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Today in Movie History: November 8

It’s a big day in more ways than one, so let’s get to it. For 45 years, Shakespeare’s Henry V belonged firmly to Laurence Olivier, whose 1944 version was considered definitive. Intended to rally the British nation during World War II, it offered a fairy-tale atmosphere of inevitable victory and proved so potent that no one dared make another version of …

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Today in Movie History: October 30

We’re pounding down the home stretch to Halloween, but the big opener today isn’t a horror movie. It’s The Lion in Winter, Anthony Harvey’s adaptation of the James Goldman play about Henry II’s (Peter O’Toole) vacillating choice for an heir. Katherine Hepburn won the third of her four Oscars as his scheming queen, and the sight of the two of them …

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Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale

Review by Rob Vaux Starring: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Arivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaeny, Lewis Pullman and Chris Hemsworth Directed by: Drew Goddard Running time: 141 Minutes Year of release: 2018   Film noir is a very stylistic genre, and a filmmaker who isn’t careful can get too caught up in the style. Bad Times at the El Royale flirts madly with …

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Today in Movie History: May 4

We’re sticking with Marvel today because… well because one of the biggest superhero movies of all time opened today. 2012’s The Avengers turned an already successful franchise — three franchises technically — into something entirely new. Not since the Universal horror cycle in the 1940s had we seen anything quite like it, and Universal couldn’t dream of accomplishing something on …

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Today in Movie History: May 1

May has been the month of blockbusters since the 70s, as school lets out for the summer and Hollywood eagerly profits from budding young minds in need of watching stuff blow up. Memorial Day used to be the official start of blockbuster season, but that changed with 1999’s The Mummy, and summer creep has driven big releases up sooner and sooner. (*cough-cough* The …

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Today in Movie History: April 13

Despite a career spanning decades and a list of films that any director would envy, Sidney Lumet never quite got the respect he deserved. His very first movie still ranks among his best: a near-perfect adaptation of the celebrated stage play 12 Angry Men. Henry Fonda stars as an unnamed juror standing alone against a seemingly guaranteed guilty verdict… and his slow, …

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Movies for the Resistance: Ghostbusters (2016)

(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 6

We’re closing out the week of Marvel… and for the first time this week when there’s been a Marvel release, the column isn’t topped by it. The pole position goes to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, long considered one of the greatest adaptaions of Shakespeare’s masterpiece ever put on film, and which netted Olivier Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor. (He …

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Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review

You won’t find a more critic-proof movie this year than Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I’m including Episode 7 in that equation. While I’m pleased to report that it’s a solid piece of summer popcorn, that assessment doesn’t matter. Everyone on the planet will have seen it by Sunday, and most of them will be happy with the results. You …