Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey and Walter Huston star in Anthony Mann's western

Barbara Stanwyck in ‘The Furies’ on Hulu

The Furies (1950), the second western from genre giant Anthony Mann (after Devil’s Doorway) and his first big-budget, large-canvas production after an apprenticeship in low-budget thrillers, is a genre hybrid: a psychological western by way of a Gothic melodrama, with a dark, shadowy style right out of Mann’s earlier film noirs. Barbara Stanwyck is Vance […]

Robert Mitchum stars in the Peter Yates crime classic adapted from the George V. Higgins novel

‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ on Kanopy

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), adapted from the terrific novel by George V. Higgins and produced in the wake of The French Connection, is probably the least heralded crime movie classic of the seventies. Robert Mitchum is Eddie ‘Fingers’ Coyle, a middleman working the fringes of the Boston underworld while awaiting sentencing, which prompts […]

Jean-Pierre Melville directs the French Resistance classic starring Lino Ventura and Simone Signoret

‘Army of Shadows’ – Jean-Pierre Melville’s French Resistance on The Criterion Channel

Legendary gangster movie director Jean-Pierre Melville turned his familiar crime film iconography on its head with Army of Shadows (France, 1969), his gravely personal drama about the early days of the French Resistance in World War II. Gangster movie icon Lino Ventura plays Resistance leader Philippe Gerbier with an observant stillness and coiled calm different […]

Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska star in the polish horror fantasy by Agnieszka Smoczynska

‘The Lure’ – these Little Mermaids have teeth on The Criterion Channel

The strangest take on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” ever put on the screen, The Lure (Poland, 2015) is a musical-horror-fantasy-romantic tragedy from Poland about mermaid sisters with a taste for human flesh. Like the sirens of Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are feral creatures who […]

Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, in 'Carlos,' from filmmaker Olivier Assayas

‘Carlos’ – The making of a terrorist superstar on The Criterion Channel

Carlos (2010), Olivier Assayas’ epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of a committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal (a name he appropriates from a Fredrick Forsythe […]

Dave Johns stars in the Cannes Film Festival award-winning film from Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ on Netflix

Ken Loach won the Palm d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake (2016), a classic Loach social commentary taking on the struggles of the working classes and underclasses let down by society. This one, about a 59-year-old carpenter and widower in Newcastle recovering from a heart attack while fighting for assistance, […]

‘Moonrise’ – dreamy rural noir on Kanopy

The most authentically romantic filmmaker of classic Hollywood, Frank Borzage made films where the power of love conquered all, not simply narrative obstacles and stubborn complications but time and space itself. He’s the last filmmaker you would expect to produce a film noir masterpiece yet in Moonrise (1948) he delivers beautifully. Dane Clark is Danny […]

Jack Nance stars in David Lynch's directorial debut

‘Eraserhead’ – Everything is fine on The Criterion Channel

“In heaven, everything is fine,” but in Eraserhead (1977) nothing is fine. David Lynch’s debut feature is grim, disturbed, mutated, claustrophobic, a world that appears to be unraveling—or, more accurately, decaying—before our eyes. Jack Nance stars as the doughy, dim factory worker who is suddenly thrust into marriage and parenthood and escapes his grimy, oppressive […]

Joan Crawford stars with Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, and Jack Carson

Joan Crawford is ‘Mildred Pierce’ on The Criterion Channel

Is Mildred Pierce (1945) film noir or melodrama? I say why choose? Film noir is almost entirely associated with crime stories and life in the shadows and at night in the city and sure enough Mildred Pierce, based on the novel by James M. Cain, opens with death and darkness and the twilight of the […]

‘Wings of Desire’ – Angels over Berlin on The Criterion Channel

“There are angels over the streets of Berlin,” insists Wim Wenders in his lyrical fantasy Wings of Desire (Germany, 1987), but these are like no angels you’ve never seen. Bundled in dark overcoats, they watch over the city with ears open to the heartbeat of the human soul, listening to the internal musings and yearnings […]