The Exterminating Angel (#110 of 2)

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.

Choosing the Best Non-English Foreign Language Films

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Choosing the Best Non-English Foreign Language Films
Choosing the Best Non-English Foreign Language Films

In a post over at his site, House contributor Edward Copeland writes:

“Over the past several weeks, I invited (or by extension invited) various people from critics to bloggers to professors and just plain movie fans to submit lists of their top 25 non-English language features so I could compose a list for a survey of all interested film fans to determine a Top 25 list similar to what the AFI does or what the Online Film Community recently did.

I now see how difficult list compiling can be. I set a few guidelines for eligibility: 1) No film more recent than 2002 was eligible; 2) They had to be feature length; 3) They had to have been made either mostly or entirely in a language other than English; 4) Documentaries and silent films were ineligible, though I made do lists for those in the future if this goes well. In all, 434 films received votes, not counting those that had to be disqualified for not meeting the criteria.

I see now why lists can sometimes cause such headaches. We had to decide things such as whether Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns were eligible (We decided no since most people are only familiar with the English dubbed version and the American actors didn't speak in Italian.) Some people voted for Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy as a whole, while others nominated some of the films, but not the others. In the end, all three titles made the cut, though interestingly White failed to receive a single vote for it outside the trilogy votes. Then there were the differences in titles. Thanks for IMDb, which helped me avoid listing the same movie under different names. I also originally planned to have the eligible list consist of films that made at least 5% of all ballots, but soon realized that that would make pretty much every film that got at least one vote eligible, so I opted instead for films that appeared on at least three ballots.

So now the computing has been done.”

To read the list, visit Edward Copeland on Film. The ballot for House publisher Matt Zoller Seitz is after the jump.