Try Try Again…

Talking more about charm.  Yes, I know it’s been on TV a million times, but everytime Groundhog Day (1993) came on I switched away because, alas — I had never seen it!  And knowing the general outline — so I thought — I did not want to give away anything to myself,  saving the movie for an eventual full watch-through.

I am glad I did.  I expected something along the lines of Planes, Trains & Automobiles or Father of the Bride — a fun, enjoyable comedy — but Groundhog Day is so much more.  Bill Murray stars as a weatherman named Phil — as in Punxsutawney Phil, in perhaps his best performance.  Phil wakes every morning to find it is once again Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA.  This basic premise leads to Phil continuously re-inventing the day, of developing, learning, and refining his approach to life.  Very easily this premise could have lead to yet another worn-out, tired yawner of a movie.

But instead, in a way that reminds me of Being John Malkovich (but without the horrid underpinnings), this movie never runs out of ideas.  Once you think the basic storyline is about to be played out, the filmmakers Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis find new and even better directions to venture.  The journey of Phil’s ever-evolution is a magical and fast-paced one which speaks to life and love in both broad and specific ways.  Yes, it’s a feel-good like It’s A Wonderful Life, which I have also not seen — but there is nothing sappy or sentimental about it.  Neither is there typical Bill Murray-goofy going on here, rather, Murray plays it without that surly, sardonic edge exemplified in Caddyshack.  He’s on the edge in a different way here.

Remembering Murray going after another type of rodent, it’s impossible not to assume a connection.  But there is no connection to CaddyshackGroundhog Day is it’s own brilliant concept, executed flawlessly by Ramis, Murray, and Andie MacDowell in probably her most endearing role.  Nearly twenty years old, it’s a breath of fresh air.  I loved this movie! 10/10.  Now I really must watch It’s A Wonderful Life

Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

Film Brief: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

After watching Saturday night that “disappointingly clunky, bombastic” (CNN) movie The Dark Knight Rises, I was hoping last night for a refreshing, delightful indie, so I chose Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011), starring the charming Emily Blunt, and Ewan McGregor as something of a square.  Well I was not refreshed.  I probably should have been scared off by the description, which touts ties to Chocolat and Slumdog MillionaireSalmon Fishing was completely bland and utterly boring, charmless and an insipid waste.  This movie starts badly, but I kept hoping for something a little greater that it would reach for.  Instead we are given even greater stupidity and lameness, and what natural affinity the actors bring in has been somehow stripped bare.  Makes bad ’80s made-for-TV movies look sophisticated by comparison.  Truly horrible; 1/10.

If you would like to be charmed by Emily Blunt, she teamed up with Amy Adams and Alan Arkin in Sunshine Cleaning (2008).  More on this one later, but for now: 9/10 and charming up the ying yang.

Film Brief: My Week with Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn (2011) is a clunker of a movie.  Michelle Williams, playing Marilyn Monroe, is an excellent actress and does a great job here; you are given what seems to be an authentic and insightful look at the troubled idol.  But a great performance by a central actress, in this case, cannot make up for a weak, nearly non-existent and passionless bit of storytelling, nor for uninspired performances from the supporting cast.  4/10.