David Mamet’s ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ is a masterwork not to be missed

Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey in 'Glengarry Glen Ross'
Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’

[rating=4]Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Johnathan Price
Director(s): David Mamet
Writer(s): David Mamet, Based upon his Play

Even as Quentin Tarantino continues to ride a tide of popularity for his witty, self-consciously hip banter, there is still one undisputed, heavy weight champion of brilliant screen dialogue.

David Mamet.

Read moreDavid Mamet’s ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ is a masterwork not to be missed

Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ is an unsung masterpiece

Fernando Tieve gets creepy in 'The Devil's Backbone'
Fernando Tieve gets creepy in ‘The Devil’s Backbone’

[rating=4]Starring: Fernando Tieve, Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes, Federico Luppi
Director(s): Guillermo Del Toro
Writer(s): Guillermo Del Toro, Antonio Trashorras and David Munoz

When the opportunity presented itself for me to return to journalism, I pounced on it. Years after my self-imposed retirement, I began writing DVD reviews for this site because I knew it offered the perfect opportunity to do something I really love to do: champion movies — great movies — movies that slipped under the radar of even the most film-savvy cinephiles. Case in point, The Devil’s Backbone.

Read moreGuillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ is an unsung masterpiece

1974’s ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ is a smart, keen thriller

Walter Matthau plots to save the day in 1974's 'The Taking of Pelham One Two Three'
Walter Matthau plots to save the day in 1974’s ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’

[rating=4]Starring: Walter Matthau, Jerry Stiller, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo
Director(s): Joseph Sargent
Writer(s): Screenplay by Peter Stone, Based upon the novel by John Godey

The number 6 train out of Pelham Park pulls to an unscheduled stop between stations, nesting in a cavernous tunnel below 23rd Street in Manhattan. A dignified man with a mustache and glasses wearing a wool coat and fedora sits in the conductor’s booth. He is not the conductor. As the Manhattan transit system spirals into chaos, the figure calmly retrieves the two-way radio beside him, calling command central.

Read more1974’s ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ is a smart, keen thriller

‘Torch Song Trilogy’ is bawdy, quick-witted and proudly sentimental

Harvey Fierstein in 'Torch Song Trilogy'
Harvey Fierstein in ‘Torch Song Trilogy’

[rating=4]Starring: Harvey Fierstein, Matthew Broderick, Anne Bancroft and Brian Kerwin
Director(s): Paul Bogart
Writer(s): Harvey Fierstein, based upon his play

“You know, there are easier things in this life than being a drag queen,” female impersonator Arnold Beckoff says in the opening monologue of Torch Song Trilogy. “But I ain’t got no choice. See,” he murmurs sadly, “try as I may… I just can’t walk in flats.”

Bawdy, quick-witted and proudly sentimental, Torch Song Trilogy was the odds on favorite to be the first gay-themed motion picture to cross into mainstream (read: straight) success. Before the film was released in 1988, it tested through the roof at LA and Midwestern previews. In a business where studio execs pray for a 50% approval from such screenings, and 75% augers a hit, Torch Song was testing in the mid-90’s, with audiences saying they’d definitely recommend the film to friends.

Read more‘Torch Song Trilogy’ is bawdy, quick-witted and proudly sentimental

Jean-Jacques Annaud’s ‘Quest for Fire’ gets wonderful treatment on DVD

Rae Dawn Chong in 'Quest for Fire'
Rae Dawn Chong in ‘Quest for Fire’

Starring: Everett McGill, Ron Pearlman, Nameer El-Kadi, and Rae Dawn Chong
Director(s): Jean-Jacques Annaud
Writer(s): Screenplay by Gerard Brach, Based upon the novel by: J.H. Rosny, Sr.

What do Hellboy, a cavity search by London police, and two wooly mammoths running through suburbia have in common? They are all in some way directly connected to one of the most original motion pictures ever made — Quest for Fire (alternate title: “La Guerre du Feu”). Though practically forgotten today, Quest broke box office records at New York’s Ziegfeld and LA’s Cinerama Dome theaters when it premiered in February, ‘82, beating out the previous record-holder, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Read moreJean-Jacques Annaud’s ‘Quest for Fire’ gets wonderful treatment on DVD