This is a picture of (half of ) Ian Kerr's blacklist database. If you are at all familar with how police local intelligence files are organised then apparently this set up should look pretty similar. Below is what a page from a blacklist file looks like.
So I posted recently about films for aspiring local
councillors. As the prospective councillor for Box & Colerne the DVD
cupboard is a little bare if I'm looking for inspiration. As a hack I’m spoilt for choice. As a trade union member it gets a lot more
It isn’t just that there are more films than you think which
feature union issues and people in a positive way. It is also that there are
some great films which have harsh things to say about organised labour – but they
are such great films you’ve got to watch them.
On The Waterfront is stunning. The acting, of course, but
the cinematography in particular. It’s also one long apology for stool pigeons.
After all, that is what director Elia Kazan, screenwriter Budd Schulberg and
actor Lee J Cobb were, having given evidence to HUAC.
Similarly Blue Collar is a brilliant depiction of working in
a car plant. The union there is run by the mob.
Movies such as Matewan are specifically about union issues
and while this John Sayles film is very good it’s a little polemical. You kind
of feel it’s being put on for your education more than your entertainment. On this side of the Atlantic, Comrades, directed by Bill Douglas about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, is very good. Ken Loach's best work looking at union issues has been on television with programmes such as The Big Flame, Days of Hope, The Rank and File and The Price of Coal.
But I really like Wall Street. Everybody remembers Michael Douglas as
Gordon Gekko with his ‘greed is good’ mantra. However there are two people
tussling for the soul of share dealer Bud, played by Charlie Sheen. Apart from
Gekko there is his (literally) old man, Martin Sheen. He is a union official at
an aircraft manufacturing firm. Sheen Snr’s job isn’t laid on thick. Being a union member is as natural as breathing. Really he’s
just trying to look out for his boy who wants to fly too close to the sun. That’s
an ancient story.
If you want a bit more on this then check out Roger
Darlington’s top 20 trade union films or read Tony Zaniello's book Working Stiffs. Below is a little gem from Youtube about Comrades.
A man has pleaded guilty to running a covert database containing personal information used to blacklist more than 3,000 construction workers...full story here at Computer Weekly and a follow-up item for the same magazine by me here.
The third series of The Wire is up to date, marvellously
plotted and with gruesomely believable characters in city hall and on the streets - but it’s on the wrong
continent. I could definitely see it being relocated to
though. You can do your own casting for who
fits the role of Stringer Bell and the rest.
But this was getting patchy. Maybe local politics is just too,
well, grey for the Technicolour screen.
And then I watched Milk about Harvey Milk, the first openly
gay person to be elected to public office in
What made it real was that, once on the city council, Milk needed
to break out of being seen simply as interested in gay issues and broaden his
base. So he picks up on the issue of dog mess. As Milk’s advisor says: “Solve
that problem and you’ll be elected mayor.”
Yes, it truly is the international issue of choice to get
people writing to their local representative.
Have I missed a film or TV series which can better Milk for aspiring
local councillors? Was there ever a Carry On Moving That Amendment? Surely this
cannot be it?
The ideal for a freelancer is to be able to do one job and sell it to different markets. As long as everyone knows what is going on it's not a problem. I don't often manage it that often, but tomorrow is the most eclectic mix of titles I've been commissioned by so far. I'm covering a court case for the Guardian, Morning Star and Computer Weekly and will be keeping in touch with the newsdesk at Building magazine and Tribune. Just hope they're not looking for follow ups in different parts of the country because the teleporter's on the blink.
Over at the Paperhouse and Sarah Ditum keeps up the pressure on the Bath Chronicle and Western Daily Press to not treat the BNP with kid gloves. The Chronicle editor had the cojones to respond to Sarah's original article and debate with readers while from the WDP, as yet nothing. Spot the paper which understands how the relationship between journalist and reader and print press and new media has changed.
Spent an enjoyable day canvassing at Box Revels with prospective MEP Ricky Knight, both of us talking green while going red under the sun. Most impressive sight of the day was not Lou-Lou the Green pony, below, which got people stopping at the stall (before you start, I've heard the jokes about 'one-trick' and 'taking for a ride'; prefer the pun about winning by a short head). No, it was watching my Conservative opponent strolling around with local MP James Gray - that must have earned me a few votes.