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Groundhog Day (1993)
Wonderfully witty and intelligent romantic comedy!
'Groundhog Day' is one of those films where the efforts of all involved neatly and sweetly comes together to produce a work that is simultaneously funny, romantic, satirical, philosophical, emotionally moving and above all, thoroughly warm hearted and enjoyable.
Director and co-writer Harold Ramis teams up with former 'Ghostbusters' co-star Bill Murray to tell the story of misanthropic weatherman Phil Connors who is reluctantly sent to a rural town to report on the local 'Groundhog Day' festival, an event wherein a small rodent is fabled to be capable of forecasting the end of winter. Upon completing the dreaded report and earning a well deserved night's rest, Phil awakes to find it's 'Groundhog Day' again and again This begins an intriguing and comedic exploration of the human condition, as we witness the gamut of emotions Phil experiences and the choices he makes each time he relives the same day, again and again. Being the only one to remember the previous day's experience, some of his choices are more self-serving than others, while the range of his emotions includes fear, anxiety, excitement, enjoyment, boredom, frustration, despair, loneliness, warmth and affection all while he is developing a yearning to find love and happiness, a deeper meaning to life and ultimately, some form of resolution and peace.
Central to Phil's attempts to reconcile himself to his predicament is his relationship with his television station's producer, Rita, affably played by Andie MacDowell. Initially dismissive of her, Phil is nonetheless drawn to her quiet charm and unassuming nature and his attempts to figure out how he feels about her gives rise to a great on screen chemistry between the two actors and numerous opportunities for Murray to display his signature wit and sense of humour as his character develops. Providing additional comedic sustenance are enthusiastic cameraman Larry (Chris Elliott) and annoying old school buddy Ned (Stephen Tobolowsky), both of whom give great supporting performances.
Rubin and Ramis' script is sharp and engaging, often poignant, genuinely funny and romantic and offers a gentle satirical commentary on some of life's everyday circumstances, while never missing an opportunity to demonstrate how we can grow and develop in the midst of the most unlikely of situations.
Fully deserving of its 2006 inclusion in the United States National Film Registry of films considered culturally, historically or aesthetically significant, 'Groundhog Day' is an intelligent and entertaining reflection on the meaning of life and the beauty of love, with delightful performances by its two leads and surely contains something for everyone
again and again.
A Soulful Space Thriller
'Gravity' is a film that successfully operates on two distinct levels and may eventually come to be considered a milestone in modern cinema. On the one hand it sets new standards in visual effects, while on the other, it simultaneously details the rather poignant emotional journey of its central character, a combination which is not necessarily easy to achieve.
It is perhaps the first film in which there is a genuinely artistic use of 3D that feels fully natural and immersive, distinctly adding to the viewer's experience as opposed to feeling somewhat like an unnecessary frill. But it is not merely the use of 3D technology that makes this film beautiful to watch, director Alfonso Cuarón's innovative use of panoramic views and detailed close ups almost create in the viewer the sense that you are floating alongside the film's protagonists, played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, as they struggle with the disaster that strikes them 375 miles above Earth.
Equally effective in terms of impact on the senses are the use of sound and silence. The excellent musical score and sound effects are only enhanced by carefully chosen moments of complete silence which set a distinct tone to the film in perfect keeping with the stillness of space in which the action is taking place.
But perhaps this film's greatest achievement is its success at presenting the unfolding emotional story of its lead character in the midst of all this silence and space debris. Touchingly portrayed by Sandra Bullock, who holds the screen on her own for much of the film, we learn of the inner personal struggle of this woman who is an emotionally damaged individual, just as the space capsules she inhabits are physically damaged.
See this film not just for its groundbreaking special effects and detailed sense of physical realism, but also for the particular challenge faced by its heroine - the struggle to cope with the crisis at hand and the struggle to find the courage to cope with her own self.