Bruce Willis and Reece Thompson in the film by Brett Simon

‘Assassination of a High School President’ on Amazon Prime Video

The name’s Bobby Funke. I write for the paper.” At least that’s how this picked-on sophomore imagines himself in Assassination of a High School President (2008): the loner who walks a straight line through the crooked halls of his corrupt Catholic high school. Funke (who is inevitably called “Funky” by his schoolmates) narrates his tale […]

David Bradley stars in the 1969 drama by Ken Loach

‘Kes’ – a boy and his kestrel on Amazon Prime

The story of a boy and his bird, Kes (1969) is something of a small cinematic treasure in Britain. Set and shot in the North of England and cast overwhelming with non-professional locals from the area, it cast its lens on the dreary life and hopeless future of a scrawny, fatherless teenager, Billy Casper (David […]

What to stream: ‘Judas’ on HBO Max, ‘Tiny Pretty Things’ on Amazon Prime, ‘Crime Scene’ on Netflix

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …   Lakeith Stanfield stars as a career thief who agrees to turn informant in “Judas and the Black Messiah” (2021, R), a drama based on the true story of the FBI’s infiltration the […]

Behind the ‘Hype!’ of the nineties Seattle music scene on Amazon Prime

Hype! (1996), Doug Pray’s look at the Seattle music scene explosion of the eighties and nineties, takes the hype with bemused humor but treats the music with respect. Looking behind the media over-exposure and beyond the grunge sound, Pray reveals the musical legacy that inspired bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney and the test […]

Paul Schrader’s ‘Affliction’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Paul Schrader made his mark on American cinema revealing the scarred psyches of American men trying to reconcile the contradictions of masculine fantasy and social reality, from his screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull to his own movies, beginning with Blue Collar. Affliction (1998), adapted from the novel by Russell Banks, is his most […]

Brian Dennehy and James Woods as cop and killer in 'Best Seller,' written by Larry Cohen and directed by John Flynn

‘Best Seller’ – James Woods kills on Amazon Prime

Best Seller (1987) is a modest but smartly-scripted thriller that holds up remarkably well, thanks to near-perfect casting and a savvy script by Larry Cohen, who was better known at the time as a cagey director of high-concept, low-budget exploitation films. James Woods brings charm to the role of Cleve, a pathologically vindictive hitman who […]

Marion Cotillard and Mathieu Amalric in the French drama by Arnaud Desplechin

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ – Life, art, and love on Amazon Prime

French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin makes films about the messiness of families, lovers, and creative lives that can become quite messy in their telling. Ismael’s Ghosts (France, 2018) jumps abruptly back and forth in time and between biography and fiction and dreams, smudging the line between biography, fiction, and artistic imagination. Desplechin regular Mathieu Amalric is […]

‘The Red Shoes’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger’s The Red Shoes (1948) has been called the greatest ballet film ever made. To girls of a certain age and a predisposition to the romance and beauty of ballet, this film is a touchstone that remains an impassioned favorite long after their invitation to the dance is over. To me, […]

Ham Tran directs this Vietnamese caper film

‘Bitcoin Heist’ – Caper film from Vietnam on Amazon Prime

Bitcoin Heist (Vietnam, 2016) is a conundrum of a title. After all, Bitcoin is a virtual currency and a heist suggests, well, something a little more physical than computer hacking. That’s part of the fun of this colorful and zippy Vietnamese action film: old-fashioned heist thriller meets the high-tech world of cybercrime, a production modeled […]

Robert Redford stars in the ski drama directed by Michael Ritchie

Robert Redford is a ‘Downhill Racer’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Downhill Racer (1969) is the feature debut of Michael Ritchie, the first project that frustrated actor and future movie star Robert Redford developed for himself and the first of Redford’s proposed trilogy about the meaning of “winning” in American culture. That’s what gives such a riveting perspective to what would otherwise be called a “sports […]