My Friend the Rapist, My Friend the Survivor

Each year I join the pre-selection committee of the Monte Carlo TV Festival Golden Nymph Awards. I truly love this experience because it exposes me to a whole bunch of top flight global television that I maybe wouldn’t otherwise get to see, and my life is definitely richer for it. Over time, it’s been interesting to note the content, developed all around the world, comes in thematic waves. Two years ago it was Nazism, last year, immigrants, and this year there are several entries about the rape and abuse of women. (the above image is Emily Mortimer in Apple Tree Yard.)

Interestingly, it would so far appear that rapes in these series are not chucked in as plot points or useful mechanisms for driving the drama (I’m looking at you Christopher Nolan) but as devastating pivotal moments in the lives of real human beings. Whether this approach is because of increased awareness of global activism – #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc – or instead a cynical ratings ploy of commissioning editors jumping on bandwagons, remains to be seen. Perhaps it’s both? Film, after all is both a reflection and a driver of culture.

I’m musing on this now because the issue is close and personal. Back in 2016, Continue reading “My Friend the Rapist, My Friend the Survivor”

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction was playing on tv this morning while I was getting ready for work, and I could hardly drag myself away. I’d forgotten how much I really loved this sweet, whimsical, absurdist tale of a buttoned-up and completely anal IRS agent (Ferrell) who begins hearing a prim, British, female voice in his head, narrating his life with potentially devastating consequences…..

More surprising now, as I look back, I realize that this, one of my favorite films ever, was directed by Marc Forster, who went on to make Quantum of Solace and World War Z, both cracking, complex, big-budget action adventures. This is something quite different and really quite lovely.

Creative Serbia: The Future is Creative

As a white South African, I know how negative perceptions of a place and its people are perpetuated through media stereotypes; how often do the hitmen and warlords and drug dealers and psychotics and gangsters in Hollywood movies and video games and tv shows speak with Serbian (or South African) accents? Often, that’s how often. I’m attuned to this vilification. There are reasons for it of course (admittedly some of which stem from what the country once was.) More than history, though, the fact is that Serbs have very little power or voice in the real world, and more importantly, they don’t have the financial clout to force or even influence a change. (when was the last time you saw a Chinese movie villain?)  The truth is that media messages and perceptions have almost zero relation to the country and its people in the real world of 2018.

But there’s a plan to change this. Six months ago, I was invited to join Prime Minister Brnabic‘s cabinet Continue reading “Creative Serbia: The Future is Creative”

Three Billboards Makes America Great Again

“Three Billboards” is polished and impressive “small film” about a grieving mother and her escalating attempts to humiliate a small-town police chief into solving the murder of her teenage daughter. Frances McDormand plays the mom, Mildred Hayes, and the billboards in Ebbing are the site of her campaign. I enjoyed the film, especially Mildred’s rude fierceness. The movie’s also done incredibly well for itself – a small haul of Golden Globes and an Oscar Best Actress for McDormand herself, and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell playing a particularly racist and homophobic cop.

But, but, the movie’s not been without its detractors and indeed there’s been something of a backlash against the film. In particular, critics have objected to the casual care with which Rockwell’s character is treated given his evident vileness, as well as his shot of redemption at the end. As Wesley Morris suggests in the NYT “This Is Not America.”

The title and location of Three Billboards makes it seem like the movie is saying something grand about human nature in small-town America. But none of it rings true……“Three Billboards” is a cupcake rolled in glass. It all just feels off.

I think there’s stuff that could be said here about “it’s a fiction, not a documentary” and “it does not have to be about anything to be a great piece of entertainment”. But the more I thought about this overnight, the more I came up with this: Continue reading “Three Billboards Makes America Great Again”

Call Me By Your Name

I grew up, in part, on the edge of a small village in Spain. My teenage years were leisurely and sun-dappled, our dinners alfresco, our conversations multi-lingual. We moved as a small pack of foreign kids – Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian – reconvening every summer to flirt, swim, sunbathe, and dance in utterly uncool small-town discos, coming-of-age to the sounds of cicadas, the taste of paella and the sweet smell of coconut suntan oil. Because of this, perhaps, Call Me By Your Name was overwhelmingly evocative and I could not look away from the screen.