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 […]

‘Tokyo Drifter’ – A lonely hitman on a wild odyssey on Criterion Channel

Weird, wild, and nearly incomprehensible, Seijun Suzuki’s gangster movie masterpiece Tokyo Drifter (Japan, 1967) recreates the Yakuza genre as a pop-art James Bond cartoon as directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It opens on a gangland beating on the docks of the grimy waterfront, a dynamic widescreen image in stark, overexposed black and white. As a trumpet […]

‘Make Way for Tomorrow’ on Criterion Channel

When Leo McCarey won the Oscar for Best Director for The Awful Truth in 1938, he reportedly accepted it with the comment, “Thank you very much, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture.” The “right picture” that McCarey was referring to is Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), the devastatingly moving story of […]

‘Carnival of Souls’ on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

Carnival of Souls (1962), an imaginative tale of a chilly church organist who is haunted by apparitions (looking very zombie-like in greasepaint make-up) is a minor masterpiece of independent genre filmmaking of the sixties. Candace Hilligoss stars as a young woman who stumbles out of the river after the car she was in goes through […]

Duane Jones in the 1968 American horror classic by George Romero

‘Night of the Living Dead’ restored on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

Fifty years ago, commercial filmmaker George Romero marshaled the resources of his production company Latent Image and the talents of friends and colleagues to produce a low budget feature film in Pittsburgh, PA. The rest is, as they say, history. Night of the Living Dead (1968) is the first genuinely modern horror movie, shot more […]

Albert Brooks is ‘Lost in America’ on Criterion Channel

Albert Brooks has been making his offbeat brand of satirical comedies about the neuroses and anxieties of affluent Americans, lost in the bubble of their own insular cultures, for more than 40 years. His third feature Lost in America (1985) remains his most incisive satire and most popular film. Brooks is David, a successful Los […]

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman in the 1955 film by Douglas Sirk

‘All that Heaven Allows’ – Love as suburban opera on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman were so successful in Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession that they all reteamed for All that Heaven Allows (1955) as Sirk became Universal’s house melodramatist. He turned improbable plots into social commentary and pulling back the covers of middle class hypocrisy with an ironic visual style and an almost operatic emotional […]

Shih Chun in King Hu's 1967 wuxia pian classic from Taiwan

Blu-ray: ‘Dragon Inn’ / ‘Legend of the Mountain’ – King Hu on Criterion and Kino

Dragon Inn (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) Legend of the Mountain (Kino, Blu-ray, DVD) After the success of Come Drink With Me, the pioneering wuxia pian (“martial chivalry”) adventure that mixed martial arts, romance, comic action, and historical settings, Hong Kong director King Hu went to Taiwan for the opportunity to make films with greater freedom. Dragon […]

Marlene Dietrich in the 1932 classic by Josef von Sternberg

Criterion Blu-ray: Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood

Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) At the dawn of the sound era, as German movie star Emil Jannings left Hollywood to return to Germany, the actor invited Austrian-born/American-raised director Josef von Sternberg (who directed Jannings in The Last Command, 1928) to Universum Film A.G. to direct him in that studio’s first […]

Paul Whiteman and his Band star in the 1930 musical revue directed by John Murray Anderson

Criterion Blu-ray: ‘King of Jazz’ restored, ‘An Actor’s Revenge,’ and Dreyer’s ‘Passion of Joan of Arc’

King of Jazz (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) An Actor’s Revenge (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) The Passion of Joan of Arc (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD) I came to King of Jazz (1930) with low expectations, I confess. I knew that the early sound film is a landmark production but I’m no fan of the stage style revue films and […]