Film Ah Groundhog Day. Whenever I'm asked what my top five favourite films are (When Harry Met Sally, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Seventh Seal, In The Bleak Midwinter, Star Wars), there's always a guilty pang that the laws of mathematics can't be bent, in much the same way as physics and psychology in the narrative itself, so that Groundhog Day can be fitted in. Why not this instead of Ferris Bueller? I can't answer. But those choices are just as much about personal history as simply listing some films I like, so I'm hoping by including it in this long list, I can go some way to atoning for the original sin.
Which isn't to say we don't have some history. Groundhog Day was my end of school film. On the night of the last day of school, when my colleagues all piled into the Coffee House on Church Road in Wavertree, Liverpool, not an actual coffee house but a pub and so not somewhere I frequented often if ever and notice the use of the word "colleagues" instead of friends, my Dad took me to the Odeon on London Road to see Groundhog Day instead. Sat on the back row of an otherwise empty Screen Two, and this was before the refurbishment so Screen Two was still as cavernous as its numerically lower sibling and I was enraptured.
As you might have detected from previous entries, this has become something of a pattern. Although it's true that other major life moments have been punctuated by parties, for the most, the pattern of this human's life is punctuated with films. A few months later when I began university, although I attended a hall trip to the cinema for The Fugitive, I was the only one who returned a week later for Sleepless in Seattle. The night of my nineteenth birthday was spent in the company of Speed. All at The Lounge Cinema in Leeds. When I graduated a few years later, I visited the Hyde Park Picture House that evening and sat on the balcony for a final time to watch John Sayles' Lone Star.
Having realised soon enough that New Year's Eve is a depressing bust, for a good long while now I've instead watched films set at New Year or with new year scenes at home instead: When Harry Met Sally, Kissing Jessica Stein, In Search of Midnight Kiss, Strange Days, Peter's Friends, The Hudsucker Proxy, Sleepless (again), The TV Movie (you know which one) but not New Year's Eve. Not yet. Luckily, this Wikipedia entry has some useful suggestions to help put off that nightmare. In case you're wondering, I tend to watch It's A Wonderful Life every Christmas too, but don't we all, and don't we all weep as we realise what a depressing wallow it actually is.
As I get older it feels even more like the default option which makes me sound about as misanthropic as Phil Connors, the protagonist in Groundhog Day. As a sidebar, imagine if the film had been set in the internet age, assuming Punxsutawney had decent broadband and wifi coverage. If you were someone like me, you could never be bored. Even after watching everything on Netflix and signing up to Amazon Prime and watching everything on there, there are all the other on-demand services. Plus all the knowledge of the world at your finger tips. Though film wise, watching Phil learn the piano from a YouTube tutorial would have been vastly less entertaining.
Part of me knows that I've missed something, am missing something. Last year's film project reminds me that the last film I watched of my thirties was Pocahontas and on the evening of my fortieth I sat through the utterly rubbish but for one shot, Sinister. This is not good and shows a certain degrading of the stakes. At the very least, I could have gone to the cinema. The Babadook was out that week. If I was going to see a horror film, at the very least it could have been a good one. Perhaps of all my behaviours this is the one which finally in need of changing. I just hope it doesn't take being trapped somewhere unpleasantly pleasant to break the loop.