Like Water for Chocolate

The kitchen’s all steamy.

One of the sultriest films of the ’90s, this Mexican masterpiece combines sex and food, swirling the flavors together to create a savory dish to remember.

At the center of this tale of brooding romance is the absolutely wonderful Lumi Cavazos, who roared on to my radar thanks to this film and Bottle Rocket.

Like Bridget Fonda and Phoebe Cates, she seems to have retired early, with no IMDB credits after 2005.

Cavazos is greatly missed, but hopefully happy in this stage of her life, and will always be appreciated for the films she left behind.

 

Ava

Come for the action, stay for the angst.

This tale of an assassin coming to terms with her life choices does offer its fair share of herky-jerky scenes of Jessica Chastain opening a case of whup-ass.

But it’s actually the quieter moments, such as those where our world-weary hit woman has emotionally-charged conversations with mom Geena Davis and boss John Malkovich that have the biggest impact.

Davis, an action hero from a different era (go watch Cutthroat Island now!) gets to deliver one tightly-wound confessional which will put most of this year’s Oscar contenders to shame.

She shoots, and scores.

The Mummy (1999)

There are two types of people in the world.

Those who enjoy Brendan Fraser being goofy and gallant, and killjoys.

Don’t be a killjoy.

If watching Fraser shoot 1,001 bullets at a sandstorm while wailing “Oh … my … GOOOOOOODDDDD!!” doesn’t entertain you, it’s quite possible you may have already died and they just forgot to bury you.

There are multiple versions of this story out there, from Boris Karloff bringing the creepy to Tom Cruise running, and running some more, but this swing was the one which knocked things out of the park.

It’s not super-deep, maybe, but it is super-fun.

 

Tricky Dick and The Man in Black

He walked the line.

Johnny Cash is famous as one of the biggest rebels in music history, but he was two men in one.

Republicans loved him, Democrats loved him, people from the sticks adored him, as did big-city slickers.

It was because he was that rarity — an authentic man.

One who loved country and church, but also one not afraid to speak out in support of anyone getting the shaft, whether they were convicts, Native Americans, or young people trying to find their voice.

Few films capture that duality quite as powerfully as this doc does in 59 lightning-quick minutes.

Poolhall Junkies

Are you predator or prey?

Writer/director Mars Callahan plunges us into the world of dank ‘n dark poolhalls, where careers (and lives) can be snuffed out with one well-timed shot.

The lanky filmmaker, who also plays the lead character, seemed primed for a big Hollywood breakout here, but serious medical issues have largely sidelined him the past two decades.

If he never makes it back, he’ll always have this gem, sort of the younger brother to Paul Newman’s The Hustler.

His best move? Letting Christopher Walken saunter into the joint and unleash a verbal tsunami of smack talk.