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"Things Change" (1988), directed by David Mamet. 100 minutes. Rated R. An Italian shoemaker (Don Ameche) agrees to take the rap for a mob hit, but gets one last fling with the low-level Mafioso (Joe Mantegna) assigned to protect him. It's a comic tarantella with a soft-shoe style, and lots of little moments that make up for sentimental excesses.

"The Thing" (1951), directed by Christian Nyby. 87 minutes. No rating. Among the first in a spate of '50s sci-fi films, this black-and-white movie is said to have inspired many contemporary filmmakers and movies. It's intentionally spare and direct, but there's wit in the script: the alien turns out to be a vegetable, of all things.

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