Socialist Worker

The Public is a good story, if a little heavy-handed

Issue No. 2706

Emilio Estevez as Stuart Goodson

Emilio Estevez as Stuart Goodson

This film about a group of homeless people who occupy a public library has recently become available on Curzon Home Cinema.

Director Emilio Estevez also stars as Stuart Goodson, a librarian in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Every day homeless people queue outside the library waiting to get in and use the bathroom.

Most stay for the rest of the day, the library being one of the only places they can shelter without having to spend money.

But when a sudden cold snap hits, and they face having to sleep outside in freezing temperatures, they decide to occupy the library.

Goodson, a former homeless person himself, decides to side with them.

The situation rapidly escalates into a standoff with the police, politicians and the media.

It’s a well-meaning film that wants to make some fairly obvious points about inequality, prejudice and political priorities.

But though not too heavy-going, it is a bit heavy-handed.

Most of the characters are a little one-dimensional—more like caricatures, there to make a none too subtle point.

There’s the mayoral candidate who hopes a police invasion to clear out the library will help his campaign.

There’s the ambitious young reporter more interested in sensationalism than getting the story right.

And there’s the self-righteous, liberal who balks at joining in and supporting the homeless occupiers.

Unfortunately, most of the homeless characters are reduced to single characteristics too.

Only Jackson—played by Michael Kenneth Williams, best known as Omar in The Wire—gets more of a personality.

It’s a good story. But it all feels a bit forced and clunky.

The Public. Available to stream at £4.99

Women Make Film: A Road Move Through Cinema

Using almost a thousand film extracts from 13 decades and five continents, Women Make Film: A Road Movie Through Cinema looks at some of the world’s greatest directors—all of them women.

This epic, five years in the making, is made up of 40 “chapters” narrated by Tilda Swinton, Jane Fonda, Adjoa Andoh, Sharmila Tagore, Kerry Fox, Thandie Newton and Debra Winger.

Over a 14-hour boxset, it looks at how films are made, shot and edited.

It focuses on great films made exclusively by women, the techniques they used—and what they can teach us about cinema.

Available to stream on BFI player subscription service.

This House

It’s 1974, and Britain has a hung Parliament. The corridors of Westminster are full of infighting and backstabbing.

During this era of chaos, a staggering number of politicians die and age-old traditions are thrown aside.

This House enjoyed two sold-out National Theatre runs, filmed live on stage in 2013, and a West End transfer.

The National Theatre calls it “a timely, moving and funny insight into the workings of British politics.

Thu 28 May until Thu 4 Jun. From 7pm. Free at the National Theatre’s YouTube channel.

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Article information

Fri 22 May 2020, 16:28 BST
Issue No. 2706
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