‘The Cabin in the Woods’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

There’s more knowing horror comedy and meta-horror commentary than actual tension and thrills in The Cabin in the Woods (2012) self-aware, awfully clever love letter to the horror movie fandom from Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. That’s fair, because scares or not, I had more fun watching Cabin than most recent horror films. Producer and […]

‘The Dirty Dozen’ – the original World War II caper on Netflix

The 1960s were full of big budget wartime caper-style films—The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare, Kelley’s Heroes, just to name a few—but none of them have the brawny machismo and wily bad boy gusto of The Dirty Dozen (1967), Robert Aldrich’s testosterone-fueled tough guy classic. Lee Marvin is the hard-as-nails Major who is “volunteered” to […]

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in 'American Ultra.' Photo credit: Lionsgate

‘American Ultra’ – stoners and spies on Amazon Prime and Hulu

American Ultra (2015) reworks The Bourne Identity as a slacker comedy with a killer punchline. Jesse Eisenberg is Mike Howell, a sweet, underachieving stoner prone to panic attacks. He gets by as convenience store clerk in a dead-end West Virginia town with a supportive girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), who is almost impossibly understanding when it […]

‘The Pianist’ – the devastating Oscar-winning drama on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

The Pianist (2002), Roman Polanski’s film of the true story of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman, is uncompromising in its portrayal of survival. We see the Holocaust through his eyes (via actor Adrien Brody) as the occupying Nazi military slowly but inexorably takes away the rights, the property, the humanity, and in most cases the lives […]

Steven Spielberg makes compelling drama from the statesmanship it took to pass the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution

Daniel Day-Lewis is ‘Lincoln’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) is a remarkable historical drama. Scripted by Tony Kushner, guided by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book A Team of Rivals, Lincoln casts a spotlight on one of the most important political actions in American history: passing the 13th Amendment to the American Constitution, which abolished slavery. In compelling detail, this film shows […]

Jesse Eisenberg stars in the Kelly Reichardt film with Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning

Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Night Moves’ on Amazon Prime Video

Night Moves (2013), the fourth film that New York-based director Kelly Reichardt made in Oregon with screenwriter Jon Raymond, was her most commercial project to that, though you won’t mistake this drama of eco-terrorists who blow a dam on a southern Oregon river for a Hollywood thriller. Reichardt and longtime screenwriting partner Jon Raymond focus […]

Tilda Swinton in Bong Joon-ho 's 'Snowpiercer'

‘Snowpiercer’ – careening allegory on Netflix

Snowpiercer (2013), an international production from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho and a French graphic novel, is a high-speed allegory speeding down the science fiction tracks of genre cinema. That’s the way I like this brand of filmmaking: with the symbols big, muscular, detailed, and punchy. You either give yourself over to the metaphor, in this […]

‘Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter’ – swashbuckling horror on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

Forget Van Helsing. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974) is the great swashbuckling dispatcher of the bloodsucking undead. Hard-faced Horst Janson is the brooding Kronos, a rangy, sword-wielding soldier who hunts the vampire scourge with his jovial hunchbacked partner, Grost (John Cater) and takes time out from his athletic battles and meditative interludes for a few […]

Sean Penn is Harvey Milk in the Oscar-winning film directed by Gus Van Sant

Last chance: Sean Penn is ‘Milk’ on Netflix

Milk (2008) – The story of San Francisco activist and politician Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the U.S., was first brought to the screen in the Oscar-winning 1985 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. It took more than twenty years for Hollywood to finally tackle the story, with […]

Marlon Brando in ‘Last Tango in Paris’ on HBO Now

Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972) was one of the most controversial films of the 1970s, rated X upon its original release for nudity and sexuality (since rerated NC-17). The drama of a widower who escapes his anguish and despair after his wife’s suicide in a purely physical relationship with a free-spirited young beauty […]