J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Emerald Air: The Runway


The Irish economy in 1983 was a lot like the Irish economy today.  It was not exactly a robust job-creation engine, not that we would know what that’s like these days either.  Yet, when a roguish Colombian crashes lands in a particularly depressed provincial burg, he ignites an unlikely spark of hope in Ian Powers’ The Runway (trailer here), which opens in Scottsdale (of all places) this Friday and is now available on most VOD platforms from Tribeca Films.

Ernesto Cordoba is a bit shady and he does not pretend to be otherwise.  Fortunately, he has young Paco Thomas handling his PR.  Believing the father he never met is a Spaniard immigrant now back in his Iberian homeland, Thomas is the only person in town who speaks Spanish.  He takes a number of liberties with the translations though.  As a result, the formerly dispirited townspeople are inspired to fix the heroic-sounding Cordoba’s plane and fashion him a suitable runway.  This quite confuses the wayward pilot, who is rather in a hurry to get on with his dodgy mission (that seems to involve putting emeralds back in the Emerald Isle).

Naturally, Cordoba ends up staying with Thomas and his mother Grace, who duly pretends she is not attracted to the man of mystery.  Thomas is definitely looking to plug Cordoba in as a surrogate father, but he may have to settle for a bittersweet coming-of-age experience.

If you suspect you know where Runway is headed, you’re surely right, every step of the way.  Nonetheless, it is all relatively pleasant, thanks to the leading man charisma of Demián Bechir’s Cordoba and a host of recognizable salt-of-the-earth Irish character actors, most notably including Game of Thrones’ James Cosmo (technically Scotts) as Sutherland, a junkshop engineer.  Young actors Jamie Kierans and John Carpenter, Jr., as Thomas and his Traveler best pal Frogs Connors, respectively, are never too cute or cloying either.  As Grace Thomas, Kerry Condon has some nice but sparing romantic chemistry with Bechir, as well.

While nowhere near as sharp and clever as John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard, Runway ought to satisfy fans of quirky tight little Irish village dramedies like Waking Ned Devine.  Cinematographer P.J. Dillon gives it all a nice heathery shine and Powers keeps it stepping along lightly but without undue dawdling.  An easygoing distraction if hardly essential, The Runway opens tomorrow (7/20) at the Harkins Theatres Shea 14, for the large Scottsdale Irish and Colombian expatriate communities and is available on-demand from Tribeca Films.

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