Photo: In Ishmael’s House makes a cameo appearance in Small Apartments, directed by Jonas Äkerlund, 2012, near James Marsden, playing Bernard
390 words / 2 minute read
Literally one of those if-you-blink-you-missed-it moments, Martin made a cameo appearance. Well, not really Martin, but rather one of his productions.
Spotted in a quirky independent film, Small Apartments, with Matt Lucas and Billy Crystal, directed by Jonas Äkerlund. in a bookstore in Los Angeles, on a bookshelf, a book – none other than In Ishmael’s House.
Clearly “wallpaper” to the film, but how did it get there, and turned with its cover to the front? Was it a set decorator with a connection to it? A bookseller keen to have it shown? Or just happenstance? Another one of those great unknowns.
The book is about the Jews of Muslim lands who for the most part had lived in North Africa and the Middle East outside of the land of Israel for centuries. Either just after Israel’s establishment in 1948, or a few years later, life became increasingly difficult for Jews under Muslim rule. But for once in their history, they had a place that would take them in when they were driven into exile: Israel. Hundreds of thousands came to the nascent country and braved absorption into a country that had no housing for them, no infrastructure in place to welcome the numbers of refugees, angry neighbours clanging on the borders, and a population less than thrilled to integrate them. Seventy-five years later the “Mizrachi” or Eastern Jews are in the main fully integrated into and have made their impact on all levels of Israeli society and the life of the country.
The film focusses on a few neighbours living in a run-down apartment building, their relationships, friendships and dreams as they try to better their lives, or at least, survive. One way or another. Here is a quote from Bernard (played by James Marsden) to his brother Franklin (Matt Lucas), delivered by cassette recording:
“Franklin, what are we so scared of? You only get one shot at this life. There are no do-overs. Time wasted, is time lost. The past is a ghost. The future a dream. There is only right now. We need to forgive each other, Franklin. Forgive and keep moving forward because we’re all so ridiculously imperfect. And we need to find a place we call home. A place where we know we’re loved and we feel safe.”
Maybe the two aren’t so dissimilar. Maybe it wasn’t as random a placing as it seems.
Read: In Ishmael’s House