The Way, Way Back (2013, dir. Nat Faxon & Jim Rash)

A gawky 14-year-old gets a summer job at a water park to escape his dysfunctional family. A charming offbeat comedy-drama very much of two parts: a crumbling new family unit, and the escapism of the park. Highly recommended.

Always (1989, dir. Steven Spielberg)

A dead pilot returns to allow his former partner to move on with her life. A patchy and sentimental piece (remaking 1943’sĀ A Guy Named Joe), happier in its flying, comic and firefighting action sequences than with the emotional scenes; some pleasures to be had, tho.

Dead Man Down (2013, dir. Niels Arden Oplev)

A man seeksĀ revenge on the gangster who killed his family. Glum thriller that spends too much time on taking itself too seriously and with obvious mystery and romance subplots. Good technical credits, tho, and fun cameos (Armand Assante, F Murray Abraham).

Vengeance [AKA Vengeance: A Love Story] (2016, dir. Johnny Martin)

A driven cop seeks redemption by hunting four rapists. Low-key drama which can’t make up its mind about its being a character piece or a vigilante flick. Some great incidental moments (the lighting, the stunt-work), but this is ultimately a compromised and unfocused piece.

GoodFellas (1990, dir. Martin Scorsese)

The rise and fall of mob informant Henry Hill. Peerless, confident, cine-literate story of a generation of Mafia-related life, which stands also as a lesson in popular music, Italian cookery, and the storytelling possibilities of cinema. Magical from first frame to last.

The Rainmaker [AKA John Grisham’s The Rainmaker] (1997, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)

A young lawyer takes down a callous insurance company. Slick, mainstream, and linear legal thriller with no surprises but plenty of feel-good under-dog moments. Damon in Mary Sue mode. A professional, anonymous job from its former genius writer/director.