Sunday, December 15, 2013

please believe me

There's a problem and an unexpected benefit to continuing researching articles and essays about Groundhog Day. For example, yesterday I mentioned an Irish Papist piece by a guy who calls himself Maolsheachlann. For those of you who don't click through any of my links, his piece is called "Why Groundhog Day is the Best Movie of All Time..." and its from August 2012.

The problem:

I find sometimes that other writers say stuff I intended to say or even have said. But then, I highlight a line anyway, thinking I'll quote it sometime. For example, Maolscheachlann says, "Strangely enough, I think a film about a man caught in an unexplained time loop reflects more of [a] universal human experience than any of those classics." Those classics, by the way: Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Lord of the Rings--

(He calls that one "a great film," singular. I could nitpick one of two ways; I could point out that the film(s) he means are three films, none of which bear that title, or I could assume like a smartass that he means the 1978 animated Bakshi film.)

--and The Godfather. As far as the sentiment Maolsheachlann is expressing here, it's a point I've made more than once, how Phil is an everyman who represents each (and all) of us.

He also points out a rather generic fact about movies; "The best films, just like the best poems and the best paintings, make use see the real world through more appreciative and wondering eyes." It's a detail implicit in things I've written if never explicit. And, it almost seems like a given, but I still like the phrasing just enough that I highlight it and want to share it.

The benefit:

Just consider this paragraph in its entirety:

While I’m not a Quentin Tarantino type who boasts an encyclopaedic knowledge of almost every movie ever made--and I have no desire to be--I’m pretty keen on the cinema and movies. My anoraky “Movies Seen” spreadsheet (which I thoroughly enjoyed compiling, and keep regularly updated) lists 419 films seen in the cinema alone. When I include the films I’ve seen outside the cinema, it’s close to a thousand--and I only counted the films of which I have some clear memory.

Now, have a look at this list. That's the (constantly incomplete) list of movies I've seen. As of this morning (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), 3953 titles. And, this guy is excited about 419 he's seen "in the cinema." First of all, who talks like that? "The cinema," really? Second, for a counter example, I saw 247 movies in 2011... not sure how many of those were in theaters. I no longer have the list--it was on paper and not on some electronic device--but one year in the later 90s, 1997 I believe, I saw 386 movies. That was my best year in terms of movies. Counting viewings and not individual titles, this year and next should do pretty well because of this blog (and I'm toying with, if I've got time, trying to do my movie blog weekly, if not daily, after The Groundhog Day Project is finished).

The benefit here is that, however much some people might think my numbers are excessive, I like movies, I like watching a lot of them... and I don't mean that there are a lot of movies that I like to watch, though that is true as well, but that I like that the total number of movies I have watched is so high. That being said, I know there are people who see more than I do. And, not just film critics or whatnot who make a living doing this, but also obsessive folk who watch movies all the time.

Obviously, I also have the benefit of yet another person's perspective on the movie, even if it isn't particularly unique at first pass. Maolsheachlann has the causal inference of God that Foley (2004) does. He mentions Phil's "complete absorption in the now" which I've called both a good thing (late- and post-loop) and a bad thing (pre- and early-loop). He even suggests that there's something up with the bartender--the one I refer to as "God." "I love the black bartender who shakes his head whimsically at Phil's chat-up lines," Maolsheachlann writes. "I like to think that the bartender is, somehow, the only person other than Phil who knows what's going on."

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to find my voice in every other, and every other in my own.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Robert

    The danger and benefits of vanity Googling your name; you find both flattering comments and (doubtless well-earned) criticism!

    A few comments:

    1) I think it's awesome that you are devoting a whole site to the academic analysis of Groundhog Day and I look forward to browsing it at my leisure-- I like what I've seen so far!
    2) I call myself Maolsheachlann because that's the name on my birth certificate! An ancient Irish king, since you ask.
    3) I most willingly award you the laurel for most movies watched between us!
    4) I take your point about Lord of the Rings
    5) What's wrong with saying 'in the cinema'? I'm European, we don't say "theaters". Theatres to us are either operating theatres or places where you go to watch stage-plays.
    5) Even though I consider Larry dorky, I like him a lot.
    6) Have you ever heard of the Twilight Zone episode Shadow Play? I happened to see it yesterday and it also contains an infinite time loop, of a darker sort.
    7) Keep up the good work!

    Best, Maolsheachlann

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    Replies
    1. regarding #2 awesome

      regarding #5 i actually figured the european thing (especially with the irish name) but i guess i was in a snarky mood when i wrote this entry

      regarding #6 i have probably seen it over the years but i will now watch it again for this blog... i already included one twilight zone episode ("judgment night") in one of my three TV Time Loop Days:

      http://groundhogdayproject.blogspot.com/2013/08/its-like-yesterday-never-happened.html
      http://groundhogdayproject.blogspot.com/2013/09/another-reason-why-today-is-especially.html
      http://groundhogdayproject.blogspot.com/2013/12/and-were-clear.html

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