Movie Reviews – Films Like Groundhog Day

The thing with lockdowns is every day is kind of the same. I can’t believe that I just used the word ‘lockdowns’ in a (fairly) serious sentence – but hey… Each day can feel a bit like Groundhog Day.

On that subject I thought I would look at some more movies with that Groundhog Day stuck-in-a-time-loop theme. And the first thing I found out was that there are quite a few. Some I had seen. Others I made a point of watching. One each day, for several groundhog-day-like days….

Here are my (brief) reviews of the time loop movies I have seen (so far). So next time you are stuck in lockdown (which may be sooner than you think), you too can go through this list and check them out…

Groundhog Day (1993)

A.k.a. the ‘original’ – as in the first one of this genre/theme that I remember seeing – and best. I have watched this one with my son and he likes it already. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this one but every now and again it’s still great to watch. This movie is the yard-stick for all others made on this theme. Even though this one was a comedy and some other time-loop themed movies are basically repeat violence.

Palm Springs (2020)

Starring Andy Samberg – aka Rod in Hot Rod, a very funny movie I have watched several times with Dani. That was enough to get me to sit through this one. And it wasn’t too bad. Samberg plays Nyles, who attends a wedding and gets sucked into a time loop that appears in a cave following an earthquake. Unlike most other films of this genre the same thing can – and does – happen to others. One of them is Sarah, the sister of the bride and maid of honour. The two kind of team up once they realise they are stuck in the same day. After a bit of fun Sarah decides to do her own thing on each (repeat) day in an effort to break the time loop. And… well, I won’t spoil it… Fairly similar to Groundhog Day but with a few more adult themed moments. Worth watching. Quite good fun.

Happy Death Day (2017)

Theresa is a not so nice college girl. On her birthday (Monday 18th) she gets killed and has to relive the day over and over until she can find out who her killer is. But each time she is killed she gets weaker as her body somehow retains the scar tissues etc… This is a bit like Groundhog Day meets Scream (or some other slasher movie). I thought it was quite good and had a couple of good little twists at the end. A lot like the ‘original’ in that she starts off being unkind to people then turns into a better person. Oddly enough this one spawned a sequel: Happy Death Day 2U (made in 2019) which I will probably get around to watching soon.

12:01 (1993)

Made the same year as the ‘original’ but totally passed me by – until now. It stars Jonathon Silverman (one of the two lads in Weekend at Bernie’s, a daft easy to watch 80s movie – another one I have watched with Dani and he liked as much as me). He plays Barry an office worker at a high-tech electrical company that is working on a particle accelerator. Something goes wrong and the whole world gets stuck in an eternal loop, stuck in the same day. Barry receives an electrical shock just as the particle accelerator is activated and so he is the only one who can recall or realise they are all reliving the same day. He falls for Lisa one of the scientists at the company and when she gets shot he gets as many chances as he needs to solve the crime. Also starring Martin Landau (Mr. Space 1999) as Dr. Moxley.

Whereas Groundhog Day restarts at 6am This one – as the title suggests – repeats at one minute past midnight. Similar enough to the ‘original’ but still watchable. Well, the whole ridiculous idea is the perfect formula for good movies isn’t it?

Boss Level (2020)

Kind of like Groundhog Day with swords and machine guns.

It stars Frank Grillo as a retired special forces soldier who tries to escape a never-ending time loop that always end with his death. The movie co-stars Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts. A good entertaining all out action movie with lots of gore and a high body count. Although it is generally the same bodies being killed – just repeatedly… Definitely worth a watch if you don’t mind a bit of violence.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage and army PA guy who gets sucked into front line combat against an alien invasion force. The aliens are known as “mimics”. There are two main types of “mimic”; the Alpha and the Omega. The Omega is a kind of super organism with the ability to reset time. While fighting for his life in his first battle Major Cage gets exposed to the blood of an Alpha and he acquires that same ability to reset the day. Another enjoyable all action violent flick. For those who like that sort of thing.

A bit like Groundhog Day meets War of the Worlds (one version of which also starred Cruise).

ARQ (2016)

Another that just passed me by I have to admit. A Netflix movie that didn’t show up on my radar until now. This is a darker movie than the others in this list but not with the glorified body count of Boss Level and Edge of Tomorrow. The whole day does not repeat in this movie but the time loop lasts only a few hours. The loop repeats from 6.16 (a.m. I assume) to 9.16 (I think) each day in this one. An engineer has built some form of perpetual power machine – called the ARQ – that could help the planet but it turn out to be a time (loop) machine. When intruders enter his house he has to learn how to repel them as he learns more each time. After several repeats however others begin to realise it is not exactly “déjà vu” they are experiencing, and this complicates matters. It is not quite a spoiler alert to say that this movie has an odd ending…

It was watchable- just. But like so many of Netflix productions it just falls short of being really good. Is it me or are Netflix just unable to make really good movies? They always seem to be just about OK. Anyway, watch it for yourself and you decide.

Brownie and Coke? What!?

Dani helped his mum making brownies today. He weighed out some ingredients using the new scales and then mixed them. He was quite pleased with his work so decided I had to check it out.

“Dad. Come and look what I mixed.”
“OK, what?”
“Look” he said proudly pointing. “It’s just cocaine and flour.”
“What?” (laughing)
“Yeah cocaine and flour”
Cocoa and flour” his mum interrupted.

He laughed as if he realised what he had said. But did he?

“Do you know what cocaine is?” I asked.
“No. Not really.”
“Thought not lad.”
“It’s a drug” his mum informed him.
“Oh!” (laughing)

It made me laugh. But where did he get that from?

Where?

I really don’t recall ever mentioning the word at any time in his company. Or any time at all in the last year or so  come to that. I admit I swear in front of him. I know I shouldn’t and do try to cut that out. But mentioning the word “cocaine”? Never, as far as I can recall. I would have had no reason to. It has not appeared as the subject of anything we have watched on TV either.

So where did he get it from? He doesn’t even know himself. I can only assume it has been mentioned in one of those bloody youtube videos he watches about video games. But really not sure. His mum thinks it may be in the lyrics of some song he has heard. Maybe.

For now it remains a mystery. As long as he doesn’t go around school talking about it then I am not too concerned. It’s one of those crazy things that could end up in a visit from the police! I have heard of ‘space cake’ (cake with marijuana) but brownies with coke? It’s a new on on me…

Beaches of Shoalhaven

The Shoalhaven area lies just over an hour’s drive south of Sydney’s southern-most suburbs.

The area covers towns such as Berry, Milton and Nowra, the Shoalhaven region administrative centre. It also includes the Jervis Bay area, Kangaroo Valley and plenty of mountains. It’s real claim to fame is having some of the best beaches in Australia – and therefore the world **

Beaches of Shoalhaven 100 Beach Challenge

The Shoalhaven City Council (which is basically in Nowra) produce the Shoalhaven Visitors Guide to encourage local tourism. The usual brochure stuff with all the main attractions in the area. At the back of the guide booklet they included this list of 100 beaches in the form of a pull-out and keep checklist.

The 100 Beach Challenge checklist

Over the last year we have only managed to visit about 20 of the 100 beaches on the beach “challenge”… None of them have disappointed.

A quick guide to the types of beaches

There is no prize for completing the “challenge”. Just some great memories of fantastic beaches. Here are just a few…

** “…the best beaches in Australia – and therefore the world…” I read that somewhere. That if there is a beach regarded as the best (or one of the best) in Australia, then by default that makes it the best (or one of the best) in the world. Obviously a touch of Australian pride, even boasting – although with good cause. Of course such claims are purely subjective but I have to say I really love the beaches of the Shoalhaven.

We definitely need to see more of those 100 beaches. When they let us back out of Sydney. We will be off…

Hot Spring Weekend in Sydney

Yesterday was a hot one. Today even more so. Sydney’s beaches have been very busy this weekend. Temperatures are set to reach 29ºC today. Supposedly the hottest early spring days for some 14 years!

Busy Beaches

So while the authorities continue with their daily scaremongering figures of “new covid cases” and various other excuses for lockdown, the people are getting fed up. When the sun comes out like this weekend the beaches were always going to get busy.

Recent weeks of this mockdown (sic) have seen variable weather. When it has been warm the beaches have been busy. And why not? It’s all part of that healthy way of life that Australia as a country has always proudly shown to the world. Well, at least that used to be the way.

A bit of vitamin D (which you only really get from the sun) is better at keeping illness at bay than most things. I won’t get into comparisons with any vaccines that may be doing the rounds these days. Suffice to say that Mother Nature is a good – if not the best – place to start. A little exercise, walk down the sands, a game of frisbee, volleyball, beach football or even a dip in the sea. All good stuff. Even surf if that’s your thing. Above all however, just enjoying life. Yes, that’s the thing eh? It has to be far better for your health than being locked up indoors.

We decided to go to one of the quieter beaches. I say “quieter” but it too was fairly crowded. By being more secluded and on the harbour side of the ocean there were no surfers, but there were lots of every other time of beach-goer. The photo doesn’t show many but it got a lot busier.

We chose this secluded beach. It did get much busier…

A bit of football and frisbee followed by a dip in the sea. That was the sporting order of play for us. Then a little snack/picnic. Finally another dip in the sea to cool off. It all seemed so normal. You could be forgiven for thinking that the lunatics were not in control of the country after all. So this is what Australia used to be like… This is why people used to love to come to this country.

This 4 foot lizard was happy relaxing in the shade. Despite being bothered by Dani and several other kids.

This mini heatwave won’t last however. Rain is forecast during the week and temperatures set to drop by 10 degrees. Until next weekend when they should rise again.

It’s good to feel human again.

Favourite Post versus Most Popular

Reflections on the past five and a half years of blogging…

I have been doing this blog for over five and half years now. Five years and seven months to be exact. In that time I have written over 600 blog posts and more – not all published online  but they will be printed off for my son to read. 

I thought I would write about two of the blog posts. The one that has been most popular – i.e. has been seen and read most – and my own personal favourite.

So where has this come from?

Two things brought about this particular post.

One: I am writing another post about that famous philosophical phrase “Plant a Tree, Have a Son, Write a Book” . Hopefully that will be online soon.

Two: I am currently watching one of the best western movies ever made with my son; The Good The Bad and The Ugly. When I say ‘currently watching’ I mean we are watching it in stages as, at 2 hours 41 minutes, it is too long for him to remain focussed throughout the entire movie in one sitting. We have seen about two thirds of it and will watch the last third probably tonight.

Favourite

You have probably guessed that my favourite post centres around one of my favourite films. It is the post about Sad Hill Cemetery – from The Good The Bad and The Ugly movie.

I like that post because I really wanted to go to that outdoor film set, especially when I read that it had been restored more or less to its former (1968!) glory. I love that movie. Those are good enough reasons. 

The post itself features the classic scene of Tuco running around the cemetery, frantically searching for the grave of one Arch Stanton. A truly classic scene from any movie genre or era. And that haunting music. That woman’s voice. The guitar strings. Hugely successful rock band Metallica used to play it to the audience before they came on stage. They used it to wind up the crowd and also to psych themselves up before running out to perform.

In the post we made a new version with Dani playing the part of Eli Wallach’s Tuco. I know I say this from his dad’s point of view but I just love it. It makes me smile. It makes me laugh.

You can see that post here.

Most Popular

The most popular post – by a very long way – is ‘Plant a Tree, Have a Son, Write a Book’. It seems this phrase has universal appeal. From the data on the blogging site I can see that it is being viewed from countries all over the planet. Regularly. Quite interesting considering I had never heard of it before my fist job in Spain back in 1998. 

If you haven’t already seen it (or want to read it again) you can read that post here.  

Maybe I should look at getting some ads on that post. But then all that monetisation stuff was never the reason I started this blog. 

There’s another post coming soon about that famous phrase of mysterious origin, so I won’t say much more about it. Keep an eye out for that one…

The Lucky Country. A Book Review (of sorts)

The Lucky County is a book written by Donald Horne, first published in 1964.The same year I was born. The book is quite famous in Australia and the term “The Lucky Country” is still widely used to describe Australia – even though most people do not understand what the phrase really meant to the book’s author.

This book – and certainly it’s title – is so famous here, I decided that I had to read it. Here is my review.

Book Review – of sorts…

Well, first the good news. I read the book, so you don’t have to. And you can thank me for it, because it can be summed up in one word: Shit!

It was dull in the extreme. Near the end with only three chapters remaining I cut to the chase and jumped to the final chapter (also titled The Lucky Country) which summed up the whole purpose of the book. Then returned – disappointed – and read the other bits.

Obviously very out of date because of when it was written and with only a small hint of any historical interest for a non-Australian like myself (or even for a young Australian who probably knows less than I do about the country in those days). Much of what Horne mentions applied equally to where I grew up. I am sure that was the case in most other so called ‘stable westernised democracies’. There was one thing he pointed out that was true. That was that the technical age (something still to take off back then) might pass Australia by whereas Asia – Japan was specifically mentioned – was already embracing it. Again however, that is true for all Western countries. Japan emerged as a manufacturing and technological powerhouse followed by other east Asian countries. More recently of course China has become even more dominant and it is not only Australia that has sat back and watched.

Misuse of “The Lucky Country”

The title has become a kind of nickname for Australia and is generally used to signify that the country has so much to offer. Among other things, it has mainly been used in reference to Australia’s abundant natural resources, both minerals and food. “The land of plenty” as Men at Work sang. It has also been used to describe things like the weather and distance from problems elsewhere in the world. Although oddly, that last one has never stopped Australia being dragged into wars all over the planet.

Yet the origin of the phrase was negative in the context of the book. It is said that in the decades following his book’s publication, Horne was critical of the “lucky country” phrase being used as a term of endearment and pride for Australia. So he was unhappy with the misuse of the phrase eh? Well maybe he should have written a more interesting book then. That’s all I can say.

The Final Chapter.

Right at the back of the book the final chapter has the same title. Finally Horne gets to the bloody point.

Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”

Yeah, thanks for those words of wisdom Mr. Horne. That could apply to any government in any country that I know anything about in my lifetime. Therein lies the biggest problem with this book. He talks about Australia as if any other western democracy is (or was) any different at that time. They were not. They still aren’t.

In fact if anyone wants to talk about second rate people running the country they only need to look at this shower (supposedly) running things right now! If only they were second rate. That would be a massive improvement on what we actually have now. Third rate? Fourth rate? No. These idiots now are much lower down the food chain.

Based on the current bunch maybe someone should write a book called The Bloody Unlucky Country.

In and Around Jervis Bay – Again!

I just love this area. I could definitely live around here. I am of course talking about Jervis Bay. Here are a couple of things we got up to on our last visit there a few months ago – well before the lockdowns…

Off To The Pictures…

Finally the great little cinema – or Picture House – at Huskisson was open. It was closed  pretty much just after we arrived in Australia (due to the first part of this coronavirus crap) and remained closed on the first few visits we made to the area. At last, this time, it was open. (Although of course more recently it has been closed down again due to the latest covid farce.) But on this particular visit, while it was open, we were going.

Dani and myself went to watch Godzilla vs King Kong. The movie was OK I thought, better than I expected – although my expectations were fairly low it has to be said. But Dani loved it of course. I was going to write a review for it but then couldn’t be arsed. Suffice to say that kids of a certain age range will enjoy it.

Finally it was Open.

Popcorn for the heavyweight clash that was Godzilla vs King Kong

We later went with Dani’s mum to watch the Tom & Jerry movie. A mix of live actors and animation. I was a little sceptical beforehand and even more so afterwards… But it was OK, and once again the boy loved it. And that is what matters.

Another thing that matters (to me at least) is the survival of these great old picture houses. These kind of places disappeared in the UK decades ago. I remember (just) the last of them closing down. Australia has a surprisingly large amount of these places still and it would be a real shame if they were to close. Once closed they will never return. But with all the crap going on right now it is hard to see how this place (in particular) can survive. I will keep an eye on it – as and when we get the chance – and keep you posted.

Open for a night time screening – the wonderful Huskisson Pictures

Paddling for first time…

There are several places to hire a kayak in the area. We hired a two man (or in our case a man and a half) kayak from the café at the ferry pier in Huskisson. We paddled down the  Currambene Creek and into the mangrove swamp. Then off to a couple of secluded beaches.

You never have to go far around here to have a vast beach (seemingly) all to yourself. Forget those crowded beaches on the ‘costas’ in Europe. This is the place to come if you want a good beach.

Dani did really well and took to it very quickly. I was expecting to do most of the paddling but he actually helped me out. What’s more he enjoyed it. So that’s an activity we can do again…