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Today in Movie History: September 25

Like a surprising number of classics, The Princess Bride didn’t do particularly well when first released in theaters. Audiences weren’t sure what to expect from the combination of gentle satire and straight-faced romance, and largely stayed away… only to discover it on video like so many other films of the era. Today, of course, it’s an indispensable part of the canon: one of …

Miller's Crossing

Today in Movie History: September 22

I go back and forth on Seven, David Fincher’s stunning neo-noir that remains a favorite for dark-minded cinephiles of all stripes. Twenty years on, I can’t quite shake the notion that it’s all just a handsomely paced gimmick, but there’s no denying how tightly it can grip you once you start watching. It also deserves credit for following its scenario to …

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 …

Anchorman

Movies for the Resistance: Anchorman — The Legend of Ron Burgundy

(Welcome to Movies for the Resistance, a weekly column intended to showcase films with particular pertinence for 2017. One of the fundamental purposes of art in general, and movies in particular, is to serve as a spiritual armory: bringing hope, timely lessons and shared experiences when times are dark. They can move us to positive political action, lend insight to the inexplicable, …

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. 50 …

la-confidential

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 …

o-almost-famous-facebook

Today in Movie History: September 15

Cameron Crowe has had his ups and downs as a filmmaker, but Almost Famous remains his most personal and heartfelt. Based loosely on his experiences as a (very young) rock journalist in the 70s, it follows a precocious teenager (Patrick Fugit) who finds himself in the inner circle of a successful band on the road. It’s sweet, funny and very …

eastern-promises

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 …