The Infidel: Only in Britain…

The Infidel is a little British comedy with big ideas. In some ways it’s a bit of high-concept film – that horrible Hollywood marketing term for a film which can be summed up in one sentence. Here’s the one sentence: a Muslim British man discovers that he was born Jewish.

Stand well back ignite. It could have wrong in one of 2 ways: it could have been staggeringly crass and insensitive; or it could have been insufferably earnest and self-righteous. It certainly isn’t the first, and it only verges on the second for about five minutes towards the end. It’s real and funny and true, earthed in the realities of multi-cultural London highlighting the simultaneous diversity and intolerance of the city of a hundred villages that will be wonderfully familiar to any who have lived there.

There are two strands to the film’s plot: one the man’s search for his father and his own roots, the other his daughter’s desired engagement and marriage. So it touches on keystones for diversity and maintaining distinctiveness, but no-one’s pretending it’s a major contribution to issues of holding ethnic and religious diversity together. In citing the ‘we all worship the same God’ argument however briefly at the end, it displays a theological ignorance that won’t seem to go away from the debate, especially from many of the apparently more intelligent observers.

Even so. It’s a bright, smart, funny and beautifully played film. It could only, really, have been made in the UK. And so much the better for it.

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Films Of The Year 2010

Happy New Year one and all. As usual, here’s a quick run-down of my films of the year in 2010. I haven’t seen anything like all the films I would like to have – especially now a move to South Africa means cinema going is less frequent (financial reasons) and we don’t have the same release dates here. Some films don’t make it to Cape Town at all. So as time goes by, I’ll be reviewing more films on DVD as I see them, as I have done here. The films are listed in no order at all, and most are reviewed elsewhere on the blog. When I get near a decent internet connection, I’ll link each film to my review of it. I define a film of the year as one I saw (in cinema or increasingly on DVD) in 2010 about which I’m still thinking (in a good way) long after seeing it. Feel free to disagree, agree or be totally apathetic.

Winter’s Bone Low-key, slow-burning family drama/thriller. A masterpiece, and right out of nowhere.

Toy Story 3 The perfect end to a perfect trilogy.

Inception Very possibly the best action movie ever, and certainly one of the most intelligent.

The Social Network The Facebook given the Aaron Sorkin treatment, and in the process it becomes a Shakespearean epic.

The Lives Of Others Finally seen on DVD, and every bit as good as everybody said. Beauty and brutality meeting head on.

A Single Man Colin Firth is heartbreakingly good in the best screen evocation of depression I’ve seen. More hopeful than might be expected.

Precious Hope forged in tragedy, pain that’s real and people that resonate. True in so many ways.

A Prophet A prison film, a reflection on hope and spirituality, and on what makes people who they are. Another masterpiece for 2010, I think.

The Road As important as the book, but suffers unfairly in comparison with the printed version. See it.

Where The Wild Things Are More beauty and wonder in 5 minutes of this than the whole of Avatar.

Sherlock Holmes Yes, the Guy Ritichie one really is good. So much fun.