Big Night 1996 Directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott. Terrific film. 1950s. Brothers Primo and Secondo (Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci – a match made in Heaven) own and operate the Calabrian Jersey Shore restaurant Paradise. Primo is a brilliant, obsessive chef (cooking looks fabulous) who can’t abide changing traditional recipes; Secondo a manager/ host with ambitious plans. The restaurant is failing, while Pascal’s, (Ian Holm as namesake) an Americanized Italian restaurant with mediocre food succeeds.
Primo is thinking about going back to Italy. Secondo can’t commit to girlfriend Phyllis (Minnie Driver). Pascal refuses to give the brothers a loan, but volunteers to convince Italian-American singer Louis Prima (a pal) to dine at Paradise when in town for an upcoming appearance. Secondo contacts the news media, orders flowers, and invites selected guests. Primo plans an extraordinary feast. They blow their savings…Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Imposters 1998 Produced, written and directed by Stanley Tucci. For anyone who enjoys slapstick, screwball comedy. A simple plot with keep-it-coming mishaps, false identities and kinetic slaptick. Best friends and con-artist partners Oliver (Stanley Tucci) and Maurice (Oliver Platt) stowaway aboard a ship to elude drunken Shakespearean actor Sir Jeremy Burtom (Alfred Molina)…who turns out to be a passenger. Also onboard are odd-duck characters played by Steve Buscemi, Billy Connolly, and Tony Shaloub, who, among other things, is a mad bomber. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Terminal 2004 Partially inspired by the true story of the 18-year stay of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri in Terminal 1 of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, from 1988 to 2006. Directed by Steven Spielberg. A poignant human comedy perhaps more relevant today than ever before. Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives at Kennedy Airport only to discover his passport from the fictional country of Krakozhia is no longer valid.
Having idealistically made the journey to finish his late father’s collection of autographs of the jazz musicians featured in a famous photograph, he finds himself stateless. Officials confiscate Viktor’s passport as well as his airline ticket. Bucking for promotion, temporary Customs Director Frank Dixon (Stanley Tuccci) makes it his business to get rid of Viktor whose stay becomes a cat and mouse game. Employees are befriended, an airline attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is shyly courted until… Rent on Amazon Prime.
Julie and Julia 2009 Written and directed by Nora Ephron can be found in Food, Food, Glorious Food! –Video Stories Not How-To
The Lovely Bones 2009 Based on Alice Seabold’s best-selling novel. Directed by Peter Jackson. A supernatural thriller. “My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. I was here for a moment and then I was gone.” Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) tells the story of her murder by sociopathic neighbor George Harvey (shudder-worthy Stanley Tucci). Coaxed into an underground “kid’s hideout” he’s built, she feel uncomfortable and bolts…after which no one can see or hear her. Susie realizes she’s dead.
The Salmons are suspicious of Harvey. Her father Jack (Mark Wahlberg) works with Detective Fenerman (Michael Imperioli) while sister Lindsay (Rose McIver) takes matters into her own hands, narrowly escaping capture. We see then and “now,” the neighborhood and wherever Susie is. Jackson interpreted the book’s description of “heaven” as being an “In-Between.” Tense, but oddly comforting in the end. Tucci’s wife didn’t want him to make the film because of its harrowing subject matter. Rent on Amazon Prime.
The Children Act 2017 Based on Ian McEwan’s novel. Directed by Richard Eyre. An adult drama with two strong performances. 17-year-old Adam Henry suffers from leukemia. His doctors want to perform a blood transfusion so he’ll be strong enough for drugs. As Jehovah’s Witnesses the Henrys believe the procedure is against biblical principles. Judge Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) is asked to preside over the court case. She visits Adam in the hospital (well written, well played scene) and decides treatment can continue despite absence of consent.
The Maye marriage is failing. Fiona is an A-type with little time for husband Jack (Stanley Tucci) who loves her, but can’t bear the distance. Meanwhile Adam seems to benefit from the transfusion which changes the way he thinks. He’s grown very attached to Fiona. She tries to compassionately distance herself. When he lands back in the hospital…An odd, uneasy film. Rent on Amazon Prime.
Tucci also has a small, but highly effective role in the bizarre series Fortitude. Free with Amazon Prime.
Alas neither Winchell nor Joe Gould’s Secret are available.
Top photo: Bigstock