Six films that fool around with clocks and calendars
In celebration of the observance of Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, why not explore some cinematic time-traveling or time-twisting of your own? These movies will keep you preoccupied while we wait for spring.
Groundhog Day (1993)
This priceless romantic comedy is the perfect vehicle for the off-kilter persona of its star, Bill Murray. Murray plays Phil Connors, a jaded TV weatherman who gets mysteriously stuck in an ever-repeating day while covering the annual groundhog festivities in Punxsutawney, Pa. Phil (the guy, not the rodent) goes through a hilarious evolution of attitude and behavior toward the quaint townsfolk while also pursuing a liaison with his attractive but reserved producer (Andie McDowell).
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
You could almost characterize this military sci-fi thriller as Groundhog Day with warmongering aliens. Tom Cruise plays a glib public relations guy for the allied earth forces as they face a daunting off-planet enemy. He, too, gets stuck on the same repeating day as he tries to figure out how to be an actual soldier and perhaps even defeat this overwhelming alien force. Although Cruise is surprisingly effective in this role, the star of the film is a buff and battered Emily Blunt as our side’s genuine kick-ass hero.
About Time (2013)
From writer-director Richard Curtis, the feel-good tearjerker mind that brought us Love, Actually, comes this romantic dramedy. Domhnall Gleeson stars as a young man who discovers he has a genetic ability to travel in time, and he uses that skill to adjust some areas of his past that have been disappointments, specifically the lack of a girlfriend. But, in true movie fashion, time travel can have unintended consequences. Will all the mistakes get cleared up by the end credits? What do you think?
Midnight in Paris (2013)
Gil, a restless, nostalgic American writer (Owen Wilson), is discontented with the crass realities of modern life. While on vacation in Paris, he accidentally stumbles down a back street and into the city’s storied past. There, he meets such literary luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Scott Fitzgerald, and discovers, to his surprise, that his heroes are equally discontent with their era, which he has idealized. An amusing yet poignant critique of misplaced romanticism about eras gone by.
Back to the Future II (1989)
Although it lacks some of the genuine surprise of the first installment, this sequel is certainly more inventive in its mash-ups of 1985, 2015 and 1955. When the future changes the present, Marty must go back to the past again to try to fix things while avoiding running into his former time-traveling self (trust me, it works better than it sounds). The movie integrates the dual storylines in a clever fashion, especially when you consider that it is all done without the benefit of modern CGI technology.
Set in a plausibly dystopian future, astronauts on a barren, decimated Earth must travel through a wormhole to seek other planets capable of sustaining human life. The time-bending aspect of this dense sci-fi film doesn’t emerge until late, but it adds a metaphysical frisson to what could otherwise have been a rather straightforward space saga. Interstellar has a lot, maybe even too much, on its mind, but in the deft hands of director-co-writer Christopher Nolan, the movie is more thought-provoking than it is pretentious.
And a shot…coming to Theatre N in February.
Sing Street (2016) Screening Feb. 24-26
Conor, a sensitive, lovelorn teenager in 1980s Dublin, decides the best way to capture the attention and, better yet, the heart of a mysterious girl is to start a band. Writer-director John Carney has demonstrated an affinity for stories of aspiring musicians; his previous features include Begin Again and Once. In this outing, he has the immeasurable help of his appealing young lead, Ferdia Walso-Peelo, supported by Aidan Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy and a smashing ‘80s soundtrack featuring The Cure, Duran Duran, A-Ha and Spandau Ballet. For a full Theatre N schedule and more information, go to theatren.com.