The Hi-Lo Country

Woody Harrelson and Billy Crudup in The Hi-Lo Country

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     16 July   Potsdam Conference, 1945 On this day in 1945, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Harry Truman arrived in Potsdam, where they were over the next two weeks to decide the shape of the world in the wake of the Second World War. The three powers had met before, at Yalta, in 1945 while the war was still coming to an end, when Franklin Roosevelt was still alive, and before then in Tehran in 1943, when it had started to look like the Allies might be triumphant. Germany had surrendered nine weeks before Potsdam, and the conference … Read more

The Messenger

Ben Foster, The Messenger

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     13 March   Henry Shrapnel dies, 1842 On this day in 1842, Major General Henry Shrapnel, British army officer, died aged 80, at his home, Peartree House, Southampton, UK. It was he who is supposed to have invented the “spherical case” bomb, which exploded in mid-air (there is every likelihood that it was in fact a French engineer called Bernard Forst de Bélidor). A hollow cannonball filled with lead shot, it was designed to inflict massive damage on people. Until then cannonballs had been solid and had achieved maximum impact when used against ships – it was the … Read more

Rampart

Woody Harrelson in Rampart

  A movie for every day of the year – a good one     3 March     Rodney King beating caught on camera, 1991 On this day in 1991, one of the inaugural events of the age of citizen journalism occurred after paroled felon Rodney King was stopped by police after a high speed chase and then beaten by five officers. King was drunk and had been trying to outrun the police, knowing that arrest while driving under the influence would mean a violation of his parole and an immediate return to prison. George Holliday’s videotape of the beating of Rodney King was what made the event important. He’d switched his … Read more

Natural Born Killers

Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers

        Oliver Stone’s notorious film about two dim kids who kill a few people and become media celebrities takes two actors who weren’t exactly the go-to choices for crazy nutjob killer roles. Woody Harrelson was fresh from playing affable dunce Woody in Cheers and Juliette Lewis was uppermost in the mind as the daughter in Cape Fear. As it turned out the roles fit them like a second skin. As in similar gangster/road movies such as Badlands or Bonnie & Clyde, writer Quentin Tarantino and director Stone send their two fuck-ups off on a series of murders. But, unusually, they also send them off on a stylistic journey through a … Read more