Monday, September 23, 2019

"Rarest Of The Rare"


We were watching a show about Scottish dancing.  (Read:  “Desperate”, rather than “curious about Celtic Terpsichore.”) 

Having been asked the typical question about what he wears under his kilt, the male performer briskly replied, “Noothing!  At that point, as he vigorously went through his traditional paces – I mean he was really bouncing around – my mind immediately went, “I don’t want to think about this!”

Thankfully, I was rescued by a Scottish-themed recollection.

I received Local Hero to think about instead.

Local Hero (1983), written and directed by Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth is, for me, an enchanted movie with a sublime plot twist.

I don’t know if Americans (including even Canadian Americans) could make such a movie.  It may, in fact, be a unique “sensibility” issue, limited to places, comfortable with “commando” clog dancing.  I don’t know.

It’s just different.

I should have known Bill Forsyth was special.  Our introduction to him was Gregory’s Girl (1981), a light-hearted teen romance with another “sublime plot twist.”

Catching the audience totally off guard.

Standard Romantic Comedy Movie Template:  Somebody sets their sights on another person and, overcoming seeming impossible obstacles, wins their affections forever. 

In Gregory’s Girl, throughout the film, Gregory sets his sights on one girl.  And in the end, he, fully contentedly, winds up with another girl, who apparently had had her sights set on him. 

I cannot tell you how refreshing that felt.  A movie where the end is actually a surprise.  Making it a “compound surprise” – the surprise itself, and the fact that there was one.  

I mean, credit where credit is due to any professional screenwriter who can wring fresh excitement out of a threadbare format whose “payoff” we see coming from “Fade In.”  Still, it can’t help but get tiresome.  This guy thought, “Why does he have to end up with her?  (Or “Sad Sackily” end up with nobody?)  I’ll bring in a new girl, and give everybody a treat!”  

Two years later Forsyth treats us again, perhaps even more so, with Local Hero.

Standard “Corporate Bully” Movie Template:  (Or so we think.)  

Big bucks oil company swoops down on an idyllic Scottish community way to the north, planning to buy the entire town, tear it down, building a State-of-the-Art new refinery in its place.

And there you have it. 

“Corporate Bully” – “Boo!” 

Helpless working class people, facing decimating extinction.

Can a Bernie Sanders “cameo” be far behind?

Well, this is “pixie dust” Bill Forsyth country”, so all bets are off.

And by “pixie dust”, (which may, in fact, have been misused), I do not mean
“magical outcome.”  (Although the “meteor showers” are breathtakingly miraculous, so, perhaps, “part marks.”)

The sweet “surprise” is Local Hero is the following:

The townspeople want to sell out.  (They pretend they don’t so they can jack up the price.)

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t some cynical screenwriter going, “They expect ‘A’; I shall hit them with ‘B’”.  Not a bit of it.  The quirky townspeople are totally credible as lucky “lottery winners”, already debating which luxury automobile is the best.   

The rarest of the rare:

A film that organically goes its own narrative way.  And succeeds.  (I know.  “Tarantino.”  But, please.)

We need more Bill Forsyths working in movies, instead of the number we currently have, which is nobody.

Oh well.  There is always the memory (and video) of Local Hero.

A memory that delights.

And also, mercifully, distracts.

1 comment:

Stephen Marks said...

Happer to his subordinate Mac: "I'm glad I got here in time to stop your refinary" That always makes me laugh