My take on great films and on demand series currently available.

VIDEO on DEMAND

Netflix:

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Versace: Well produced story of the assassination of fashion icon Gianni Versace. His killer, Andrew Cunanan, is a high IQ gay man who turns his angst from failed high expectations into a serial killing spree. The shots of Versace’s Miami Beach mansion are reason enough to watch this addicting program.

Russian Doll: Very odd NYC story with wickedly ironic characters and dialogue. A demi-monde circus with constant resurrections of the main character. Way beyond Sex in the City if you are interested in urban sex and perversion stories.  

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Babylon Berlin: Not a lot of buzz on this series but it’s over the top production values and Weimer Republic setting make this one of the best under the radar programs on Netflix. Pay close attention to the nightclub scenes. Nobody has done decadence better than Weimer Berlin.

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Velvet Buzzsaw: Art hustlers at work in this take on the insane gallery system. Non-stop sexual transactions and out right cash payoffs have become the new normal in the hyper sophisticated world of high stakes art collecting. On Netflix.

The Kominsky Method: Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin bring a special kind of talent to this old happens comedy. Some of the best comedy writing on planet earth. On Netflix.

The Hidden: An under the radar masterpiece. Like just about everything from the UK, it’s a police procedural, but this one is pure noir with stunningly original directing, photography, and music. It’s a pleasure to watch filmmaking this good in a far corner of the on demand world. Shot in Wales with dialogue in Welsh and English. On Acorn Network available on Amazon Prime.

Penozav (Black Widow): A seemingly normal family in the Netherlands in thrown into chaos when the father is killed leaving his wife to clean up his drug trafficking debts. Rather than coming clean, this bereaved widow tries to outsmart both the police and the drug underworld low lifes that are closing in from all sides. Available on Amazon Prime.





















FILMS:

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Best Film of 2018: Roma. It’s not even close. This is one of those transcendent films that comes along every decade or so. In the same strata as L’Atlante, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, 2001 A Space Odyssey, 8 1/2, Wings of Desire, and Blue Velvet.

I hear complaints that it’s too slow, in black and white, and that the characters are too other. Maybe but sometimes nuance is lost when entertainment is the only reason you have for watching a film. The best films sometimes require a commitment beyond the lust for constant amusement. Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece shows us the intertwined lives of upper and working class Mexicans. It’s pure poetry and visual magic. Also on Netflix.

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Cold War, the Academy Award nominee for best foreign film, from Poland, is a serious meditation of life under an authoritarian regime.

Cold War is shot in black and white in a very odd square frame format. Like the framing, the characters seem trapped a world with well defined borders that one crosses at his or her peril.

They Shall Not Grow Old is another astonishing 2018 achievement. Peter Jackson took archival WWI film and completely transformed the footage into 3-D color with a sound track that humanizes the once grainy images into living breathing men and women. At one point the black and white stock shots morph into spectacular color. The audience gasps in disbelief. This is digital technology at it’s highest use.

The Death of Stalin: My nominee for best comedy of the last few years. Steve Buscemi amusingly plays Nikita Khruschev but the show is stolen by Simon Russell Beale, who plays Beria, Stalin’s psychopathic head of the secret police. Laugh out loud black comedy, a rare thing these days.





Academy Awards 2017

My suspicious nature makes me skeptical of the Best Picture award mistake.  I personally thought Manchester by the Sea or Silence would have been a better choice for best film. I also liked Nocturnal Animals but I've always been a sucker for Noir films. The director of La La Land, Damien Chazelle, is very talented. His Whiplash was stunningly original and a better film than La La Land. Moonlight was a very impressive film by a group of people from my home town that came out of nowhere. 

I Am Not Your Negro should have gotten the best Doc award. It isn't pleasant to watch but an important film about the civil rights movement.