My favourite film aged 12: Gold | Film | The Guardian

The quick answer is: “No.” The longer answer is that it depends on your expectations. If you feel certain you are about to watch an execrable film, you will be pleasantly surprised: Gold is a perfectly serviceable thriller, with some tense moments and a genuinely exciting climax in the flooded mine at Pinewood.

One of the reasons the film isn’t as shit as it should be is that it was made, in no small part, by members of the James Bond team. Peter Hunt directs – he was editor of the early Bonds and directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. John Glen, later to direct five Bonds, edits and directs the second unit. The production designer is Syd Cain, who did From Russia With Love, OHMSS and Live and Let Die. Those guys are responsible for making two men and a dinghy floating around at Pinewood seem an exciting climax.

Then there’s Roger’s character, Rod Slater, a maverick, woman-chasing commitment-phobe ultimately prepared to die to save the mine (and its miners), which he almost does. There’s a suggestion a genuine relationship may be on the cards with Terry Steyner (York), whose evil husband has conveniently died a few minutes earlier and who is on hand to look after Rod in an ambulance.

It’s definitely one of Roger’s best non-007 performances. This was 1974, so he hadn’t established his Bond persona. Hunt pushes him to be as serious as possible. I certainly believe he’s a miner. And that he’s younger than his 46 years – he’s in good shape, the hair’s more tousled than usual and there’s a bit more sweat than Bond. And he gets quite badly injured at the end. Or at least his arms do.

My sense is that York fought hard to be more than just another Bond girl, making her character as strong as possible. There’s a great scene where she flies Moore back to the stricken mine in her plane (she’s rich) and he accuses her of being involved in the conspiracy. She’s outraged: she won’t take any shit from Roger. As it happens, she is involved in the conspiracy, but she doesn’t know that yet.

And the villain? We’re very much in the “speak quickly with a slight smile” stage of Sir John Gielgud’s film career but there’s a wonderful moment where one of the sub-villains tells him they’ve commissioned a survey that shows just how close the mine is to water but have cleverly replaced every mention of the word “water” with the word “gold”.

“Ingenious”, says Gielgud, without the smile.

There’s also the brilliantly intrusive score by Elmer Bernstein, a crucial reason the action sequences are so tense and exciting. The song Jimmy Helms belts at the start and the end is magnificently absurd too.

I truly think this is Roger’s best non-Bond. Others tout The Man Who Haunted Himself (1971), in which Roger does actually have to do a fair bit of acting, playing a good guy and his evil doppelganger. That probably is his best performance. At the end of his life, knighted, Sir Roger certainly thought so. But I think Gold is the better film. The bar isn’t high, but Gold is a perfectly enjoyable romp one could happily sit through, some warm self-isolated evening.

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Perspective | It’s time we stopped with the phrase “gifted and talented”

By Stephanie Sprenger
@mommyforreal

Last week, I saw two toddlers wearing “Genius” T-shirts. When I saw the first one, I smiled, as I undeniably have a soft spot for ironic baby clothing. But when just hours later the second “genius” came waddling along, it gave me pause. I know these clever shirts proclaiming that our children are “brave like Daddy” or “sassy like Mommy” are just supposed to be funny and cute. Yet I feel slightly troubled by what lies under the surface of our attempts to label our children with myriad superlatives.

The “Genius” one left a distinctly bad taste in my mouth, and after a few days of pondering, I realized why. It was a tiny incarnation of the “gifted and talented” program, which is a concept I’ve been struggling with as a parent.

When I was in 5th grade, I was selected to participate in TAG (yes, talented and gifted), a program that took place during two hours of every Friday afternoon. I recall playing challenging brain games that required teamwork and higher-level questioning, completing independent study projects, on one occasion making a collage about photography (hmmm), and then trotting merrily back to class with my other above-average classmates.

I moved the following year, and was placed in a similar program with a different name: Alpha. Was it, shudder, because we were “alpha students?” It was my first and last meeting. Although I carried straight A’s—aside from my B in P.E.—after a snide comment from one of my fellow Alpha students, I chose never again to participate in a gifted and talented program.

Over the years, I’ve heard it referred to as ULE—Unique Learning Experience—and Exceptional Learners, but where I live now it’s straight up “GT—gifted and talented.” My experience with GT as a parent of non-GT students has been eye-opening.

When my oldest daughter, now 13, was in Montessori preschool, the staff provided a parent meeting where we could ask questions about kindergarten and elementary school options. Hands shot up all around the room: “Tell us more about the GT programs in the district.” “When can we test for GT?” Aside from the occasional inquiry about bilingual education programs, it was pretty much the same: How do we get into the GT program?

My husband and I raised our eyebrows at each other. Who knew that all this time our precocious little darling had been surrounded by entirely gifted students? Over the next few years, acquaintances would ask me when I was getting my daughter tested for GT. “I’m not,” I usually replied simply. The high-pressure program was not something I wanted for my child, who now is a 4.0 honor roll student in middle school. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure she qualified for GT; her grades have much more to do with her personality and determination. But the entire operation left a bad taste in my mouth.

Semantics matter to me, perhaps more than most people. Don’t even get me started on my hang-ups about the word “blessed.” To me, being “gifted and talented” sounds a whole lot like being bestowed with a well, gift, that others were not granted. It’s pretentious, and slightly obnoxious.

However, the value of these programs is undeniable. There are students whose needs are not being met in a one-size-fits-all curriculum: a multitude, and not just the above average variety. It is difficult to comprehend the challenge of teachers who must constantly adapt their learning experience to the diverse group of students they teach. These programs are absolutely essential and provide a much-needed, enriching, stimulating education for the kids who are becoming bored in their classrooms, who are potentially even causing problems because they aren’t being challenged.

The future of New York City’s public gifted and talented programming is now in the spotlight, thanks to the mayor-appointed School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendation that the existing GT programs be replaced by magnet schools. A group of gifted education teachers have instead called for an overhaul and reform of the system instead of elimination, which they hope may affect other GT programs around the country. But perhaps there is more fundamental reform required than altering the selection process and addressing the issues of economic privilege and racial segregation.

Perhaps what we really need to address is what we call these programs and the way parents conceive of them. The pressure behind TAG, including the language we use to describe it, needs to change. So too the frenetic rush to test our kids, not necessarily because we want to accommodate their learning style, but because of the proclamation that they are gifted and talented and therefore destined for a higher purpose, will lead to a breeding ground of stress, anxiety, and self-esteem issues. And what does it do to the kids who are excluded from this elite group?

I often cringe when I hear someone counter the name of these kind of programs with the sentiment that “All kids are gifted and talented in their own way.” Because it sounds so trite—the equivalent of a participation award. And yet. At the risk of revealing myself as a special snowflake kind of person, I do believe all children are gifted and talented. Whether they are athletic, artistic, deeply empathetic, or bold leaders, or simply themselves. Platitudes be damned, they are all gifted and talented in their own way.

It’s time to change the labels of these advanced or specialized learning classrooms to reflect that. Our children are paying attention, and they can absolutely read between the lines. What kind of message do we want to send them?

Stephanie is a writer, mother of two girls, early childhood educator and music therapist, and Executive Producer of Listen To Your Mother Denver and Boulder.

Image: an actual shirt that was given to one of our editor’s children.

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