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Groundhog Day (#110 of 5)

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

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The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Tequila Works

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Reginald Sixpence totters around the Chapel, searching for something hidden in the Marquis’s safe. A few rooms over, one of the manor’s servants shuffles around, an act that would be innocent enough if not for the hideous gas masks he wears, or for the simple fact that in a few hours he’s going to pick up the antique hunting rifle and murder Sixpence. You know this because you, Lafcadio Boone, have seen it all before, and the task set before you in The Sexy Brutale is to now figure out a way to stop it.

Maybe you’ve come across this Groundhog Day-like gambit before in a video game (see Majora’s Mask and Ghost Trick), but the eerie intimacy of The Sexy Brutale’s mansion and the game’s rapid pace—a 12-hour in-game time loop that passes in 10 minutes—makes the conceit feel fresh. Each discrete area of the two-story manor has its own decor and atmosphere, from a set of security cameras in the casino to a live rehearsal in the music room. And the scenarios of each are equally unique: Willow Blue, who haunts the long hallways of the guest rooms is driven by some unseen force to commit suicide, whereas two thieves find that they’re the evening’s entertainment after they become trapped in an on-stage deathtrap.

New York Film Festival 2012: Hyde Park on Hudson

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New York Film Festival 2012: <em>Hyde Park on Hudson</em>
New York Film Festival 2012: <em>Hyde Park on Hudson</em>

While at first the idea of Bill Murray playing Franklin D. Roosevelt may seem counterintuitive to the actor’s sensibilities, on further thought the combination is quite rife with possibility. Throughout his career, Murray has offered up intimate portraits of individuals whose personal vices he spun into inspired bits of comedy (the challenged greenskeeper of Caddyshack, the insufferably self-obsessed Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, etc.), and every so often into devastating visions of isolated, broken men (see Broken Flowers and Lost in Translation). In Hyde Park on Hudson, Murray is up to the task of channeling our country’s 32nd president despite a scarce resemblance in appearance and voice. He succeeds in doing so by summoning the otherworldly presence of his famous comedy roles as well as the understatement of his more serious efforts, melding them into a compelling portrayal of a larger-than-life yet mysterious figure such as Roosevelt.

SXSW 2011: Source Code

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SXSW 2011: <em>Source Code</em>
SXSW 2011: <em>Source Code</em>

Based on Duncan Jones’s first two feature films, Moon and now Source Code, the latter of which had its world premiere Friday night here at SXSW, one could say that Jones has a knack not for putting across breathtakingly original ideas in a breathtakingly original way, but for putting across familiar ideas with enough skill, intelligence, and heart to make the end result seem fresh enough. Moon at first played like basically a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris, right down to its white-dominated production design, until it gradually began to stake out its own distinctive thematic and emotional territory. Source Code similarly begins in a manner that suggests it’s going to be merely a rehash of films ranging from Groundhog Day to The Manchurian Candidate, but the film eventually develops an identity of its own, thanks in part to Ben Ripley’s structurally brilliant script and the committed performances of its cast.

Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective

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Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective
Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective

For 16 years, Groundhog Day has been hailed as a meditation on self-redemption. But to pigeonhole it into one overarching theme would be an insult to the layered precision, and perfection, of Harold Ramis’s 1993 masterpiece, which ventures into the heart of darkness and despair to ultimately emerge unharmed, but not unmarked. This story of a man doomed to relive the same day over and over again is not concerned about tomorrow. A true absurdist triumph, it cares not what the destination might be, for it knows that the pursuit of meaning is itself meaningful whether or not that pursuit is eventually rewarded. Life might very well lack purpose, and it might very well be a struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole about it.

A shot of a blue sky (cotton-white clouds floating, lazily, across the screen) opens the film. Every few seconds the shot changes—yet it remains the same. The sky is blue, the clouds as pearly as before and still in their hazy dance, even though they are not the same as the ones from the previous shot. It is a visual metaphor that permeates the rest of the film. That it is intertwined with an otherworldly small town marching band track only adds to the positively Lynchian feel.