July 07, 2007
I just love Film Four. I've been recording stuff they put on in the afternoon or late at night and rarely is there a duff movie, just hundreds of films I've never heard of, let alone seen.
Such was the case with Gentleman's Agreement: Gregory Peck's Phil Green is a journalist for a liberal magazine in New York, shortly after the end of the Second World War. Commissioned to write an in depth article on antisemitism, he pretends to be Jewish and is astonished at the reaction. Perhaps most from his well-born fiancee who thinks and speaks liberal but finds the social upheaval of acting on it too difficult.
It reminded me of a former girlfriend who, when I mentioned that my great-grandmother was Jewish and therefore my grandfather also, asked that I didn't mention this to her grandfather. I asked why not, as it is something I'm rather proud of (the rest of my ancestory seems depressingly English). Like Kathy in the film, she replied that he wouldn't understand.
How dismaying it is that half a century since the film was made, we still live in a world where antisemitism can fester, not to the degree it did, but perhaps more than at any time I can recall.
Still, it only goes to show that Gentleman's Agreement, not to mention its fine script and excellent performances, has something to teach us today.
May 03, 2007
If you don't watch any other film this year...
...I implore you to go and see Taking Liberties.
This is not simply because the director is a close friend. Or that I advised the team at S2SPost on pulling together the book-of-the-film.
Quite simply, it is the most personally relevant film you are likely to see. Too often the idea of civil rights are presented as desparately important but very dull and rather arcane. Moreover, they have been closely associated with the fringes of political debate - the Islington Liberal and the Libertarian Right.
Chris and his team have not only managed to demonstrate (to select an aposite term) the potential impact on the everyday folk but to do with a lot of humour and the wonderful voice of Ashley Jensen to boot. Any film with Boris Johnson and Tony Benn is surely going to have something going for it.
The film is in cinemas from 8 June but there are some advanced screenings at the Hay Festival of Literature and Warwick Arts Centre to name but two.
The blog is worth a read too.