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The original magic bus, whose name was Further

Magic Trip

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 29 January Mantra Rock Dance, 1967 On this day in 1967 one of the key events of the era of psychedelic rock, and the hippie era generally, took place. It was organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who saw it as an opportunity for their founder, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami, to speak to a broader public than normal. The reason why there would be a broader public was because of the other people taking part – the bands Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company (lead singer: Janis Joplin), Moby Grape, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, LSD guru Timothy … Read more
Darths Maul and Vader face off in Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out

Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 28 January Lego patents its brick design, 1958 On this day in 1958 the Lego company patented the brick design it had been working on for five years. Originally a company created by a carpenter in 1932 to produce wooden toys (called Lego from the Danish phrase Leg Godt – play well) Lego had been into the production of plastic bricks since 1947. By the early 1950s more than half of the company’s output was plastic. In 1954 Godtfred, son of founder Ole Kirk Christiansen, acting on a conversation he’d had with an overseas buyer, began working on the idea of … Read more
Yuri Gagarin

First Orbit

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 January The Outer Space Treaty signed, 1967 On this day in 1967 the USA, USSR and UK jointly signed the Outer Space Treaty, more formally known as the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies. It is the treaty that seeks to impose some legal, agreed structure on regions beyond our own world. It is the first move towards Space Law. Its basic tenets are that no signatory state shall place nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction into Earth orbit. It restricts the … Read more
Ted Levine and Katia Winter in The Banshee Chapter

27 January 2014-01-27

Out in the UK this week Rush (StudioCanal, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD/VOD) Recognising a good thing when he sees it, director Ron Howard sticks with Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan for this entirely satisfying, largely factual re-run of the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 stars Niki Lauda and James Hunt. There’s tons to like in this film – Chris Hemsworth makes an excellent Hunt, and Daniel Brühl is actually an even better Lauda. But it’s Morgan’s screenplay which is the thing of wonder. Managing to tell the real story of the dramatic “couldn’t make it up” 1976 Formula 1 season and yet bouncing along simultaneously on the sort of good versus evil dynamic that Hollywood demands, … Read more
Robert De Niro, Anne Heche and Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog

Wag the Dog

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 26 January President Clinton denies “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky, 1998 On this day in 1998, a serving president of the United States responded to allegations that he had had sex with a woman other than his wife. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky” said Bill Clinton at the end of a White House press conference, with his wife standing beside him. Unfortunately for Clinton, there had been what most people would call a sexual relationship, and Lewinsky had a blue dress stained with the president’s semen to prove it. Later in the year, boxed into … Read more
Gene Sharp and his book, From Dictatorship to Democracy in How to Start a Revolution

How to Start a Revolution

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 January Police Day, Egypt Today is Police Day in Egypt. It is held annually to commemorate the day when 50 police officers were killed, more wounded, after a spat between local Egyptian policemen and the colonial ruler, Britain, got out of hand. The officers refused to hand over their weapons; the British sent in the army and surrounded the police station where they were holed up. Result: nasty. It was possibly just another day in the life of a colonial power and its variously contented subjects, but the event got wider currency when a local man photographed the melee and … Read more
Malcolm McDowell and Mirella D'Angelo cavort in Caligula


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 January Caligula assassinated, AD41 On this day in AD41, or 41BCE, the Roman emperor Caligula was assassinated. His name was in fact Gaius Augustus Germanicus and Caligula was his nickname – meaning “soldier’s little boot” – picked up while he was a child accompanying his general father on campaigns. Caligula arrived as ruler of Rome by a tortuous, intrigue-filled and bloody route and worked hard once in power to increase the autocratic power of the emperor. This did not sit well with those who still saw Rome as a republic. Nor did Caligula’s spending of huge amounts of money on … Read more
Tom Hughes and Ophelia Lovibond in 8 Minutes Idle

8 Minutes Idle

Anyone who has ever worked in a dead end job – data mining, stacking shelves, whatever – will get the fierce “we’re all in this together” loyalty on display in 8 Minutes Idle, a refreshingly raunchy and frequently very funny look at life at the bottom of the jobs food chain. Mark Simon Hewis’s rom-com is an adaptation of Matt Thorne’s novel based on his own time working in a call centre and stars the suddenly-everywhere Tom Hughes as Dan. This seasoned call-centre jockey divides his time between palming off angry customers, flirting with fellow headsetters Teri (Ophelia Lovibond) and Adrienne (Antonia Thomas), pranking colleagues and entertaining mild sexual fantasies about his vampish boss … 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
Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in Beyond the Hills

Beyond the Hills

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 22 January Father Arthur Tooth imprisoned for ritualism, 1877 On this day in 1877, a British minister of the Church of England was sent to prison for the lighting of candles, burning of incense and the wearing of the wrong clothes while saying mass. He was prosecuted under the Public Worship Regulation Act, a peculiar collaboration between Church and State which had laid down in law only three years earlier how God was to be worshipped in public. Tooth had been an extremely popular cleric in his parish of St James Hatcham in New Cross Gate, south east London, and was … Read more
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
Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann in Conspiracy


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 20 January The Wannsee Conference, 1942 On this day in 1942 a short meeting was held at 56-58 Am Großen Wannsee, in the suburbs of Berlin. It was called by Reinhard Heydrich, boss of the SS, and gathered together the heads of various government departments to facilitate the removal of Jews from Germany and occupied territories, their deportation to Poland and their extermination. It lasted only about 90 minutes and was arranged to put in place the practical measures to ensure that the process ran smoothly, and to make sure that the various government departments cooperated. A secondary concern was to … Read more

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