Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Film of the Day

Eric Bana as Chopper Read in Chopper

Chopper

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 17 November Chopper Read born, 1954 On this day in 1954, Mark Brandon Read was born, in Melbourne, Australia. The son of an army father and a Seventh-day Adventist mother, he spent the first five years of his life in children’s homes before returning home, where he was often beaten by his father. A street fighter already as a teenager, he began his criminal career by robbing drug dealers, then went on to kidnap and torture members of the criminal underworld, in order to extort money out of them. He gained a reputation for brutality – bolt-cutting (hence the “Chopper” nickname) … Read more
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in silhouette in Manhattan

Manhattan

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 26 September George Gershwin born, 1898 On this day in 1898, the writer of Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, Someone to Watch over Me, Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess was born in Brooklyn, New York. A school dropout, Gershwin, born Jacob Gershowitz, was playing piano in clubs at the age of 15, published his first song when he was 16 and was writing shows by his early 20s. His breadth was amazing – Tin Pan Alley songs, entire Broadway and Hollywood musicals and his “folk opera” Porgy & Bess all poured from him, with Gershwin all the time … Read more
Anna Magnani runs after her fiancee in Rome, Open City

Rome, Open City

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 2 June The sack of Rome, AD455 On this day in the 455th year of the Christian or Common Era, Rome was sacked. Actually, this is a touch ambiguous, because Rome had already been pillaged twice before, in 390BC by the Gauls fighting the Roman in the Battle of the Allia; and in AD410, in the attack of the Visigoths led by Alaric. In AD455 it was the Vandal king Genseric who marched on Rome, claiming a peace treaty between himself and Emperor Valentinian III had been violated when Emperor Petronius Maximus had usurped Valentinian and seized the throne. Out of … Read more
Oprah and Forest Whitaker

The Butler

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 7 March Police attack Alabama marchers, 1965 On this day in 1965, a day that subsequently became known as Bloody Sunday, state troopers attacked civil rights demonstrators outside the town of Selma, Alabama. Between 500 and 600 demonstrators were marching to protest against the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a black man who had been shot by a policeman after a previous civil rights march on 18 February. Any grouping of more than three civil rights campaigners had been declared illegal by a judge, and the local governor, George Wallace, went on to declare the march a threat to public safety. … Read more
James Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window

Rear Window

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 8 January François Grimaldi takes Monaco, 1297 On this day in 1297, dressed as a monk, François Grimaldi (more properly Francesco, since he was Italian) was admitted to the castle at Monaco. Known as Il Malizia, “the cunning”, Grimaldi’s plan was simple – get inside, open the gates and then let his men rush the guards. This he did, and once his men, including his cousin, Rainier, were in he took control. For four years he ruled over Monaco, until he was chased out by the Genoese. He was the first of the Grimaldi clan to try and establish a claim … Read more
JBL Noel shooting The Epic of Everest

The Epic of Everest

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 April Birkenhead Park opened, 1847 On this day in 1847, Birkenhead Park was opened in Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, UK. It is the country’s first publicly funded civic park and was designed by Joseph Paxton, best known for designing the Crystal Palace exhibition space. A feat of engineering which required that the marshy site first be drained, before vistas could be built, avenues created, terraces and lakes built, it covers 226 acres and was financed by the selling of adjoining plots to local merchants, many of them from Liverpool. It was visited by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted … Read more
Isaka Sawadogo and Asma Nouman Aden in Sounds of Sand

Sounds of Sand

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 August Anglo-Zanzibar War, 1896 On this day in 1896, the shortest war in world history was fought, between the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Zanzibar. It lasted around 40 minutes and was caused by the death of the old Sultan, Hamad bin Thuwaini, who had been pro-British. According to a treaty of 1886, the Zanzibaris had to get British acceptance for any new sultan they chose. They didn’t. Instead they chose Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British immediately issued an ultimatum calling on Khalid to yield to their authority. He refused and barricaded himself in his palace. At 9am … Read more
Samuel L Jackson in Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 August Cleopatra kills herself, 30BC On this day in 30BC, Cleopatra VII Philopator, last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, killed herself. She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and at first ruled alongside him, later ruling alongside her brothers Ptolemy XIII and XIV, the latter of whom she married. The Ptolemaic dynasty had its origins in Greece, the original Ptolemy having been one of Alexander the Great’s generals. The Ptolemaic era marked the decline of Greece and the ascent of Rome and one of Cleopatra’s strategic couplings was to have a son with Julius Caesar, who became co-ruler with her … Read more
A spirit walks the forest in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 October Chulalongkorn Day, Thailand Every year on 23 October in Thailand, the country celebrates Chulalongkorn day. It is named after Phra bat Somdet Phra Poraminthra Maha Chulalongkorn Phra Chunla Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua also known as Rama V, who was the fifth monarch of Siam. Chulalongkorn was driven by a desire to be an actual ruler of his country, rather than a puppet dangling on the end of various aristocratic intrigues. In fact even his ascension to the throne of his country, aged 15, was at least in part down to aristocratic chicanery, since his father’s instructions on his … Read more
Fábio Oliveira and Sónia Bandeira

Our Beloved Month of August

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 14 August Battle of Aljubarrota, 1385 On this day in 1385, the battle of Aljubarrota ended Spanish designs on Portugal and confirmed an independent throne in Portugal, under King John I. The battle was waged between John I of Portugal and his English allies on one side and King John I of Castile and his Aragonese, Italian and French allies on the other side. The situation had come about after the previous king of Portugal, Ferdinand I, had died without male issue and had declared that the crown would pass to his daughter, Beatrice, and her intended, Juan I of Castile. … Read more
Groucho Marx in Duck Soup

Duck Soup

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 2 October Groucho Mark born, 1890 On this day in 1890, Julius Henry Marx, one of the 20th century’s most distinctive comedians was born, in New York City. He started off in a vaudeville singing troupe with various members of the family, including his mother at one point. When pure singing didn’t work for them, the Marx brothers started to include comedy in their act, losing non family members on the way and eventually settling down to be the four brothers, Julius, Adolph, Leonard and Milton (aka Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Gummo). Gummo decided to leave and Zeppo, considered the funniest … Read more
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray

Ray

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 September Birth of Ray Charles, 1930 On this day in 1930, Ray Charles was born. Six times married, the father of 12 children, Charles also found time to help create what is now known as soul music, a fusion of gospel, jazz and blues, a prime example being his song Georgia. Sighted at birth, Charles started losing his vision when he was five and was completely blind by the age of seven, thanks to glaucoma. Charles was playing in bars in his early teenage years, by the time he was 19 he was having his first hits. Ten years later, … Read more

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