City of God

City of God, Douglas Silva

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 1 March Rio De Janeiro founded, 1565 On this day in 1565, the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro was founded. The city’s full name was decided as São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro – in honour of the Portuguese king, Sebastian I, whose patron saint was also a Sebastian, and because it sat on the January River – so named because it had been discovered in 1 January 1502. After gold and diamonds were found in the area, Rio became a major centre of export and the Portuguese moved their Americas administrative centre there in 1763. It became important for … Read more


Mylène Jampanoï and Morjana Alaoui in Martyrs

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 28 February Beginning of the Waco Siege, 1993 On this day in 1993, the Waco siege got underway. It started when the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) tried to raid the headquarters of the Branch Davidian sect, a breakaway of the Seventh Day Adventists. Housed in a compound east of Waco, Texas, after their numbers had grown, the Branch Davidians had originally been founded by Victor Houteff in 1929. They believed in imminent apocalypse. On Houteff’s death in 1955, leadership passed to Houteff’s widow. Florence predicted that the world would end in 1959. When this failed to happen … Read more

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 February Elizabeth Taylor born, 1932 On this day in 1932 Elizabeth Taylor was born, in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, UK. Her parents were American, originally from Arkansas, and her mother was a former actress. Often considered the last true star of Hollywood’s golden era – before TV made inroads in the 1950s – Taylor’s career started when she was nine, with There’s One Born Every Minute, followed up two years later with Lassie Come Home. Then came National Velvet, and at the age of 12 Elizabeth Taylor was a star. She remained, partly thanks to her violet eyes, double eyelashes, … Read more

The Oath

Nasser al-Bahri, once Osama bin Laden's bodyguard

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 26 February A bomb explodes in the World Trade Center, 1993 On this day in 1993, a bomb was detonated under the north tower of the World Trade Center. The bomb comprised urea nitrate, packed about with aluminium, magnesium and ferric oxide particles, boosted with nitroglycerine and dynamite, then surrounded by bottles of hydrogen to escalate the explosion into the thermobaric category. The intention was to knock the north tower over into the south tower, causing the World Trade Center to collapse. The operation was carried out by Ramzi Yousef and was financed by his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When Ramzi … Read more


Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith in Quartet

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 February Enrico Caruso born, 1873 On this day in 1873, the Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso was born in Naples. He came from a large family and his father was a manual worker. Enrico was apprenticed to a mechanical engineer aged 11 but also sang in the church choir, where his voice stood out. He took up work as a street singer, performed in cafes and had soon graduated to soirees where he would literally sing for his supper. All the while he was studying singing and eventually made his debut aged 22 at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples. By … Read more

Last Night

Sandra Oh in Last Night

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 February The Battle of Los Angeles, 1942 On this night in 1942, with the US at war with Japan for less than three months, air raid sirens started wailing throughout Los Angeles county. A blackout was ordered. Air raid wardens were summoned. At around 3am the Artillery Brigade began firing machine guns and anti-aircraft shells at reported aircraft. Over the next hour over 1,400 shells would be fired. At 7.21am the blackout was lifted. Several buildings had been damaged; five civilians were dead – three in car accidents, two from heart attacks. No planes were downed, or even hit, as … Read more

24 February 2014-02-24

Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed

Out in the UK This Week Safety Not Guaranteed (Vertigo, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Since The Puffy Chair I’ve been a sucker for anything connected with the Duplass brothers. Director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly’s film stars Mark Duplass as a nerdy shelfstacker guy who puts an advert into a paper asking for a companion to go time-travelling with him, “safety not guaranteed”. But we pick the story up from its other end, as we follow aspiring journalist Aubrey Plaza, lead writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) and supernerd Arnau (Karan Soni) as they head out into the boonies to track down the obvious whackjob for their magazine, humiliation probably guaranteed. Mumblecore goes sci-fi, kind … Read more


Gwyneth Paltrow not feeling too good in Contation

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 February Mass inoculation using the Salk vaccine, 1954 On this day in 1954, Jonas Salk started the first mass trial of his polio vaccine in Pittsburgh. At the time polio was killing more children in the USA than any other communicable disease and it seemed to be getting worse – there were 58,000 cases in the USA in 1952, of which just over 3,000 died and just over 21 thousand were left with some disability, including muscle weakness, paralysis. Salk’s approach differed from that of other researchers – he used a dead polio vaccine, rather than a live one. And … Read more

The Princess Bride

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright in The Princess Bride

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 22 February Ladislaus the Posthumous born, 1440 On this day in 1440, Ladislaus the Posthumous was born. His father, Albert II, had died four months before and so it was that Ladislaus became Duke of Austria and head of the house of Habsburg as soon as he arrived in the world. Ladislaus grew up under the protection, as a prisoner more or less, of Frederick V, who was the de facto ruler of Austria. Meanwhile John Hunyadi ruled Hungary in Ladislaus’s stead, and George of Podebrady fulfilled the same function in Bohemia. At the age of ten, Ladislaus swapped one guardian … Read more


Nicolas Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 February The New Yorker launches, 1925 On this day in 1925, The New Yorker magazine was launched by Harold Ross and Jane Grant. Intended as a cosmopolitan magazine for the urban sophisticate – and those who aspired so to be – it started out as a broadly humorous publication, though quickly shifted its focus towards quality fiction and long-form journalism, though its cartoons have remained a key feature. Unafraid to be thought of as intelligent, educated and interested in a magazine world that largely pretends to the opposite, it could take its pick of a certain type of writer – … Read more