‘Written on the Wind’ – the bad and the beautiful on Peacock

Douglas Sirk puts the opera back into “soap opera” in the exquisitely baroque melodrama Written on the Wind (1956). And it kicks it from the opening credits: a rushing car, a brewing storm kicking up leaves and whipping the trees, a gunshot, and a man stumbling out of the mansion before the pages of the […]

Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 acid flashback horror fantasy 'House'

‘House’/’Hausu’ – Japanese madness on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

I can’t begin to find the words to describe House (1977), aka Hausu, an unclassifiable Japanese haunted house/high school romp/demon killer/surreal fantasy film from Nobuhiko Obayashi. Made in 1977 and recently revived and released to the rest of the world, it’s the archival cult find of the decade: a candy-colored style bomb of horror movie […]

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

‘The Lure’ – Little Mermaids with teeth on Criterion Channel and Kanopy

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 […]

‘My Beautiful Laundrette’ on Amazon Prime

Provocative and potent, My Beautiful Laundrette (1986) launched a lot of careers while shaking up British cinema in the eighties. Gordon Warnecke stars as Omar, the son of a Pakistani immigrant in London who takes over the management of a failing launderette in a seedy neighborhood owned by his entrepreneurial uncle (Saeed Jaffrey). Omar is […]

‘Videodrome’ – Long live the new flesh on Criterion Channel

It’s been 40 years since David Cronenberg’s first masterpiece drilled its mutant images into the minds of unsuspecting audiences. Today, the visionary Videodrome (1983) is as contemporary and relevant as ever. James Woods stars as Max Renn, a hustling cable TV entrepreneur in the pioneering days of cable TV who becomes fascinated by a pirate […]

‘Le Cercle Rouge’ on Criterion Channel

Crime cinema has never been so meticulously and coolly executed as in Le cercle rouge (France, 1970). Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1970 heist classic stars Alain Delon and Gian Maria Volonte as coolly professional thieves, Yves Montand as a soused sharpshooter who regains his self-respect when he joins their team, and Andre Bouvril as the unrelenting cop […]

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, […]