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Today in Movie History: September 24

Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg had already scored a geek coup with their marvelous series Spaced, but no one could imagine what they’d follow that up with. Shaun of the Dead, a spot-on satire of the zombie apocalypse, made a fan out of no less a luminary than George A. Romero, as well as turning both men into genre icons almost …

dog-day-afternoon

Today in Movie History: September 21

Based on a real-life botched bank robbery, Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon now stands as a landmark of 70s cinema. Its anti-authoritarian tone shines through in every scene — thanks to Al Pacino’s iconic turn as an amateur criminal whose master plan goes straight out the window — and the overall sense of doom was much in keeping with the …

bof-a

Today in Movie History: September 20

We’re starting today with The Battle of Algiers, a searing semi-documentary — commissioned by the Algerian government — about their fight for independence from the French. It weighs both sides of the conflict in surprisingly even-handed terms, as well as providing stunning insight into the nature and fallout of insurgent violence to enact political change. It opened in the U.S. today …

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Today in Movie History: September 19

After several weeks of quiet days, we’ve got one filled with four of the greatest movies ever made. I agonized over which one to start with, but went with my heart. L.A. Confidential generated tons of critical buzz, but not much box office when it was first released, and while it scored a couple of Oscars (for Brian Helgeland’s script and …

Fatal-Attaction

Today in Movie History: September 18

You wanna get nuts? Today’s got the hook-up. We’ll start with Fatal Attraction, Adrian Lyne’s lightning rod of gender politics that saw Michael Douglas’s loving family man stalked and threatened by the woman he slept around with (Glenn Close). The film scored not only as a sharp (if slightly overheated) thriller, but for its surprisingly sympathetic approach towards a character …

Emma Stone as "Olive Penderghast" in Screen Gems' EASY A.

Today in Movie History: September 17

Another quiet day in September, marked by one notable coming out party for a very big star. Easy A, a fresh and funny update on The Scarlet Letter, saw Emma Stone’s precocious teen first exploiting and then struggling to escape a nasty rumor spreading like wildfire across her school’s social network. It quickly gained the status of a coming-of-age classic, as …

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Today in Movie History: September 14

I’m going to go with the classy ones first today, though my pulpy little heart desperately years in another direction. But David Cronenberg scored a quietly amazing coup with Eastern Promises, a film that combines his creepy atmosphere, fascination with bio-mechanical fusion and a capacity for brutal violence into one of the best films he’s ever made. The power of his …

yojimbo-thinking

Today in Movie History: September 13

After the immortal Seven Samurai, the Akira Kurosawa movie that most influenced western filmmakers is probably Yojimbo: the story of a scruffy, amoral ronin (Toshiro Mifune, natch) who wanders into a town beset by rival gangs, and solves the problem by methodically pitting them against each other. Kurosawa was inspired by the Dashiell Hammett novel Red Harvest, and his work served as the basis …

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Today in Movie History: September 12

Academics tend to cite Rules of the Game as Jean Renoir’s indisputable masterpiece, but I much prefer La Grande Illusion, his tale of French soldiers plotting an escape from a German POW camp during the First World War. The strange fluidity of their bonds gives their relationship real heft, and Renoir’s observations about class and prejudice are sharp, sad and always true …