Francaises, Francais: et vous qu'est qui vous preocuppe? (Le Monde)
As we gear for a presidential election, Le Monde is meeting and interviewing lots of regular French people across the country. Tellingly, the opening question is "What worries out at the moment?" - giving you a sense of the level of optimism filling up the country! What I also noticed in the interviews is that all the people who live in the countryside are talking about their villages emptying and businesses closing, with a feeling of powerlessness. What's to be done about that?
Nazis: A Warning from History (BBC4)
The 1997 documentary series is being shown again. It includes many interviews with eyewitnesses and people who lived through the 1920s, 30s and the rise of Hitler. "You swan with the tide", said one. "In 1933, it was impossible to predict 1945", said another. It seems insane now that France annexed Germany's most productive region, the Rhur, as reparation for WWI; that the Nazis had their own paramilitary troops (the brown shirts) and the army and police didn't try and quash them; that the two most popular parties in 1930s Germany (the Nazis and Communists) aimed to destroy democracy and each other (the documentary includes recordings of songs from both groups telling how they would fight to the death to defeat the other!). We would be utterly aghast at this today. Chilling stuff.
Film: Patriots Day
I was fortunate enough to get an invite to a pre-screening of Patriots Day, the new film telling the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It's tight, tense, with amazing set pieces (the actual explosion is shown as though you are in it, flying through the air and crashing to the ground). It's very American. It's very patriotic. But it's very well done.
What a special film this is. I don't really know how to do it justice in words. Incredible performances - so direct and moving, beautiful frames and editing - particularly the opening that made me dizzy, and the scene in the ocean. A friend thought the characters were cliches (the good-hearted drug dealer, the crackhead mom, the bully) but the original play is partly autobiographical: these are real African-American lives and experiences, and they can't be dismissed. I'm still processing them and reflecting on them. I think what touched me most was how lonely the main character has been all his life, always on guard - we are shown some moments of connections with others, but they seem so few and far between. I found it heartbreaking.