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Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry

Die Another Day

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 26 March AE Housman born, 1859 On this day in 1859, Alfred Edward Housman was born, in Bromsgrove, UK. Most famous for his poetry cycle The Shropshire Lad, Housman was the son of a solicitor. His mother died when he was 12, on his birthday in fact, and Alfred became a bookish withdrawn child who excelled at academic subjects. He won a scholarship to Oxford, where he failed to get a degree, thanks to a mix of indolence, arrogance and infatuation with a fellow student, Moses Jackson. In spite of a lack of degree Housman wrote and published academic works about … Read more
Julie Christie in Don't Look Now

Don’t Look Now

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 March The founding of Venice, AD421 On this day in the year AD421, Venice was founded. Sited on 118 islands in a lagoon between the mouths of the rivers Po and Piave, Venice derives its name from the Veneti people who lived in the region in the 10th century BC, though the people who actually founded the city were more likely refugees fleeing the Germanic and Hun invaders who were flooding into Italy as the Roman empire fell apart. Today is traditionally taken as the day of the city’s founding because on this day in 421 the church of San … Read more
Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 March Robert Koch announces discovery of the cause of TB, 1882 On this day in 1882, Robert Koch announced that he had worked out what was causing tuberculosis, a disease so devastating that it went by several names – phthisis and consumption were also common. Until Koch started his research, it was widely believed that TB was a hereditary disease. But though Koch had observed that TB would often spread through families, its epidemiology was not uniform – poorer families tended to get it more than richer ones. We now know that TB is caused by a slow-growing bacterium, mycobacterium … Read more
Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Star Wars

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 March President Reagan proposes the Strategic Defense Initiative, On this day in 1983, President Reagan announced a change in the country’s defence policy. Hitherto relying on a launch-on-warning (aka fail-deadly) response to attack – Mutual Assured Destruction – the US switched to a stated position of defending the country, not attacking an enemy: the Strategic Defense Initiative. Since the previous strategy had relied on a superabundance of ballistic nuclear weapons, the idea being that even if only a small percentage got through, the damage to the other side (the Soviet Union, generally) would be so great that nobody would even … Read more
Philippe Petit 417 metres up between the towers of the World Trade Center

Man on Wire

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 22 March Karl Wallenda dies, 1978 On this day in 1978, Karl Wallenda, founder of The Flying Wallendas, a daredevil circus act, died aged 73. Born into a family of circus people in Germany, Karl had begun performing aged six. By 17 he had his own act, with his brother and girlfriend. By the age of 23 he was performing in the USA. Karl developed the seven-person chair pyramid (on a wire), which was a showstopping part of the Wallendas’ routine, and performed it regularly until it went wrong, killing two members of the troupe (Wallenda’s son-in-law and nephew), paralysing another … Read more
Marine Vacth in Jeune et Jolie

24 March 2014-03-24

Out in the UK this week Jeune et Jolie (Lionsgate, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD) Being hot is like a weapon. That’s what director/writer François Ozon’s drama about a French schoolgirl’s double life as a hooker seems to be saying. Ozon casts beautiful Marine Vacth as Isabelle, his teenage temptress, in a story that sees Isabelle offering her young bedflesh for cash to older gents, some of whom are nice, while others are only too keen to abuse their power. Meanwhile, at home, the girl’s beauty goes unremarked upon, until exactly what she’s been doing with it becomes apparent to mum, stepdad and their various friends, who react as if someone shouted “fire”. Ozon pits … Read more
Richard Schiff and Omid Djalili

The Infidel

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 March New Year’s Day, Bahá’í calendar If you’re a member of the Bahá’í faith, today is the first day of the new year. A religion that believes in one god, one spiritual source for all religions – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, whatever – and the equality of mankind, Bahá’í was only founded in the 19th century but has around five- to seven-million followers worldwide, spreading outwards from its foundational source in Iran. The largest grouping of Bahá’ís is in India. Right now it is probably the fastest growing religion in the world. It uses a solar calendar of 19 months of … Read more
Maggie Gyllenhall, Michael Fassbender (possibly) and Domhnall Gleeson in Frank

Frank

Frank Sidebottom was the stage name of musician Chris Sievey, whose Frank was a cult novelty act that toured students unions etc in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, singing chaotically shambolic versions of well known tunes (it could be Kylie, it could be the Sex Pistols) in a wheedling high-pitched determinedly uncool accent. Frank wore a gigantic papier maché head and made much of the fact that he was from the equally uncool Timperley in Cheshire. I saw him perform once, in the University of London Union, and the memory is with me still. Jon Ronson, the journalist who co-wrote the screenplay on which Lenny Abrahamson’s film is based, was the … Read more
Channing Tatum bullies Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 20 March Lee Scratch Perry born, 1936 Today in 1936, Rainford Hugh Perry was born in Kendal, Jamaica. Often dubbed “Little Perry” in his early days in the music business in the 1950s, on account of his 4ft 11in (1.49m) height, Perry got his start selling records for Coxsone Dodd’s sound system, before taking charge of some production duties. A studio natural, and a master of falling out with people, Perry left Coxsone’s employ and started working for equally legendary reggae man Joe Gibbs, before falling out with him and starting his own label, Upsetter, in 1968. His first single, People … Read more
Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke

Locke

Steven Knight’s movie track record so far: when he only writes (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises) very good; when he also directs (Hummingbird), not so good. For his latest film, Locke, he directs, and the results are enough to make you forgive Hummingbird, the misguided attempt to inject soul into Jason Statham. Because Locke is very very good indeed. And it’s so simple, a high-concept piece – perhaps what you’d expect from one of the brains behind the quiz format Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – which simply sticks a man in a car and has him drive and answer phone calls, drive and answer some more. One man, one car, some … Read more
Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan

I’m Not There

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 March Bob Dylan releases first album, 1962 Having dropped out of the University of Minnesota and relocated to New York City to visit the dying Woody Guthrie and break into performing, today in 1962 Bob Dylan released his first album. Eponymously titled Bob Dylan it came about after Dylan played harmonica on Carolyn Hester’s album in September 1961 and caught the eye of producer John Hammond. Hammond signed Dylan to Columbia Records in October 1961 and within five months the album was done. It was a collection of folk standards, coffeehouse favourites plus two Dylan originals – Song to Woody … Read more
Mena Suvari and Queen Latifah in Beauty Shop

Beauty Shop

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 18 March Queen Latifah born, 1970 Today in 1970, Queen Latifah was born, as Dana Elaine Owens, in Newark, New Jersey. An outgoing girl with an interest in sport and acting, she sang in a baptist choir as a child, picked up the Latifah monicker aged eight, formed a rap group, Ladies Fresh, in her first year of high school. She was the beatbox. At the age of 18 Fab 5 Freddy was given a copy of her rap Princess of the Posse by DJ Mark the 45 King, which led to her being signed by Tommy Boy Music. Her first … Read more

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