Austin Stoker, Laurie Zimmer, and Darwin Joston in the John Carpenter film

John Carpenter’s ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ on HBO Max

The first real solo flight by young filmmaker John Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) is the film where he announced his influences, found his strengths, and began to develop his style. It’s is a siege picture, a cross between a Howard Hawks western and a horror film that meets in a desolate Los Angeles […]

Behind the ‘Hype!’ of the nineties Seattle music scene on Amazon Prime

Hype! (1996), Doug Pray’s look at the Seattle music scene explosion of the eighties and nineties, takes the hype with bemused humor but treats the music with respect. Looking behind the media over-exposure and beyond the grunge sound, Pray reveals the musical legacy that inspired bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney and the test […]

‘Night is Short, Walk on Girl’ on HBO Max

A teenage girl’s long, eventful night on the town becomes a fantastical adventure in Night is Short, Walk on Girl (Japan, 2017), an animated feature from Japanese filmmaker Masaaki Yuasa. A high school sophomore, known only as “The Girl with Black Hair” (or Otome), joins a pair of harmless con artists for a night on […]

‘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 […]

‘Ginger Snaps’ on Amazon Prime Video

Ginger Snaps (2001) is one of the best horror films of the new millennium that hasn’t really gotten its due. Gloomy teenage goth girls Brigitte (Emily Perkins), “the frumpy one,” and Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), “the pretty one,” are more than sisters. Only a year apart, and both “late” in developing, they have bonded as best […]

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

The original ‘Carrie’ on Netflix and 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 […]

‘A Silent Voice’ – a moving story of bullying and redemption on Netflix

The animated feature A Silent Voice (Japan, 2016), adapted from a popular manga serial by Yoshitoki Oima and directed by Naoka Yamada, takes on the issue of school bullying through the story of Shoya, a fun-loving rascal who feeds off the attention he gets when he starts making fun of Shoko, a deaf girl who […]

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 […]