‘A Day in the Life’ Movies

 

Group Writing themes help generate conversations that are not necessarily about politics or current events. For Augustour theme is “A day in the life.Movies that reflect this theme could be a straightforward telling of a tale in 24 hours, a slice of life. Here, however, are three movies in which a day is lived over and over: Groundhog Day, Run Lola Run, and Memento.

Groundhog Day. The 1993 movie with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell became a part of American culture, shifting the meaning of “Groundhog Day” from a day predicting the weather to an experiential loop, living the same day over and over. Bill Murray is in a sort of purgatory, working off his cynical, selfish disposition. The plot moves along because Murray wakes up remembering each past day, so is able to treat each 24 hours as an experiment. Groundhog Day is hard to dislike and safe for almost any audience.

Run Lola Run, originally Lola rennt, is a 1998 German film. Lola’s boyfriend calls her frantic that he has lost a crime boss’s money and has 20 minutes to somehow come up with the money or suffer the consequences. Lola sprints to the rescue, only to fail and apparently find herself back in the first moment. This plays out three times, with vignettes showing how the lives of people she contacts change in each iteration. Run Lola Run is unconventional in its structure, and you really need to be able to understand a German-language film, with or without subtitles, to enjoy this movie.

Memento, released in 2000, is more violent and disturbing than Run, Lola, Run. A man apparently has no ability to shift short-term memory into long-term storage. We see images suggesting he suffered a head injury when he interrupted the rape and apparent murder of his wife. His reason for living is revenge upon a second attacker, as the police apparently are convinced he killed a lone attacker before losing consciousness. He sets a routine of taking Polaroid pictures and annotating them, capturing some essential fact or conclusion about the person or place. He has the most important facts, to him, tattooed on his torso, arms, and legs.

The whole movie consists of fragments, apparently overlapping and shifting in time. We are alerted from the beginning that what he thinks happened is subject to manipulation, that he may not have all his facts, written on Polaroids, a thick file, or his skin, right. Memento is neither sweet nor quirky. It is a dark, violent film that challenges viewers to unravel the real narrative. There is an option, in DVD format, to solve a puzzle at the menu level, unlocking a version that plays all the segments in chronological order, apparently revealing what actually has happened.

Each of these three movies deals with time differently. While the audience sees characters looping through time, only in Groundhog Day is the protagonist aware that he is living the same day with different variations all terminating and restarting with the same morning. Lola might be looping in time living out alternatives, or we might just be seeing three possible permutations of the same initiating event. Leonard, while he can never remember one day to the next, is actually progressing through linear time, distorted by his damaged and partial perception. Most of us would prefer a day in the life of Bill Murray’s character, I suspect, to Lola’s frenetic race through the streets of Berlin or the frightening fog and fragments of the damaged, vengeful Leonard.

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the August 2021 Group Writing Theme: “A day in the life.” Stop by to sign up for the August theme: “A day in the life.”

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #1
  2. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Not exactly time looping, but Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates is about meeting and dating a  woman who can’t retain long-term memory.

     

    Edge of Tomorrow is a time looping plot.

     

     

    • #2
  3. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    You’ve got three of my favorites there.

    • #3
  4. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    There is a surprisingly good little movie on Amazon Prime titled The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. It’s essentially the typical time-loop storyline but with two teenagers who find each other living it out. They decide to catalog all of the happy things that normally go unseen and unappreciated in normal life. It’s a charming movie with great performances and clean for the whole family (one quick f-word). 

    • #4
  5. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    I enjoyed the Hangover as we relived the night along with the characters and learned what happened the same time that they did.

    • #5
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Not exactly time looping, but Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates is about meeting and dating a woman who can’t retain long-term memory.

    Edge of Tomorrow is a time looping plot.

    50 First Dates was a sweet, silly movie. I missed edge of Tomorrow.

    • #6
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    There is a surprisingly good little movie on Amazon Prime titled The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. It’s essentially the typical time-loop storyline but with two teenagers who find each other living it out. They decide to catalog all of the happy things that normally go unseen and unappreciated in normal life. It’s a charming movie with great performances and clean for the whole family (one quick f-word).

    I’ll put that on my list.

    • #7
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    I enjoyed the Hangover as we relived the night along with the characters and learned what happened the same time that they did.

    Mike Tyson’s tiger.

    • #8
  9. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Not exactly time looping, but Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates is about meeting and dating a woman who can’t retain long-term memory.

    Edge of Tomorrow is a time looping plot.

    50 First Dates was a sweet, silly movie. I missed edge of Tomorrow.

    Try to catch Edge of Tomorrow, aka Live, Die, Repeat.  A clever variation on the theme.

    • #9
  10. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Netflix’s Russian Doll has a time loop premise, and it seems to have a similar path as Groundhog Day until a couple episodes in we find the twist and soon the premise. It was a quirky and well-done series (better than a lot of their offerings nowadays).

    • #10
  11. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    Hulu’s new movie Boss Level is like Groundhog Day if the writers had been snorting concentrated rattlesnake testosterone. 10/10

    • #11
  12. Allie Hahn Coolidge
    Allie Hahn
    @AllieHahn

    I was just saying the other day that action movies, specifically, which take place over one day seem to be particularly good. I said this after a weekend spent watching Twister and Air Force One. (Maybe it’s even more specifically ’90s action movies.)

    • #12
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    I see that Memento is now free on Kanopy.com, the streaming service attached to your public library card.

    • #13