Glengarry Glen Ross

“Third prize is, you’re fired.”

One of the finest collection of actors ever put together on the same set verbally abuse each other in a hail of weary, nasty dialogue — each line crackling with hatred, regret, and pathos.

They’re salesmen, or the slime buckets put in place to goad said salesmen, and they’re all looking for a big payoff that probably isn’t coming any time soon.

David Mamet’s bristling play springs to life under the direction of James Foley, with each actor given a chance to roar.

If coffee is for closers, everyone in this cast is drinking tonight.

 

The Rock

We’re not breaking out, we’re breaking in.

A slam-bang action thriller that I originally saw on one of the last drive-in theatre screens operating in America, this is probably the one Michael Bay film which truly captivates.

Much of the credit goes to the odd couple pairing of Nicolas Cage as a “gee-whiz” dropping FBI chemist and a snap-your-neck Sean Connery as the only prisoner to ever escape from Alcatraz.

With Ed Harris and his band of all-star mercenaries threatening to rain down Hell from above on San Francisco, you call in the best.

His name was Connery. Sean Connery.

The Abyss

There’s wonder under the water.

Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio lead a superb cast in an innovative sci-fi film which goes to great depths to show us shimmering images captured lovingly by James Cameron.

Whatever you do, watch the extended version, otherwise known as the version which makes sense.

Originally chopped up by studio nitwits, Cameron’s vision of first contact between humans and alien visitors soars when given time to fully explore its bold ideas and operatic emotional moments.

Crafted by a director with a resume full of landmark sci-fi flicks, The Abyss is my favorite of his films.

Gone Baby Gone

Embrace the pain.

There isn’t a whole lot of happiness on display in this riveting crime thriller, which follows the disappearance of a young Boston girl.

Lives are ripped apart, on both sides of the law, in a beautifully bleak tale based on a book by Dennis Lehane, who gave us the equally hardscrabble Mystic River.

Ben Affleck, kickstarting a second career as a director, lets his powerhouse cast rip into the material, full to the brim with betrayal, angst, and hard-luck people chasing redemption.

Hits like a shot to the gut, and stings for a very long time.

The Right Stuff

Movie love comes in stages.

When I was 10, Raiders of the Lost Ark blew me through the back of the theater.

At 12, this soaring ode to the Mercury astronauts let me know that you could follow the careers of actors, and watch them develop over time.

Fred Ward, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Lance Henriksen, Dennis Quaid, Jeff Goldblum, and more sprang off the screen and onto my personal roster of favorites, and it’s a crew I’ve remained loyal to through the years.

I never became an astronaut, but I did become a movie maniac, and it started here.