‘Point Blank’ – pulse-pounding French thriller on Amazon Prime

The French crime thriller Point Blank (France, 2010), not to be confused with John Boorman’s 1967 post-noir masterpiece, opens in full sprint and pretty much stays in that adrenaline-pumping state. There is one peaceful interlude, a flashback to the calm before the storm with nursing student Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) and his pregnant wife (Elena Anaya), […]

‘Night is Short, Walk on Girl’ on HBO Max

A teenage girl’s long, eventful night on the town becomes a fantastical adventure in Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Japan, 2017), an animated feature from Japanese filmmaker Masaaki Yuasa. A high school sophomore, known only as “The Girl with Black Hair” (or Otome), joins a pair of harmless con artists for a night on […]

Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Paul Sorvino, and Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese's gangster classic.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘GoodFellas’ on Netflix

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” GoodFellas (1990), Martin Scorsese’s violent, dynamic, exhilarating adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Wiseguy, about real-life wiseguy-turned-witness against the mob Henry Hill, exploded across screens in 1990 and was embraced as the first great American gangster movie since Coppola’s The Godfather […]

‘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 […]

Michael Stuhlbarg stars in the 2009 film by Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen Bros.’ ‘A Serious Man’ – a modern Job on Peacock

A Serious Man (2009) is a serious (and seriously funny) meditation on little themes like the meaning of life and why are we here and how can we know God’s purpose, and is as funny, heartbreaking, questioning, trying, exasperating and sincerely inquisitive a portrait of the human condition as you’ll find on screen. You could […]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the high school neo-noir by Rian Johnson

‘Brick’- High school noir on Amazon Prime

Brick (2005), the debut feature from Star Trek: The Last Jedi filmmaker Rian Johnson, puts the collected works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in a blender with a jigger of teenage melodrama and pours it into a high school mold. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays things so close to his chest that he’s almost unreadable as […]

Matthew McConaughey won an Academy Award for playing Ron Woodroof in the film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Oscar-winning ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ on Peacock

Matthew McConaughey is so good in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) that he shows up the limitations of this drama based on true events. McConaughey lost a lot weight to play Ron Woodroof, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider in the late 1980s whose reckless lifestyle leaves him with AIDS, a diagnosis this redneck homophobe denies […]

Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Ben Schwartz, Jason Ritter, Cobie Smulders, and Natasha Lyonne in "The Intervention."

‘The Intervention’ – A smaller ‘Chill’ on Amazon Prime

The Intervention (2016) of this indie spin on The Big Chill is a marriage intervention instigated by Annie (Melanie Lynskey). She is convinced that Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza), an eternally bickering couple, are in a toxic marriage and she’s invited the old gang to back up her plea that they stop dancing […]

Channing Tatum is 'Magic Mike' in an unexpectedly compelling story inspired by the actor's real life experiences. Steven Soderbergh directs.

‘Magic Mike’ on HBO Max

Magic Mike (2012) was an underdog success story of 2012. While megabudget spectacles and potential tentpole films collapsed under the weight of heavy productions over flimsy scripts, Steven Soderbergh took a story inspired by actor Channing Tatum’s early experiences as a male stripper and a budget that wouldn’t pay for the reshoots on Battleship and […]

David Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ on Netflix

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), the American screen adaptation of the Swedish bestseller directed by David Fincher and scripted by Steve Zaillian, is a darker, richer, more compelling adaptation than the original Swedish version. Yes, after all those years of complaining about uninspired remakes of European films, we actually get to see a […]