Mushrooms (1995)

While the food is delectable, the humor is dark and dry. In the same irreverent tone as Harold and Maude, 2 old widows share a big house they inherited from their late husbands. One (an agoraphobe) rents their spare room to a police inspector without realizing the other (a compulsive shoplifter) is confronting an intruder– a fugitive who intends to hide in her bedroom. Needless to say, the living arrangement is dicey. When they end up with a dead body on their hands, the ladies must devise a means of disposal without drawing attention to it or to themselves. At least their charming dispositions have the normally cunning inspector blinded to all their suspicious activity!

Saving Banksy (2017)

Whether or not you appreciate graffiti or even have a creative drive, existential questions arise about the nature of Art– mainly appropriation– and its place in Society.

Current street artists are generations of graffiti painters emerging from a covert subculture of gangs and indiscriminate vandals. To embellish a blank surface, they risk being shot/ stabbed by gangs or arrested by the authorities, one artist being imprisoned for 8 years.

The most famous street artist is the elusive, Banksy, who rose to prominence in San Francisco for images featuring simple yet poignant social commentary. Since few murals aren’t painted over to satisfy city officials who threaten massive fines and put liens on any property that leaves the images intact, they’re being removed to sell at galleries. Now fans were confronted by a new and confusing issue: vandalism and tagging of Banksy’s graffiti.

Trying to donate any of the world’s iconic pieces to a museum is a challenge (e.g. time constraints, artist permission, funds for scaffolding and lead abatement upon removal of historic material, transport, restoration, etc.), which is the primary focus of this film. “I have people who want to buy it for seven hundred thousand dollars but I can’t give it away for free.”

By the way, the DVD’s special feature– a deleted/ behind the scenes featurette– is interesting as a documentary in and of itself.

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…

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.

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.

The Imposter (2012)

How does a foreign man suddenly end up a U.S. citizen, welcomed into the family of a long- missing child? While it’s impossible to fully understand the grief of those keeping vigil by the window, waiting for a phone call that may never come, it is curious that every expert agrees there are many loose ends. Is it merely that hindsight is 20/20 (as the old saying goes) or is there a more sinister explanation? Though the testimony of an identity thief certainly isn’t everything, it seems to corroborate the suspicion of at least one specialist…

Masterfully crafted, the details of this publicly documented incident are recounted chronologically by a rotation of several family members, some government employees, a smattering of friends/ neighbors and one relentless private investigator. During the lengthier portions of each person’s story, voiceover serves as narration for actors’ portrayals of the events being described. By the end of the film you have about as much information as everyone involved to decide for yourself what you think happened.

Candyman (1992)

The poster’s striking similarity to Silence of the Lambs led me to believe this was a spoof. At first glance even the premise seems unimpressive: a skeptical person accidentally summons a monster– the tortured soul of a slave, who fathered the child of a powerful man’s daughter. *eyeroll* The more I read– hook for a […]

Rope (1948)

Everyone is at least familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, especially iconic classics, such as Psycho and The Birds. But for some reason his adaptation of a stage play that’s right up his alley tends to get overlooked. Obviously, there’s dramatic tension in a slashing knife, a flock of pecking birds, or any other bloody spectacle. But […]

One Last Heist/ The Hatton Garden Job (2017)

The fact that there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or mind-blowing would normally be a strike against a movie; but this particular caper seems to be an homage to Guy Ritchie’s signature style, rather than a knockoff. As closely as anyone could base a movie on a major British news story, several old professional thieves team up to procure retirement funds. But don’t be fooled; though they only steal from the filthy rich and never kill anyone, none of them could be compared to Robin Hood. The young’un of the bunch has specific recruiting criteria: “Now the way I see it, this is an old school gig. And needs an old school crew.” However, as one of the first of the reluctant hires points out, “There’s old school and then there’s just… old.” According to the actor who plays him, “People should see this movie because this is what your granddad was up to when you weren’t looking.”

Mildred Pierce (1945)

I liked this movie upon first viewing and have re-watched it since. I should clarify: the original version; while Kate Winslet’s talent is undeniable, remaking a classic film in color serves no purpose. I would, however, be interested in seeing this reinterpreted in a modern context as the themes (e.g. permissive parenting and familial loyalty) are still relevant and need revisiting. History repeats itself, especially when Society fails to pay attention to former generations when they tried to warn us. Some viewers will automatically assume an old movie—particularly one in black and white—is outdated. But its archetypical style is precisely what will induce the connotations necessary to see the film through, such as not being in a hurry to get to the action or the assurance that it won’t rely too heavily upon sequencing gimmicks to explain background information. Ultimately, its enduring legacy can be attributed to superior filmmaking, which includes everything from acting to editing.