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Friday, November 30, 2007

Billy the Kid
Don't worry, that's not me. I've never worn a bow-tie. Although I did once have hair like that.

Anyhoo, with all the irrepressible enthusiasm of someone who feels they ought to go and see something at the Brighton Film Festival before it closes, I dragged Lisa along to see Billy the Kid at the Duke of York's last night. And very good it was too. Unless you're Lisa, in which case it was "alright, I suppose".

Personally I loved it. It's an American documentary by Jennifer Venditti about a kid named Billy (the clue was in the title) who likes heavy metal, martial arts and a girl named Heather. It basically follows him for a week as he potters about Maine in his karate suit, chatting up Heather and singing along to Kiss with his shirt off. I knew I was going to like him from the opening five minutes when he says he doesn't want to move house because his cat's buried in the garden. It's an emotion shared by Peter Tobin, I'm sure.

Heather & BillyThe thing about Billy is that he's highly intelligent, highly articulate and supremely confident... and yet he has a habit of saying entirely the wrong thing at every given opportunity. Having fallen head-over-heels in love with shy, partially-sighted Heather ("Even though her eyes shake, she's still very pretty"), he spends most of the film in the local diner where she works as a waitress, making the most excruciating conversation in an attempt to win her heart.

I particularly liked his attempts to impress her family. Having been introduced to her stepfather for the first time, the conversation went something like this:

Billy: Do you like horror movies?
Heather's Dad: No.
Billy: Do you want to know what my favourite kind of horror movie is?
Heather's Dad: What?
Billy: Slasher movies.

That went down well. Then there was his first meeting with her grandmother, at which his opening gambit was "Like Heather, I too have a condition".

It's all very sweet, embarrassing, touching, poignant and sad. Particularly when his stepfather walks out on his Mum, using the excuse that he doesn't like the weather in Maine. I'm sure we've all used that one. It was consistently funny as well though. Frankly, if it hadn't been unscripted, it would have been everything you'd want in a script. Well, everything I'd want in a script. Hollywood producers might demand a few more explosions and car chases. Which is probably why I'm not a screenwriter.