James Caviezel is Jesus in Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'

‘The Passion of the Christ’ on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

The Passion of the Christ (2004), Mel Gibson’s passionate, personal, and visceral take on the final 12 hours of Christ’s life on Earth is, in its own way, as controversial as Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. Taking the Gospels as his source, Gibson creates his own cinematic version of […]

Rock Hudson has ‘Seconds’ on Paramount+ and Kanopy

John Frankenheimer’s nightmarish thriller Seconds (1966) opens on John Randolph as a businessman who has lost all interest in his life and tries an experimental program which promises a new, exciting existence. When he wakes up from the first step, he discovers he’s turned into… Rock Hudson! Hudson was not Frankenheimer’s first choice—he was, in […]

Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine , and James Franco star in Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers'

‘Spring Breakers’ free on Kanopy and Hoopla

Spring Breakers (2012) is not your traditional fun in the sun spring break movie. But then you wouldn’t expect that from Harmony Korine, the self-appointed agent provocateur of American indie cinema confrontation, even with a cast that includes Disney Channel sweethearts Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. They play two of the four college girls (Ashley […]

‘Dawson City: Frozen Time’ – Film/history on Criterion Channel and free on Kanopy

Bill Morrison’s films straddle film history and avant-garde expressionism, mining the wealth of silent film history and exploring the abstract beauty of decaying nitrate film, a particularly volatile medium that breaks down over time. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) celebrates the “Dawson Film Find” of 1978, thousands of reels of film buried in the permafrost, […]

Jalmari Helander directs this satirical holiday adventure thriller from Norway

‘Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale’ on Prime Video, Hulu, Shudder and more

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Finland, 2010) comes from the land of the original Father Christmas but he’s no cuddly old man who hands out presents at Christmas. This Santa Claus, who has been buried in a man-made glacier like a wooly mammoth, is a child-snatching demon who punishes the naughty with the help of […]

‘The Silent Partner’ – crooked Santa on Criterion Channel and free on Kanopy

The twist of the ingenious crime drama The Silent Partner (1978) comes early in the film. Miles (Elliott Gould), a teller in a mall bank during the busy Christmas season, figures out that the suspicious Santa (Christopher Plummer) is casing the branch for a robbery. So he plots his own heist, stealing money that will […]

Richard Burton is ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ on Amazon Prime

Richard Burton is Alec Leamas, a once-sturdy MI-6 agent who has become a disillusioned burn-out after seeing too many fellow agents die, in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Martin Ritt’s superb film of John le Carré’s novel. The author was a British agent in his own right and his books were […]

Ethan Hawke in the film by Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ on Showtime Anytime and Kanopy

Anyone who has followed the career of Paul Schrader could fall into the trap of simply cataloguing the ways in which First Reformed (2018) is a summation of his themes and inspirations. Imagine the promotional possibilities: “From the author of “Transcendental Cinema” and “Notes on Film Noir” and the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and The Last […]

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

Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Night Moves’ on Amazon Prime and free on Kanopy

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 time, 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 […]

‘Carnival of Souls’ on HBO Max and Criterion Channel

Carnival of Souls (1962), an imaginative tale of a chilly church organist who is haunted by apparitions (looking very zombie-like in greasepaint make-up) is a minor masterpiece of independent genre filmmaking of the sixties. Candace Hilligoss stars as a young woman who stumbles out of the river after the car she was in goes through […]