“Hope and Glory” (1987), directed by John Boorman. 113 minutes. Rated PG-13. War from the perspective of an awe-struck youth, a 7-year-old London boy roaming like a terrier, sniffing out fresh shrapnel to add to his collection, escaping his basement shelter to see the bombs exploding--the best fireworks ever. Yet Boorman never turns war into something flip or trivial.
“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.
“Vampire’s Kiss” (1989), directed by Robert Bierman. 96 minutes. Rated R. A contemporary spin on the vampire fantasy, with Nicolas Cage as a neurotic New Yorker who thinks a one-night stand (Jennifer Beals) has turned him into Dracula. May be too offbeat for devoted horror fans, but this clever, cartoon-ish metaphor has bite.