The Little Stranger (2018)

A fast- fading mansion with seemingly temperamental qualities is as much a character as the moody people that pass through its rooms. Both lend a consistently brooding tone without resorting to typical genre tropes (e.g. explanatory soliloquies or intrusive graphic flashbacks). The few instances of blood are preceded by obvious horror to the characters, who see it before the audience; the lack of shock value in such a familiar element serves to heighten the film’s uneasy tone. Periodic disclosure of important details keeps the story engaging, despite being enigmatic, and by the end manages to deliver a satisfying revelation.

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.

Swing Kids (1993)

Pit any character against a Nazi and the audience will automatically know who to root for. It’s much harder to show how a reasonable person can become a cold-hearted monster. The zeal with which teenagers approach any popular interest makes them ideal recruits; it only takes a charismatic mentor to offer all the things the War has taken away, which no amount of Big Jazz, Swing dancing, and jive slang could provide. Friendships are strained as loyalties are tested. Could anyone/thing escape the grasp of the Reich?

Incidentally, (and thankfully) no one attempts a fake accent. They all speak American or British English and you don’t even notice.

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.

The Aviator (1985)

Life’s a challenge when you have a risky job, such as long-distance mail delivery but somebody has to do it. And someone else has to love you for– or despite of– it. But any situation can teach and heal you, if you let it. In this case, an emergency quickly shifts from adventure to survival […]

Cool Runnings (1993)

I remember seeing this sweet and funny Jamaican bobsled team’s journey to the Olympics when it first came out. Everyone in the theater clapped at the end! When I rewatched it with a member of a much younger generation, it still held the same charm that evoked a swell of emotion capable of warming an […]

The Sandlot (1993)

You don’t have to be old enough to recall the 1960s or even necessarily like baseball; if you can remember being a kid, this is nostalgic story will be as enjoyable as it was for an entire generation when it first came out. I like to think that somewhere, a seasoned little leaguer still takes […]

Masquerade (2012)

Why are 15 days worth of records missing from annals of the Joseon Dynasty? Though we’ll never know for sure, it’s fair to surmise that since the king was kind but cautious (some would say paranoid), it’s not impossible that arrangements were made in anticipation of a potential emergency. Like the switcheroo in American movie, […]

Wag the Dog (1997)

Who’s leading whom– isn’t the dog supposed to wag the tail? Of greatest importance is at whatever a politician is trying to distract you from looking. Incidentally, one time several major Hollywood stars (2 of whom– Oscars winners, no less– received no money up front) shot a feature length film in under a month with […]