Who'd of thought that a battle over water rights would make for such an interesting tale? This small movie, Robert Redford's second directorial endeavor after Ordinary People, is surprisingly watchable and gripping, despite a terrible title and a setup that would have mainstream audiences running for the exits. In a tiny New Mexico town, a huge resort development is getting underway, and the locals are getting trampled underfoot. But not Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera, the spitting image of Bruno Kirby), who diverts water from the resort project onto his small bean field. Naturally, the titular war develops: Corporate America vs. the little guy -- with the media thrown in for a kick. Surprisingly lively stuff, full of local character, fun performances, and a plot that builds up steam faster than you'd think. It's Jean de Florette, Western style, and the kind of movie John Sayles wishes he could make.
Underseen (and true) spy drama set in the early 1970s, The Falcon and the Snowman tells the perplexing tale of Christopher Boyce (Hutton), a low-level document controller who filtered reams of material to the Soviet Union. His mistake? Using his coked-up drug pusher buddy (Penn) as his bagman. As Penn's character falls apart, so does the plan. And in a way, so does the film. While most of Falcon is great, some of it drags and doesn't make sense. Still, you do get to hear a bit about Boyce's motivation: His conscience, which told him to expose the CIA for some of its more nefarious and off-topic activities. A good companion piece to better-known thrillers of the era like All the President's Men.