With cinemas still closed because of lockdown restrictions, websites continue to provide for those of us with a hunger for good movies.
One of the most powerful ones I got was Winter Sleep, an epic from Nuri Bilge Ceylan about the problems encountered by a landlord in a small Turkish village after the son of one of his tenants throws a stone at his van and breaks a window. It’s beautifully shot, with echoes of everyone from Chekhov to Dostoevsky in the script.
You might also like to check out another epic, The Place Behind the Pines. This starts out being about a drifter (Ryan Gosling). He robs banks to support his child. Later it turns into a film about the policeman who shoots him, Bradley Cooper. It’s a masterpiece from that great director Derek Cianfrance. He also made The Light Between Oceans.
Reign Over Me is a lovely film about the friendship between a troubled young man (Adam Sandler) and his former college room-mate, Don Cheadle. If, like me, you think of Sandler as a trivial actor, this film will make you totally revise that view – he’s phenomenal here.
Maybe also buy a copy of Gone with the Wind, at least if you can get your hands on one. You’re probably aware of the moves to have this removed from a streaming service on the grounds of racism in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks.
I’m totally in favour of everything the Black Lives Matter movement has done up to now but we have to draw the line at this kind of censorship. To me it totally misunderstands the difference between depicting something and condoning it. Gone With the Wind opened our eyes to a time when racism was common practice. As such it serves as a caution to us not to let society slip into such patterns again.
I feel the same about the #MeToo movement and their demands to ban certain films, they’ve gone too far. Someone said recently that if you smile at a woman in a bar today you nearly need to be calling your lawyer. If society becomes too restrictive, women themselves will be the losers. An ineradicable gap will open up between the sexes that’s been created by fear.
The latest piece of insanity to emerge from the politically correct brigade has been the temporary removal from television of an episode of Fawlty Towers that was deemed offensive to Germans. As John Cleese pointed out, the programme was making fun of racists, not Germans.
Did he need to say that? Was it not obvious? Many politically correct people lack a basic intelligence about the subtleties of satire. Actually this wasn’t subtle – it was screamingly obvious.
If we start cutting Fawlty Towers, where do we stop? Should we ban The Quiet Man because of its stage-Irishry? How about censoring Mary Poppins because it pokes fun at chimney sweeps?