Today in Movie History: April 14

We’re noting the opposite ends of the romantic spectrum today, starting with Say Anything... , Cameron Crowe’s near-perfect ode to high school love and the need to be yourself. John Cusack and Ione Skye make a couple for the ages and — stalker snickering notwithstanding — the sight of Cusack holding that boombox over his head is an iconic part of movie history. It opened today in 1989.

And then there’s Hard Candy, David Slade’s brutal thriller about a seemingly innocent babe in the woods (Ellen Page, never better) seduced by a frighteningly charming pederast (Patrick Wilson), only to turn the tables in a big, bad, literally castrating way. It opened today in 2006, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a look.

For another film utterly lacking in romantic vibes, check out American Psycho, Mary Harron’s adaptation of the controversial Brett Easton Ellis novel. By removing Ellis’s crude shock tactics and rampant misogyny, Harron rescues a great deal of the satire, which was the supposed point of the whole exercise. While it becomes a trifle one-note (the 80s were shallow? I’m shocked!), the film holds an ace in the hole with Christian Bale’s unbelievable central performance. The film opened today in 2000.

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 wise — the epitome of the director at his best — as well as featuring great supporting performances from the likes of Frances McDormand, Billy Crudup and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. It opened today in 2000.

When American Beauty first came out, it was hailed as a masterpiece of suburban angst and the hollow pursuits of consumer society. Time hasn’t been kind to it — it’s not the classic we thought at the time — but it still contains powerful moments and Kevin Spacey’s performance as a father who gleefully embarks upon his own undoing is still breathtaking to behold. It opened today in 1999.