More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2016 (20 to 27 October)
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New Year's Eve
With the opening archival montage, and as we hear Sinatra (with ‘Young at Heart’ [Carolyn Leigh / Johnny Richards]), the tone of irony and of dramatic irony¹ is set : deliberately (but only if we stop to ask ourselves what the images that we are seeing depict), a contrast of ostentation, as set against disadvantage…
Almost at the centre of the film (which goes on to shed insights into the origins of the part of Danny Rose in Broadway Danny Rose (1984)), there is a scene between ‘Hecky’ Brown² (Zero Mostel) and Hennessey (Remak Ramsay), the post of the latter of whom² (whatever is his exact office, which seems to answer callers as 'Freedom Information Service' [suitably Orwellian ?]) effectively influences studios in whom they should consider ‘Unamerican’, and why… :
Brown : You want me to spy on Howard Prince ?
Hennessey : We are in a war, Mr Brown, against a ruthless and tricky enemy, who will stop at nothing to destroy our way of life. To be a spy, on the side of freedom, is an honour !
Brown : And, if I spy on Howard Prince, I can work ?
Hennessey : I don’t do the hiring, Mr Brown – I only advise about Americanism. But, in my opinion, and as the sign of a true patriot, it would certainly help…
Brown : (Smiles, and laughs.)
In The Front (1976), a scene's reminiscent of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976), as Prince (Allen) incites resisting the committee— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) January 1, 2017
Likewise, Reggie Perrin (Leonard Rossiter) tells CJ (John Barron) when it suits him to see CJ : he perversely gets some other appointment... https://t.co/uCBiUtf8JD— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) January 1, 2017
Cinema both shows us dogmas that come to power, and that they can cease to rule - this film takes us to the wire :https://t.co/m5A07lELgL https://t.co/haf0GOQ34a— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) January 1, 2017
¹ Sometimes, we are allowed to congratulate ourselves for seeing in advance what is coming, which helpfully hinders our confidence in our judgement at other times, when we are not granted that privilege. (Irrespective of how meritorious the subject and message of - not unrelatedly - Snowden (2016) may be, the fact that it is lacking in irony, or in putting what we know to good effect with dramatic irony, is a large part of what is so dismally disappointing about the film.)
² IMDb (@IMDb) is, as usual, fairly hopeless on character-names : in the dialogue, we hear Brown’s real name (Herschel Brownstien³, not just this nick-name), and Hennessey has his full name on his desk (Francis Hennessey, with a middle initial of X.⁴), but the web-page for the film, however its information may be gathered (here, just from the closing credits ?), is ignorant of this knowledge, and not to be relied on for it.
³ Except that American pronunciation is notorious for pronouncing a Germanic 'stein' as 'steen'...
⁴ Thereby invoking an Irish-American background and, via the name Francis Xavier (a co-founder of the Society of Jesus), The Spanish Inquisition.
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Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)