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 …

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 …

schindlers_list_5_neeson

Today in Movie History: December 15

Man, there are some big movies  released today. We’re going to start with the grim one: one of the most important movies of all time, a chilling testament to the Holocaust, and demonstrative artistic validation for one of the greatest directors ever. Schindler’s List opened today in 1993. Above and beyond its merits as cinema, its success led to the …

900

Today in Movie History: December 9

We mentioned Ang Lee yesterday, which marked the release of one of the best films he ever made. Today has another one: Brokeback Mountain, a watershed in the presentation of gays onscreen, but more impressively a flawless adaptation of an 11-page short story that might not be filmable in the hands of anyone else. Lee makes a habit out of walking on water …

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Movie Review: Mifune — The Last Samurai

Review by Rob Vaux Featuring: Toshiro Mifune, Haruo Nakajima, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg Directed by: Steven Okazaki Running time: 80 minutes Year of release: 2015 Anyone familiar with cinema knows Toshiro Mifune, star of almost 200 films who helped introduce the world to Japanese cinema. His onscreen persona is irresistible: often playing energized, rebellious figures in worlds where conformity abounded, and almost daring the camera …

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Cary Guffey, 1977

Today in Movie History: November 16

Ask anyone what their favorite Steven Spielberg movie is, and few will say Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But ask them what their top five Spielberg films are, and most people would likely find room for it. It’s as strong a film as he’s ever made — an early sign that he could do far more than just scare people …

Chinatown ending

Today in Movie History: June 21

I tend to disapprove of nihilism in the movies, since it usually comes across as smug posturing from arrogant directors who have no real experience with true human darkness. That doesn’t apply to Roman Polanski, a man who has gazed into the abyss from both sides and knows its secrets the way few of us ever could. Nowhere is that better on display than Chinatown, …

Jaws (1975)
Roy Scheider
Credit: Universal Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Today in Movie History: June 20

In 1974, Universal Pictures handed the adaptation of a dreadful little potboiler to an untested director with just a couple of films under his belt. The production was plagued by accidents, delays and cost overruns. The script was a mess, the cast cantankerous, and the main selling point depended on special effects that just didn’t work. It looked for all …