Last year, I wrote about how I always watch "The Cat And the Canary" on or near New Year's Eve. The only (tenuous) connection that this movie has with New Year's Eve is that midnight figures prominently into the plot (coupled with the fact that in college I would watch my 8mm copy of this movie on New Year's Eve). I watched the DVD yesterday afternoon.
This year, I'll get a little more obscure and tenuous in revealing another personal tradition: I also try to watch "Local Hero" on or around New Year's Eve (Chip and I watched it just last night).
"Local Hero" has no direct connection to New Year's at all. But one year when Tower Records still existed, we went into Tower at Noe and Market one New Year's Eve looking for something appropriate. We never found anything appropriate, but I discovered that (at that time) Chip had never seen "Local Hero" before. So that was the evening that "Local Hero" joined our DVD collection, and we still watch it sometime near the changing of the year, just off the personal connection.
And I cannot really watch "Local Hero" without at least thinking about Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1945 film, "I Know Where I'm Going!" Chip and I watched it this afternoon. It hasn't got the same sense of magic and myth that "Local Hero" has, but the plots of both films have several common elements.
There is also Craig Ferguson's film, "Saving Grace," of which he says that he was deliberately trying to emulate "Local Hero." And in a fairly recent video about "Local Hero," I heard Bill Forsyth say that with "Local Hero," he was hoping to capture the spirit of some of the Ealing comedies of the 1940s and 50s, such as "The Maggie" and "Whiskey Galore," both of which I own copies of (though I'm not sure I've watched "The Maggie".... Hmmmm.......)
So there's my movie recommendations for this holiday weekend (as well as the circuitous logic that leads me to recommending them for New Year's). Start with "Local Hero." Try "I Know Where I'm Going" if you can find it. If you can't find that, try looking for "Whiskey Galore" or "The Maggie" or "A Run For Your Money" or any of the old Ealing comedies (including the Alec Guinness films, "Kind Hearts And Coronets," "The Ladykillers," "The Lavender Hill Mob" and "The Man In the White Suit.") And if you're still looking for low-key comedy, look for "Saving Grace."