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Today in Movie History: August 28

With the screenplays for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back under his belt, Lawrence Kasdan was ready to try his hand at directing. His freshman effort proved to be a stunner: Body Heat, a super-steamy update of the classic Double Indemnity, in which a sleazy Florida lawyer (William Hurt) falls for a routinely naked woman (Kathleen Turner) who needs help in knocking off her husband. It’s a spectacular piece of neo-noir — honoring its predecessor while still finding its own energy — and it opened today in 1981.

The same day saw the release of Peter Weir’s Gallipoli, the tale of a pair of Australian runners who end up in the middle of the disastrous attempted invasion of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Weir delivers a sobering meditation on the futility and waste of war, as well as a deeply personal story of the young men who paid the price for it. Not even the presence of Mel Gibson in an early role can distract from the power on display. The film also opened in 1981.

The 2017 update to Twin Peaks has brought renewed interest in the groundbreaking TV show…. which unfortunately includes David Lynch’s disastrous cinematic prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. After the show’s abrupt cancellation which left heroic FBI Agent Dale Cooper trapped in limbo and an evil doppelganger taking his place, fans showed up to the movie expecting some answers. The result, unfortunately, were ugly, depressing and weird for the wrong reasons, as Lynch explored the final 24 hours in the life of doomed prom queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and turned the whole thing into a giant mess. Fans felt so burned that most of us were relieved to be done with it all, and while the new series has done miracles for erasing all those bad vibes, that still doesn’t make the movie any less of a depressing experience. It opened today in 1992.

 

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