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Was ‘Groundhog Day’ Talking About All Of Us? A Glance Into The Most Famous Time Loop In Cinematic History

A Glance Into The Most Famous Time Loop In Cinematic History

What does “Groundhog Day” mean to you? If the phrase automatically leads you to think about the same day repeating itself over and over again, it is thanks to the 1993 movie of the same name, which is one of the most influential comedies of recent decades.

The film’s title comes from a real life annual tradition, celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on February 2. Groundhog Day is the day when, according to a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition, a groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil predicts how long the winter will continue, based on whether or not he sees his shadow when he emerges from his burrow in the morning.

The movie follows the misadventures of surly meteorologist Phil (Bill Murray), who has been sent to broadcast from the Pennsylvania town on the eponymous Groundhog Day. However, after he finishes recording his segment, he is forced to spend the night in the town due to bad weather. To his horror, when he wakes up, it is February 2 again, and nobody has noticed except him. The same happens the next day, and the next, and the next. And so on indefinitely.

Directed by Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day became an instant classic and spawned an ever-increasing number of films in the same narrative mold, such as Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Happy Death Day (2017), and Palm Springs (2020). It also became an inexhaustible source of analysis, theories, and all kinds of literature.

One such study is the recently published Prisioneros del bucle (Prisoners of the loop), a Spanish-language essay in which journalists and film critics Santiago Alonso and Isabel Sánchez delve into the key elements that made Groundhog Day a cultural phenomenon. “It’s sobering to think that a film from only 30 years ago has given rise to so many others that copy it or are based on it. There was something to research,” Alonso tells EL PAÍS. For the co-author, the reasons for the study’s validity are clear: “It is due to the philosophical depth of its topic. Any viewer can identify and become hooked on its existentialist perspective. And, above all, the idea behind the plot is great.”

In one of the scenes in the film, Phil shares his affliction with the patrons of a bowling alley and, after asking them what they would do if their life was stuck in a place where every day is the same and nothing you do matters, one responds: “That’s the story of my life.”

“In middle age, we often get bored with our own lives, it seems like we are repeating the same day over and over again,” Isabel Sánchez reflects. The writer admits that what interested her most about the comedy is its nature as a fantastical love story that develops over time, which puts it in the orbit of classic films such as A Matter of Life or Death (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), and Portrait of Jennie (1948). After all, the role of Rita, the producer played by Andie MacDowell, is essential for Phil’s transformation.

“When Rita tells him what her perfect man would be like, she unknowingly becomes his guide and draws him a map,” the journalist explains. “It makes him realize that he is an asshole but he can take a path to become better, to see that life can be something else, and to learn to enjoy it as part of a community.”

Bill Murray y Andie MacDowell
Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in a scene from ‘Groundhog Day.’ Archive Photos (Getty Images)
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott in 'Groundhog Day.'
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott in ‘Groundhog Day.’ / Cordon Press

Prisioneros del bucle is made up of a first part that tells the story of the production of the film, a second based around the literary and cinematographic background and its philosophical interpretations, and a third where the two authors dialogue about other movies involving time loops.

Jon Mikel Caballero, director of the Spanish movie The Incredible Shrinking Wknd (2019), features in the book with a final interview, as does the screenwriter of Groundhog Day, Danny Rubin. The Californian playwright says that the idea for the story came to him from the novel The Vampire Lestat (1985), by Anne Rice. “The universe Rice had created included people who were exactly like us, except in a few things. One of them was that they were always the same age and lived forever. That’s what I started thinking about that day,” Rubin clarifies in the book.

The film was a huge box office success in 1993 but also marked the end of the friendship and collaboration between Ramis and Murray. Both had worked together on Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), and Ghostbusters (1984), movies that are considered to have contributed to transforming the codes of American comedy of their time.

However, Murray’s stress over his divorce during the filming of Groundhog Day and the creative differences between the two (apparently Murray, who was looking for a career change, advocated a more tragic original version of Rubin’s script, while Ramis turned it into a romantic comedy) created an extremely tense atmosphere. According to the book How to be Bill Murray (Gavin Edwards, 2016), the actor stopped speaking to Ramis and hired a deaf-mute interpreter to mediate between them using sign language. They did not speak again until Murray decided to visit the terminally ill filmmaker shortly before his death in 2014.

Día de la marmota
Original poster for ‘Groundhog Day.’ / Cordon Press

“It was always said that, of the two, Bill Murray was the one who threw the map out the window and Harold Ramis was the one who looked for a way to get home,” says Sánchez. “That’s why they worked so well as a duo, one was chaos and the other was order.”

For Alonso, “it is not worth it” to think about what the film would have been like if that more dramatic vision that the screenwriter and Murray initially advocated had been imposed: “What matters is what it was. If one of the parts of the whole had been different or was made differently, perhaps we would not be talking about the same film.” Sanchez also vindicates Ramis and his sense of lightness: “He achieved a very difficult balance between comedy, romance, and thematic depth. Curiously, despite how light it appears to be, it has given philosophers, psychologists, and all kinds of theorists much more to talk about than other more pretentious films.”

The groundhog is Jesus Christ

Since the premiere of Groundhog Day, many fans have tried to determine how many years Murray’s character spends living on February 2. Although the film only shows 38 different days, the information that the protagonist gives about everything he has done, together with the time it would take him to learn to sculpt ice, speak French, or play the piano at the level he demonstrates, recently led journalist Simon Gallagher to place his estimate at 33 years and 350 days.

Others have taken deep dives into its alleged religious subtext. Danny Rubin received letters from monks or Kabbalah researchers who thought the screenwriter was one of them. There are also those who have seen in the transformation of the character a reflection of the path of perfection of Saint Teresa of Ávila, based on the idea of progress from the contemplative life. And then there is the critic and university professor Michael Bronski, who in 2004 argued: “The groundhog is clearly the risen Christ, the ever-hopeful renewal of life in spring. And when I say that the groundhog is Jesus, I say it with great respect.”

El día de la marmota'
Billboard advertising ‘Groundhog Day’ to celebrate the real life Groundhog Day in Las Vegas on February 2, 2021. Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

Rabbi Niles Goldstein commented on the ending, when the protagonist is allowed to live outside the loop once he has become the best version of himself: “The film tells us, as Judaism does, that the work is not finished until the world has been made perfect.” In Prisioneros del bucle, Alonso and Sánchez go back to other works that have dealt with the theme of time, self-improvement, and the existential trap.

One reference that stands out is the mythical tale of Sisyphus, the character from Greek mythology condemned by the gods to push a large stone up a mountain, which would roll back down just before reaching the top, forcing him to repeat the process for eternity. As the book states, in The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) the philosopher Albert Camus invited us to imagine that the condemned man was happy, because, despite the fact that “the gods thought, with some reason, that there is no punishment more terrible than useless and hopeless work”, Sisyphus still experienced freedom every hour he descended the mountain again.

“The film reflects a model of change that consists of letting oneself accept the repetition,” explains Alonso. “Many people are afraid of repetition because of the feeling of not moving and always doing the same thing over and again, but if you manage to change something in yourself and ride the loop, your perspective changes.”

Sánchez equates the film’s outline with the theory of grief: “According to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, grief is structured in five phases: denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. “They are the steps that the character takes psychologically. Phil is someone with Peter Pan syndrome, who never thinks about anyone, and does whatever he wants, and he progressively acquires a new perspective.”

Danny Rubin y Bill Murray
Danny Rubin, the screenwriter for ‘Groundhog Day’ and Bill Murray pose for a photograph in New York in 2017. Bruce Glikas

The evocative influence of Groundhog Day goes further. In 2016, director Cynthia Kao made the short Groundhog Day for a Black Man, a critique of police racism. It tells the story of a Black man who, no matter what he does, is trapped in a loop and always ends up being murdered by a police officer.

It is a premise that was also taken by the Oscar-winning medium-length film Two Distant Strangers (2020). Not to mention other films also devoted to exploring how a decision made on one day can alter an entire existence, a theme that ranges from Edgar Neville’s Spanish classic La vida en un hilo (1945), through Mr. Nobody (2009), until the recent premiere on Netflix last February of the series One Day, an adaptation of the book of the same name by David Nicholls, which shows what it is like every July 15 throughout the life of Emma and Dexter, who meet at their graduation and spend a night together but whose lives take different paths from the morning after.

“I really like stories that take place in a single day, with or without a loop. Also in literature, such as Mrs Dalloway [1925], by Virginia Woolf. It is a way to concentrate an entire life and an entire person on how they live a day,” says Isabel Sánchez. “You can’t see what your life would be like every time you choose to do one thing or another, but art does open those possibilities to you. That cliché phrase ‘live each day as if it were your last’ has a ring of truth because, by chance or by design, any day can change your life.” By the way, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has predicted that spring will come early this year.

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How Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins Is Revolutionizing The Fashion Modeling

Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins

The Voice Of EU | In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion modeling, a groundbreaking innovation has emerged: the creation of virtual twins through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). This technological advancement has already made waves in the industry, exemplified by the case of Alexsandrah, a renowned model who has seamlessly integrated her AI counterpart into her professional endeavors. The implications of this development are far-reaching, reshaping not only the creative landscape but also the economic and ethical dimensions of the fashion world.

Alexsandrah, known professionally by her first name, stands as a pioneer in this new era of modeling. She proudly shares that her digital twin mirrors her appearance “even down to the baby hairs,” blurring the lines between reality and simulation. This symbiotic relationship between the human model and her AI counterpart signifies a transformative shift propelled by AI technology.

Advocates of AI-generated modeling argue that its increasing prevalence promotes diversity and inclusivity within the fashion industry. By showcasing a wider range of body types and underrepresented demographics, AI models empower consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, ultimately reducing fashion waste stemming from product returns. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of digital modeling presents economic opportunities for both companies and individuals seeking to leverage this innovative technology.

However, amidst the promise of progress, critics voice concerns regarding the potential ramifications of AI modeling. The displacement of human models, makeup artists, and photographers looms large, raising questions about job security and ethical implications. Furthermore, there is apprehension that unsuspecting consumers may be deceived into mistaking AI models for real individuals, undermining transparency and authenticity in the industry.

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

Sara Ziff, a former fashion model and founder of the Model Alliance, underscores the pressing need to address these concerns. She highlights the risk of distorting racial representation and marginalizing models of color through the uncritical adoption of AI technology. Indeed, data indicates that women, especially those from underrepresented groups, are disproportionately affected by the advent of AI in modeling, further exacerbating existing disparities in the industry.

The case of iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. illustrates the nuanced stance that companies are taking towards AI-generated models. While initial experiments with AI models aimed to diversify representation, backlash prompted a reevaluation of their approach. Levi reaffirmed its commitment to live photo shoots and human models, signaling a cautious approach to AI integration in its operations.

Despite varying responses from industry players, the demand for AI-generated models continues to grow. Companies like Lalaland.ai, founded by Michael Musandu, are at the forefront of this technological revolution. Musandu emphasizes the complementary nature of AI models, envisioning them as supplements rather than replacements for traditional photo shoots. He underscores the potential of AI to enhance the shopping experience, reduce product returns, and create new job opportunities within the industry.

The journey towards ethical AI implementation in fashion modeling is fraught with challenges, as highlighted by the experiences of models like Yve Edmond. Concerns regarding consent, compensation, and labor rights underscore the need for robust regulatory frameworks. The Model Alliance advocates for legislative measures to safeguard the rights of fashion workers, including provisions for informed consent and fair compensation in the realm of AI modeling.

Amidst the complexities and controversies surrounding AI-generated modeling, individuals like Alexsandrah navigate this new frontier with a sense of optimism tempered by vigilance. By fostering transparency, ethical use, and equitable compensation, AI has the potential to expand opportunities for models of color and revolutionize the fashion industry. As stakeholders grapple with the ethical and economic implications of this technology, the journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for fashion modeling continues.


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— By Darren Wilson | Contributor VoiceOfEU.com

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Top 10 most profitable places in Britain for holiday rentals

The most profitable locations in Britain for holiday rentals has been revealed – and the majority are not located anywhere near a beach.

Staycation favourite Cornwall is top of the rankings, with an average price per night of £84 for a room and £117 for a whole house.

A total of 476,910 bookings were made via popular holiday rental companies in the area last summer, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the money website Wealth of Geeks.

The figures suggest that holiday lets in Cornwall took bookings worth £40million between the beginning of July and the end of September last year.

However, most of the top 10 are located in inner London, the research showed.

The most profitable locations for buy-to-let have been revealed, with staycation favourite Cornwall at the top of the rankings

The list of top ten places also includes several areas in London, including Westminster in second place.

The average price of renting a holiday let in Westminster is £133 a night for a room and £435 for a house.

With 304,790 holiday let bookings, it produces a revenue for the area in the heart of London’s west end of £34,441,270 for the summer period last year.

The calculations were based on bookings on Airbnb, Booking.com and the Expedia Group, with data taken from the Office for National Statistics.

The rental prices, meanwhile, were taken from Airbnb across 388 British towns, and the total revenue was calculated by multiplying the number of nights with the nightly cost of a room on Airbnb.

The revenue did not take into account any costs of running a holiday let, such as repairs and maintenance, nor did it factor in property prices.

All of the remaining locations in the top ten were in London except for one on the south coast.

This was Brighton and Hove, where average rental prices per night were £100 for a room.

In total, the data suggested that the British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023.

Michael Dinich, of Wealth of Geeks, said: ‘Holiday rentals play a vital role in the UK’s tourism industry by supporting local economies, providing accommodation to enhance visitor experience, and promoting tourism in diverse regions across the country.

‘Tourism also helps to promote awareness of lesser-known areas, helping to distribute tourist spending more evenly across the country.

‘While some destinations may experience seasonal fluctuations in tourism often in the summer months, holiday rentals attract visit year-round, helping to sustain economies and businesses during off-peak seasons.’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year's Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

The findings show that those looking to invest in the holiday lets market need to do their sums carefully before taking the plunge and committing to a particular area.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, explained: ‘This data shows that it’s not just the prospect of beaches and more reliable weather which drives profitability.

‘It’s not just traditionally popular holiday destinations which produce the best returns so it’s vital that would-be landlords do their research carefully before investing.

‘The ability to make money depends on supply and demand, not just the attributes of an area.

‘At what level a landlord can rent their property for, after taking into account all expenses, is key and explains why areas such as Westminster and Camden are proving profitable, where they may lack the charm of a traditional UK holiday destination such as Cornwall.’

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

Tax crackdown

The data on the most profitable holiday lets follows a crackdown on the sector by the Chancellor.

Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped to help improve the availability of long-term rentals.

The move is due to come into force at the beginning of April next year and is widely seen as a way of bringing the tax regime of shorter-term lets more in line with longer term rentals.

Experts operating in the sector insisted that holiday rentals remained in demand ahead of the changes.

Graham Donoghue, of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: ‘Staycations have been growing in popularity over the past decade and right now demand for our UK holiday cottages is higher than ever, with the average annual income of a holiday let owner up as a result.

‘Hotspot locations like Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Cornwall continue to see considerable demand and bookings across the UK for our holiday cottages have been up 11 per cent during the current Easter school holidays.

‘The demand we’re witnessing is particularly good news for our holiday let owners who have faced their own set of challenges recently. Despite changes, which we are carefully guiding our owners through, it’s clear that holiday letting remains a profitable and rewarding long-term business model.’

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‘Monkey Man’: Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel has always had an intelligent glint in his eye. From his big screen debut in Slumdog Millionaire to his role as a journalist in Aaron Sorkin’s series The Newsroom, the British actor usually brings a sense of peace, calm and intelligence to his performances. Perhaps that is why it is no surprise that, at 32, he has made his directorial debut with a film in favor of social outcasts, which he also produces, co-writes and stars in. The surprise is its genre: Monkey Man is a fierce action and martial arts film, revolving around hand-to-hand combat, dismemberment and knife fights.

Patel returns to India, the land of his ancestors, for his story of revenge that is strengthened by the creative arsenal applied to its sequences — and not only those of combat. While there was a serious lack of design in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, one of the worst choices for Oscar for Best Film in Oscar history, Monkey Man has at its heart a physical and moral entanglement, involving a sadistic police chief, a luxury brothel that serves as home to both fornication and power, and a ragged young man who seeks to atone for the death of his mother through the most savage forms of violence.

Monkey Man is also set in a slum overrun by gambling and fights, with Patel earning a few rupees as an underground bare fist fighter wearing a crude monkey mask. With its colors and the camera’s handling of Bombay’s chaos, the movie has echoes of Brazil’s City of God.

Image from the movie 'Monkey Man.'
Image from the movie ‘Monkey Man.’Universal Pictures

A comparison can also easily be made with the John Wick saga, which has revolutionized commercial action and martial arts cinema in the past 10 years. Patel even mentions John Wick in one on-screen exchange. Yet, despite the similarities, the staging and editing of their spectacular fight sequences set them apart. In the four installments of the John Wick movies starring Keanu Reeves, the choreography regarding the confrontations is developed through a paradoxically harmonious staging of continuity, with general shots extended in time. The dynamics of their contenders and their movements are visualized with hardly any editing, almost like a classic fifties musical but instead of dances, there is physical destruction.

The action in Monkey Man, on the other hand, is not one of continuity, but of rupture. The cuts are incessant and move at an unrestrained pace; the shots come in quick succession, with barely a second or two between them. Patel’s handling of cinematic language is brutal. For a novice director, he displays a dazzling energy, cadence and expressiveness. This is demonstrated by three of the only four fights in the ring, each one based on a dynamic sense of space and narrative. The first is defined by the close-up shot, with the camera directed at the waist of the opponents or even lower — giving the viewers a sense of overwhelming closeness. The second offers a very different vision of the fight, which is both more poetic and exquisite. And the third uses surprise as the main exponent, and is raw and concise.

With rough textures, contrasting colors and ochre photography, reflecting the social mud in which most of the characters are stuck, Monkey Man only slips off kilter in the second half, when the Hindu demigod, Hanuman, assumes the tragic halo that envelops the protagonist. Although it gives him authenticity with respect to his lineage, the visualization is tinged with a somewhat tiresome messianic muddle of lyrical ambition.

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel.

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhuliwala.

Genre: Action. United States, 2024.

Duration: 121 minutes

Release date: April 12.


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