Madonna commands the stage in 1991’s “Madonna: Truth or Dare.” (Miramax/MovieStillsDB.com)

“Madonna: Truth or Dare”
Released May 10, 1991
Directed by Alek Keshishian
Where to Watch

Thanks to a much-hyped scene featuring Madonna performing oral sex on a bottle, her concert tour documentary, “Truth or Dare,” was considered controversial and titillating when it finally released all over the world.

Watching it then and now, Madonna wouldn’t have it any other way, but maybe even she didn’t realize how ahead of the curve she was at the time. “Truth or Dare” is revolutionary in establishing the many conventions of reality TV and how pop culture artists can define themselves in a documentary.


Robin Givens plays a femme fatale with a heart of gold in “A Rage in Harlem.” (Miramax Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

“A Rage in Harlem”
Released May 3, 1991
Directed by Bill Duke
Where to Watch

Now that movie theaters are starting to reopen on a broad scale, I’m thrilled to be in a position where I feel comfortable going to the cinemas regularly. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all appreciate many things that we once took for granted, and for me, I’m in the mood to go to the movies every week to discover a film worth watching. At this point, I don’t care if it’s part 19 in a long-running franchise or some random flick with an original…


Forest Whitaker bonds with the young Camille Winbush in 2000’s “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” (Artisan Entertainment/MovieStillsDB.com)

“Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”
Released March 3, 2000
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Where to Watch

If you’re dialed into film culture, you’ve received countless unsolicited movie recommendations from friends. Depending on their tastes (and what they presume yours is), the quality of these picks varies. Sometimes you’ll hear about the same movie again and again from multiple sources, enough for the flick to land on your watchlist or radar. And when you eventually get around to watching it, occasionally, the movie lives up to the hype.

That’s what it felt like watching Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The…


Stephen Root feels boxed in during 1999’s “Office Space.” (Twentieth Century Fox/MovieStillsDB.com)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“Office Space”
Released Feb. 19, 1999
Directed by Mike Judge
Where to Watch

The moment I fell in love with “Office Space” was when Peter (Ron Livingston) walks into his job at Initech Monday morning. He pauses wearily to look at the office door’s metal handle before attempting to grab it and is immediately greeted with a small spark of static electricity.

I was working at a movie theater when “Office Space” was released in early February 1999. It remains one of my…


Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over in 1993’s “Groundhog Day.” (Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

”Groundhog Day”
Released Feb. 12, 1993
Directed by Harold Ramis
Where to Watch

It was only a few weeks ago when we celebrated Groundhog Day on the calendar. The holiday-inspired many people to talk about “Groundhog Day,” the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray. The movie, however, actually came out 10 days after the holiday during its original release. Since we’re sticklers for release dates around here, that means our retrospective is also running behind the holiday.

Why Columbia Pictures didn’t release the movie…


The loneliness of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) transforms into rage in “Taxi Driver.” (Photo from Columbia Pictures/MovieStillsDB.com)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“Taxi Driver”
Released Feb. 8, 1976
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Where to Watch

Last week I noted how watching a classic movie like “City Lights” can become empathetic experiences as we realize our societal problems can be timeless. …


Comedian, writer, and director Charlie Chaplin became of one cinema’s earliest stars thanks to movies like 1931’s “City Lights” with co-star Virginia Cherrill. (MovieStillsDB.com)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“City Lights”
Released Jan. 30, 1931
Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Where to Watch

When we talk about classic movies, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds because everybody’s always trying to find a new angle. Sometimes a recommendation is the simplest: It’s the best way we can look back into the past and see ourselves. …


Donnie Yen (right) challenges Darren Shahlavi’s Taylor “The Twister” Miller in “Ip Man 2.” (Mandarin Films Pictures/Well Go USA)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“Ip Man 2”
Released Jan. 28, 2011
Directed by Wilson Yip
Where to Watch

For my money, the best martial arts movies achieve a balance between action and philosophy. Seeing people fight with the dexterity of a dancer and speed of a racer is cool as hell, but the addition of philosophy imbues each of these scenes with thought and character. It’s action with a purpose, which explains the appeal of a movie like “Ip Man 2.”

“Ip Man 2” is…


Lizzy Caplan is among the New Yorkers put in peril in 2008’s “Cloverfield.” (Paramount Pictures)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“Cloverfield”
Released Jan. 18, 2008
Directed by Matt Reeves
Where to Watch

The modern day marketing of films is focused on raising as much awareness of a new movie as possible, even if that means revealing most of the story beforehand, in order to engage its intended audience. But sometimes it’s thrilling to walk into the theater without having any idea of what to expect as another way to build anticipation. Enter “Cloverfield.”

And for better or worse, JJ Abrams is certainly good…


Warrick Davis played the title character in the 1993 horror-comedy, “Leprechaun.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Ultimate Movie Year finds the best films from weekends past to build an all-star lineup of cinema.

“Leprechaun”
Released Jan. 8, 1993
Directed by Mark Jones
Where to Watch

Hollywood isn’t releasing their best and biggest in the first month of the calendar year, as recent history is filled with critically-reviled, easily forgotten movies. Considering we are limited to movies released only on this weekend in history (and we already struck gold with our previous pick, “Paddington 2”), we might as well turn our attention to the few films we can remember, even if they’re not the greatest. …

Mark Ciemcioch

Founder of Capen Media and writer who looks back on film history every week. Read past columns at www.ultimatemovieyear.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store