemian take on the classic screwball comedy (complete with amnesia, mistaken […]

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz star in Martin Scorsese's love letter to the movies and his first PG movie

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ on Amazon Prime Video

Hugo (2011), Martin Scorsese’s first family film (it’s PG!) and his first engagement with 3D, is a love letter to the magic of cinema. Based on the novel by Brian Selznick, it is a tribute to early film pioneer George Méliès (played by Ben Kinsgley), a child’s adventure through a grown-up world of loss and […]

‘A Simple Favor’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Anna Kendrick is spot on casting as single mother Stephanie Smothers (mother is right there in her name, though she stops short of smothering), a suburban overachiever with a schoolboy son, a chirpy homemaking vlog, and a need to get involved in everything. Into her life steps Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), a sleek urban professional […]

Rudy Ray Moore is the original ‘Dolemite’ on Amazon Prime Video

Who’s the baddest mother (shut yo mouth!) to blow into the early seventies? Forget Shaft and just ask X-rated comic and “godfather of rap” Rudy Ray Moore. He’ll give you the gospel of Dolemite (1975). Street hustler, pimp, and all around ghetto superhero Dolemite began life as a character in Moore’s nightclub act and was […]

Takeshi Kitano in 'Battle Royale,' directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

‘Battle Royale’ – The original ‘Hunger Games’ on Amazon Prime Video

Battle Royale (Japan, 2000), the gleefully gruesome splatter satire of teenage nihilism, adult paranoia, and social sadism, was released in Japan in 2000 to big success and instant cult status. It was a 21st century version of a fifties youth gang drama, rooted in the adult panic at the sudden rise of youth violence in […]

I Wake Up Streaming – August 2019

Small Screen Noir and Neo-Noir The history of television is full of great crime shows, from Dragnet to Hill Street Blues to Homicide: Life on the Street to The Wire and beyond, but small screen noir is a rare treasure indeed. Let’s face it, TV rarely embraced the visual style or hard-bitten, world-weary, often cynical attitude that defined noir as much as subject […]