The Duke

Kempton and Dorothy at home

The Duke is a great example of the sort of film that Brits make for domestic consumption and which often do pretty well internationally as well. Playing up to harmless stereotypes, they’re full of silly sausages with funny voices and odd, eccentric behaviours. Here for the most part it’s Northerners being earthy and honest and principled, while down South a different sort of daffy stereotype – posh, restrained, clean – are hauling on barristers’ outfits and judges’ horsehair wigs to use Latinate turns of phrase in the most rarefied of settings, the courtroom. Both export beautifully. Both reassure the natives even more. The stereotypes are diamond tooled in The Duke, a true story … Read more

The Queen

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     8 February     Elizabeth II proclaimed queen of UK, 1952 On this day in 1952, Elizabeth II was proclaimed queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. She had actually become queen two days earlier, on the death of her father, George VI, which she heard about while on a tour of Kenya. Proclamations were read out starting the next day. But according to time zone or geographical location, some parts of the new queen’s realm had not completed the formalities until the day after that. In keeping with protocol, the queen took different titles in different … Read more

Caligula

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