Moving image

At least I did manage to squeeze in a couple of visits to the Emporium of the Moving Image in the last ten days. The Rage in Placid Lake is a terrifically quirky little Australian indie movie. Placid, raised by new-age parents who are so hip they send him to school in a dress to ‘challenge’ perceptions, is a bit screwed up and finally decides to be ‘normal’, taking a job in an insurance firm and trying to fit in, much to his parents’ horror. Think on a weird Australian take on the Modern Parents from Viz comic but much better done and with a lot of emotional honesty and sympathy that most of us will empathise with. A great wee film and one well worthy of your support.

Finally caught the Machinist a few days ago – very odd little film, kind of Jacob’s Ladder crossed with Memento, shot as if by Darren Aronofsky (around his Requiem for a Dream and Pi period – and by the way he has a fascinating looking graphic novel called the Fountain out this August, which is a ‘director’s cut’ of the Fountain movie he is making with Hugh Jackman – more on that later).

Very weird, even by my standards, but very interesting. Christian Bale is amazing in it, although it is very difficult to look at his emaciated form (hard to believe he got down to this weight then had to go bulk up again right after for Batman Begins). He does resemble a Belsen victim, an image re-enforced at one point when he puts on a stripey shirt that is far too big for his shrunken frame. The camera often moves across his half-naked, ravaged frame in an almost fetishistic manner, forcing the viewer’s gaze, challenging it.

Of course, a few days later it was the anniversary of the Allied liberation of the Bergen-Belsen death camps and there were those haunting images for real – no wonder some of the British, Canadian and American troops shot the SS guards hiding among the prisoners out of hand. I can’t condone that, but if I had been there I’m not sure I would have stopped them. The BBC had a particularly good audio-visual presentation combining Dimbleby’s radio report with a slide show to mark the occasion. Incredibly difficulty to listen to and look at, but then it should be and we should look at it, because there are still people out there who says these events never happened and who call for people who are ‘different’ from us to be treated differently.

These people are one step from ‘untermenschenen’, racial ‘purity’ and hatred of all that they dislike. And some of them are out there campaigning right now in the election here – and I’m not just talking about the far-right nutters who proclaim there ain’t no black in the Union Jack (and I don’t care how much you protest you are ‘nationalists’ and ‘patriots’, you’re not, you’re bloody Nazis and as far as I’m concerned that makes you a traitor rather than a patriot after all this nation gave to eradicate that pollution from the world).

I’m also talking about the Tories and the Labour bandwagons playing the race card, vilifying immigrants and travelling folk alike. When the far-right have gained some council seats in a few Northern cities, feeding on hunger politics, the main parties should be distancing themselves ever further from such ideas, instead of greedily chasing the votes such hatred-stoking brings. That’s how discrimination remains among us and that’s how low-level discrimination can grow, even in a civilised, advanced, educated society to a hatred and fear which will contemplate any treatment of those it learns to blame and hate.

That is, after all, what happened in 1933 in Germany. Not in some Third World country of rural, uneducated folks, right here in the heart of Europe, within living memory. Ah freak one-off? The terrible events in the former Yugoslaviashow us we cannot allow ourselves the comfort of that flawed myth. And yet here we have our ‘responsible’ politicians stoking racial and national prejudices once more while decrying the right wing fascists for the exact same thing. It is only one small step from villifying immigrants to ethnic cleansing. It all rebounds upon our society of course, for a community riven by hatred will eat itself in fear and loathing and violence and distrust. No wonder so many people no longer wish to vote.