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.

Money Train (1995)

If you like action, buckle up. Two NYC cops, who also happen to be former foster brothers, are thick as thieves despite incessant bickering about the one’s gambling addiction. All bets are off when they both fall for their beautiful new coworker, a fellow undercover sting agent who knows exactly which brother she wants. Sparks fly as a tangle with the transit authority ups the ante in a turf war for control of the subway. The arrogant director doesn’t care who lives or dies so long as he makes his money– an irresistible temptation to a chronic gambler…

The Mermaid (2016)

Revenge is a dish best served salty and wet. Impressive effects enhance a hyper-stylized modern fish tale. With the same wry disposition as Kung Fu Hustle, a young mermaid finds herself in a love triangle as she unexpectedly develops feelings for the businessman she’s been tasked with seducing then assassinating. Consequently, a battle ensues between her aquatic family and her new boyfriend’s business partners, in whose lucrative waters they’re dying.

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.

Short Term 12 (2013)

There are few angles of American foster care left to explore so this movie explores them all simultaneously. Each situation is unique and the entire system itself is complex; even a counselor might be trying to leave her own dark past behind.

There are new arrivals and seasoned veterans, new staff members and old pros, procedures to be followed and rules to be broken but ultimately, the reason it exists is because Human beings aren’t always valued. Yet whatever its flaws, there will never be a truly perfect system so long as it needs to exist in the first place.

What makes this movie impressive is its skillful handling of such a delicate subject; the bittersweet story is in more than capable hands, which lend their skills to retain the humanity of the types of people each character represents, especially those we rarely– if ever– see depicted outside of a stereotype. It’s a relief to think we’ve moved past the naive rich White saviors of the 1990s into sympathy for the plight of the mistreated, rather than pity for the tragically pathetic.

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.

Some Like it Hot (1959)

When the speakeasy that employs many musicians gets busted, many performers find themselves job hunting. Moreover, when they witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,  two friends in particular find themselves on the run from the mob. As revenge for their playboy antics, their connection at the employment agency pairs them with an all-female band. At least it’s headed out of state! With no choice but to make the most of the opportunity, the duo must pass themselves off as women. But can they keep their cool while surrounded by pretty girls?

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

You never realize just how formulaic the movies you typically watch truly are until you see something completely unique, such as this one. Considering how eager studios are to remake everything, I’m surprised this wasn’t of interest to anyone. It’s probably just as well; they would likely turn it into a slapstick comedy. I’m sure […]

Now, Voyager (1942)

It seems as though the more time that passes, the dustier the cover gets. Just when I thought I’d seen everything worth watching at the video store (yes, some still exist) I came across this hidden gem. It was categorized as an old favorite, which surprised me because I’d never heard of it. Research revealed […]