but intelligent people aren't seeing this It's two days since Super Tuesday, that milestone in the US presidential primary calendar and the point at which candidates truly emerge from the party fray.
And everyone of course is talking about Donald Trump. "Here's a guy who's obviously Mussolini," says the actor and Hollywood A lister Richard Gere, who's in London to raise awareness of homelessness with a new film called Time Out of Mind. He's been pandora bracelet jewelry on the road for the past week to Dublin and Glasgow, visiting homeless shelters, meeting people on the streets and talks with a pained weariness, as though Trump and his supporters were personally responsible for his jet lag. "How is it possible that people would be supporting this guy? You can try to find reasons. It's about how disillusioned they are, how afraid, how confused. [Trump] is a demagogue, a clown but people like clarity. Here's this guy who says, 'I'm going to fix this problem for you. It doesn't matter how, I'll just take care of it'. He's finding villains everywhere and then telling people he'll get rid of them." Gere extends the dictator analogy, alluding to Trump's pledge to close borders to Muslims and build a wall between the US and Mexico. This is how it starts. Intelligent people aren't seeing this don't make the mistake of thinking it's just idiots who are pandora complete charm bracelets backing Trump this kind of thinking is a slippery slope." This is not an unexpected stance from Gere, who has publicly supported President Obama in the past, and now says that "in general, yes, my heart would be [with the Democratic campaign]". But the vehemence of his analysis is startling. Trump isn't leading a political insurgency, he says. To call him a radical is to flatter his candidacy with an intellectual foundation that simply doesn't exist. "He's something different. In Freudian terms he's the Id [the hidden, unconscious part of the psyche responsible for instinctive and primitive behaviours]. He's the Pandora's Box of craziness all the out of control, wacky impulses, with no superego to make sense of them. "Trump says these things and there's no one there to say, 'that's not useful, don't say that' because that's stupid, say this instead. He's America's Id." Gere is 67 this year, still trim, still possessed of the kind of glow that comes from three decades of Buddhism and vegetarianism, still the kind of man who travels with pandora jewelry earrings his own individually wrapped green tea bags. His hair is white and the famous almond shaped eyes look out from behind rimless glasses. Like Paddington, Gere is capable of a very hard stare. HIS breakthrough movies are nowadays all copper bottomed classics: 1980's American Gigolo, An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982, and 1990's Pretty Woman, one of those films the entire world saw and now has on DVD. Shortly after its release he married supermodel Cindy Crawford, a union that seemed to define Hollywood glamour at a time of recession and grungy street fashion. She was 25 and he 42, and it lasted four years. Rather sadly, last month Crawford described Gere as a "stranger" to her now. Leading roles in films such as Sommersby, Chicago and Primal Fear cemented Gere's professional reputation and box office appeal, while a second marriage to actress Carey Lowell lasted 11 years and produced son Homer. He is now dating a 32 year old Spanish socialite called Alejandra Silva. Gere is tight lipped, other pandora beads wholesale than to say, perhaps a little sharkishly: "Life is real good. I have no complaints, believe me." We meet in a hotel off Whitehall, one of those very plush places full of roaring fires and vases of summer flowers that remind you how much money really sloshes around London. And yet to get here, I walk through a part of the Charing Cross underpass where four young men are sitting on sleeping bags surrounded by filthy plastic bags. All of them smoke roll ups and one has a nasty wound to his lower lip. And it's their London, not that of the soft carpets and starched shirts, that Gere has come to witness. Yesterday he visited Centrepoint and the homeless charity Crisis to talk about London's rising homelessness problem. Figures point to a doubling in rough sleeping on the city's streets since 2010 and a total in 2014/15 of 7,600 homeless people. Later he's taking his advocacy to Westminster, where he'll press the case for better services for single homeless adults, and an expansion of social housing at a time of big changes and even bigger pressures within London's so called affordable housing sector. "You know there's something terribly wrong structurally wrong when you meet people who have a job and work 50, 60, 70 hours a week and still can't pay their rent," he says. "There are people with jobs winding up in homeless shelters in New York and in London. People say you can't do anything about it in this city, housing stock is so limited. To some extent that's true but society has to allow for it. You just have to build more houses. It's not rocket science." It's become fashionable to knock the celebrity hand wringer but Gere knows whereof he speaks. At home in New York he's a long time supporter of homeless charities, and in Time Out of Mind, which opens in London tomorrow, he plays a homeless man called George Hammond with compelling intensity. Written and directed by Oren Moverman, it's a unique kind of movie, with almost no plot and no back story, and not much dialogue, either. Instead, filmed on the streets of New York with long lenses and hidden cameras, with a soundtrack of endless street noise and other people's meaningless chatter, it attempts to recreate the real moment by moment experience of rough sleeping. The obvious cold and hunger, but also the almost total lack of social interaction, the paradoxical absence of privacy coupled with intense loneliness, and the relentless, dehumanising drabness of the social security system and its municipal shelters. Gere calls the movie an "immersive" experience. "The first shot we did was me standing on a street corner begging for change. I stood there for 45 minutes, and thousands of people passed me by. Not extras, real people who didn't know they were on camera. "Now my appearance wasn't that radically different it's still Richard Gere in that scene, maybe with a few scars and a bad haircut and old clothes, but still recognisably me. And yet no one noticed. As long as I was in the character of this homeless person, I could stand there and no one looked deeply enough to see who it was. "That shot was a profound experience for me because it showed me how superficial all our realities are. From two blocks away, people saw the shape of me and decided 'homeless person' and then decided just not to engage. In some cases they put an enormous amount of energy into actively avoiding me." He collected "about a buck and a quarter". It was on a later shoot that someone did recognise Gere as George and took a picture of him rooting around in a public bin. When the photo went viral a few sharers were genuinely fooled into thinking he'd lost his reported $100 million overnight and was eating discarded McDonald's from a trash can. Gere calls Time Out of Mind a "tool for social change" and has shown it to dozens of policy makers in Washington and across the US. If there's an overtly political point to the film, it's that George is a blameless figure whose life has simply edged off track. "I didn't want there to be easy answers," says Gere. "We all know the clichs but actually there are infinite reasons why someone can end up homeless." Gere talks, like the American film star he is, about the "humility" he feels when he looks back at his career and how lucky he's been. He can remember only once in his life worrying about paying the rent, when he was "about 21 and washing dishes at a place called Hungry Charlie's in New York". He takes his activism very seriously. While the movie world debated diversity at last weekend's Oscars, Gere was putting in the hours at the Glasgow Film Festival with Time Out of Mind. Never an Oscar winner himself, he doesn't seem to have missed the big party much. "I still don't know who won most of the stuff," he says. Does he think Hollywood is racist? "No. Not at all. I mean, it obviously means a lot to my African American friends and they do feel strongly about it and that has to be respected. But it's not institutionalised. Not in my experience." Instead he's been following the European migration crisis. "[Time Out of Mind] resonates in Europe at the moment much more than it does in the US," he says. "We see now how many millions of people are looking around the world for someone to help them in their moment of crisis. They won't be in this circumstance for ever, but they need someone to value them and help them now. It's what we all want for someone to perceive us as precious. "To me it's the same with the indigenous homeless people in New York or London: they won't be in this place for ever but right now they need us." I wonder what Donald Trump's homelessness policy would look like but then surely he won't make it as far as the White House, will he? "Well, no one thought he'd get this far," says Gere. "The terrifying thing isn't actually him, it' s us. It's the people who are so easily manipulated by him. But I'm pretty sure there'll be a moment when he's unmasked for the buffoon he is.
That'll happen soon. And then everyone will laugh at him, which is what they should have been doing all along.".
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