It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I had a friend named Bob Zonka, who ran a weekly newspaper in Michigan. He refused to listen to any kind of ethnic joke. "When you diminish anyone," he said, "you diminish me, and you diminish yourself." His rule even applied to "funny" ethnic jokes that weren't intended as racist - the kinds that people think it's OK to tell. "If it's that funny," he said, "change the words 'Jewish' or 'Polish' to 'Canadian,' and see if it's still so funny." There's this Canadian guy, see, who...
I got his point. And I remembered Bob when I was watching "School Ties," a movie about a Jewish kid from Scranton who gets a scholarship to a WASP prep school in New England. He's a senior when he goes there. He's been recruited because he is a terrific quarterback, and the school alumni want a winning season so bad they'll do anything to get one.
The character's name is David Greene, and he is played by Brendan Fraser as a working-class youth who sees the prep school as his shot at an Ivy League university and a profession. It is the mid-1950s, when casual anti-Semitism is still common in some circles, and the school coach advises him on his first day to not make a big thing about his Jewishness. In fact, he decides to keep it a secret, and when Rosh Hashanah falls on a Saturday, he plays in a football game before going into the school chapel that evening to read his prayers.
At first David fits in easily at the school, and we meet some of his classmates, the sons of privilege. They're third- or fourth- or fifth-generation WASP success stories, laboring under tremendous pressure to keep up the family name. For a kid like Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon), scion of a wealthy family, it's a no-win situation. If he fails, he's let the family down, but if he succeeds, it's because of family connections.