Macbeth

Francesca Annis and Jon Finch

In 1971, less than two years after his wife, Sharon Tate, and unborn child had been murdered by Charles Manson and his mad followers, Roman Polanski went to work on his version of Macbeth (aka The Tragedy of Macbeth). “Exorcising the demons” is how the result is often described. Whether you buy into the pop psychology or not, this commercial flop is a bloody and brutal film, and a remarkably powerful one – direct, cinematic, taut and… yes… bloody. Polanski got in Kenneth Tynan – at the time the UK’s most famous critic, the literary manager at the National Theatre and infamous as the first man to say “fuck” on British television – to help … Read more

Chinatown

Jack Nicholson bears the scars of combat in Chinatown

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     24 June   The Aqua Traiana inaugurated, 109 On this day in 109, the aqueduct the Aqua Traiana was put into service. Built on the orders of the emperor Trajan, it supplied Rome with fresh water. Rome’s appetite for water was huge and among the things the Aqua Traiana did was: help deliver drinking water for Rome’s one millions citizens; water for countless public baths including the massive Baths of Trajan overlooking the Colosseum; spectacular fountains; and other leisure uses including the Naumachia of Trajan, a huge basin used for staging naval displays; not forgetting the importance of water … Read more

The Pianist

Adrien Brody as Wladislaw Szpilman in The Piano

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     11 March   Roman Polanski charged with rape, 1977 On this day in 1977, the film director Roman Polanski was arrested on a charge of rape by use of drug. He was also charged with perversion, sodomy, a lewd and lascivious act on a child under 14 and with furnishing a controlled substance to a child under 14. Samantha Gailey was the victim, a 13-year-old he had been photographing as part of an assignment for French Vogue. The shoot took place at the actor Jack Nicholson’s house. Nicholson was away skiing. Polanski pleaded not guilty to all charges … Read more