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Northern Lights

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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 16:13 UK time, Tuesday, 4 September 2012

It's time for the annual Shetland Screenplay Film Festival which I co-curate. This year we've got a brand new cinema and some great guests including the incomparable Bill Forsyth, director of Local Hero and one of my cinematic heroes.

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Related Posts on Kermode Uncut
Who Cares About Festivals?

Mark's reviews on 5 live
Take your pick from Kermode & Mayo's A-Z

Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free podcast to download and keep.



  • Comment number 1.

    Local Hero - It genuinely manages to give you that feeling that nothing will ever be the same again -

  • Comment number 2.

    Heh, Northern Lights is the name of a very popular legal high in Australia

  • Comment number 3.

    My favourite is definitely that sinking feeling, hilarious and engaging throughout. Just hope the cinematic release is not the horrendous dubbed one recently released on dvd.

  • Comment number 4.

    "Everytime you torrent god kills a cinema" - melodramatic much?

  • Comment number 5.

    Comfort and Joy. Not by far however, picking a favourite Forsyth film is similar to picking a favourite Miyazaki film, it's near impossible.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yes Yes, LH is my fav, (loved Greg's Girl too), but what I really want to re-watch is 'Andrina' (BBC2?) I have this vague recollection of the film. I think its about a summertime seaside romance concerning temp workers at an hotel or restaurant (am I dreaming?). I watched it, nearly 30 years ago! at a local art house Denver cinema. If this is the same film that I seem to recall, I would love to re-watch, but I've not been able to locate it. Any redistribution in the near future? M Mac Denver, CO B.A. M.B.A., all around nice guy...

  • Comment number 7.

    Favourite Bill Fosyth film... Although I did love 'That Sinking Feeling' when I saw it many many years ago... I'll have to go for 'Local Hero'; for me, it has everything!...

  • Comment number 8.

    Gregorys Girl. has life in a Comprehensive ever been better done.The cookery classes,rubbish football, and tragic teen obsession. It has so many joys, I wouldnt know where to start.That great dance at the end, magic. Oh yeah, and Clare Groggan was always HOT,HOT ,HOT.

  • Comment number 9.

    I went to school with the son of a man who was in both That Sinking Feeling (trying to seduce a security guard or something) and Gregory's Girl. My pal's dad was called John Hughes and he was going to play Gregory in the aforementioned film but for some reason was unable to do it. I only met him a couple of times. Once we went round to my pal's house and watched That Sinking Feeling on VHS with John telling us all these stories about Forsyth etc. My poor pal Andy was totally mortified. What a guy.

  • Comment number 10.

    Deja Vu film blog...Shame you didn't remember paying respect to Mr Deja Vu Tony Scott. Can't wait to hear about when you and Bill Forsyth watched Local Hero and he commented about he'd not seen the film blah blah blah...Shame on you Mr Kermode. I listen to several podcasts and all paid tribute to Tony Scott. Sad as I respect a lot of what you say.

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course it has to be 'Local Hero', it's just perfect, there is absolutely nothing about it that's not brilliant.

  • Comment number 12.

    Local Hero-so many great lines.

    Mac : ''Could I have some shampoo please?''
    Shopkeeper : ''Dry,greasy or normal?''
    Mac : ''Erm..normal... Extra normal.''
    Shopkeeper: '' There you go,normal..that'll do your dandruff as well.''
    Mac: ''hmm.....''

  • Comment number 13.

    Well I have to go with the consensus - it just has to be Local Hero - such a perfect film and I do love that wonderful Burt Lancaster smile and laugh (like Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo) it just makes me grin to think of it

  • Comment number 14.

    reply to comment 10 by studiosixandseven

    Whilst I was not much of a fan of most of Tony Scott's output, I do agree with your comment. I find it shameful that he hasn't mentioned anything in regards to Scott. When Ken Russell passed away, the good Doctor posted a tribute on this blog within two days.

  • Comment number 15.

    For me definitely Comfort and Joy. It was a bit less "polished" than Local hero but I preferred the former's darker heart and intermittently downbeat tone as opposed to the more general whimsy of Local Hero or Gregory's Girl.
    Comfort and Joy was also dealing with deadly serious issues, combing two real life Glasgow events - the brutal ice cream "wars" of the 1980s which involved high levels of violence and intimidation and resulted in several deaths; and the equally brutal street gang wars of the 1960s during which legendary crooner Frankie Vaughan came to the notorious Easterhouse housing scheme to try and broker a peace.

  • Comment number 16.

    Dr Kermode ... just a quick point in reference to your t-shirt.
    Being based in Manchester I am extremely fortunate to be able to frequent the Cornerhouse independent cinema usually 2 or 3 times each week ... however ... I wholeheartedly choose to not visit any of the plethora of multiplexes within the vicinity and instead happily use torrent services to download a) any mainstream movies I wish to see that make billions of dollars without my support and b) all of those nasty films that the BBFC won't let me watch and customs and excise won't allow me to have delivered.
    So, my point ... does downloading torrents kill independent cinema? No. In fact it was the movies I downloaded that made me start to frequent my local independent and in the interest of fairness ... does downloading blockbusters impact Ridley Scott or Steven Speilberg's bank balance ... absolutely not!!!!
    In the words of The Adicts ... viva la revolucion ...

  • Comment number 17.

    My favourite was Crimson Tide. The tension and confrontation between Hackman and Washington was expertly played. I wasn't fond of all those over-edited fast-cuts in his latter films (Domino was practically unwatchable). The Last Boy Scout must also get a mention (particularly with that wonderful Shane Black script).

  • Comment number 18.

    I've only seen Gregory's Girl.

    Local Hero - with a great score by Mark Knopfler - is on my must watch list, but I haven't got round to renting/ buying a copy so far.

    Keeping with films, but on a different tangent: Mark Kermode as Bond villain Blofeld on the cover of the new Radio Times: scary! (Although I still prefer Donald Pleasance).

    Methinks somewhere at the BBC there is an underground lair full of henchmen and shark tanks as I don't think there are any hollowed-out volcanoes in the UK!

  • Comment number 19.

    Favourite Bill Forsyth film- How can you make me choose?

    Local Hero is the film that made me fall in love with film- "You can't eat the scenery" I have watched this film so many times and yet always find new pleasure in it.

    Comfort and Joy- a wonderful performance from Bill Paterson, when Maddy leaves him it is both heartbreaking yet funny.

    Housekeeping- such an underrated film, Christine Lahti is masterful. Such a shame you can't get it on DV.

    Gregory's Girl- it has school life as a teenager off to a tee-a masterclass in low budget movie making.

    So which is the best- well my head says Local Hero but I think my heart says Housekeeping and the space he gives the characters to tell the story from where they are- cinema at its best.

    PS: Just don't mention Gregory's Two Girls. If only I could go back and not watch that film, not know it exists, not feel sad that it some how causes a small black shadow fall on an otherwise great filmography. Can you tell how much I hated it, how I get angry just thinking that Gregory was reincarnated for that- what was Bill Forsyth thinking?

  • Comment number 20.

    Only seen Local Hero and Gregory's girl. Liked them both, but of those two I loved Local Hero more. Mind you, I'm a bit biased as Burt Lancaster is a bit of a hero of mine and even Mark Knopler's soundtrack doesn't irritate me (unlike pretty much every single Dire Strait's track he's written).

  • Comment number 21.

    I love Comfort And Joy. It is Bill Paterson's finest hour, and the film holds so many delights. And even now I can't get that 'Hello Folks' jingle out of my head.

  • Comment number 22.

    As someone who grew up in Glasgow 'That Sinking Feeling' represents a spirit an character that in my opinion sadly no longer exists within the city indeed most parts of Glasgow that appear in the film also no longer exist. It would be great to see the city once again through Bill Forsyth eyes perhaps with the same characters even if it's just to find out how the heist on the Irn-Bru factory went down.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's a tough choice between Local Hero and the equally delightful Comfort and Joy for me.

    Both wonderful movies and a joy to watch. I love the joyful, melancholic feel to both of them.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Sir,

    My favourite Forsyth movie is Day of the Jackal!

    Yours sincerely,

    A N Idiot

  • Comment number 25.

    Being Human.
    "You're a funny guy, Sully......."

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm severely tempted to say that I'm playing this game as all of Forsyth's films have something to enjoy. I accept the brickbats about Gregory's Two Girls BUT the interview with John Gordon Sinclair when he's trying to justify spying on the girls by saying that he was badger watching was great. As usual it's Dougray Scott who hits all the wrong notes!

    However, if I was forced to pick my favourite it would have to be Comfort and Joy. It's the neglected masterpiece of 80s British cinema. Paterson is superb, as is Patrick Malahide (before he went to Hollywood to play baddies, Rikki Fulton and especially Arnold Brown as the psychologist. As for Eleanor David (Maddy), blimey I fell in love with her from the moment of the opening scene. The soundtrack is great, Chris Menges' photography is some of the best of his career (see shots of Glasgow at night - shimmering) and it's Forsyth's best and most literate script. I haven't got any friends or acquaintances who've even seen it despite my best efforts to be an evangelist for it. get it out on blu-ray I say!

  • Comment number 27.

    I love Local Hero, but Gregory's Girl has to be my fave, I've seen it loads of times and it reminds me of being a kid. So, so chuffed to see a snip of it during the Olympic Opening Ceremony :)

  • Comment number 28.

    It is the standard answer but I am most partial to Local Hero, truth be told. I do, however, adore how gloriously Glaswegian the humour in 'That Sinking Feeling' is throughout. How much you laugh at that film is the only genuine test of Glaswegianess.

  • Comment number 29.

    Local Hero. On a different point, in the photo used of Bill Forsyth, the man sitting next to him is David Bordwell the film theorist. He writes fantastic blogs about film theory, history and structure.

  • Comment number 30.

    P.S. I once saw Denis Laws in a cafe in Durham.I had a burning desire to go over over and ask him how is the casserole delahpah.

  • Comment number 31.

    I've only seen a few of his films. I'd have to agree with the majority and say Local Hero is my favourite, despite Knopfler's mawkish soundtrack (I really like Knopfler, just not that track).

  • Comment number 32.

    As much as I love all the others, and only working on a by now vague memory I'm going to pick Housekeeping, because I remember being astounded by Christine Lahti's arresting performance and the downbeat elements and uncertain conclusion. I need to see it again (and have recorded but not watched a very rare recent broadcast), to confirm the masterpiece my lingering but clearly strong impression has pegged it as.

    Every BF movie serves as a reminder of what a tragedy it is that his career was marginalised by an industry unsympathetic towards his work that beautifully captures the messiness of life with humour and poignancy.


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