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Yuri Mgoyan in Ashik Kerib

Ashik Kerib

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 29 April Tariq ibn-Ziyad invades Iberian peninsula, 711AD On this day in 711AD, the Muslim general Tariq ibn-Ziyad launched an attack on Spain – which was then operating under its Roman name of Hispania. He had set off from Morocco, pausing to assemble his troops on a large hill which was later named after him – Jabal Tariq (ie the mountain of Tariq) from where the name Gibraltar derives. Tariq was in cahoots with Julian, who governed the North African enclave of Ceuta, and whose daughter had been raped, so the story goes, by the Visigoth king of Hispania, Roderic. And … Read more
Clark Gable and Charles Laughton in Mutiny on the Bounty

Mutiny on the Bounty

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 28 April The Mutiny on the Bounty, 1789 On this day in 1789, the year of revolution in France, some sailors on board the British ship HMS Bounty mutinied against their captain, William Bligh, and put him in a boat with 18 other members of his crew. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian, who had been promoted to sailing master by Bligh during the course of the ship’s ten-month journey from London to Tahiti. The ship’s mission was to take breadfruit from Tahiti to the West Indies, to see if they could be grown there and used to feed the … Read more
Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Gys de Villiers as FW De Klerk in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

A movie for every day of the year – a good one   27 April Freedom Day, South Africa Today is Freedom Day in South Africa. It marks the day in 1994 when South Africa went to the polls in the first national elections open to all races. Voting lasted for three days, with people lining up patiently in long queues to take their turn and get their hand stamped in indelible ink. The African National Congress won the election, with just over 62% of the nearly 20 million votes cast and, Nelson Mandela became the country’s president, its first black leader. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013, dir: Justin Chadwick) On the … Read more
Robert Redford in All Is Lost

28 April 2014-04-28

Out in the UK This Week All Is Lost (Universal, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) JC Chandor’s Margin Call was a brilliant debut, a great piece of storytelling which turned the complexities of the financial crash into a gripping human interest drama. Now he’s made All Is Lost, also a brilliant film, though as different superficially as they come. Instead of the high-tech, glass and steel, manmade world of finance, it takes place out on the high seas. And instead of a dialogue-driven screenplay there’s almost no speech at all. And yet a sense of jeopardy drives All Is Lost, as it did Margin Call, this newer film telling the tale of a lone yachtsman … Read more
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 26 April Anita Loos born, 1889 On this day in 1889, or possibly 1888, Corinne Anita Loos was born. Always cagey about her true age, Anita became best known for her comic novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She grew up in a theatrical family – her father managed a theatrical stock company – and she was performing on stage as a young girl. Her father wrote one-act plays for the company and a precocious Anita started turning them out too. Having seen an early silent film in 1911 she decided to turn her hand to a screenplay for one-reelers. Over the next … Read more
The Road poster

The Road: A Story of Life & Death

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 April Red Hat Day Today is Red Hat Day. It is celebrated by members of the Red Hat Society, membership of which is open to any woman aged 50 or over. It was started in 1997 when Sue Ellen Cooper of Orange County, California, USA, gave a friend of hers a distinctive red bowler hat as a 55th birthday present, along with a copy of the poem Warning, by Jenny Joseph. Its opening lines are “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.” The hat, colour scheme and … Read more
Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 April The fall of Troy, 1184BC On this day in 1184BC, the city of Troy fell after the most famous battle of antiquity. The Trojan War had started after a Trojan, Paris, absconded with Helen, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Helen was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in history and her love had been gifted to Paris by the goddess Aphrodite, as a reward for choosing her (Aphrodite) as the fairest of all the female gods – the so-called Judgement of Paris. Aphrodite had not mentioned to Paris that Helen was already married. Paris, it had been … Read more
Gene Hackman and the cast of The Poseidon Adventure

The Poseidon Adventure

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 April Ronald Neame born, 1911 On this day in 1911, a remarkable figure in cinema was born. Ronald Elwin Neame lived until 2010 and in his time was a cinematographer, a producer, writer and director. There are probably plenty of people who could line up a similar list of credits. But Neame was a cinematographer on Powell and Pressburger’s One of Our Aircraft Is Missing, a producer of Oliver Lean’s Oliver Twist, the writer of Lean’s Great Expectations and the director of The Poseidon Adventure, each one of them an important film, for different reasons. He also directed Judy Garland … Read more
The New York Times building on Eighth Avenue, New York

Page One: Inside the New York Times

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 22 April Pravda first published, 1912 On this day in 1912 (in the Old Style Julian calendar, 5 May in the Gregorian calendar) communist newspaper Pravda was published for the first time. In fact it was first published in 1903 but today’s date marks its first publication in Russia – Vienna had previously been its home. The change of city also meant a change of tone, from being a paper generally interested in the arts to one concerned with politics, economics, workers movements and revolutionary change. It also became the official mouthpiece of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. When the … Read more
Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella in The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 April Romulus founds Rome, 753BC On this day in 753BC, one of the great capitals of world civilisation was founded, or so the story goes. Rome, city of the Caesars, was founded by Romulus, who along with Remus was one of the twin sons of Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa (present day Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope has his summer residence). The father of the twins was either Mars, the god of war, or possibly Hercules, the demi-god son of Zeus. Either way, Rhea Silvia’s sons become problematical for her once Numitor’s brother Amulius seizes power … Read more
Driss shows Philippe the finer things in life in Untouchable


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 20 April Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech, 1968 On this day in 1968, the senior Conservative British politician Enoch Powell made a speech in which he alluded to Virgil’s Aenid – “As I look forward, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.” A Greek scholar who also spoke Urdu – Powell as an ambitious young man had set his sights on becoming the viceroy of India, only to find in later life that the Indians were coming to him – Powell was referring to the prospects for race … Read more
Donald Pleasence and Gary Bond in Wake in Fright

Wake in Fright

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 April Captain James Cook espies Australia, 1770 On this day in 1770, the British captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour became the first recorded European vessel to catch sight of Australia. Cook had been commissioned to travel to the Pacific Ocean by the Royal Society, who were collecting data on the transit of Venus across the sun, during which the planet appears as a black dot against the solar disc. It is a rare occurrence and the Royal Society hoped the measurements Cook’s ship collected would add to the sum of scientific knowledge, as well as helping to calculate longitude, which … Read more

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