memento

Today in Movie History: March 16

Before Christopher Nolan reinvented Batman and joined the ranks of cinema’s elite filmmakers, he stunned us all with Memento, a unique and confident effort that set the stage for things to come. Guy Pearce gave one of the best performances of his career, and the film’s deceptively assured “reverse narrative” has never quite been matched. Memento opened today in 2001. The Absent Minded …

4 Weddings

Today in Movie History: March 9

We’ll start with the bomb: one of the most undeserved financial disasters in recent years. Created by an indifferent marketing campaign that didn’t know what the hell to do with it and undone by a budget that needed the right kind of promotion to recoup, John Carter initially sank like a stone at the box office but has since undergone a …

the-birdcage

Today in Movie History: March 8

It was easy to overlook The Birdcage when it was released. Based on the French film La Cage aux Folles, it did well at the box office, but felt at the time like more Robin Williams slapstick: soaking up Hollywood’s newfound tolerance for homosexuals and repeating trite observations about tolerance and understanding. In retrospect, however, it looks like a comedic masterpiece. The jokes hold water …

10613highlander-title-large

Today in Movie History: March 7

Forget the horrible sequels and worse television spin-offs. The original Highlander earned its spurs as a batshit crazy, wildly original genre exercise that created a significant cult following, and remains one of the more unique products of 1980s cinema. It opened today in 1986. In an attempt to update classic film noir tropes for the 1970s, Robert Altman created one …

big-lebowski-joint

Today in Movie History: March 6

There are good movies, there are great movies, and then there are movies that have become indispensable parts of the pop culture language. We didn’t think The Big Lebowski would join them, at least initially. It felt like a goofy one-off from the Coen Brothers: blowing off steam after the triumph of Fargo. Turns out, their shaggy-dog take on Raymond Chandler mysteries …

alice-in-wonderland

Today in Movie History: March 5

It’s a quiet day post Oscars, with a couple of interesting (but not necessarily great) films to note. The first is Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton’s wildly profitable “sequel” to the original Lewis Carroll story. It is, to put it mildly, a mixed bag. Stand-out performances and Burton’s wild imagination (to say nothing of a fantastic theme from Danny Elfman) clash badly …

Kong

Today in Movie History: March 2

You want big movies? They don’t get any bigger than the original King Kong which set a giant stop-motion monkey loose in the jungles of our imagination and hasn’t left since. A pair of “meh” remakes — one helmed by Peter Jackson, no less — aptly demonstrates that some things just can’t be duplicated. It opened at Radio City Music …