Jackson Hurst stars in A BIRD OF THE AIR, a film directed by Margaret Whitton. Photo credit: Richard Foreman Jr. Picture courtesy and © 2011 Tashtego Films. All Rights Reserved.
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A Bird of the Air (2011)
Also Known As: The Loop
Opened: 09/23/2011 Limited
|Village East||09/23/2011 - 10/06/2011||14 days|
|Sunset 5/LA||10/07/2011 - 10/13/2011||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: Romantic Drama
Lyman (Jackson Hurst) is a loner, working the graveyard shift for the Courtesy Patrol. When a green parrot flies in to his trailer he becomes obsessed with finding its owner, which leads him to Fiona (Rachel Nichols). She has been eyeing Lyman from a distance and decides to help with his parrot search, whether he wants her to or not. The pair set off on a search that doesn't always lead them where they think they're going, but gradually leads them to one another.
About the Film
Lyman (Jackson Hurst) is a quiet, reclusive young man whose parents were killed in a car crash when he was four years old. He lives alone and works nights, driving in circles on the highway as a courtesy patrol, prepared for any emergencies that might arise. His life is no less of a loop. When not working, he takes courses at the community college, always with an eye towards practical skills that can help him navigate life's emergencies. His life takes a wild and unexpected turn when a green parrot flies into his trailer and delivers a curious repertoire of one-liners. Fascinated, then becoming obsessed, Lyman sets out to find the wise man who taught the bird these phrases. He reluctantly teams up with a spirited, unconventional librarian named Fiona James (Rachel Nichols) who insists on helping him solve the mystery of the parrot's origins. She, in turn, becomes curious about Lyman's past and these classic opposites -- an introvert and an extrovert -- embark on a quest that leads them to each other.
Despite Lyman's reluctance to accept Fiona's help, their detective work uncovers the bird's amazingly long and intricate history. The parrot's cryptic sayings learned from a succession of eccentric owners, begin to reveal a larger world to Lyman. As they search for information about the parrot, Lyman and Fiona grow closer.
One evening, Lyman finally agrees to let Fiona join him on his nightly rounds. On their unconventional date, Fiona reveals her research into his parents' accident and their unknowable past. She surprises him with a birthday cupcake since he's 'a birthday cake virgin' and declares tonight is his birthday. They are about to make love when they hear the terrible noise of a car hitting a stray dog. Lyman puts the dog out of its misery, but Fiona is so upset by the scene she must separate herself from him and the reality of what he does for a living.
Lyman gives the bird the name Zane and continues his search for its owner. He brings the parrot to the home of Duncan Weber (Buck Henry) and his wife (Anjanette Comer), where he witnesses the warmth of a happy, loving family. For the first time, he starts thinking about the possibility of this kind of happiness in his own life. But he may be too late. Fiona announces that she is leaving town. Lyman asks her to reconsider, but she refuses, she does not want to share his dark view of the world. As a parting gift she gives him the name of address of the elusive 1930's owner they have been seeking.
Lyman's routine begins to break down; he is sleepless, he begins to take risks, he confesses to Margie (Linda Emond) the loss of meaning in his life. She reassures him 'Being lost is only temporary'.
He goes to see Ivy Campbell (Phyllis Somerville), and learns that her father, killed in World War II, bought the parrot from a band of gypsies. Lyman is unsure what to do next when he realizes there is no wise man with the answers he needs. Ivy Campbell urges him to move "Forward." He returns to his trailer exhausted, finally able to sleep. In the middle of the night, Lyman runs out of propane during an ice storm and the parrot nearly freezes. He rushes Zane to the vet, hoping to save his life. Then he receives an emergency call about Fiona, who has been in a multi-car accident. Lyman races to the scene. Fiona is fine, except for a few scratches. Suddenly, as Floyd crosses to greet Lyman, an SUV skids down the highway. Lyman decides to move Floyd out of harm's way, seemingly sacrificing himself to save Fiona's dog. He is hit and thrown over the bridge into the water. At the hospital, Fiona calls her parents and confesses "Life sucks."
Fortunately, he survives. Bruised and in a cast, Lyman wakes up in his trailer as it is being pulled down the highway. A note pinned to his shirt explains that Fiona is taking him with her -- but she will turn around if he wants to go back. She has had the trailer inspected and even has a tool belt for his wheelchair, she's now prepared. Lyman decides that what he wants is Fiona, and they drive off to start a new life...together.
Like most things, your life changes when you're not paying attention. For me, it started innocently enough on a summer afternoon in a small bookstore. Why did this unconventional story feel so vivid to me? It's probably a form of madness or a brain disorder to finish a book and have the reflexive certainty that this story must be a film.
I love the real, ordinary, mysterious, romance of life. The Loop has elements of charm, loss, darkness, idealism, totemic animals, spirit, sacrifice, pratfalls, and tears. Like life, or at least as I experience it. And I confess I fell in love with the characters, two- and four-legged.
In Lyman's case, given his history and his present, a denial of any human need seems to be working for him. I was fascinated by his road warrior existence, dealing with the nightly carnage of the highways, and the way the smallest thing (like a green 17- ounce messenger) changes his life's course. How do men negotiate the romantic quest? How do they balance the strictures of society's view of what it is to be a responsible man and still keep an open, human, heart? How do we mourn the past to make way for a future? It takes a small, lost bird to shove a shim into Lyman's locked heart. Eventually a whole community of people, a sad-eyed hound, and a woman who makes her own rules, open it to an unknowable, joyous, uncontrolled life.
Fiona, in spite of being independent, smart, open, and owning her sexuality, is caught in her own loop -- but hers is the straight line of a born bolter. Are we encoded with the someday-my-princewill- come archetype? Kissing a lot of frogs is only half the price. She idealizes men (the iconic cowboy), the world of literature, the answers in books, and the possibility of community. She still believes in Romance, yet when it inevitably crashes around her, she moves on. She discovers that the real man -- flaws and all (and we are all flawed) -- is more worthy than whatever romanticized image she has been struggling to uphold.
I loved the challenge of telling a non-formulaic story with elements of the great screwball comedies of the '30s and '40s. I wanted a low-key, classic feel to the film and for the energy to come from the meeting of the actors, the story, and the audience. I set out to treat my players as conscious artists and alchemists. Their generosity was extraordinary.
I wanted the story to unfold, to move from the dark to the light -- like Lyman's journey. We start with a mysterious man in the dark on the highway at the scene of an emergency. By the end he rides the crest of a hill and breaks into the dawn, headed for home.
I love the idea that meaning is a gift we give ourselves, and as Margie says, "being lost is only temporary."
I hope there is some small wisdom in it.
-- Margaret Whitton