Year 8, Day 43 - 2/12/16 - Movie #2,244
BEFORE: I'm not able to recognize every holiday here at the Movie Year, and February is more packed with holidays than you think. By choosing to focus on Valentine's Day, I usually miss President's Day, Black History Month, Groundhog Day, and Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday. OK, I could make the case that by showcasing films with relationship "sins" like affairs, that's a bit of a nod to the penance associated with Ash Wednesday, but that seems like a bit of a stretch. But here's a film that features the Carnivale-like nature of Mardi Gras, along with the time-loop nature of the film "Groundhog Day", so I feel like I'm covering a few bases here.
I vowed last year to get to the 6 films about time-travel that are on my list, but between Halloween and Christmas-themed programming, I just ran out of slots. So, as a sign of good faith that I intend to get to them in 2016, I'm working two of them in to the romance chain. The fact that Elizabeth McGovern carries over from "She's Having a Baby" just shows me that I'm on the right track in doing this.
Getting really close to Valentine's Day now - here's the TCM Oscar-themed line-up for Feb. 13:
Richard Gere carries over from "Bloodbrothers" to:
"Days of Heaven" with Robert Wilke carrying over to:
"The Magnificent Seven" with James Coburn carrying over to:
"The Americanization of Emily" with Keenan Wynn carrying over to:
"Best Friends" with Burt Reynolds carrying over to:
"Hooper" with Sally Field carrying over to:
"Steel Magnolias" with Shirley MacLaine carrying over to:
"Being There" with Peter Sellers carrying over to:
"Lolita" with James Mason carrying over to:
"The Story of Three Loves"
I've seen three of these, "The Magnificent Seven", "Being There" and "Lolita", and I'm going to record two more - "Best Friends" and Hooper". This might be a little surprising, considering I've passed on classic films with great reputations, like "Madame Bovary" and "The Life of Emile Zola", but I've got a Burt Reynolds marathon coming up later this year, and this will help extend that to be at least 11 films long. (Happy 80th birthday, Burt - I may be a day late, but it looks like TCM will miss it by 2 days!)
Now I'm at 45 seen, 100 unseen, with 4 added to the list.
THE PLOT: An out-of-work actor, desperate to win back the affections of
his ex-girlfriend, unexpectedly stumbles upon a way to turn back the
AFTER: Apparently this film was first released as "The Man With Rain in His Shoes", which is a terrible title. In some countries it was titled "If Only..." which I suppose is slightly better.
As for tie-ins, there is a depiction of the Carnivale celebration in the Notting Hill section of London, but apparently there they celebrate it in August, and not February. Go figure. But hey, the recent news from the world of science tells us that gravitational waves do exist, and if they're strong enough, they're able to distort space-time. So apparently "Interstellar" got something right, and with enough gravity, even time is not a constant. Umm, I think. My brain goes a little fuzzy trying to understand the space-time continuum.
But fuzzy time is what's at play here in "Twice Upon a Yesterday". A British man, depressed and drunk after breaking up with his girlfriend, accidentally gets a chance to travel back in time a few months (?) and do things differently. This time, instead of admitting that he cheated on her, he breaks up with the other girlfriend first so that he can answer the question honestly, and say "I'm not seeing anyone else right now." Which is technically a true statement, however it's phrased very carefully to cover a lie of omission.
Look, I understand that many people would love to have a chance to go back in time. And based on what I saw in the film "Lost Christmas" last December, it seems like the London area provides the perfect setting for this sort of magical time-travel, with the help of bartenders, a few trash collectors and possibly an orange umbrella (the film is a little light on the mechanism of the time-travel...) After all, London's this odd mix of the modern and the Victorian, so it just comes off as a place that exists outside of time.
But what's the message here? That a man caught cheating is better off lying about it than telling the truth? Well, OK that seems a little obvious, but here it's quite literal - when he admits to the affair, his girlfriend dumps him and marries another man. But given the chance to go back and do things differently, maintaining the lie seems to be the recommended course of action, and our hero's life is made better for it, at least in the short term.
Of course, given the chance for a re-do, the average person would be able to avoid the mistakes he made the first time, and instead be granted the chance to make all new mistakes. Because that's what happens, we're only human, and anyway, he only gets to fix ONE mistake. Fixing that turns out to have other implications, perhaps the relationship was just never meant to be, perhaps it had just run its course and was scheduled to end in a different way.
Or, there's the possibility that both characters needed to go through different things, and both needed to be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn. However, even if I concede on this point, it still seems like people are being rewarded for doing things wrong. Wouldn't it make more sense to just do things correctly the first time, to be conscious that their actions have repercussions, and that in order for someone to be happy over here, chances are that's going to make someone else happy over there?
And even though this film doesn't depict the traditional sci-fi form of time travel, like with a big machine with flashing lights and spinning wheels, it does raise questions about tampering with the timeline. How do you know that fixing one thing isn't going to make things much worse in the long run, which is a variation on the "Butterfly Effect"? And once you start messing with the timeline, how do you know when to stop? How satisfied do you need to be with the changes, or does it just lead you down an endless pathway of continual attempts at self-improvement?
Also starring Douglas Henshall (last seen in "The Eagle"), Lena Headey (last seen in "300: Rise of an Empire"), Mark Strong (last seen in "The Imitation Game"), Penelope Cruz (last seen in "Bandidas"), Charlotte Coleman, Gustavo Salmeron, Antonio Gil (last seen in "The Merchant of Venice"), Inday Ba, Paul Popplewell, with a cameo from Caprice Bourret.
RATING: 5 out of 10 spilled drinks