The greatest political movies - the longlist

Do you agree with our staff picks?

Next issue's Critics will be a film special, so in honour of this we have conducted a completely un-scientific poll of NS staff to find the greatest political movies. "Political" was taken in its broadest sense - the only stipulation being no documentaries. You'll have to wait until Thursday's magazine to find out the top ten, but for now here's the longlist.

Tell us in the comments thread below: which films have we missed out? And what would make your top ten?

 

All the President's Men dir: Alan J. Pakula (1976)

Battleship Potemkin dir: Sergei Eisenstein (1926)

Casablanca dir: Michael Curtiz (1942)

Chinatown dir: Roman Polanski (1974)

Do the Right Thing dir: Spike Lee (1989)

Downfall dir: Oliver Hirschbiegel (2005)

Dr Strangelove dir: Stanley Kubrick (1964)

Godzilla dir: Ishirō Honda (1954)

Gomorra dir: Matteo Garrone (2008)

Goodbye, Lenin dir: Wolfgang Becker (2003)

Hunger dir: Steve McQueen (2008)

In the Loop dir: Armando Iannucci (2009)

Independence Day dir: Roland Emmerich (1996)

Kadosh dir: Amos Gitai (1999)

La Chinoise dir: Jean-Luc Godard (1967)

La Haine dir: Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)

La Planete Sauvage dir: René Laloux (1973)

Land and Freedom dir: Ken Loach (1995)

Lone Star dir: John Sayles (1996)

Meantime dir: Mike Leigh (1984)

Milk dir: Gus Van Sant (2008)

Mr Smith Goes to Washington dir: Frank Capra (1939)

My Beautiful Laundrette dir: Stephen Frears (1985)

Nashville dir: Robert Altman (1975)

Persepolis dir: directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud (2007)

Platoon dir: Oliver Stone (1986)

Pratidwandi (The Adversary) dir: Satyajit Ray (1971)

Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini (1975)

Strawberry and Chocolate dir: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (1968)

Team America: World Police dir: Trey Parker (2005)

The Battle of Algiers dir: Gillo Pontecorvo (1967)

The Candidate dir: Michael Ritchie (1972)

The Conformist dir: Bernardo Bertolucci (1970)

The Last of England dir: Derek Jarman (1988)

The Lives of Others dir: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (2006)

The Trial dir: Orson Welles (1962)

W dir: Oliver Stone (2008)

Waltz With Bashir dir: Ari Folman (2008)

Xala dir: Ousmane Sembene (1975)

Z dir: Costa Gavros (1969)

 

 

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Just face it, being a parent will never be cool

Traditional parenting terms are being rejected in favour of trendier versions, but it doesn't change the grunt-like nature of the work.

My children call me various things. Mummy. Mum. Poo-Head. One thing they have never called me is mama. This is only to be expected, for I am not cool.

Last year Elisa Strauss reported on the rise of white, middle-class mothers in the US using the term “mama” as “an identity marker, a phrase of distinction, and a way to label the self and designate the group.” Mamas aren’t like mummies or mums (or indeed poo-heads). They’re hip. They’re modern. They’re out there “widen[ing] the horizons of ‘mother,’ without giving up on a mother identity altogether.” And now it’s the turn of the dads.

According to the Daily Beast, the hipster fathers of Brooklyn are asking their children to refer to them as papa. According to one of those interviewed, Justin Underwood, the word “dad” is simply too “bland and drab”:

“There’s no excitement to it, and I feel like the word papa nowadays has so many meanings. We live in an age when fathers are more in touch with their feminine sides and are all right with playing dress-up and putting on makeup with their daughters.”

Underwood describes “dad” as antiquated, whereas “papa” is an “open-minded, liberal term, like dad with a twist” (but evidently not a twist so far that one might consider putting on makeup with one’s sons).

Each to their own, I suppose. Personally I always associate the word “papa” with “Smurf” or “Lazarou.” It does not sound particularly hip to me. Similarly “mama” is a word I cannot hear without thinking of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, hence never without a follow-up “ooo-oo-oo-ooh!” Then again, as a mummy I probably have no idea what I am talking about. If other people think these words are trendy, no doubt they are.

Nonetheless, I am dubious about the potential of such words to transform parenting relationships and identities. In 1975’s Of Woman Born, Adrienne Rich describes how she used to look at her own mother and think “I too shall marry, have children – but not like her. I shall find a way of doing it all differently.” It is, I think, a common sentiment. Rejecting mummy or daddy as an identity, if not as an individual, can feel much the same as rejecting the politics that surrounds gender and parenting. The papas interviewed by The Daily Beast are self-styled feminists, whose hands-on parenting style they wish to differentiate from that of their own fathers. But does a change of title really do that? And even if it does, isn’t this a rather individualistic approach to social change?

There is a part of me that can’t help wondering whether the growing popularity of mama and papa amongst privileged social groups reflects a current preference for changing titles rather than social realities, especially as far as gendered labour is concerned. When I’m changing a nappy, it doesn’t matter at all whether I’m known as Mummy, Mama or God Almighty. I’m still up to my elbows in shit (yes, my baby son is that prolific).

The desire to be known as Papa or Mama lays bare the delusions of new parents. It doesn’t even matter if these titles are cool now. They won’t be soon enough because they’ll be associated with people who do parenting. Because like it or not, parenting is not an identity. It is not something you are, but a position you occupy and a job you do.

I once considered not being called mummy. My partner and I did, briefly, look at the “just get your children to call you by your actual name” approach. On paper it seemed to make sense. If to my sons I am Victoria rather than mummy, then surely they’ll see me as an individual, right? Ha. In practice it felt cold, as though I was trying to set some kind of arbitrary distance between us. And perhaps, as far as my sons are concerned, I shouldn’t be just another person. It is my fault they came into this vale of tears. I owe them, if not anyone else, some degree of non-personhood, a willingness to do things for them that I would not do for others. What I am to them – mummy, mum, mama, whatever one calls it – is not a thing that can be rebranded. It will never be cool because the grunt work of caring never is.

It is not that I do not think we need to change the way in which we parent, but this cannot be achieved by hipster trendsetting alone. Changing how we parent involves changing our most fundamental assumptions about what care work is and how we value the people who do it. And this is change that needs to include all people, even those who go by the old-fashioned titles of mum and dad.

Ultimately, any attempt to remarket parenting as a cool identity smacks of that desperate craving for reinvention that having children instils in a person. The moment you have children you have bumped yourself up the generational ladder. You are no longer the end of your family line. You are – god forbid – at risk of turning into your own parents, the ones who fuck you up, no matter what they do. But you, too, will fuck them up, regardless of whether you do it under the name of daddy, dad or papa. Accept it. Move on (also, you are mortal. Get over it).

Parenting will never be cool. Indeed, humanity will never be cool. We’re all going to get older, more decrepit, closer to death. This is true regardless of whether you do or don’t have kids – but if you do you will always have younger people on hand to remind you of this miserable fact.

Your children might, if you are lucky, grow to respect you, but as far as they are concerned you are the past.  No amount of rebranding is going to solve that. This doesn’t mean we can’t change the way we parent. But as with so much else where gender is concerned, it’s a matter for boring old deeds, not fashionable words.

 

 

 

Glosswitch is a feminist mother of three who works in publishing.