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"Say hello to my little friend": Al Pacino in Scarface


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 September Brian De Palma born, 1940 On this day in 1940, Brian De Palma was born. De Palma is one of the key figures in the New Hollywood group that stormed the citadel in the 1970s. If 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde marked the beginning, 1977’s Star Wars saw the beginning of the end for the golden ten-year run of the New Hollywood gang, after which 1940s Hollywood certainties seemed to re-establish themselves and the selling of spin-off action figures became too lucrative to ignore. In that short sweet flowering, the careers of Scorsese, Coppola, Bogdanovich, Spielberg, Lucas, Rafelson and Schrader … Read more
John Turturro, Hank Azaria and Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show

Quiz Show

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 10 September The “Coughing” Major, 2001 On this day in 2001, Charles Ingram, a former major in the British army, won £1,000,000 in the UK TV gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. But before the payout could be made, accusations were already flying that he’d been tipped off as to the real answer to various questions by two plants in the audience – his wife, Diana, and a friend, Tecwen Whittock – who would cough when the right answer was read out. Ingram did not cough himself, nor was he any longer a major, but tabloid newspapers, preferring a story … Read more
Danny Huston in Ivansxtc


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 09 September Leo Tolstoy born, 1828 On this day in 1828, Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born. A gambler, womaniser, brawler and university dropout in his youth, he took a turn to the spiritual as he got older, sometime after having already written War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). Indeed, he became something of an ascetic anarchist, choosing to live a life of simplicity and pacificism. He was an advocate of non-violence and extremely influential on Mohandas (ie Mahatma) Gandhi, who named his second ashram in South Africa the Tolstoy Colony, and on Martin Luther King Jr. A prodigous essayist … Read more
Srdjan Todorovic in A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 08 September Stephen Dusan declares himself King of Serbia, 1331 On this day in 1331, after a brief war with his father, Stephen Dusan, aged 23, tall, handsome, intelligent and of “kingly presence”, was crowned King of All Serbian and Maritime Lands. Also known as Dusan the Mighty, the king initiated Dusan’s Code, a legal and constitutional framework of governance, later established himself Emperor of the Serbs and Greek, and went on to conquer large parts of Southern Europe. Under Stephen Dusan, Serbia became as powerful as it ever would be and acted as a bulwark against the advance of the … Read more
inside job

Inside Job

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 07 September US government takes over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, 2008 On this day in 2008, the US government placed two national organisations, the Federal National Mortgage Association (aka Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (aka Freddie Mac) into “consertavorship”, in much the same way that someone takes power of attorney over the estate of a relative who has lost their mind. Fannie Mae existed to lend out money to people who wanted to buy a house. Freddie Mac bought those mortages, repackaged them and then sold them on in a secondary market, thus increasing the amount … Read more
Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 3

9 September 2013-09-09

 Out in the UK this week Iron Man 3 (Disney, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD/VOD) Drawing a veil over the fact that Avengers Assemble was in effect Iron Man 3, the official Iron Man 3 arrives with Jon Favreau bumped from directing duties and Shane Black in the writing/directing chair. Black wrote the Lethal Weapon films and, blow me, if he hasn’t turned Iron Man – one of the best superhero franchises of recent years, thanks to its understanding of the sheer exhilaration of being able to do cool stuff – into a leaden, clanking 1980s action movie. Yes, Black can fashion a quip, and Robert Downey Jr is certainly the man to deliver them, … Read more
Gerard Butler and Idris Elba in RocknRolla


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 06 September Idris Elba born, 1972 On this day in 1972, Eve Elba gave birth to Idrissa Akuna Elba, who shortened his name to Idris after starting school in London’s Canning Town. A big kid at school, Idris had the status that went with it, was good at sport, interested in music, keen on acting, where he found he had the self-confidence to “disappear into the character”. At 14 he was a pirate DJ. At 16 he was a theatre stagehand and also did night shifts at Ford’s Dagenham factory. In his early 20s the acting took off and he went from … Read more
August Diehl and Lena Lauzemis in If Not Us, Who

If Not Us, Who?

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 September Kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, 1977 On this day in 1977, the West German businessman Hanns-Martin Schleyer – a former SS officer who had risen to post-war prominence in the country’s employers organisation – was kidnapped in Cologne by the militant urban guerrilla group Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, as part of what became know as the German Autumn. His kidnappers were hoping to use him, at least partly, as collateral to force the government to release jailed members of their gang, including prominent faces Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin. While the gang moved Schleyer around, from … Read more
An illuminated billboard at dusk

Los Angeles Plays Itself

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 04 September Founding of Los Angeles, 1781 On this day in 1781 a group of 44 people (plus four soldiers) known as the Pobladores founded the “city” of Los Angeles. Or as it was known then El Peublo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles sobre el Río Porciúncula (the Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River) – California (or Las Californias) being still part of the Spanish empire in those days. The group comprised 11 men, 11 women and 22 children, and were a racially mixed bunch who had been recruited with difficulty in … Read more
Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the pits


Is Rush – about the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt – Ron Howard’s best film yet? After those terrible Da Vinci Code films recently, made for who knows what favour to the studio, this might not seem like much of a claim. But let’s not forget that Howard made Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon. If there’s one thing uniting those three films and Rush it’s that they’re all based firmly on real events. And yes, to bolster the argument, it’s necessary to forget about boxing drama Cinderella Man, Russell Crowe’s Rocky, also based on the life of a real man, but only of value to archaeologists … Read more
Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Anthony Hopkins as Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter

The Lion in Winter

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 03 September Richard I of England crowned at Westminster, 1189 On this day in 1189 one of the most famous English kings was crowned in Westminster Abbey in London. Known as the Lionheart, because of his great courage in battle, he is often viewed romantically, especially if seen through the prism of the Robin Hood stories, in which his half brother John always gets the bad guy role and Richard is the paragon of virtue. Richard spoke French, not English (he was also the Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine, Nantes, Anjou, Gascony and so on – the idea of monarchy and nation being … Read more
Peter Finch delivers his "mad as hell speech in Network


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 02 September 50th Anniversary of CBS Evening News On this day in 1963 CBS’s flagship news show – broadcast since 1948 – assumed the title CBS Evening News. At which point it became US network TV’s first half-hour weeknight news broadcast. Walter Cronkite was its presenter (he’d taken over from Douglas Edwards the year before), a position he’d hold until 1981. A solid, progressive middle-American with natural gravitas, Cronkite became known as “the most trusted man in America” and the CBS Evening News became the country’s ratings-leading and most authoritative news broadcast. To this day when footage about the assassinations of JFK and Martin … Read more

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