Heath Ledger is The Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman sequel starring Christian Bale

‘The Dark Knight’ vs. The Joker on Netflix

Superhero films became increasingly sophisticated and decidedly darker as they become (for better or worse) a full-fledged genre in the 2000s. With Batman Begins, writer/director Christopher Nolan (drawing inspiration from the revisionist Batman comic books by Frank Miller and Jeph Loeb) rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen, bringing the often lighthearted hero back […]

‘I Am Legend’ – Will Smith is the last man on earth on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

I Am Legend (2007), the third official adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel (and the first to carry the novel’s name) about the last human in Earth after a plague turns the survivors into undead creatures, strips the story down to essentials. This version, directed by Francis Lawrence, focuses on the visceral experience of roaming an […]

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren in 'The Hundred-Foot Journey,' directed by Lasse Hallstrom

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ on Netflix

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) is a film for our culture: a feel-good foodie drama of racial tolerance, cross-cultural acceptance, and fusion cuisine. It’s produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (the classiest of contemporary feel-good filmmakers) and it stars Helen Mirren as the bastion of fine French cuisine and unshakable […]

Felicity Jones leads the mission Gareth Edwards' Star Wars stand-alone

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) is exactly as the title promises. Set in the margins of the original Star Wars, it stars starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, an orphaned survivor living on the fringes of Empire-controlled territory. Part scavenger opportunist and part scheming survivor, she’s been raised in hiding by a revolutionary […]

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in the film by Orson Welles

‘Touch of Evil’ – Orson Welles on the border on Netflix

Orson Welles’ baroque border town murder mystery Touch of Evil (1958/1998) is a wild masterpiece, a sleazy, grimy, jittery, and ultimately dazzling work of cinematic magic. It’s considered the last great film noir and the bookend to the true noir era. It was also Welles’s last attempt at a career in Hollywood before he packed […]

Amy Adams is Margaret Keane in 'Big Eyes.' directed by Tim Burton

‘Big Eyes’ – The Keanes and the kitsch on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Big Eyes (2014) is Tim Burton’s second foray into strange but true stories of American termite art culture. Where Ed Wood was a valentine to artistic oddballs and eccentrics on the fringes told with an optimism that was certainly not mirrored in Wood’s real life, this is a story about the pain behind the façade of […]

Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in the film from Gore Verbinksi

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ on Netflix

Buried under kerchief, blousy shirt, and the make-up of a heavy metal fashion victim, Johnny Depp bobs and weaves his way through the hit pirate trilogy as Jack Sparrow, a black pirate come high seas con man with a heart of tarnished stolen gold. He seems to have stumbled in from his own private movie […]

Frances O’Conner is Fanny Price in Patricia Rozema's adaptation of the Jane Austen novel

Patricia Rozema’s ‘Mansfield Park’ on Hulu

Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of Mansfield Park (1999) combines Jane Austen’s novel with elements of her letters and journals to turn heroine Fanny Price (played by Frances O’Conner) into a woman of self-possession and confidence. The strong-willed, creative girl in an impoverished family is sent to live with snooty rich relatives, where she is more than […]