Groundhog Day was filmed almost completely in Woodstock, Illinois, where I live. Here are a few fun movie facts as they merge with my life.
1. The Starbucks I frequent is right next to "The Pennsylvanian Hotel." In real life the hotel is the Opera House in which my kids have been in summer plays, I've seen Alejandro Escovedo play, I've heard Billy Collins read poetry, etc.
2. I've taken photographs from the tower at the top of the hotel (Opera House) Bill Murray jumps from in one of his moments of despair.
3. When our church used to meet outside of our church building a few years ago, we met in a ballroom in the building along the alley where Bill Murray tries to revive the "old man." It's right across from the "Alpine Theater" which is really the Woodstock Theater.
4. "Gobbler's Knob," where the prognostication happens, is the place on the Woodstock Square where my boys and I usually play "hot box" or "pickle" between two trees.
5. The Bed & Breakfast Bill Murray stayed in is a real Bed & Breakfast in Woodstock. Or at least it has been. I think they had some issues in the last few years.
6. I've stood where Bill Murray stood as he stepped in the puddle. You can too. There's a plaque. There are actually many plaques around Woodstock at all the main sites.
7. The restaurant & bar where Bill & Andie McDowell drink to world peace is now closed, though it was open when we moved here. You could (and we did) actually eat in a jail cell, as it's part of the Old Courthouse in Woodstock.
8. Molly & I have danced where Bill Murray and Andie McDowell danced. It's a Moose Lodge. Our dancing was way cooler.
9. The "Tip Top Cafe" has been many things since the movie. It's now a Mexican restaurant. A few years ago it was a family favorite place to go for gelato.
10. Woodstock has a yearly Groundhog Day event with our own groundhog, Woodstock Willie. He said winter is ending soon and announced it at 7:07am today.
The main support comes from people like SBC President, Bryant Wright and Trevin Wax over at LifeWay. The article does end with more positive notes about the film, so I want to give some credit to Erin Roach/BP for that. But my concern is the space given to the main "caution" for the film. It's from Travis Ragon, a Kansas City counselor and grad of Midwestern, who...wait for it...didn't see the movie. I'll give you a taste.
Travis Ragon (pronounced Reagan)...said he is confused and grieved by Christians' enthusiastic support of the film.
Ragon cites elements of Les Miserables that he views as directly in conflict with foundational Christian values: instances of the Lord's name being used in vain, pervasive sexual innuendo, gratuitous depictions of sexual acts, and a scene that apparently has left some viewers feeling emotionally raped.
"Perhaps more than anything else this movie has become a review of where we as Christians have chosen to walk," Ragon wrote in comments to Baptist Press. "It seems that we have become systematically desensitized to sin. We are [accustomed] to the effect it has on our souls."
Ragon has not seen Les Miserables. "I try to research any movies which I might watch, including ones in my home," he said. "... I enjoy music and a good movie. In being a good steward, I try to be diligent in what I give my time and money to."
Seriously, Baptist Press? Please edit this article and remove the comments from the guy who hasn't seen the movie. You can't allow someone who hasn't seen the movie describe in detail what's actually in the movie! Even if you wanted to share an opinion of someone who wonders if the content is appropriate, to give it this much space is ridiculous.
As a pastor who saw the film with my four kids, I can confidently say Ragon's descriptors are inaccurate. Statements about the film's "pervasive sexual innuendo" and "gratuitous depictions of sexual acts" are way overblown. Inaccurate. Misleading. Why would you publish such a thing? It's no wonder why my neighbors think "Southern Baptists" are about what we are against. We can NOT see a film, give contrary opinions to the SBC President, and still get plenty of shelf space in an article. We need to do better.
Tim Keller commented on recently viewing the movie version of Les Miserables with his wife, Kathy. It's short and to the point, and I'm only giving you a snippet...
I could make this review, very, very short: It’s been a long time since Kathy and I left a theater with tears running down our cheeks.
I for one am glad that millions of viewers will be exposed to the themes of redemption, self-righteousness, and self-sacrifice. Critics uncomfortable with the unabashed sincerity with which those themes are treated have mocked the film as “risible.” The rest of us can weep tears of joy.
In the short "review" there's more good stuff. Go read it.
So looking forward to Christmas and the release of Les Miserables with Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Sasha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried & others. Looks amazing.
The wonderful album by M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, is only $3.99 as of today (22 tracks!). The first two videos from the album are intense visions about children with powers in dystopian society. Watch the first two videos in order: "Midnight City" and "Reunion." Pretty cool.
Once Soundtrack might be the best soundtrack ever, and it's $3.99 today only. Glen Hansard (of The Frames) & Markéta Irglová star in the movie and create the music. If you need convincing, here are two of my favorite songs, "Leave" (live, Hansard) and "Lies" (via the Soundtrack, from both artists). Consider yourself convinced.