Lucky, by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja
The great actor who has died last year, Harry Dean Stanton, portrays the main character, Lucky, thirty four years after he made history in another leading role, in one of the best films of all time, Paris, Texas.
Lucky is a ninety-year-old man that lives alone, following a disciplined program of healthy habits – he exercises regularly – and very dangerous ones, like smoking, which may yet bring about his demise, in spite of the fact that his doctor is amazed at his fitness.
The Japanese living on the island of Okinawa may explain some of the state of grace in which Lucky is found at times, with their ikigai philosophy - which in short would mean keeping active and busy – and their special diet, in the case of our hero it may just be that he does not eat so much…on Okinawa they never rise from the table with a full stomach.
Another aspect that may help explain the longevity of the protagonist in spite of his deadly smoking would be his positivity and socializing, for he is a friendly man, invited to a Latino fiesta, where he does not just attend, but surprising everyone in attendance and the audience…he sings.
Furthermore, he sings in Spanish, which he had used before that moment, in conversation with the mother of the host, in conversation in the grocery store, at the bar, but prior to his outing as a singer, there have been only a few words- por favor, adios and the like.
One day, he falls on the ground with no apparent reason, he goes to see the doctor who expresses astonishment at the state of health of the old man, asks the reason for the fall and he is told there was none, which makes the incident worry the old hero, but the physician states that this is old age, the unexpected can happen.
As he walks into the bar where he regularly spends time, the protagonist finds that his friend, Howard aka David Lynch (who may be related to the director, John Carroll Lynch), has lost his tortoise, President Roosevelt, when he left and forgot to close the gate.
After a few days, President Roosevelt has not returned and furthermore, Howard is sitting at a table with his attorney, who helps him draft the will that would leave everything to his friend…the tortoise.
A polemic ensues, with Lucky arguing that President Roosevelt has not returned, hence it seems wrong to have this testament and when the counselor tries to say something, the hero asks if he knows the joke:
Why is it that the shark did not kill the lawyer?
The opinion behind the joke – which is shared by so many in America at least, where the lawyers are anyway in a very unfortunate position, since they have the highest rates of divorce, suicide and depression – is reflected in the attitude that Lucky has towards the attorney.
He wants to fight the much younger man, calling him outside and only stopping when the others intervene, after he says that forty years ago he would not have given the man a chance to stay away, to which his companion responds that forty years ago, his opponent was in diapers.
The two meet again, on another day, when the lawyer seems to be unable to avoid a sales pitch, talks about the close encounter with a garbage truck, which made him write his will, leaving everything in order for his family, cremation paid in advance, with only one number to call for everything to be taken care of.
That seemed more like an invented narrative, whose only scope was to create a bond, make the old interlocutor think that he would face death, perhaps in the very near future, and he would better prepare, make a will and send some business the lawyer’s way.
Lucky is a very intriguing, open, honest, provocative, intelligent, brave man, who has fought in the US Navy and responds to the attempted sale of services with- “that arrangement will do nothing for you…you will be dead”.
After this talk, he has another conversation with a fellow veteran, who has fought with the Marines, talks about the need they had for the US Navy and Lucky to take them wherever they were needed.
They then conversate and mention a few of their war time experiences, fighting in or near the Philippines, with the Marine regretting the attitude of the Japanese and others these had indoctrinated so bad that when the Americans arrived on the Pacific islands, the locals would rather throw their children and then themselves from cliffs to die, rather than face the supposedly worse fate of falling prisoners to the US soldiers.
He then mentions a young girl who appeared to be happy when seeing the Marines, as she smiled and looked at them, only for one comrade to explain that she is actually a Buddhist that smiles to her fate, facing death and not to the Americans- this is just one of the powerful images in this contemplative, philosophical, very good motion picture.
Another is the reference made by Lucky to Ugatz, when talking about death, the end and what comes after departure…
Nothing – although in Sicilian, if you search on the internet, you find that this is also used as “cazzo”.