Review: Bill Murray Night @ Buffalo Bar
Bill Murray. He is a funny kind of guy. His dry wit and nonchalant expressions can leave you in a fit of laughter or pass over you over with gentle amusement. Or saying that, you might not find him funny in the slightest.
He seems to be up for a laugh, as this screening would prove. Darkened Rooms specialises in film screenings around Cardiff in curious venues: Alien at Techniquest, Ghostbusters at The Gate and It's A Wonderful Life, most fittingly at the Angel Hotel. Giving it some thought, I'm trying to think of good films to go with different locations in the capitol. Perhaps Excalibur at Cardiff Castle? Or even How Green Was My Valley? at the Coal Exchange?
I later realised the Bill Murray screening was in fact on the 2nd of February, famous for Groundhog Day, which is also one of his most famous and revered films. The bizarre event held in an amusing place called Gobbler's Knob (thankfully it's not called that in reverse!) in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every year is to determine if spring is on its way. The groundhog is believed to be over 100-years-old.
His full name is, "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary." Just roles off the tongue doesn't it? Well, basically if he sees his shadow on this day, he will retire to his burrow, proving spring is delayed for a further six weeks, as winters carries on its thaw. He has been known to be severely wrong on occasions. Last year he went into his burrow and America had the hottest summer since this festival began in the late 19th century. Though his forecasts are not always correct, it's hard to deny he is a cute little blighter...
But this was not the film of choice for the screening but rather a lesser-known feature called Quick Change, from 1990. As the poster for the night indicated, Murray playing the character Grimm, would adorn himself in a clown costume for this film and thus attempt to rob a bank. Hilarious stuff. But trying to escape the city proves harder than he had anticipated. With his partner Phyllis, played by Geena Davis and bumbling friend Loomis by Randy Quaid, they set off on a night around New York, desperately trying to make their flight to Fuji. Turns out Murray directed the film himself along with Howard Franklin. Ron Howard was offered to direct, but apparently turned it down. He said you had no one to root for. That's fair enough. But you do want them to get away with the robbery. But do they? I won't tell.
The film puts me in mind of another 80s classic, Planes, Trains & Automobiles. This being 1990, perhaps this was the last stand for films like this. Both films sum up just how mind-bending and infuriating public transport and modern life can be. Perhaps this was the sense back then. The inconvenience of bureaucracy and geography seems to taunt our so-called heroes. Any one who has ever got on a train, hailed a taxi or flown on a plane will know just how much of a nightmare travel can be. Where's the fun gone out of travel? No more great train journeys. Just getting you from A-to-B. Simple. Yeah right?
There are some great cameos in this film. A great part was that of the bus driver, brilliantly played by Philip Bosco. He has got to be one of the most anal, rigid and manic bus drivers on film. I turned to my friend and said, "Just like Cardiff Bus!" to which we chuckled. He is the driver from Hell and is one of the most hilarious parts of the film. The name of the film, it seems comes from these scenes as he won't allow Grimm to use a note, coins only. Or as he puts it 'exact change only'. It appears our buses do actually take notes now, but the change given is not what you'd expect. You are given a credit for Cardiff Bus. It's an improvement from exact fare, but I would just like normal change please.
Though I love the idea of secret screenings, I don't think Buffalo Bar was the best place for it. The function room up stairs was a nice space, I won't deny that, with its own little bar (drinks are hardly cheap there, with a cider and black at £4). A great photo of Murray adorned the wall by the entrance as we arrived. He was giving everyone that pointed finger of acknowledgement (do you know the one I mean?). It's just sadly, the screening took place the same day Wales was playing in the rugby at the stadium. I can honestly say I hate with venom when Cardiff hosts the Six Nations or other sporting events. Our little city cannot cope with the amount of people who come here to watch the rugby. Queen Street Station always closes hours earlier and resulted in me missing my last train home (there's that transport trouble again!).
It seems a few people were tipsy at the screening. One man sitting the same row my friend and me, asked my friend to listen to his iPod, to music he had written. One guy walked over to the screen and sat below it in a drunken haze, which shortly followed the arrival of a bouncer (people I can't abide) to gently escort him away from distracting our viewing. Another talked loudly during the screening, left halfway through and knocked my friend's drink over. This was highly annoying, but his friend apologised and handed me a pint of beer that had not been drunk and followed after him. The drink was a nice parting gift, I guess.
There were three shorts seen before the feature. The first was a 16-bit video of Murray and Ellen Page of Juno and Hard Candy fame, having to save Cardiff from alien or robots. Which I can't remember. The second saw Murray in a skit with two members of the Wu-Tang Clan. They discuss coffee and surprisingly intellectual topics. It's funny yet bizarre. The last sketch saw two ad men trying to find out how Murray goes to sleep after drinking his milk. This involves entering his house, but Murray soon arrives home. He discovers them but they have a nice time and they finally get to see how he does drink his milk for bedtime. I would pick this as my favourite of the shorts films of the night.
As we left the event, we were offered an aptly named Murray mint for our journey home, much to my delight. I dread to think what was given for Alien... I'm looking forward to future Darkened Rooms. I'm hoping any ideas I give them will be acknowledge.
Great evening and a must see film. Bar the drunken revellers it would have been perfect.
A much more sober location next time, please!
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