Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Film of the Day

Edith Evans in The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 May Oscar Wilde convicted, 1895 Dead at the age of only 46, with possibly his best years still to come, Oscar Wilde’s life was changed by his conviction for gross indecency with men, on this day in 1895. Wilde had first gone to court after the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, had left his calling card at Wilde’s club, the Albemarle, with the words, “For Oscar Wilde posing somdomite (sic)” written on it. Wilde took this as an attack on his reputation, and sued Queensberry. Queensberry, famous for laying down the rules of modern … Read more
Ian Holm as Napoléon Bonaparte

The Emperor’s New Clothes

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 May Napoleon dies, 1821 On this day in 1821, Napoléon Bonaparte died, on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. He had been taken there by the British after defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, which had been made necessary by Napoléon’s escape from his previous exile on the isle of Elba. Elba was in the Mediterranean, but with Helena no one was taking any chances. The man who had conquered most of western Europe and invaded Russia was sequestered on one of the remotest places in the world – 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from the nearest major … Read more
"Say hello to my little friend": Al Pacino in Scarface

Scarface

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 September Brian De Palma born, 1940 On this day in 1940, Brian De Palma was born. De Palma is one of the key figures in the New Hollywood group that stormed the citadel in the 1970s. If 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde marked the beginning, 1977’s Star Wars saw the beginning of the end for the golden ten-year run of the New Hollywood gang, after which 1940s Hollywood certainties seemed to re-establish themselves and the selling of spin-off action figures became too lucrative to ignore. In that short sweet flowering, the careers of Scorsese, Coppola, Bogdanovich, Spielberg, Lucas, Rafelson and Schrader … Read more
Hannah Herzsprung, Hell

Hell

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 16 February Kyoto Protocol comes into force, 2005 On this day in 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into force. A United Nations treaty, its intention is to get industrialised countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, so as to stabilise the climate before it collapses. The theory runs that 150 years of heavy industrial activity has increased the amount of dangerous gases in the atmosphere and that only by restricting current and future emissions can humanity hope to arrest the trend in global mean temperature rise. The gases in question are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride, plus … Read more
Mathieu Amalric in You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 9 April Oldest recording of a voice, 1860 On this day in 1860, Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville made what is the oldest recording of a human voice still in existence. The recording was made on a machine called a phonautograph which Scott had invented and patented in 1857. It worked by emulating the human ear – sound travelled down a funnel, hit a membrane and was transferred to a stylus (pig bristle) which transmitted the vibrations onto smoke blackened paper or glass, the two-dimensional results being used to study amplitude and waveforms. No one at the time the recording was made … Read more
Michel Piccoli as the pope, flanked by the Swiss Guard in We Have a Pope

We Have a Pope

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 October Second Vatican Council convenes, 1962 On this day in 1962, Pope John XXIII formally opened the Second Vatican Council. The first Vatican Council had been held nearly 100 years before, the most remembered of its declarations being that the Pope was infallible, when speaking ex cathedra. But back, or forward, to the Second, its aim being, broadly, to work out what the hell to do with the 20th century. The solution was to modernise. Out went the insistence that the Catholic church was the only way to sanctification and truth. Out went the Latin mass. In came a renewed … Read more
Andrea Riseborough in Shadow Dancer

Shadow Dancer

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 July IRA declare ceasefire, 1997 On this day in 1997, the Provisional Irish Republican Army declared that hostilities with Britain were over. It had come into being, in its modern form, in 1969 after increasing unrest over campaigns for more civil rights for Catholics had resulted in the mass deployment of the British Army in Northern Ireland. There had been several ceasefires before, most recently in 1994 when secret talks between the IRA and the British government had led to negotiations about proper talks to secure a settlement. When the British government announced that it wouldn’t go into talks with … Read more
János Derzsi and Erika Bók in The Turin Horse

The Turin Horse

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 15 October Friedrich Nietzsche born, 1844 On this day in 1844, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Röcken, near Leipzig, Germany. A philologist initially, Nietzsche was a university professor at the age of 24, in Basel, where he counted Richard Wagner as one of his friends. Within ten years, because of a variety of illnesses, both mental and physical (one of which was possibly syphilis) Nietzsche resigned from Basel and took up life as an independent philosopher, choosing to spend his winters in warm southern European towns, such as Genoa, Nice and Turin. It was during this time that he … Read more
Mark Coles Smith as Billy "Streaky" Bacon in Beneath Hill 60

Beneath Hill 60

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 December The Christmas Truce, 1914 On this day in 1914, an unofficial truce broke out, mostly between the British and German soldiers, at the Front in the First World War. It was the first year of the war and it had already become largely a static war fought from trenches. Troops had been dug in for months and had become familiar with their opposite numbers. As Christmas approached and the tug of hearth and home got stronger, men began to sing songs on both sides of no man’s land. Perhaps because the British and Germans would have been familiar with … Read more
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in American Gangster

American Gangster

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 June John F Kennedy proposes the Civil Rights Act, 1963 On this day in 1963, the US president, John F Kennedy addressed the nation. In his speech he called for legislation with would give all Americans “the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public – hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores and similar establishments”. He also called for equality before the law when it came to voting. His proposals would outlaw discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex or national origin and effectively sounded the death knell for racial segregation – in buses, diners, schools, wherever. … Read more
Ben Foster, The Messenger

The Messenger

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 13 March Henry Shrapnel dies, 1842 On this day in 1842, Major General Henry Shrapnel, British army officer, died aged 80, at his home, Peartree House, Southampton, UK. It was he who is supposed to have invented the “spherical case” bomb, which exploded in mid-air (there is every likelihood that it was in fact a French engineer called Bernard Forst de Bélidor). A hollow cannonball filled with lead shot, it was designed to inflict massive damage on people. Until then cannonballs had been solid and had achieved maximum impact when used against ships – it was the massive splintering of oak … Read more
The wicker man in The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 December The Southern Solstice Today is the Southern solstice. If you are in the northern hemisphere, it marks the point at which the sun rises least above the horizon. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it is midsummer, longest day of the year. And correspondingly the shortest in the north. Towards the equator the effect is minimal, with day and night length tending to match each other the whole year through. But in London, where I am writing this, it means the sun will come up a handful of minutes after 8am and set just before 4pm. Tomorrow, the … Read more

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