P.J. Soles and The Ramones

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

“Do your parents know you’re Ramones?” If Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) isn’t the greatest rock and rebellion film of all time it is certainly on the short list, a pure, cheerfully juvenile blast of blitzkrieg guitar rock, Looney Tunes sight gags, teenage hormones, and rebellion against authority because it’s there. They aren’t exactly […]

Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel star in Christophe Gans's lavish French version of the fairy tale.

A lavish French ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on Amazon Prime Video

Beauty and the Beast (France, 2014) – No, not the new Disney live-action musical but a lush French version of the classic fairy tale starring Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) as Belle and Vincent Cassel as the hirsute Beast. Belle is the youngest and sunniest child of a prosperous merchant (André Dussollier) . […]

Blu-ray Animation: Deluxe ‘Totoro’ and the complete ‘Batman’

My Neighbor Totoro: 30th Anniversary Edition (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Warner Bros., Blu-ray) Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s living treasures, a beloved filmmaker whose animated films number among the most beautiful and most enchanting productions ever drawn by hand. In this day of CGI productions, the aging artists still personally draws […]

‘Southern Comfort’ – Swamp survival on Amazon Prime Video

Walter Hill’s savage survival drama Southern Comfort (1981) sends a platoon of weekend warrior National Guardsman into the Louisiana swamps for a training exercise: not just strangers in a strange land but urban good ‘ol boys with no understanding of the world they’ve blundered into. To the Cajun swamp folk, the trappers and hunters living […]

Isabelle Adjani and Klaus Kinski in the 1979 remake by Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’ on Amazon Prime Video

Nosferatu the Vampyre (Germany, 1979), Werner Herzog’s eerie color remake of F.W. Murnau’s original vampire classic (itself an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula), is at once faithful to Murnau’s film and quintessentially Herzogian. Klaus Kinski, Herzog’s demon alter ego, is both hideous and haunting as the chalk-skinned gargoyle, a melancholy monster seeking an end […]

Sissy Spacek stars in Brian De Palma's adaptation of the Stephen King novel.

The original ‘Carrie’ on Amazon Prime Video

Carrie (1976) launched a number of careers. It was the first screen adaptation of Stephen King’s work and the first hit movie from director Brian De Palma, and it featured young actors John Travolta, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, and P.J. Soles their first substantial roles. Sissy Spacek made a powerful impression as Carrie, bringing a […]

Essie Kent and Noah Wiseman in Jennifer Kent's horror film.

‘The Babadook’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The Babadook, one of the best and most original horror films in years, raises goosebumps with old-fashioned scares, relatable characters, and a provocative psychological foundation. Amelia (Essie Kent) is a single mother who is still in mourning for her dead husband—she barely seems to be able to rouse herself to face the world—and is unable […]

Blu-ray: ‘Curse of the Cat People’ from Shout! Factory

Curse of the Cat People (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray) The success of the original 1942 Cat People, a shadowy psychological horror film simmering with sexual repression, prompted RKO to request a sequel from producer Val Lewton. His solution was surprising and inventive: Curse of the Cat People (1944), a psychological drama with a child’s perspective and […]

Alfred Hitchcock directs Janet Leigh on the set of the 1960 film 'Psycho' from the documentary by Alexandre O. Philippe

’78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene’ – exploring ‘Psycho’ on Hulu

The title of 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (2017), a documentary on the legendary sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1961 classic Psycho, refers to the 78 camera set-ups and 52 cuts in the three-minute scene, an astounding attention to detail to a brief sequence that shocked American audiences with transgressions suggested but not actually shown on screen. […]

Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine star in the directorial debut of Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott’s ‘The Duellists’ on Amazon Prime Video

“The duelist demands satisfaction. Honor for him is an appetite.” The Duellists (1977), the feature debut of Ridley Scott, begins in 1800, “the year Napoleon became ruler of France,” with an early morning duel in a dewy green meadow where French military officer Gabriel Feraud (Harvey Keitel) runs his opponent through and then busies himself […]