Today in Movie History: May 12

We’re looking at two extremes today. We’ll start with Man with a Movie Camera, the avant-garde masterpiece that follows workers and citizens through an average day in 1920s Soviet Russia. Director Dziga Vertov crammed in as many experimental techniques as he could in the film, and with no story and no professional actors, it remains as much brilliant abstract art as it does a motion picture. It opened today in the U.S. in 1929.

And then there’s Battlefield Earth. We try to avoid the bad movies on this column, but some stinkers are too notable to pass by. John Travolta’s passion project adaptation of the incoherent novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is the best kind of worst movie ever: featuring a nonsensical plot, ridiculous logic holes, Oscar winners devouring the scenery whole and Travolta himself delivering the kind of performance that makes acting coaches take to drink. It opened today in 2000, and while we can’t recommend a screening, we can say that the boys at Rifftrax have got your back.

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