Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame star, Nicholas Ray directs from the Dorothy B. Hughes novel

Humphrey Bogart ‘In a Lonely Place’ on Amazon Prime

In a Lonely Place (1950) hasn’t much to do with the Dorothy B. Hughes novel on which it was ostensibly based, beyond the title (one of the most evocative in noir history), the Los Angeles setting, and the murder of a young woman that puts our ostensible hero, volatile, hard-drinking Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey […]

Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood'

Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ on Criterion Channel

It’s common knowledge that filmmaker Richard Linklater and his four central actors—Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the parents, Lorelei Linklater (the director’s daughter) as the older sister, and Ellar Coltrane as Mason, a six-year-old boy as the film begins—shot Boyhood (2014) over the course of 12 years to watch not just Mason but everyone […]

‘Being John Malkovich’ on Netflix

Being John Malkovich (1999), a devastatingly funny portrait of unhappiness, desperation, desire, and the vicious things we do for love, catapulted Spike Jonze from music video wunderkind to visionary director and Charlie Kaufman from sitcom scribe to brilliant screenwriter. In 1999, when our obsession with celebrity was mainly fed by gossip magazines and entertainment programs, […]

The glory of Astaire and Rogers in ‘Swing Time’ on HBO Max

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the most elegant of Hollywood’s dance teams in the golden age of American musicals and Swing Time (1936) is the peak of their ten-film output. The plot is as absurd as anything from the era: Astaire is a dancer and gambler who is set to marry his hometown sweetheart […]

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett , and Taraji P. Henson star in the film by David Fincher

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ on HBO Max and HBO Now

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story is expanded into a sweeping survey of 20th century history and culture as seen through the eyes of a man who is born old and grows younger through the century. Brad Pitt completely commits to the part of the old/young man who […]

Wim Wenders’ ‘The Road Trilogy’ on Criterion Channel

Wim Wenders was never exactly a household name but the German filmmaker made a reputation as a thoughtful, sensitive director of stories about wanderers, travelers, and outsiders whose journeys are both an escape and a road back. His American odyssey Paris, Texas (1984) and Wings of Desire (1987), a journey of a celestial being from […]

‘Topsy-Turvy’ – Gilbert and Sullivan reborn on Peacock

Set in the world of London theater in the mid-1880s, Topsy-Turvy (1999) tackles the creative partnership between W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, the reigning kings of light operetta, at a turning in their career. Their work has become repetitive, their latest show a disappointment, and the partnership is under strain as composer Sullivan (Allan […]

‘Sullivan’s Travels’ – Preston Sturges takes on Hollywood on Criterion Channel

Preston Sturges simultaneously lampoons and embraces Hollywood in his comedy masterpiece Sullivan’s Travels (1941). A very low-key Joel McCrea play John Sullivan, a popular Hollywood director  of lowbrow hits like Ants in Your Pants of 1939 who decides to make a serious film about social strife and human suffering called O Brother, Where Art Thou […]

Miguel Sandoval, Spike Lee, and Ossie Davis

Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ on Peacock

Do The Right Thing (1989), Spike Lee’s vibrant, vital, thoroughly accomplished third feature, opens on a call to action – “Fight the Power,” shouts Public Enemy in the credits – and ends with a call to “Wake up!” Rosie Perez pumps out an aggressive shout of a dance in the opening credits, staged in front […]

Dennis Hopper is Tom Ripley in Wim Wender's take on Patricia HIghsmith

‘The American Friend’ on Criterion Channel

The American Friend (Germany, 1977) – “What’s wrong with a cowboy in Hamburg?” Dennis Hopper’s Tom Ripley is nothing like the character that Patricia Highsmith created and explored in five novels, and while Wim Wender’s adaptation of Ripley’s Game, the sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley, remains more or less faithful to the plot (with […]