Rare Exports

Knut Osa Greger as Santa Claus in Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     6 December     Saint Nicholas dies, 343AD On this day in 343AD (or CE if you prefer), Nikolaos of Myra died. Born in 270AD, in Patara, Greece, to rich parents, Nikolaos was a devout Christian who became a priest, then a bishop and attended the First Council of Nicea, where he was against the Arian heresy (which states that Jesus is subordinate to God), and signed the Nicene Creed, which is still the mainstream declaration of Christianity to this day. On a less bureaucratic level, Nikolaos became known for the miracles he worked during his life (bringing … Read more

Byzantium

Gemma Arterton in Byzantium

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     26 November     Vlad the Impaler becomes ruler of Wallachia for third time, 1476 On this day in 1476, Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia became ruler of Wallachia for the third time. His father, Vlad II, had become a member of the chivalric Order of the Dragon (Drache in German, Dracul in Romanian) in 1431. As the son, Vlad III carried the patronymic Dracula, son of Dracul (he signed himself Wladislaus Dragwlya). Vlad III spent a good deal of his life asserting his claim on Wallachia. He was first installed as a ruler by the Ottomans – … Read more

The Raven

Artwork for the original poster of The Raven

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     23 November     Boris Karloff born, 1887 On this day in 1887, the great horror actor Boris Karloff was born. Disappointingly, his birth name was William Henry Pratt and he wasn’t born in some Carpathian cave but in the inner suburb of Lewisham, South London. A well educated young man with a lisp and a stutter, he dropped out while training to become a functionary of the British Empire and instead took to farm labouring before becoming an actor. He took the name Boris Karloff while in travelling repertory theatre in Canada, and after arriving in Hollywood … Read more

Pink Flamingos

Divine in Pink Flamingos

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     19 October     Divine born, 1945 On this day in 1945, Harris Glenn Milstead, aka Divine, was born, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Six months older than fellow Baltimore native John Waters, he became involved with Waters’ acting troupe the Dreamlanders in the mid 1960s and starred in Waters’ first four films, Mondo Trasho (1969), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974). In fact it was Waters who gave Harris (or Glenn as he was known to family and school friends) the name Divine, after a character in Jean Genet’s debut novel, Our Lady of … Read more

Jaws

Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw in Jaws

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     18 October     Moby-Dick published, 1851 On this day in 1851, Herman Melville published what is considered to be one of the great American novels, about the elemental struggle between one Captain Ahab and the whale that once bit off his leg. The story is told from the viewpoint of Ishmael, and “Call me Ishmael”, its opening sentence, has become one of the most recognised opening lines in literature. The book is based on two actual events. One took place in 1820, when a sperm whale rammed and sank the Essex, a whaler that was in hot … Read more

A Serbian Film

Srdjan Todorovic in A Serbian Film

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 08 September Stephen Dusan declares himself King of Serbia, 1331 On this day in 1331, after a brief war with his father, Stephen Dusan, aged 23, tall, handsome, intelligent and of “kingly presence”, was crowned King of All Serbian and Maritime Lands. Also known as Dusan the Mighty, the king initiated Dusan’s Code, a legal and constitutional framework of governance, later established himself Emperor of the Serbs and Greek, and went on to conquer large parts of Southern Europe. Under Stephen Dusan, Serbia became as powerful as it ever would be and acted as a bulwark against the advance of the … Read more

Black Rock

Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth and Katie Aselton in Black Rock

    Three young women are chased around an island by three crazed ex-soldier guys in Katie Aselton’s boo-goes-there horror story which would slot nicely into the big book of feminist films if it weren’t for the gratuitous (oh come on) nudity. Not that there’s anything wrong with god-given nakedness. But back to the film. Directed by Aselton and co-written with her partner, Mark Duplass, Black Rock takes three old schoolfriends, Aselton, Lake Bell and Katie Bosworth, sends them off to a remote island they used to visit as kids, but not before pointing out that one of the three did something bad with another of the trio’s boyfriend some years back, and … Read more

Thale

Silje Reinåmo as mythical creature Thale

    So here we are in the middle of August and I still think that Thale is one of the best films I’ve seen all year. I must have watched it back in February. I’ve probably watched between 130 and 150 films since. So why has it stuck in my head? Because of the artistic choices of its director, Aleksander Nordaas, who I see is now preparing Thale 2. I hope that a bigger budget (and I hope he has a bigger budget, a man can’t sell everything he owns to finance his second film after he’s already sold everything to finance his first) – I really hope that won’t turn his head. … Read more

Nosferatu

Max Schreck as Nosferatu

Murnau’s 1922 silent expressionist classic is one of defining moments in movie-making. It borrowed its story wholesale from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, gave it the lightest of resprays and hoped no one would notice the theft. Bram Stoker’s widow noticed and sued for breach of copyright, won the case and had all the prints of Nosferatu destroyed. But the film refused to die, and rose from the undead. Its star, who plays Count Orlok (aka Nosferatu), is one Max Schreck, “Schreck” being the German word for terror. Maximum Terror – and you thought modern Hollywood had a lock on this sort of thing. Adding to that in terms of myth-making, it was always rumoured that … Read more

They Crawl

Daniel Cosgrove in They Crawl

    Yes, They Nest was a stupid film, but it did at least have a couple of very good squirmy moments – stuff we felt if not privileged to have seen, then at least slightly sickened by. They Crawl, I’m sad to report, doesn’t. Close reading of the credits reveals no connection in terms of cast and crew (not even SFX or stunts) between the two films, meaning there’s just a personal pronoun in common, just the They. And insects, of course. However, They Crawl does hit us with two recognisable names – Tone Loc and Mickey Rourke. But fans of the Funky Cold Medina star and the one-time contender who went … Read more