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January 31, 1991|MARK CHALON SMITH

"Things Change" (1988), directed by David Mamet. 100 minutes. Rated R. An Italian shoemaker (Don Ameche) agrees to take the rap for a mob hit, but gets one last fling with the low-level Mafioso (Joe Mantegna) assigned to protect him. It's a comic tarantella with a soft-shoe style, and lots of little moments that make up for sentimental excesses. "The Thing" (1951), directed by Christian Nyby. 87 minutes. No rating. Among the first in a spate of '50s sci-fi films, this black-and-white movie is said to have inspired many contemporary filmmakers and movies. It's intentionally spare and direct, but there's wit in the script: the alien turns out to be a vegetable, of all things. --M.C.S.

"Vampire's Kiss" (1989), directed by Robert Bierman. 96 minutes. Rated R. A contemporary spin on the vampire fantasy, with Nicolas Cage as a neurotic New Yorker who thinks a one-night stand (Jennifer Beals) has turned him into Dracula. May be too offbeat for devoted horror fans, but this clever, cartoon-ish metaphor has bite.

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