music friday: richard davis
geezer cinema/african-american directors series: one false move (carl franklin, 1992)

palm springs (max barbakow, 2020)

This is the second film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2023-24", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 9th annual challenge, and my fifth time participating (previous years can be found at "2019-20", "2020-21", "2021-22", and "2022-23"). Week 2 is called "Lo-Fi Week":

Soft sci-fi beats to relax/study to. Ok maybe don't try to study while watching these, because these high-concept, usually low-budget films demand your attention just as much as epic space spectacles. From the intricate time travel of Primer to the heartbreak of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this category includes low-budget, indie, and soft science fiction.

This week's challenge is to watch a "Lo-Fi" film. Use this list for some ideas.

I had no idea going in what Palm Springs was about, even after reading the above and knowing it was "lo-fi". I assumed it was an Andy Samberg comedy, and I have nothing against those movies ... well, the truth is I haven't seen them, but I have a soft spot in my heart for him because he went to high school with my daughter. The plot establishes itself soon enough: Nyles (Samberg) is caught in some time loop, reminiscent of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. That comparison is probably intentional, and it works two ways in Palm Springs. Fond memories of Groundhog Day put you in a good mood for Palm Springs, but Palm Springs is never quite as good as Groundhog Day. Part of this is that Nyles is never an asshole ... he can be a jerk, but mostly he's just an amiable beer drinker with a penchant for causing a little trouble. Murray's character, on the other hand, is a real asshole, which allows the film to show us how that character evolves into a better person. Nyles is already a reasonably decent guy, so that evolution doesn't take place.

Still, the version of looping time in Palm Springs is ingenious enough, Samberg handles his lead role with aplomb, and Cristin Milioti is the best thing about the movie as a bystander who gets drawn into the loop. There aren't a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but the philosophical underpinnings are actually thought-provoking. Palm Springs isn't great, but it's much better than it needed to be.


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