Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw star in the great NYC subway heist

‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ – The great subway heist on Amazon Prime Video

The original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) hasn’t the credentials of Dog Day Afternoon or The French Connection but this ingenious crime caper / hostage drama is one of the great New York crime films of the 1970s. Walter Matthau is the everyman head of the transit police who takes charge of […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1964) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]

‘Uzumaki’ – Spiraling into madness on Amazon Prime

Equal parts David Cronenberg biological mutation and supernatural curse, outré horror film Uzumaki (Japan, 2000) about a town gripped in an obsession with spirals—shells, snails, pottery, even the workings of a washing machine–is the most gonzo horror to twist onto celluloid in years. Bubbly Japanese schoolgirl Kirie (Eriko Hatsune) is our tour guide through a […]

Bong Joon-ho stars in the gangster thriller from South Korea

‘The Man from Nowhere’ – South Korean vengeance on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The Man from Nowhere (South Korea, 2010) – South Korea’s top box office hit of 2010 is as slick and swift an underworld thriller as you’ll find. Matinee idol Won Bin (of Bong Joon-ho’s Mother) is a shaggy pawn shop proprietor in a miserable slum hiding from his past life as a highly-trained government agent […]

Amy Adams in 'Arrival,' directed by Denis Villeneuve

‘Arrival’ – First contact on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Arrival (2016) is the most cerebral of first contact films, a science fiction drama about communicating across cultures and across species and even across time without a common language, while failing to communicate within our own world. It is a film that looks out beyond our galaxy and inward to our own souls, to challenge […]

Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in Mabrouk El Mechri self-aware thriller

‘JCVD’ – Jean-Claude at 47 on Amazon Prime

In the opening scene of JCVD (Belgium, 2008), Jean-Claude Van Damme takes out one heavily-armed, vaguely military bad guy after another with his bare hands (and whatever blunt instruments and discarded weapons he grabs along the way) in an elaborately choreographed long take. He comes out the other end huffing and winded as the set […]

Tom Hanks in 'A Hologram for the King,' directed by Tom Tykwer

‘A Hologram for the King’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

You could call A Hologram for the King (2016) a mid-life crisis drama, which is true enough, but it is really a crisis of purpose and identity for an old-school middle-aged businessman trying to remain relevant in the modern world. Tom Hanks is former golden boy executive Alan Clay, whose reputation went down in flames […]

‘Steamboy’ – steampunk animation on Amazon Prime

Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated landmark Akira is one of the essential titles of cyberpunk cinema. With Steamboy (Japan, 2004), he steps to the industrial revolution of 1866 England to take on steampunk, a historical genre of science fiction with an alternate reality of scientific advancement. Idealistic boy inventor Ray Steam is happy to tinker over […]

Timo Vuorensola directs this German farce about space Nazis.

‘Iron Sky’ – Steampunk Nazis on Amazon Prime

Iron Sky (Germany, 2012) is an inspired concept—Hitler escaped Germany with a cadre of Nazi loyalists and established a colony on the dark side of the moon—executed with total conviction, at least in the physical details. This isolated outpost lives in a steampunk world forged from the legacy of Krupp machineworks, all giant gears and […]

Daniel Craig, Channing Tatum, and Adam Driver in Steven Soderbergh's red state heist comedy

‘Logan Lucky’ – Steven Soderbergh’s red state heist comedy on Hulu and free on Kanopy

Four years after Steven Soderbergh’s “retirement” from feature filmmaking (he found a loophole by making Behind the Candelabra for HBO and creating and directing the cable series The Knick), he returned to the big screen with Logan Lucky (2017), a bouncy, deft, sweetly and cleverly comic heist picture about a pair of hard-luck brothers in […]