Last Crusade

Today in Movie History: May 24

It’s blockbuster season, so I’ll start with the biggest. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — widely regarded as the best of the series after the original — benefited from the genius pairing of Harrison Ford’s redoubtable archaeologist with Sean Connery as his fussy, disapproving father. It opened today in 1989. Slightly further down the sequel list, we find Back to …

Remains of the Day

Movies for the Resistance: The Remains of the Day

(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 …

Shining

Today in Movie History: May 23

Given its status as one of the most beloved horror movies of all time, it’s hard to believe that critics were none too fond of The Shining when it was originally released. Indeed, Stephen King himself always expressed dissatisfaction with it — adapted from one of his most personal works — and even responded with a newer made-for-television version that was much more faithful to …

600px-Rambo2_2011

Today in Movie History: May 22

The summer season traditionally kicked off on Memorial Day weekend, with the pre-planned 600-lb. gorilla du jour grabbing the pole position every year. Unfortunately, that meant a lot of high-end sequels of dubious quality landing in late May: notable more  for failing to meet expectations than advancing whatever the franchise in question was. Yet all of them remain interesting… as cinematic …

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Today in Movie History: May 19

Is there a single phrase in cinema more magical than “Star Wars prequels?” Okay, okay, stop screaming. We get it: disappointing. We’re not going to excuse the considerable shortcomings of George Lucas’s less-than-immortal return to that galaxy far, far away — and I think we can all agree that the franchise is in better hands these days. But though they’re definitely …

Kiss Me Deadly

Today in Movie History: May 18

We continue our slight pause in the release of summer blockbusters to bring you this fine slice of film noir. Kiss Me Deadly, the film that introduced the world to Mickey Spillane’s private eye/thug Mike Hammer, also inspired (among other things) the briefcase gag in Pulp Fiction (seriously guys, don’t open it), and marked the film debut of erstwhile Nurse Diesel Cloris Leachman. The film …

in-a-lonely-place-still

Today in Movie History: May 17

One of the great films noir of all time — Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place — opened today in 1950. Featuring a brilliant performance from Humphrey Bogart’s as a potentially murderous screenwriter and noir staple Gloria Grahame as the woman who may have inadvertently helped him get away with it, it holds a punch that most modern thrillers would envy. The other big release …

Purge1

Movies for the Resistance: The Purge Series

(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 …

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Today in Movie History: May 16

We start out the week on the highway…. to the danger zone! Top Gun, Tony’s Scott’s over-the-top ode to Reagan-era military worship and hunky guys with oily pecs exploded onto screens today in 1986. I still can’t quite take the movie seriously, and I’m not prepared to called it “good,” but we’ll never see anything like the extraordinary flight scenes …

The_Man_With_a_Movie_Camera_1_vertov

Today in Movie History: May 12

We’re looking at two extremes today. We’ll start with Man with a Movie Camera, the avant-garde masterpiece that follows workers and citizens through an average day in 1920s Soviet Russia. Director Dziga Vertov crammed in as many experimental techniques as he could in the film, and with no story and no professional actors, it remains as much brilliant abstract art …