Counteracting prejudice with movies

I saw this tweet late this afternoon and read the little article behind it…

… and it has made me feel completely sick! That comment about Jews, I will not repeat it here (don’t want those words on my blog) but I didn’t understand it at first. I’d never heard it before so I stared at it for a few seconds. Then it dawned on me what it was supposed to signify and I felt a punch in the gut, tears springing to my eyes. I literally couldn’t believe that such a cruel term existed! How disrespectful and hateful can someone be? How can anyone refer to survivors of the Holocaust like that? I just cannot wrap my head around such an awful comment. Ever since that antisemitic rant of that actor (he is also not worth mentioning) I have cringed at his name. Being drunk doesn’t excuse racist behaviour, it just exposes what is ingrained in a person. And that comment about gay people… wow… how can such a thing be said, even in jest?!?

Just before I read that I also read today (thank you Guylty for premiering the news for me!) that Richard Armitage will be making an LGBTQ+ movie called “Now and Then”. The article says it’s about: “Laura, in her 60s and Chris, her gay, middle-aged son, are forced to undertake an exploration of their past mistakes and regrets to try and make sense of their present condition and their relationship with each other. To find peace with now, it’s necessary for them to make peace with then.” Richard says it’s a role that resonates strongly with him (I would love to hear him speak more about that) and it sounds like a story with great potential. I’m really excited for this one!

We need movies like that to counteract the prejudice voiced by people like in the article above. We need more movies about antisemitism (that are not solely related to the Holocaust). Gregory Peck once made a good one in 1947 called Gentleman’s Agreement that may be a bit dated, yet still rings true today. It’s about a journalist who has to write a piece about antisemitism and to do so poses as a Jewish man for a few months…

In more recent years, we’ve also been getting some really good LGBTQ movies that have made it big, like the Moonlight movie last year that I loved about a young black man struggling with being gay, told during three key times in his life…

… and The Imitation Game about World War II code breaker Alan Turing who had experienced the necessity and cruelty of hiding that he was gay…

… and the movie Colin Firth made a decade ago called A Single Man about a college professor in 1962 wanting to kill himself after his boyfriend dies.

For Colin, this meant his first Oscar nomination and a turning point in his career when finally much better roles started coming his way again. I hope something like this will happen for Richard too, that this will be the door opening to other and better roles for him as well. Most importantly, though, this movie is a great thing in the fight against prejudice! The arts are so important…

The Oscars 2015

Every year, for many years now, I stay up all night to watch the Oscars live on TV (ceremony starts at around 2 am here and ends at around 6 am!). For the past 5 or 6 years a close friend of mine comes over to watch it with me. We take the Monday off work and after breakfast/lunch at around 1 pm she heads home again…

Oscars

Ever since my early teens in Germany ‘discovering’ Hollywood I always wanted to see the Oscars. It was a celebration of film and I could ogle actors in ‘real life’ – but more glamorously. Yes, there’s always criticism about the choice of nominations and who wins and the awards show itself and the speeches and who wore what and looked stunning/awful and in the grand scheme of things I do realize it is fluff and not so important. But it is fun and I like fun! I could never watch the ceremony then, it didn’t air on any channel we received. In later years in The Netherlands it occasionally aired somewhere on a channel somewhere and then some years I couldn’t find an airing of the ceremony anywhere, to my great chagrin. Only in more recent times have I been able to watch regularly on a paid cable film channel that opens up for free on Oscar night! And so, maybe 10 years ago or so, my all-nighters began and I could finally see for myself on a regular yearly basis what everyone was writing about.

Watching the Oscars also means that I like to see at least some of the movies nominated. I don’t go see them all, just the ones that really interest me and sound good to me beforehand. I had seen The Imitation Game and loved it. Last week on a Wednesday afternoon, while my husband was working from home, I was able to catch the very last screening in our local cinema (on my own, with just 4 other people present in the room!) of The Theory of Everything. Yes, excellent performances by Eddie Redmayne and for me, especially from Felicity Jones! I wanted to blog about that as well, especially about Felicity, but I was too busy and then this past week I have been ill (hence the Oscar post only now and not 3 days ago).

Felicity Jones - Jane HawkingWow, I so would have liked for her to win an Oscar for playing Jane Hawking! So strongly acted and culminating in the heartbreaking  scene near the end at the break up of their marriage. Beautiful, understated, so well done!

David Oyelowo - Martin Luther King

Then on Sunday evening, before my all-night Oscar party, my friend and I went to see Selma. The name “Selma” is special to me and I love that it is now also associated with a good movie! For me, it was not the best movie of the year (somehow The Imitation Game touched me more, but that may be because that story is less known) but, boy, was it solid and good. And especially David Oyelowo was excellent! That man has been robbed for not being nominated for his role in Selma!

This year the Oscar viewing was a bit different – I didn’t have to stay awake after the Oscars to get the kids up and off to school as they have the week off. And they decided they wanted to watch the Oscars as well with my friend and I! So, kids had gone to bed early and we woke them up about an hour before the ceremony began (just after 1 am!). They watched some of the red carpet with us and then the ceremony as well. My husband gave up at around 3.30 am and went to bed but the kids, my friend and I watched till the end. It was so nice having the kids do this with us, although I suspect they were more fascinated by the staying-up-through-the-night aspect of it all than by the actual Oscars thing. 😉

ThiEddie Redmayne Oscars year I didn’t have so much to really root for. I would have slightly preferred Cumberbatch to win over Redmayne but did love that Redmayne had won and his joyous acceptance of the award. I really like Julianne Moore but I was rooting for Felicity Jones. Loved that The Imitation Game received one vital award (adapted screenplay – and the wonderful speech that went with that!) but wished they could have received more. I loved the speech the winner for best foreign film gave (Polish film called “Ida”) and how he went on talking through the music and the disarming honest humor in that speech. I couldn’t join in the Birdman fuss as that film isn’t out here yet I don’t think… and that’s where my gripe starts…

This was mostly about films no one the-hobbit-Thorinhas seen! Granted, I love small films and feel they deserve awards like these, but a little more recognition for a blockbuster like, oh, The Hobbit would not have been amiss! I think people are so used to the wonders of Middle Earth that it isn’t considered special anymore… I really missed The Hobbit in all this…

As for the show itself – Neil Patrick Harris didn’t do it for me as a presenter. I so much preferred last year’s Ellen DeGeneres and some years before that: Hugh Jackman, who had really surprised me at the time! Harris delivered some nice jokes – only to undo each and every one of them after the punchline with a little grin!

I really liked the song “Glory” from “Selma” that won the Oscar – very powerful performance on Oscar night with John Legend, Common and a gospel choir to back them up! And then the most surprising performance of the night and real high point for me – when Lady Gaga did that The Sound of Music medley! I mean, yeah, I knew Lady Gaga could sing – but like that?!? Wow!

Lady Gaga - Julie Andrews 2 Lady Gaga - Julie Andrews

And then Julie Andrews came out and hugged her and said “Dear Lady Gaga… thank you for that wonderful tribute, it warmed my heart”… my goodness, goosebumps and the best 5 or 6 minutes of the whole show for me!

So, yes, thereColin-Firth-Oscar was little for me to get excited over on the awards front this year (unlike 4 or so years ago when Colin Firth won – I was over-the-moon then! Still so happy about that, that I need to share a picture on the right here). And yet, this still was a memorable Oscar night for me: there was the Lady Gaga surprise and Julie Andrews, there was sadness at missing The Hobbit and, most memorable of all, there was the sharing of this Oscar night with my kids for the first time!

Benedict Cumberbatch…

…. is absolutely awesome in The Imitation Game! If he wins an Oscar for this role it is totally deserved!

Went to see this film this afternoon with 2 friends of mine and my 13 year old son who is turning into a bit of a Benedict Cumberbatch fan (he’s taken a liking to Sherlock). I have known Benedict Cumberbatch for years now, first saw him about 7 or 8 years ago in a film with James McAvoy (another great actor!) called ‘Starter for 10’ which I really enjoyed. When I first saw him and McAvoy in that film I knew they were both keepers! Excellent actors to look out for. And I was right. 🙂

Cumberbatch to me has a bit of an odd face but an interesting one and the emotions and expressions that flick across his face are amazing. He is excellent as a nerdy character and has a great voice.

Anyway, back to The Imitation Game – it is the incredible story of Alan Turing who cracked the code of the German Enigma machine in World War II. He was a highly intelligent nerdy socially handicapped mathematician who was also gay and was condemned for that. The film really was excellent, it totally lived up to what I hoped it would be. The build up of the story was excellent, it time jumps between the main portion of the story during WWII, Turing’s boyhood and Turing in the 1950s when he is accused of “gross indecency”. The acting was so good, drawing you in from the first scenes, and Benedict Cumberbatch stood out for me. The man is amazing, his face and his body language are so very expressive, he becomes the character so very completely. The secrets he has to keep and live with are extremely difficult to bear and give his life it’s tragedy. I am not a huge Keira Knightley fan but for some reason I like many of the films she is in (she picks well) and she really is very good yet again. Another stand out for me is Mark Strong who proves yet again that he is under-used in movies! Give the man some more leading roles in big productions!

benedict-cumberbatch-alan-turing-keira-knightley-mark-strong-the-imitation-game

I need to watch this again, to catch all the nuances and Cumberbatch, although a bit of an odd bloke, deserves every accolade for his portrayal of Alan Turing! Yes, by all means give the man an Oscar! Although, I have to say, I haven’t seen Eddie Redmayne yet in “The Theory of Everything”, which I suspect may be an acting tour-de-force as well…