Sylvain Chomet's animated film of a Jacques Tati script

‘The Illusionist’ on Criterion Channel

With The Illusionist (France, 2010), animator Sylvain Chomet (of the delirious The Triplets of Belleville) transforms an unproduced script by they great French auteur Jacques Tati (Mon Oncle) into a tender tale of a French magician and a Scottish girl in the theater-folk society of London as the old world of stage performance gives way […]

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ – a dreamy Maurice Sendak adaptation on HBO Max

Maurice Sendak’s masterpiece of a picture book comes to the screen in Where the Wild Things Are (2009), a film as unique and heartfelt as the book itself. Director Spike Jonze (whose vision received the blessing of Sendak) and co-scripter Dave Eggars expand and reimagine the story of the defiant Max, a young boy in […]

Angelina Jolie is ‘Maleficent’ on Disney+

Maleficent (2014) does sort of a “Wicked” number on the story of Sleeping Beauty’s evil sorceress, casting her as the tragic figure of a dark fantasy (but not too dark for children—barely) of a revisionist fairy tale. Angelina Jolie plays the adult Maleficent, a fairy who watches over and defends the natural and supernatural wilds […]

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ from Hiyao Miyazaki and son on HBO Max

If your idea of Japanese animation is space opera, cyberbpunk action, and Hiyao Miyazaki’s modern fairy tales, then From Up on Poppy Hill (Japan, 2011), might surprise you. Produced and co-scripted by Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki, this is a gentle, somewhat slight story of student life and young love in early […]

‘Mirai’ – Oscar-nominated family fantasy on Netflix

A surprise Oscar nominee in the animated feature category, Mirai (Japan, 2018) is the sweet, imaginative tale of a four-year-old boy who becomes jealous of his newborn sister Mirai when she becomes the center of attention in the household while his parents grapple with new strains that the growing family puts on the household. Mother […]

Scott Glen, Fred Ward, John Glenn, and Dennis Quaid as the astronauts in 'The Right Stuff,' directed by Philip Kaufman.

‘The Right Stuff’ on HBO Max

The Right Stuff (1983), Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s acclaimed portrait of the original NASA astronauts, is *the* American epic of the last great frontier and a genuinely romantic take on the first generation of space cowboys. In fact, we know that Kaufman’s heart lays with test pilot cowboy Chuck Yeager, played by Sam […]

‘Okko’s Inn’ – an orphaned girl finds purpose on Netflix

An orphaned girl finds purpose when she goes to live with her grandmother, the aging innkeeper of a small spa in a country vacation town known for the healing waters of its natural springs, in the lively animated feature Okko’s Inn (Japan, 2018). Okko, an urban girl who loses her parents in a devastating car […]

Steven Spielberg directs the big screen adventure adapted from the Herge graphic novels

‘The Adventures of Tintin’ on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Steven Spielberg’s first foray into motion capture filmmaking, turns the legendary boy journalist and globe-trotting adventurer from the early graphic novels of Herge into a big screen hero, complete with trademark cowlick and best friend canine Snowy watching his back. Spielberg and his collaborators (notably co-producer Peter Jackson) chose to […]

Asa Butterfield and Chloë Grace Moretz star in Martin Scorsese's love letter to the movies and his first PG movie

Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ on Netflix

Hugo (2011), Martin Scorsese’s first family film (it’s PG!) and his first engagement with 3D, is a love letter to the magic of cinema. Based on the novel by Brian Selznick, it is a tribute to early film pioneer George Méliès (played by Ben Kinsgley), a child’s adventure through a grown-up world of loss and […]