The Others (2001)

When suspense turns creepy– especially when it’s downright chilling– you know you’re watching a horror movie, even if there’s no gore. As if a haunted house isn’t spooky enough, mysterious visitors appear; some helpful, others ghoulish. Like any proper ghost story, nothing is as it seems.

The Mule (2018)

The prickly maverick we’re used to seeing in so many iconic Westerns is anything but stoic in his role as a cantankerous old man, whose family receives none of the tenderness reserved for his prized flowers. In fact, the horticultural circle where he’s found his niche brings out a charming side few others get to see. As it turns out, he’s also good at minding his own business and staying under the radar. His newfound value to a Mexican drug cartel provides a whole new source of pride, especially since it provides the means to buy his family’s admiration.

This film is a sincere sentiment about the true meaning of love in an unflinching glimpse into the world of drug running; disparate worlds are two sides of the same coin as they struggle to understand loyalty and affection.

(I feel it’s worth mentioning the bedroom scene at the mansion party, though not necessarily gratuitous, can be skipped to avoid the disparate element of nudity as it does nothing to advance the plot.)

Mortal Engines (2018)

How to describe such a unique fantastical premise…

Entire societies are mobile; each hierarchical city functions within its own feat of engineering (think interlocking collapsable compartments). These giant robotic apparatuses roam the globe vying for power, forcibly assimilating anyone who gets in their way. The plucky young heroes could’ve been in The Maze Runner!

Until now, such an imaginative book series couldn’t have been adapted for the screen. Fortunately, The Peter Jackson specializes in bringing fictional worlds to life via intricately detailed sets and props enhanced by state-of-the-art computer animation.

Never Let Go (1960)

What’s a struggling salesman to do when his new car– the key to improving slumping sales– gets stolen? All the charisma in the world won’t help John Cummings retrieve it from the chop-shop if the police are more focused on catching the crooked garage owner than finding an individual vehicle. Cummings wants to provide for his family but as his obsession with retreiving his stolen property grows, taking matters into his own hands jeopardizes more than his own safety.

The Rundown (2003)

Sometimes you just want to be entertained but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for meathead jocks lumbering across the screen. Given the cast, there’s obviously a mixture of action and comedy but developed characters and a creative premise elevate a potentially flat collaboration to an engaging adventure, in which a bounty hunter tracks a mobster’s son through the jungle. When the wily kid on a treasure hunt and the nonviolent gun-for-hire who wants out of the business get mixed up with the leader of a revolt against an exploitive quarry operator, survival becomes the new agenda.

The Foreigner (2017)

The depth of the story drew me in and made me want to follow the main character further. Too bad this wasn’t a TV pilot! To cast a movie that could so easily have been yet another formulaic action flick was no small feat; actors we’ve seem before were wisely utilized for their specialty while being given enough room to break out of their characatures. Moreover, their experience and professionalism allowed the seamless fusion of cultures to tell a story that’s a genuinely fresh perspective on the balance between Justice and Revenge.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

If you don’t own a copy, you’ve either forgotten about this movie or have never seen it. This is arguably each lead’s most famous role of their career. And for good reason: when an disparate team of jewel theives vie for their loot, Deception is the rule of law in what amounts to The Bermuda Triangle of relationships. Love and lust notwithstanding, greed and revenge bring out a range of emotions– and even slapstick– in those subjected to the whims of manipulative Wanda, a woman so dynamic, a beloved pet is named after her.

Bad Times at The Royale (2018)

Murder and mayhem are in store for deep characters based on historic figures devoid of characature, set in rich tones inspired by a real locale, steeped in the iconic style of Vintage era without a hint of kitsch, in which music is fully integrated into intricately layered secrets anchored by immaculate cinematography.

A Crooked Somebody (2017)

It’s refreshing that some filmmakers can tell a compelling story without overacting, artsy- fartsy camera work and more tropes than can reasonably fit into the script.

Instead of monsters, lasers, robots, or shootouts, this is a cautionary tale of a popular fake psychic, who– against the better judgment of his apprentice shill– takes on a real-life case. With the hope of bolstering his credability, and ultimately his fame and fortune, he announces to the media that he can locate of the buried body of a long-missing beloved person.