‘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 […]

Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's 'The African Queen'

‘The African Queen’ – Bogie and Hepburn on Amazon Prime Video and Criterion Channel

The African Queen (1951) – Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the hard-drinking captain of a sputtering steam-powered boat that gives the film its title. Katharine Hepburn is Rose Sayer, a spirited missionary spinster serving the Lord in German East Africa with her brother (Robert Morley). It’s September 1914, the early days of World War I, […]

Rutger Hauer in ‘Legend of the Holy Drinker’ on Amazon Prime Video

“I have no home. I sleep under bridges. A different bridge every night. But I am a man of honor.” Rutger Hauer delivers his most delicate and nuanced performance as Andreas Kartak, a homeless alcoholic in Paris in Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988), Ermanno Olmi’s adaptation of Joseph Roth’s novella. Andreas, who frequents taverns […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Amazon Prime Video and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

‘Perceval’ on Amazon Prime Video

Eric Rohmer’s unique retelling of the tale of Perceval (France, 1978) is a great and glorious anomaly in the career of the nouvelle vague filmmaker. Adapted by Rohmer from the 12th century book by Cretien de Troyes, it’s a strange, sophisticated mix of ancient theater, medieval painting, music and prose in a beautifully stylized film […]

Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino star in the film noir by Nicholas Ray

I Wake Up Streaming – July 2019

[originally written for the Film Noir Foundation] The Criterion Channel The Columbia Noir Collection that headlined the launch of The Criterion Channel is now gone, along with a few other choice noir classics spotlighted a few months back, but a new selection has arrived in the past couple of months. Did you miss On Dangerous Ground (1951) […]