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Mircea Andreescu as Piscoci (left), Teo Corban as Jderescu (middle) and Ion Sapdaru as Manescu (right).

12:08 East of Bucharest

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 December Nicholae Ceauşescu executed, 1989 On this day in 1989, Nicolae Ceauşescu, general secretary of the Romanian Communist party since 1965, president of the country since 1967, was tried and convicted by a military tribunal, then taken out and shot by a firing squad, along with his wife Elena. Only the previous month, in November 1989, he had been re-elected for another five years as leader of the Romanian Communist Party. Ceauşescu had taken the opportunity to denounce the spread of anti-Communist rebellion throughout Eastern Europe. On 16 December in the city of Timişoara an impromptu demonstration against the eviction … Read more
Mark Coles Smith as Billy "Streaky" Bacon in Beneath Hill 60

Beneath Hill 60

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 December The Christmas Truce, 1914 On this day in 1914, an unofficial truce broke out, mostly between the British and German soldiers, at the Front in the First World War. It was the first year of the war and it had already become largely a static war fought from trenches. Troops had been dug in for months and had become familiar with their opposite numbers. As Christmas approached and the tug of hearth and home got stronger, men began to sing songs on both sides of no man’s land. Perhaps because the British and Germans would have been familiar with … Read more
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 23 December Carla Bruni born, 1967 On this day in 1967, Carla Gilberta Bruni Tedeschi was born in Turin, Italy. The daughter of a concert pianist and a composer, and the grand-daughter of Virginio Bruni Tedeschi, founder of CEAT tyres, Carla grew up in France, where her family moved to escape threats from the Red Brigades, the terrorist group active in 1970s Italy. She studied art and architecture and became a model at 19, going on to become one of the highest paid in the business. In 1997 she abandoned modelling to devote herself to music. Her first album, Quelqu’un M’a … Read more
Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska in Ida


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 22 December Beethoven debuts 5th Symphony, 1808 On this day in 1808, the composer Ludwig van Beethoven debuted his most famous work, the 5th Symphony, at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. It was a big evening, lasting more than four hours, at which Beethoven also debuted his 6th Symphony, his 4th Piano Concerto, plus a few other items, with the whole evening rounded off by another debut, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, which he had written specifically as a big show-off finale piece. Possibly because there was so much new material to familiarise the orchestra with, partly because rehearsals were rushed, … Read more
The wicker man in The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 December The Southern Solstice Today is the Southern solstice. If you are in the northern hemisphere, it marks the point at which the sun rises least above the horizon. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it is midsummer, longest day of the year. And correspondingly the shortest in the north. Towards the equator the effect is minimal, with day and night length tending to match each other the whole year through. But in London, where I am writing this, it means the sun will come up a handful of minutes after 8am and set just before 4pm. Tomorrow, the … Read more
Steve Jobs The Lost Interview

Steve Jobs The Lost Interview

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 20 December NeXT merges with Apple, 1996 On this day in 1996, Apple Computer Inc agreed a deal with Next Computer Inc to buy Next for $429 million, plus 1.5 million Apple shares. Next had been set up by Steve Jobs after he had been ousted in 1985 from Apple, the company he had co-founded in 1976. The deal involved the return of Jobs to Apple, which was seen as something of a second coming for Apple, whose fortunes had been languishing since Jobs had left (and before he had left too). The deal was brokered by Gil Amelio, who had … Read more
Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 December Birth of Leonid Brezhnev, 1906 On this day in 1906, the very last old-school leader of the USSR was born. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was born into Tsarist Russia, the son of workers. Thanks to an education at a technical school he became a metallurgist, joined Komsomol (the Communist youth movement) and started to make his way in the party, becoming a political commissar in a tank factory by the age of 30, and eventually party secretary in Dnipropetrovsk, a Ukrainian city intimately connected to the arms industry. As a result of Stalin’s purges in the late 1930s, Brezhnev advanced … Read more
Taraneh Alidoosti in Fireworks Wednesday

Fireworks Wednesday

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 18 December Islamic Development Bank founded, 1973 On this day in 1973, finance ministers meeting at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now called the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) set up the Islamic Development Bank. Designed to serve Muslims around the world, it is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran, Egypt and other leading Islamic countries and in May 2013 it tripled its authorised capital to $150 billion. It operates by lending money for “productive projects and enterprises” – development projects including bridges, canals, roads and other infrastructure. Though it is often assumed that the earning of interest against the lending … Read more
Will Ferrell and James Caan in Elf


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 17 December Saturnalia first celebrated, 497BC On this day in 497BC, the Romans consecrated the new Temple of Saturn and celebrated the feast of Saturnalia for the first time. Saturn was believed to be the god who had ruled in the golden age, when labour could be carried out without back-breaking work, when human beings were not plagued by iniquitous social division. The festival was celebrated with a sacrifice, feasting, partying and gift-giving and continued from 17 to the 23 December. It was a time of free speech and role reversal, of dressing up and hats, of masks and other disguises. … Read more
Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 16 December Henry VI of England crowned king of France, 1431 On this day in 1431, Henry VI of England was crowned king of France. Born in 1421, Henry of Windsor had become king of England aged nine months. By 11 months, on the death of his grandfather, Charles VI, he had also been named king of France. Since he was a child and hardly in a position to do anything regal, two uncles ran the show for him. John of Lancaster (brother of the dead king, Henry V) became regent of France, while John’s brother Humphrey became Protector of England. … Read more
Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter and Jason Sudeikis in We're the Millers

16 December 2013-12-16

Out in the UK this week We’re the Millers (Warner, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD) Having turned up in small roles in good films (say, Friends with Money), in big roles in bad films (The Bounty Hunter), Jennifer Aniston finally makes a film in which she is a star and it is good and funny. She plays the poledancer pretending to be married to smalltime weed seller Jason Sudeikis, so they can smuggle a shitload of marijuana over from Mexico into the US, posing as an average family riding around in an RV. Along for the ride (and a cut of the cash) are street hustler Emma Roberts and dweeb Will Poulter. It’s basically your … Read more
Jodie Whittaker and Peter O'Toole in Venus


A movie for every day of the year – a good one 15 December Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 lands on Venus, 1970 On this day in 1970, the Soviet Union landed a spacecraft on Venus. The Venera 7 had been launched from Earth on 17 August 1970 and arrived in the proximity of Venus nearly four months later. At this point the spacecraft began its descent, retaining the rocket that had powered it to Venus to use as a heat shield until the atmosphere was dense enough for the use of a parachute, at which point the rocket was jettisoned. At 60km up the parachute deployed, but it failed. The probe hit the … Read more

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