Iron Man – Photo credit: Marvel Entertainment

‘Iron Man’ – the MCU begins on Disney+

Iron Man (2008) is a superhero in both the mythic mode and the modern world, the hero felled by his own arrogance and revived with an Achilles heel. Behind the mask of the heavy-metal superhero is a playboy gazillionaire and armaments mogul with a bad heart and a high-tech pacemaker that powers not just his […]

‘The Incredibles’ – super-powered family dynamics on Disney+

Brad Bird works with the computer animation pros at Pixar for the first (but not the last) time in The Incredibles (2004), which drops cartoonishly exaggerated super-heroics into the typical (by all outside appearances) suburban nuclear family, creating a super-powered dynamo of dysfunction and frustration in hiding (they’re in witness protection from years of personal […]

Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Quentin Tarantino's western

‘Django Unchained’ on Netflix

In Django Unchained (2012), Quentin Tarantino takes on one of his favorite genres: the spaghetti western, with all its extreme violence, operatic drama, eccentric characters, and brutal portrait of frontier existence. But Tarantino being Tarantino, he doesn’t just make a big, violent, sprawling western filled gunfights and clever talk and driven by revenge and Old […]

Pam Grier, Robert Forster and Samuel L. Jackson star in Quentin Tarantino's adaptation of Elmore Leonard

Pam Grier is ‘Jackie Brown’ on Netflix

Jackie Brown (1997) – “Amateurs borrow, professionals steal,” goes the maxim, and Quentin Tarantino steals like a pro. Where directors of the previous generation peppered their films with classic cinematic quotes, Tarantino plunders the films of his formative years for ideas—mostly B-movies and exploitation films about cars and capers and criminals—and riffs on them with […]

Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Bruce Dern in Quentin Taratino's 'The Hateful Eight'

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ on Netflix and Showtime

The Hateful Eight, the eighth feature by Quentin Tarantino, is something strange and audacious even for a filmmaker whose films are rarely short of either. It’s a vivid widescreen western epic that runs nearly three hours yet plays like a chamber piece, largely contained within the intimate quarters of a stagecoach stopover during a blizzard […]

Miguel Sandoval, Spike Lee, and Ossie Davis

Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ on HBO Now

Do The Right Thing (1989), Spike Lee’s vibrant, vital, thoroughly accomplished third feature, opens on a call to action – “Fight the Power,” shouts Public Enemy in the credits – and ends with a call to “Wake up!” Rosie Perez pumps out an aggressive shout of a dance in the opening credits, staged in front […]

Teyonah Parris stars in Spike Lee's 'Chi-Raq.'

Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’ on Amazon Prime

Spike Lee weaves a familiar call through Chi-Raq (2015), his polarizing portrait of violence on Chicago’s South Side. Wake up. It’s been a cry and a plea since his first studio feature, School Daze (1998), and it’s particularly resonant in a film about black-on-black gang violence in Chicago, where more Americans have been murdered in […]