David Mamet's 1987 directorial debut House of Games is mesmerising study of control and seduction between two kinds of detached observers: a gambler who is also a con artist and a psychotherapist who is also an emerging pop-psych guru in the book market. The latter (played by Lindsay Crouse) meets the former (Joe Mantegna) when one of her clients is driven to despair from his debts to the card shark. Mantegna's character agrees to drop the IOUs in exchange for Crouse's attention at the seedy House of Games in Seattle, a mecca for conmen to talk shop and hustle unsuspecting customers. The shrink gets so caught up in the arcane rules and world view of her guide over subsequent days that she observes--with no false rapture--various stings in progress inside and outside the club. Mamet's story finally becomes a fascinating study of two people protecting and extending their respective cosmologies the way rival predators fight for the same piece of turf. The psychological challenge is compelling; so is the stylised dialogue, with its pattern of pauses and hiccups and humming meter. Mostly shooting at night, Mamet also gave Seattle a different look from previous filmmakers, turning its familiar puddles into concentrations of liquid neon and poisonous noir. --Tom Keogh
Cult director John Waters goes mainstream (well sort of) in this send-up of 1950s teen melodramas. Heart-throb Johnny Depp stars in the title role as a glamorous delinquent who heads a gang of hoods known as the Drapes. Wade 'Cry-Baby' Walker (Depp) is the coolest toughest hood in his Baltimore high school. His ability to shed one single tear drives all the girls wild especially Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane). A beautiful rich square Allison finds herself drawn into the world of Cry-Baby and his drape pals. Their star-crossed romance sets off a rumble between the warring factions and Cry-Baby ends up doing time in reform school... Will Allison still be there for him when he gets out? Cry Baby is chock-full of rock 'n roll and Waters' usual cavalcade of eccentric celebrities; including Patty Hearst Iggy Pop and - former porn star - Traci Lords.
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