Monday, 30 August 2010

Groundhog Day (Again)

So some little coincidences happened which persuaded me to watch Groundhog Day again. You know the film: knockabout comedy with Bill Murray, relives the same day over? Plans out a perfect date to get the girl, decides to be nice to people. Except that isn't what happens. At all.

First I read this article about Groundhog Day and A/B testing, describing Phil's setup of trying to find the perfect date by trial and error. It made me realise it wasn't quite the film I thought it was. Then I saw this, someone asking how you would prepare if you knew you were about to enter a Groundhog Day.

Watching it again does make you realise something: it is way better than you think. It is also way darker - he commits suicide multiple times on-camera, and we must assume many more times as well. We only see glimpses of his life, we see flickers of mania ("I am a god") and we see self-improvement through study. We don't see if he does any truly reprehensible things in the film, if there were no consequences he could go on a killing spree and wake up the next day as if nothing happens. It could easily turn him into a psychopath. We never see him go down that path, we see him wallowing in drink, attempting a one night stand (and we assume many more) and punching an annoying person. And he doesn't get the girl with trial and error - that just leads to rejection. In the end his self-improvement and good deeds allow him to win over Rita.

It is a whole bowlful of philosophy, that film, for instance is it morally acceptable to do things "in Groundhog" that otherwise we would frown upon? I have to go with no, but you could easily argue it would be okay as everyone would "reset" come 6:00am. What is the most damaging thing you could do in 12 hours? Blow up the President, the Pope? You could pull off the most audacious heist known to man - and come 6am it would all return to normal. Perhaps the only thing that would keep a person from doing all this would be the fear that tomorrow really would come. This would bring questions about whether we only act morally because of society's expectations and consequences, so if we were left to our own devices we would have no morals at all.

It leaves you with plenty to chew over, so go see Groundhog Day again.

That isn't the only film I have seen recently, however. Inception doesn't need a review from me, I can't think of any film recently that has sparked this much discussion, debate and hype. It is all good - it was like a arty concept film with an enormous budget and lots of CGI. You want to come out of the cinema and discuss what you have just seen.

Scott Pilgrim versus The World is a very different film. Based on a comic book - so expect "zaniness" it is a rather good action-comedy. In fact I would have preferred a little more focus on the central relationship. Some of the other characters seemed to be barely explored at all. That said it's quick-fire visual gags and irreverent humour were very entertaining - my problem was looking for more than just entertainment.

Blood Diamond is a pretty brave film - big-budget but with a purposeful, hard-hitting message. It is also that man DiCaprio again - and to think I used to consider his film career a bit of a joke. He's made me look silly. Anyway this is a film that takes itself seriously, with thrills and an important message too. All we need now is a Hollywood film about the conflict in Rwanda. Yeah, right.

Edit: Apparently I am an idiot and need to see Hotel Rwanda. Forgive me while I read the Wikipedia article on the Rwandan genocide a lot more thoroughly.