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Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann in Conspiracy

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
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator

The Aviator

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 January Howard Hughes sets transcontinental air record, 1937 On this day in 1937 Howard Hughes set a new world record for flying across the continent of America. Flying a H-Racer with extra long wings, he made the journey from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours 28 minutes and 25 seconds. The plane had been commissioned by Hughes himself and was innovative in many respects, not least its insistence on all rivets and joints being set flush, which greatly increased its slipperiness through the air. The record was one of many accolades that this man born into wealth would accrue. … Read more
Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 18 January AA Milne born, 1882 On this day in 1882, Alan Alexander Milne was born in Hampstead, London, UK. The son of a Scottish teacher, he was educated at his father’s small public school in Kilburn, London, where one of his teachers was HG Wells. After that he attended Westminster, one of the country’s leading private schools, before going to Cambridge University on a mathematics scholarship. While there he was noticed by the humorous Punch magazine, to which he started contributing. After Cambridge he got a job at Punch and became a prolific writer, producing 18 plays and three novels. … Read more
Natasza Urbanska and Borys Szyc in Battle of Warsaw

Battle of Warsaw

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 17 January Soviet forces liberate/capture Warsaw, 1945 On this day in 1945, the Poles swapped one overlord for another as the Germans were finally flushed out of Warsaw by the Soviet Red Army, which promptly took over. The Poles had been hoping that a government of their own, an anti-communist one which had been beavering away in exile for the duration of the war, would take over. No dice. It was a bitter blow for Poland, which had been a battleground for the Second World War since the day it had started, on 1 September 1939. The Germans had treated Warsaw … Read more
John Bishop in Route Irish

Route Irish

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 16 January Operation Desert Storm starts, 1991 On this day in 1991, in what is now known as the First Gulf War, the troop and weapons mobilisation operation known as Operation Desert Shield came to an end and Operation Desert Storm, the invasion of Iraq, began. The invasion had been prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, to seize oil fields and territory that Iraq claimed were rightly theirs – a dispute that went all the way back to when the borders between the two countries were drawn by the British in 1922. Kuwait and the international community didn’t take Iraq’s … Read more
Alexandra Holden, Lake Bell and Fred Melamed in In a World

20 January 2014-01-20

  Out in the UK this week In A World (Sony, cert 15, DVD) Writer/director/producer/star Lake Bell’s debut takes a real life event – the death of voiceover king Don La Fontaine (the guy whose every trailer started “In a world…”) – and builds an almost Woody Allen-ish comedic story around it, about the pretenders jostling for his crown. Onto that it bolts a sentimental story of young under-achieving vocal coach Carol (Bell) and her difficult Oedipal relationship with her dad (Fred Melamed), a big noise in the voiceover biz. And off the side it hangs a “will they/won’t they” romance between Carol and studio whizz Louis (Demetri Martin). And then, as if … Read more
Matt Damon and Franka Potente in The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 15 January The Pentagon dedicated, 1943 On this day in 1943 in Arlington Virginia the Pentagon was dedicated. At the time it was the largest building in the world. The home of the US Department of Defense, it was originally intended to be built on an irregularly pentagonal piece of land at Arlington Farms. When it was learnt that this location would obstruct the view of Washington DC from Arlington Cemetery, where soldiers fallen in conflicts since the Civil War have been buried, the location was switched to the site of the defunct Washington Hoover Airport. The design stayed pentagonal but … Read more
Wilfrid Hyde White and Audrey Hepburn, plus hat.

My Fair Lady

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 14 January Cecil Beaton born, 1904 On this day in 1904, Cecil Hardy Beaton was born, in Hampstead, London. This son of a timber merchant was only interested in art from a very early age. Young Beaton was taught to use a camera by his nanny, and went on to spend his life making photographs of one form or another. He studied art, history and architecture at Cambridge University though left without a degree and after a short time trying to work in his father’s business set himself up as a photographer, using his society connections to get him the sittings for … Read more
Stephen McHattie in Pontypool

Pontypool

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 13 January First public radio broadcast, 1910 On this day in 1910, the first public radio broadcast was … heard is probably the wrong word, since almost no one had a radio set and the quality of the 500-watt transmission was so bad. But the first public radio broadcast was made at any rate, from the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, where Enrico Caruso, then the most famous opera singer in the world, sang arias from Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci along with Czech soprano Emmy Destin. Though both had belting voices, the microphones placed in the footlights were not really up … Read more
Palaeolithic drawings of horses in the Chauvet caves, in Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 January Caves of Nerja discovered, 1959 On this day in 1959, the Caves of Nerja were discovered. Or rediscovered. Stretching for about 5 kilometres close to the town of Nerja, Malaga, Spain, the system was entered by five friends who decided to follow a flock of bats into a locally well known small opening in the ground. This led to a narrow passage. And this led to a huge cavernous grotto now known as the Cascade Room. With the lights they had available they were able to make out the enormity of their find. They pressed on, accompanied by the … Read more
Terence Stamp and Julie Christie in Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 January Thomas Hardy dies, 1928 On this day in 1928, the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy died. He was 87 and this Victorian writer had survived into and almost through the age of the formal modernist, such as Joyce, with whom he had little in common, though he was an informing influence on writers with a more earthy, carnal and rural inclination, such as DH Lawrence. Hardy had trained as an architect in the 1860s but didn’t enjoy life in London and as soon as he became established enough he moved back to the West Country (Somerset, then Dorset) where … Read more
Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty

13 January 2014-01-13

Out in the UK This Week The Great Beauty (Artificial Eye, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) You don’t need to have seen Fellini’s La Dolce Vita to appreciate The Great Beauty, but it might make for a more rewarding experience if you have. The 1963 film told the story of a writer who has been seduced away from his noble calling to become a cynical journalist specialising in celebrity tittle-tattle. Paulo Sorrentino’s 2013 film imagines him at the end of his career, still a journalist, even more world weary, after decades of success, a name all over Rome, with a gnawing absence where his oeuvre  – or at least his second novel – should be. It’s … Read more

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