Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans picks sides in "Captain America: Civil War."

‘Captain America: Civil War’ on Disney+

Captain America: Civil War (2016) is an Avengers movie in everything but name. It’s got Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as team captains picking sides in the hero-vs.-hero fight over government oversight of the self-appointed world policemen. Thor and Hulk are MIA but everyone else, from Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) […]

Anya Taylor-Joy in Robert Eggers' 'The Witch.'

‘The Witch’ – Puritan horrors free on Kanopy

The Witch (2015) is a primal horror film rooted in fear and superstition, and there is no shortage of either in early 17th century New England, where a devout Puritan father has taken his family to start a new life. Adding to the general hardship of British village folk carving a new colony out of […]

James Franco and Seth Rogen ride the ‘Pineapple Express’ on Netflix

The Judd Apatow factory refreshed the coming-of-age comedy (for all ages of adolescent men) in comedies like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall before stretching itself thin (that’s my best explanation for Drillbit Taylor and Step Brothers). One of the smartest things he did was to seek out directors not normally associated with his […]

Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Zachary Quinto star in 'Margin Call'

‘Margin Call’ – the banality of greed on Amazon Prime and Hulu

The Big Short earned raves for explaining the economics of the financial crash of 2008 but the first dramatic feature to explore the subject, Margin Call (2011). The fictionalized drama, which echoes the real-life activities of Leman Brothers, digs into the how and why of the market crash, not just in terms of economics but in […]

Robert Hays and Julie Haggerty lead the cast in the disaster movie farce from David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams

‘Airplane!’ turns 40 on Netflix

Airplane! (1980, PG), the directorial debut of the writing/directing team of David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams (who apprenticed on the screenplay of Kentucky Fried Movie), has my vote for the funniest film ever made. Ostensibly a goof on the barely remembered 1957 aviation thriller Zero Hour! (note the exclamation mark) by way of […]

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom,' starring Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, and more

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ – Wes Anderson’s endless summer on Peacock

Wes Anderson has made a career exploring the childhood neuroses that keep adult characters in an arrested state of adolescence and stasis. It’s been a lively career with creatively energetic high points like Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums but an approach with diminishing returns. Until Fantastic Mr. Fox, a film that refracted his portraits of dysfunctional families […]

Christian Bale and Russell Crowe star in James Mangold's fine remake of the classic western

‘3:10 to Yuma’ – a superb western remake on Peacock

3:10 to Yuma (2007) – Delmer Dave’s original 1957 3:10 to Yuma, based on the short story by Elmore Leonard, is a superior western: understated, smart, visually modest and dramatically surprising. James Mangold’s remake is a fine film its own right. It is respectful of the story and the situation and then it goes its […]

Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, and John Hurt star in the film adapted from the Alan Moore graphic novel

‘V For Vendetta’ – Fighting tyranny on HBO Max

V For Vendetta (2005) – “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. The government should be afraid of the people.” His name is nowhere to be seen in the credits but this futuristic thriller about an authoritarian government out of 1984 and a lone revolutionary who takes them on comes from Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic […]

‘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 […]