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Today in Movie History: December 17

It’s hard to underestimate the influence of Peter Jackson’s Return of the King. It was clear form the two films that preceded it that something extraordinary was afoot. But its staggering critical and box office success helped cement our current franchise-heavy cinematic culture (along with the Harry Potter films), as well as finally validating the fantasy genre as an art form. …

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Today in Movie History: December 14

It was a good day for epics, starting with Edward Zwick’s classic Civil War tale Glory, which (among other things) gave Denzel Washington his first Oscar. You like your epics big, loud and featuring Charlton Heston? December 14 also saw the release of Anthony Mann’s minor classic El Cid back in 1961. 1984 saw three notable science fiction movies released today… well okay, …

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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: 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. today …

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Today in Movie History: July 9

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise became a victim of its own success, making it easy to forget what a revelation Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow was when he first capered onto movie screens. Combined with Gore Verbinski’s acrobatic direction, what started out as a decidedly dodgy prospect somehow became the go-to movie for modern swashbuckling. (And if we’re totally honest, a great …

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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 …

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Today in Movie History: October 13

It’s a really big day today, starting with the banner release of two bona fide classics on the same day. The sentimental favorite is Harvey, based on a smash play that gave Jimmy Stewart one of his most beloved roles. There’s something about him credibly holding the screen with an invisible six-foot rabbit that may or may not exist that speaks …

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Blu-ray Review: Hell or High Water

Review by Rob Vaux Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Brimingham Directed by: David Mackenzie Running time: 102 minutes Year of release: 2016 “Now what I know about is Texas. And down here, you’re on your own…” — M. Emmet Walsh, Blood Simple   There’s just something about Texas that lends itself to dark meditations and expressions of rebellion: the …