The Last Picture Show

Consciously, or subconsciously every now and then a film comes back into your life. I remember watching The Last Picture Show in the mid to late 1970s and had not seen it until this week. The film was directed and co-written by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from a semi-autobiographical 1966 novel by Larry McMurtry.

Poignantly filmed in black and white and set in a small town in North Texas between November 1951 to October 1952. The plot focusses on the coming of age of Sonny Crawford played by Timothy Bottoms and his friend Duane Jackson played by Jeff Bridges. The cast also includes Cybill Shepherd (in her film debut). The film features a stellar soundtrack with Peter Bogdanovich insisting that all the music had to originate from the period the film was set in. Featuring many songs by Hank Williams Sr. and other recording artists the music provides an authentic backdrop to the unwinding stories, which collide throughout the 2 hours of the movie. The film was nominated for 8 Oscars, (including Best Picture, Best Director) and won 2.

In 1992, Bogdanovich re-edited the film to create a “director’s cut”. This version restores seven minutes of footage that Bogdanovich trimmed from 1971 release, including the infamous sex scene in the pool hall after the hall close for the night.  A visual and audio treat the film is one of those classics that can be forgotten in the faded memories of my younger years, but when reviewed again leave a lasting impression. Filmmaking at its finest.

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Another Day Another Year

Today (3rd May) is one of those days. A marker in one’s life where I take time to pause and reflect on those people who have given me the foundations to build my life. As I write this, I do so with a gentle glow of pride that Janet (my sister) and I had two amazing parents who both passed away on this day 12 month apart. Today marks the first anniversary of a year without them physically in our lives. The tears have subsided, the photographs make me smile, the space they left remains, but their presence is strangely stronger. I see them in the day to day behaviours of individual family members (yes sister you have mums fire burning inside). I hear them in the causal talk of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I often see them in my mind’s eye when I ask myself, “what would they think?” or reflect on a memory.

As my parents entered the last phase of their lives and with their blessing, I took an assortment of photographs. I also had the fortune to talk about my parents on national radio via Lauren Laverne’s BBC 6Music’s regular slot Memory Tapes, which judging from the feedback I received reflected the thoughts of many people who heard it. My mum passed away shortly after I took this photograph, which captures their last kiss.

Today, I write these words and share this image after careful consideration and talking to my sister partly to help break-down any fear we may have in discussing death, to offer support to those who may be facing similar circumstances and reassure you that there is light after the darkness. But more importantly to celebrate the beautiful cycle of life. If you are fortunate to have parents like me and my sister, they teach you how to live, love and ultimately how to die with dignity. When all is said and done can a child ask for anything more from their parents? Love all the people all the time.

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