Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Film of the Day

Michael Caine and Noel Coward in The Italian Job

The Italian Job

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 January Benny Hill born, 1924 On this day in 1924, Alfred Hawthorn Hill was born in Southampton, UK. One of those children who “always wanted to be in showbusiness”, Alfred had managed to become an assistant stage manager in a touring company before joining up to serve in the Second World War, aged 18. He changed his first name to Benny as a tribute to his hero, Jack Benny, though in fact it was the British music hall that really provided the inspiration for Benny Hill’s act. Earlier to understand that music hall’s days were numbered than many of his … Read more
Andy Lau in Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 4 June Tiananmen Square Massacre, 1989 On this day in the 1989, one of the most recognisable images of recent decades flashed around the world as Type 59 tanks marched in single file through Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, while facing them stood a lone figure – “Tank Man”. Protest had been gathering pace since April, when students had first gathered to mourn the death of Hu Yaobang, a liberal reformer. The mourning developed into a call for political and economic reform, more accountability, freedom of expression and democratic rights, and at first the government tolerated the protests. By May the … Read more
Bad idea: Jess Weixler and Josh Pais in Teeth

Teeth

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 3 June Valerie Solanas tries to kill Andy Warhol, 1968 On this day in the 1968, the feminist writer Valerie Solanas went to the Factory, artist Andy Warhol’s studio in New York, and fired three shots at him from a gun she had just bought. Two missed and one wounded him. She also shot the art critic Mario Amaya and attempted to shoot Warhol’s manager, Fred Hughes, but the gun jammed. She then turned herself in to the police. Solanas had in fact set out to shoot Maurice Girodias, owner of the Olympia Press – who had offered to publish her … Read more
Jessica Walter gets busy in Play Misty for Me

Play Misty for Me

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 December Marconi receives the first transatlantic message, 1901 On this day in 1901, Guglielmo Marconi, one of the pioneers of long-distance radio transmission, finally proved that radio waves could travel really long distances. In 1894 he had started work on “wireless telegraphy” (sending telegrams without the need for wires, via Morse code) when only 20 years old, using his butler as a lab assistant – this was the butt end of the age of the gentleman scientist. He had soon worked out how to make a bell ring on one side of his room, wirelessly from the other. Impressed, his … Read more
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in The Impossible

The Impossible

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 January Shaanxi earthquake, 1556 On this day in 1556, the world experienced the deadliest earthquake on record. At 8.0 (possibly 7.9) on the magnitude scale (the successor to the Richter scale) it wasn’t the biggest quake the world has seen but it did kill the most people, largely because many of the people who inhabited that region in China lived in loess caves. Loess (probably from the same English root as the word “loose”) is a wind-blown silt/clay mix held together loosely by calcium carbonate. It is very easy to excavate but is also highly susceptible both to collapsing and … Read more
Ian Bonar, Kieran Bew, Lyndsey Marshal and Mathew Baynton strike the indie pose in 1234

1234

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 3 February Buddy Holly dies, 1959 On this day in 1959, 22-year-old Buddy Holly died in a plane crash. He was in a plane because he had suddenly become insanely popular – his songs That’ll Be the Day, Not Fade Away and Oh Boy! had seen to that – and was hopping between gigs on the Winter Dance Party Tour played with a pick-up band posing as his regular band, The Crickets. With him in the plane were fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson aka The Big Bopper, plus the pilot, Roger Peterson. Peterson was not licensed to fly without … Read more
Knut Osa Greger as Santa Claus in Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Rare Exports

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 murdered children back to life, … Read more
Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 15 May Standard Oil declared a monopoly, 1911 On this day in 1911, the American oil company Standard Oil was ruled to be a monopoly by the US Supreme Court. Set up only in 1870 by the industrialist John D Rockefeller and his associates, the company was efficient and focused and had grown rapidly, first becoming dominant in refining, where it used its early lead to price competitors out of the market or buy them up, before moving on to production and distribution, where it used similar tactics to squeeze out or buy out competitors. By 1882 the company was already … Read more
Josh Harris takes a shower in We Live in Public

We Live in Public

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 November Tim Berners-Lee publishes World Wide Web proposal, 1990 On this day in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, an employee of the European research organisation CERN, published the formal proposal to create a more efficient information management system which would connect up hypertext documents on different computers running different operating systems, to be viewed by client-server applications (ie browsers). Building on a prediction by Arthur C Clarke that satellites would allow global access via console to vast amounts of information, telephony, video conferencing and so on, Berners-Lee took practical inspiration from the Dynatext electronic book system – which used a rigorous and … Read more
Martin Strel aka Big River Man

Big River Man

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 November Link Wray dies, 2005 On this day in 2005, one of the legends of rock. Link Wray, born Fred Lincoln Wray Jr in 1929, died. He was most famous for his 1958 instrumental hit Rumble, which added power chords to the blues sound of the overdriven amplifier into the repertoire of rock. If you haven’t heard it, Rumble is an elegant, slow, succession of chords played so slowly they’re almost arpeggio, followed by a chiming run down the top notes, repeated and repeated again. It’s simplicity itself. Relying on mood and riff rather than rhythm and tune, it could … Read more
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (left) in The Deep

The Deep (aka Djúpið)

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 9 December Clarence Birdseye born, 1886 On this day in 1886, one of the greats of the modern food industry was born. The man who could be considered to be the real Captain Birdseye came into the world in Brooklyn, New York, the sixth of nine children. Clarence didn’t come from a privileged background and when he grew up he struggled to pay his college fees. He ended up dropping out and in his early 20s wound up being a taxidermist, where the standing problem is how to keep the animal fresh while it’s being worked on. By the age of … Read more
Isabella Rossellini in The Saddest Music in the World

The Saddest Music in the World

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 17 October The London Beer Flood, 1814 On this day in 1814, a huge vat containing the equivalent of one million imperial pints of porter ruptured in central London, causing a tidal wave of beer to cascade down the road and through neighbouring houses. Eight people died, either by drowning or underneath the buildings brought down by the liquid. The brewery was owned by Henry Meux (pronounced myooks) and could be found just off the Tottenham Court Road, London, roughly where the Dominion Theatre is today, and its giant vat was one of a series constructed around that time, big vats … Read more

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