Sunday, March 27, 2011

Iron Mule Feature Night Screening #1: Comfort and Joy

And now, a random recap of last night’s fantastic film night.  (The crowd ALONE was fantastic – Hey, British Film Meet-Up peeps! – and very sorry we lost one woman to the Glasgow accent.)
The crowd arrives.
Jay and Meg introduced the show by sharing some Scottish Jokes courtesy of an insensitive 1931 collection, to which Sinclair Lewis and Clarence Darrow were purported to have contributed.
Meg is shocked as Jay reads insensitive Scottish jokes.

"Comfort and Joy" was preceded by an encore screening of the Iron Mule classic short "Cry for Bobo" by director David Cairns, also from Scotland (and who was thrilled to be opening for the great Bill Forsyth).  This movie exposes the truth behind anti-clown prejudice, and how lack of opportunity forces one clown into a life of crime.

And now on to the main event! Bill Forsyth’s “Comfort and Joy” is ostensibly a Christmas movie, but you won’t think of it that way because there is nothing “Christmas-y” about it:  safe to say it will never become another “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

Alan Bird is having a mid-life crisis.  He has every good guy’s fantasy of a bad-girl girlfriend, and everyone’s fantasy of a mid-life crisis car, but that’s where his mid-life crisis stops.  Once he witnesses crowbar-wielding thugs rough up a Mr. Bunny ice cream van, he stops having his crisis and instead turns his attention to the chaos of the ice cream truck wars. 

In addition, Alan’s mid-life crisis becomes the exact opposite of everyone else’s: usually it’s serious guys who have to learn to “lighten up” and have fun; Alan, however, needs to “darken down” and get involved… in a gentle version of a mob Apalachin conference.  

We all learned some terrific new slang:

“keep your pecker up” = roughly “keep your chin up.”  Your pecker is your nose. It is.  No, seriously, that’s what it means.

“breeches buoy” = nautical term for a primitive rescue device to transport people to ships
“Comfort and Joy” is a genuinely sweet movie – not in a cynical loser-takes-all Hollywood sense – and you should not be surprised to realize what a cynical, superjaded New Yorker you have become.  Don’t believe me?  Watch how many times you leap to conclusions and assume the worst of our hero: 

- Oh, no!  This must be the story of a patsy who lets women walk all over him until he learns how to slap them around and show them who’s boss! 

- Oh, no!  He’s secretly a child molester! 

- Oh, no! …

You get my drift.  Yet every time you assume the worst, your assumptions are confounded.

This movie gives you so many tasty characters to remember:  Colin the doctor, Dickie Bird the DJ, Hilly Zandeman the station manager, Mr. Bunny, Bruno and Paulo Colinari, Mr. McCool, Uncle Luigi, Trevor Marinetti and Charlotte, Rufus the weekend radio host nobody likes, Andrew (Lily’s secret crush), Miss Wilson in the Weston Infirmary, Katie Pollack a/k/a Heather with the recipe for success, Archie and Amos (Amos and Archie) the ice cream makers, Maria the cake shop owner, Mimi the giant panda, the dentist who looks exactly like George C. Scott… who don’t you love?

Although it’s such a gentle movie that when things get bad, they only get so bad, it does a great job of showing how, when things get bad, the people around you will do things and says things to make it just a little bit worse.

MOVIE TRIVIA:  Charlotte, the cutie on the ice cream truck, is CP Grogan, lead singer of Altered Images “Happy Birthday.”  She was in another of Bill Forsyth’s movies, the awesome “Gregory’s Girl.”  The scar on the side of her face she got in a bar fight (she was a non-combatant) when someone threw a broken bottle.
Thanks to 92YTri’s awesome programmer, Cristina Cacioppo, and to Miriam, Ken, and Tom for their steadfast support of “Iron Mule” and J&M projects, as well as The NYC British Film & Telly Meetup Group for coming out to support the very *first* installment of the new “Iron Mule at the Movies” series.  Photos thanks to the mighty Tom Henning!

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