Frank's Faves: Movie 'repeats'

Frank's Faves: Movie 'repeats'

"This is the lesson that history teaches: Repetition." — Gertrude Stein

My wife would be the first to tell you: I have my share of personality flaws. In fact, she could probably provide you with a 20-page itemized list.

One such flaw, which is probably a lot more common than I know, is that I am slow to recognize any (of my own, that is; everyone else's are glaringly apparent). But by no means does that mean I don't think I have any.

As a matter of fact, the worst personality flaws I'm aware of are those that irritate even me. Need an example? Make me repeat that last statement, and I'll show you.

That's because I really, really hate to repeat myself.

And I also hate that I hate that.

Why? I have no idea. It's not like it requires a superhuman effort to utter the same syllables a second time. It's not even like I have such a loud speaking voice that I should expect most folks with normal hearing to catch every word that tumbles out of my mouth. I do not.

In fact, my normal speaking voice tends toward what others have described to me as a low monotone that is often hard to hear unless I make a concerted effort to enunciate and project. So I should be used to requests for me to repeat what I just said, and in fact, should anticipate them, considering my own vocal limitations and/or tendency to mumble, right?

Ummm, not so much. Even if I know you could not possibly have heard and understood what I just said, I'd rather not have to say it again. In fact, I might even pretend not to hear your request to do just that (yeah, I know, what a jerk, right?)

Of course, I'm also aware that just writing about this tiny little character fault will be perceived among those who know me best as an open invitation not to hear ANYTHING I say the first time I say it — but as much as that would bug the bejeezus out of me, it would serve me right. After all, this is a problem of my own making whose solution need not be repeated to be obvious: Just speak up the first time, dude.

Or, if it's too much of a strain to do so, don't begrudge the occasional "What was that?" or "Say what?" I mean, I ask folks all the time to repeat things I didn't catch the first time around. Why should it bother me when others do the same?

Short answer: It shouldn't. Short addendum to my short answer: But it does.

So, maybe the remedy in my case is an overdose of what ails me. It seems I need to develop some internal repetitions — like so: "Don't want to say it twice? Speak up first." And repeat. And repeat it again. And again and again, until I get tired of my own internal repeater, and do something to shut it up. Like speak up the first time.

Or, maybe I can just pick up some pointers on civilized repeating from my favorite model of behavior (and sometimes misbehavior): the movies. Namely, my five favorite movie "repeats." Now THAT bears repeating:


— "Groundhog Day" (1993). One of the first movies based on the concept of a repeating time loop, this romantic comedy from director Harold Ramis manages to find inspiration and even redemption in repetition. Bill Murray stars in possibly his best performance as an arrogant TV weatherman who is inexplicably forced to relive the same day over and over in a place he detests, eventually capitalizing on the opportunity to re-examine his own life and make amends. And, ultimately, to win over Andie MacDowell, of course.

— "Source Code" (2011). Jake Gyllenhaal plays a U.S. Army pilot who is sent into the past to relive the last eight minutes of a terrorism victim's life within a computed reality in order to stop the bomber aboard a commuter train heading into downtown Chicago. Of course, this means he gets to be blown up with the rest of the train's passengers over and over until he not only figures out who the killer is, but how to stop him and — just maybe — save the other passengers from an event that's already history. An excellent sci-fi thriller with a double-twist ending — and the best movie use to date of "The Bean" — aka, the Cloud Gate sculpture in the Windy City's Millennium Park.

— "Edge of Tomorrow" (2014). Tom Cruise steps out of his usual mold to play a cowardly PR officer with no combat experience who is forced into action during an alien invasion of Earth and is killed on the battlefield, only to have his life "reset" to the day before the battle. The resulting time loop allows him to team up with Special Forces soldier Emily Blunt and learn some fighting skills while finding a way to stop the extraterrestrial threat. What makes this sci-fi time-looper unique is that Cruise's "reset" requires that he die first, so we get to see Mr. Mission: Impossible whacked repeatedly over two hours en route to saving the day (including once by his co-star).

— "Predestination" (2014). There's little I can tell you about this sci-fi thriller without giving too much away, but I can say with spoiler-free honesty that, a) it's about a secret government bureau using time travel in pursuit of a notorious terrorist known as the "fizzle bomber"; and b) of the five on this list, this is easily My Favorite Movie Repeat I Most Want to Repeat. It should likewise come as no surprise that it is also my new Favorite Movie I Watched for the First Time This Year — as it is also my most recent fave. Come to think of it, this instant time loop classic from writer-director brothers Michael and Peter Spierig is also my new favorite Ethan Hawke performance. And yet somehow, his co-star Sarah Snook impresses even more. A perfect paradox, perfectly presented. Possibly. As I said, I'll be seeing it again.

— "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975). No, this isn't the Pythonites' comic take on time travel. That would be "Time Bandits." I never said my favorite movie repeats had to include time loops. This one occurs about mid-spoof, when John Cleese as Sir Lancelot single-handedly charges a castle from across a field to a dramatic drumroll, while the two guards at the gate nonchalantly watch him cover the same distant spot of ground over and over (each time the camera cuts away to catch their nonreaction, of course) — until he abruptly reaches and slays them. Apologetically. Hey, those who cannot learn from the past ...

Topics (2):Film, Television