Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson star in the Oscar-winning gangster film

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ on Netflix

The Departed (2006), Martin Scorsese’s return to American urban crime cinema, became the biggest hit of his career and earned him his very first Academy Award for Best Director. Leonardo DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, a street thug working for South Boston crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, a rising […]

James Franco and Seth Rogen ride the ‘Pineapple Express’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

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 […]

Last Chance: ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ on Amazon Prime Video

Nicolas Cage is perfectly cast in the devious black comedy Vampire’s Kiss (1989) as a New York literary agent whose latest one night stand lands him in bed with vampire Jennifer Beals, who takes a big, bloody bite out of his identity. The emotionally unstable executive develops an aversion to sunlight, a fear of crosses, […]

Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina

Free stream: ‘Ex Machina’ on Kanopy and Hoopla

Ex Machina (2014) plays the man-vs.-machine story as a chamber drama. Domhnall Gleeson is the socially naïve computer programmer Caleb who wins a company contest to spend a weekend in the private retreat of visionary company CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), a software genius who can’t wait to show Caleb his new project: a sophisticated artificial intelligence […]

Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig are "20th Century Women."

Annette Bening calls on ’20th Century Women’ on Netflix and Hoopla

20th Century Women (2016) stars Annette Bening as Dorothea, a single mother of a teenage boy (Lucas Jade Zumann) determined to give him good life lessons with a little help from her friends. Elle Fanning is her son’s best friend, who escapes her troubled family and is warmly welcomed Dorothea, and Greta Gerwig and Billy […]

Jafar Panahi’s ‘3 Faces’ free on Kanopy

In 2010, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was arrested and charged for “Propaganda against the Iranian government.” His sentence: he was forbidden to leave Iran or make any films for 20 years. 3 Faces (Iran, 2018) is the fourth feature he has made since the sentence was passed. And once again Panahi plays himself on screen, […]

Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner appear in Wind River by Taylor Sheridan, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. © 2016 Sundance Institute.

‘Wind River’ – Frontier justice on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Wind River (2017) isn’t actually the directorial debut of Taylor Sheridan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Siccario and Hell And High Water, but it may as well be. It most certainly is his film (unlike his forgotten 2011 horror film, Vile) and, like his earlier screenplays, a drama of frontier justice in the modern world (when […]

Takeshi Kitano in 'Battle Royale,' directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

‘Battle Royale’ – The original ‘Hunger Games’ on Amazon Prime Video

Battle Royale (Japan, 2000), the gleefully gruesome splatter satire of teenage nihilism, adult paranoia, and social sadism, was released in Japan in 2000 to big success and instant cult status. It was a 21st century version of a fifties youth gang drama, rooted in the adult panic at the sudden rise of youth violence in […]

Maribel Verdú in Pablo Berger's 'Blancanieves' from Spain

‘Blancanieves’ on The Criterion Channel

Blancanieves (2009), an inventive retelling of Snow White as a silent-movie melodrama in the 1920s world of bullfighting royalty and flamenco style in Spain, stirs in grand melodrama, circus fantasy, and toreador hero worship with a mix of silent film conventions and contemporary storytelling. We’re talking the same sort of modern silent film as The […]