Local Hero

I love this film so much. I have seen it many, many times and it never fails to charm and delight me. It has an air of quiet melancholy, and the ending is on the bitter side of bittersweet, but it’s very funny, and very moving. The beauty of the landscape and the earthy eccentricity of the locals contrasting wiith brashness of the American interlopers makes for a comedy of culture clash, and yes, lessons are learned and people change, but it never veers into sentimentality or cliche.

There is a yearning for a better, simpler life running through the story, a yearning I respond to. And the music is beautiful and the ending makes me cry and “Are there two G’s in bugger off?”.

Featuring a cast which includes a young Peter Capaldi and an old Burt Lancaster, the performances are pitch-perfect, and the script is witty and humane. I love it. Oh, just watch it, willya? I just watched the above clip and I’m already a li’l bit emotional…

Here’s what happens when director Bill Forsythe, who also wrote and directed the equally funny and almost as affecting Gregory’s Girl, is reunited with the town of Pennan 25 years after shooting wrapped. It turns out Mark Kermode has seen the film more times than me. I would never have pegged him as a fan.

Back to School

Probably the first time I ever heard of Kurt Vonnegut, and the last time I ever watched a film starring Rodney Dangerfield. Who says the 80s taught us nothing?* Obviously a watershed moment for young Harris, so here it is.

*Nobody, as far as I know.

Tears in Rain

Roy Batty is the leader of the Nexus 6 replicants in Blade Runner. He is played by Rutger Hauer and he makes me cry.

A select few films make me cry. Local Hero, wow, the last few seconds of that make me lose it entirely. The phone is ringing! Somebody answer it, tell him he can come home! Aw hell…

And The Iron Giant. “Su-per-man”. Aw hell

But Roy Batty is special. He makes me cry manly tears. I mean, my tears are always manly, they clang when they hit the floor then dribble off looking for a fight, but my Blade Runner tears are ferocious.

He is not human, he did not have a childhood, which is probably just as well with a name like “Roy Batty”. Children can be very cruel. School would have been a nightmare.

He is an android with a limited lifespan, and he knows the end is coming. “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long” he is told, “and your flame has burned so very bright”. Yeah, but that doesn’t help when the end comes. Because it’s harder to lose a flame that brillliant. Everything seems so much darker without it.

“I have done questionable things” he tells his maker at one point. Hehe, Roy, I have done questionable things, but I’ve never squished someone’s head in with my bare hands. Maybe that’s why I like him. His moral compass is so skew whiff it makes me feel karmically superior.

He fights. He fights for love. But his love dies, leaving him with nothing to fight for. Oh, he kicks Harrison Ford through some walls and snaps a couple of fingers but that’s more out of habit than anything. He knows it won’t bring his beloved, crazy Pris back and so in a moment of empathy with his pursuer he decides not to pull his head off. He doesn’t even try. I think that’s very mature of him.

And in the end he just sits down and dies. If I ever die, I would like to go just like him: cross-legged in the rain, amid a neon-drenched dystopian landscape, tits out, holding a dove.

I probably wouldn’t wear the cycling shorts.

“All those moments will be lost in time, ” he says, “like tears in rain.”

He is talking about seeing attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and suchlike. But I have moments that will be lost like tears in rain too. I haven’t seen C-beams glitter in the dark but I have seen some really beautiful things. Honestly, even just this week. Even just today. The sunrise this morning was gorgeous.

Maybe I don’t like to think about the happiest, beautifullest moments of my life being washed away. But the rains will come, and time is an indiscriminate healer. Aw hell, Roy.

“Time to die,” he says, and he releases the dove and Vangelis hits the button marked “melancholy” on his big synthesiser and Roy Batty dies.

Aw hell

New British Talent

Moon Shot UK is being screened at the BFI in London on Friday 14th and Sunday 16th of November, as part of the onedotzero festival:

new british talent 08

bbc film network presents a diverse selection of live action, animation and documentary shorts from the latest bright sparks and upcoming talent from the uk indie filmmaking scene.

curated and introduced by claire spencer cook from bbc film network.

approx 75 mins

tickets £6.00
fri 14 nov 14:40 nft3 book
sun 16 nov 16:00 nft3 book

james harris: moonshot uk / 01:00
johnny kelly: procrastination / 05:00
beth stratford: cheat neutral / 13:00
rob brown: shit happens / 01:00
anastasia kirillova: 50 years and a few puss kittens wiser / 09:00
tom marshall: big boy 74 / 10:00
alex bland: i dreamt of flying / 04:08
kerry mcleod: for all the tea in england / 13:00
stephen irwin: dry lips / 04:08
george wu: accordian / 04:00
jacqueline wright + alice lowe: sticks and balls / 04:00
matthew walker: operator / 02:00


There’s some great films in there, including big boy 74, made by fellow Teesside denizen Tom Marshall. And it’s lovely to be a new talent again, not four years after the last time I was new.

The Curse of Jeff

This is the first film I made that I’d ever show anybody. I wrote it on a Monday, we shot it on Tuesday and it was finished on Wednesday. I grew the moustache on the Tuesday morning. That’s how professional I am. I just scrunched up my face and PUSHED that ‘tache out from under my nose. The process must have resembled a big, red basketball giving birth to a furry slug.

The film got shortlisted for the BBC Talent New Filmmaker’s Award in 2004. It didn’t win.

The moustache went on to present Top Gear in 2006.