Our Favorite Movies

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The Vanishing

Every time I go on a road trip with my wife, I’d always bring up a 1988 Dutch thriller as a word of caution. After driving for hours, we’d stop at a random rest stop, not all of which appeared inviting or even occupied. Many of these establishments still have gas pumps with analog price…

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The dirty little secret that “Star Trek” holds is that it took “Star Wars” to bring Gene Roddenberry’s vision to the big screen. Once word got around that George Lucas’ “little” $10 million outer space fantasy was quickly becoming the top grossing film of all time, film studios took action. Suddenly, lavish outer space fantasies…

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The Dark Crystal

Jim Henson had nothing to prove when he made “The Dark Crystal.” In fact, as legacies go, his was already staggering. At that point in his career, having been the creative force behind “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show” and the still-magical “The Muppet Movie,” Henson came across like the cuddlier, wilder Walt Disney. Henson’s works…

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Inception

The “look” of dreams is something most movies can’t pull off without resorting to silly touches like fuzzy photography and dancing dwarves. The list of films that convey the visual and logistical nature of dreams with any accuracy is short: they include “Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind”, “Waking Life”, the original “Nightmare on Elm…

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Zodiac

Late into “Zodiac,” Robert Graysmith, the tireless cartoonist-turned-amateur-snoop, is having a red eye meeting at an all-nigh diner with Tochi, one of the key investigators of the lengthy Zodiac killer investigation in San Francisco. Jake Gyllenhall is playing Graysmith, who is explaining to Tochi, played by Mark Ruffalo, the close proximity in which the killings…

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The Godfather

The opening moments of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” are like a dream coming into focus, as we’re pulled into another world and drawn in with rich, enticing storytelling. A man named Bonasera is addressing Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando), the elderly “Godfather” mob boss whose daughter, Connie (played by Talia Shire), is…

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

When Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” his fourth film and first after “Jaws,” opened in the fall of 1977, many wondered how it would compare with “Star Wars.” George Lucas’ first groundbreaking, pop-culture shaping and box office conquering mega-hit had overshadowed most of the year. Could Spielberg, whose giant killer shark movie…

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The Thin Red Line

The late 1990’s was an exciting time for cinema. Independent works were being released alongside mainstream blockbusters, Bernardo Bertolucci regularly made new movies every few years and mysterious, untrustworthy reports would spill out of Europe that Stanley Kubrick’s latest work (which one periodical incorrectly identified as “Eyes Wide Open”) was still in production. Then, a…

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E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

“E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” Steven Spielberg’s magical, compassionate film, is now 35 years old. We open on an alien space craft landing in a forest, as small extra terrestrials work mysteriously, taking samples and exploring the woods. A car pulls up, faceless men chase an alien away from his companions and the ship takes off….

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Star Wars

What were movies like before George Lucas’ “Star Wars” opened forty years ago on May 25th, 1977? On the one hand, I know the answer to this question. In the months before “Star Wars,” filmgoers had to sift through junk like “Airport ’77” and “Billy Jack Goes to Washington,” as well as eventual summer movies…

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