Monday, August 19, 2013

i told you, i know everything

Subtitle: thoughts while watching Groundhog Day at the laundromat.

First, of all, a new thought about Rita’s introduction in front of the blue screen: Rita is the oncoming storm. Phil, being a weatherman, has to figure her out and win her over to get out of the loop because that’s his job.

Rita’s clothes deserve an entry all their own, I think. She changes at weird times (in the middle of experiment day for example) from one outfit to another, and wears more layers possibly than anyone in the film.

Thought the quilt on Phil’s bed might be a wedding ring pattern and wondered if there was something worth obsessing about there in a later entry… checked online and that is not a wedding ring pattern, not enough interlocking circles.

I always thought the DJ voices were Harold Ramis and Brian Doyle-Murray. But, no. They are apparently some actual DJs from Chicago, Richard Henzel and Rob Riley. Personal sidenote, supposedly if I had been twins, I would have been named not just Robert but also Richard… that is, the other one, my twin brother would have been Richard. We would have shared first names with the DJs that springboard Phil’s loop every morning. We’d be gods in Phil’s world.

I scribbled a little map in my notebook, figuring out the basic arrangement of the town center—the reason they filmed in Woodstock and not Punxsutawney.

Then, I drifted back into yesterday’s topic. I wondered why is there no yellow just as I noticed that the inside of Punxsutawney Phil’s stump doors are yellow. If we go with the notion of yellow as the color of fear, does Punxsutawney Phil fear coming outside because of those doors? There are yellow flags around the fictional Punxsutawney, by the way. But there are far fewer of them than there are red ones, and far fewer red ones than blue ones.

Mary’s bag is red—what evil thing does she have in there?

Frame’s, Lloyd’s, Stone’s. I hope the store owner with the surname Frame sells stones of some sort and surname Stone sells frames, and Lloyd… well, who cares. I hear that store complained that the filming of the movie cost them business.

Another thought on clothes: Everybody’s wearing layers. Buster and the Inner Circle have their vests and cravats under their suit jackets. Larry wears flannel under two jackets and later a sweater over a shirt. And, as I already mentioned, Rita has at least four or five layers on at one point, and I think she might even be wearing two pairs of pants. But Phil wears his suit and his coat. Apparently, it was a very nice coat. Ramis kept it after filming, as I mentioned when I blogged about the commentary.

Another note on clothes and the original screenplay: Rubin’s original Gus hates the groundhog and wants to kill him. Ramis’ Gus wears a Punxsutawney Phil t-shirt.

Flashback to the colors thing: as Phil says, “we could do whatever we want” there is a series of red neon signs out the window, then he crashes into that blue mailbox. Perhaps I should figure out what the red and blue mean before I keep bringing these things up.

The upside down Phil sign is yellow. The upside down blizzard sign back at Gobbler’s Knob was red. The first thing Phil eats from his table full of food is red, a strawberry.

A note on line reading: “it’s your defining characteristic” is probably the worst read line in the movie. But, Andie MacDowell makes up for that with her reading of “it just depends on how you look at it.”

I can’t get away from this color thing now. Nancy wears a white coat and gloves when Phil meets her by the gazebo. She’s uncorrupted by him at this point. Once he’s got her, she’s in the black and white dress, and later after Phil has ruined her, she’s reduced to hanging out (reluctantly but alertly) with Larry.

So, I’m at the laundromat as I scribble notes for today’s blog entry. And, as I just said, I can’t get away from the color thing. I look up from my iPad screen and see that the old guy talking on his phone by the washing machines is wearing not only a blue shirt but blue sneakers. The table tops are blue. And so is that Pepsi machine, though the logo is part red and that 75¢ sign is bright yellow. I guess this place didn’t get the memo about that last color.

More blue onscreen: as Phil tried to talk to Rita “like normal people talk” behind them is a blue flag, a guy in a blue coat and a blue trashcan, and then a blue truck drives by.

I can’t believe I neglected to talk about Phil’s line, “This is a man we’re talking about, right?” when I wrote about gender issues in the film. Perhaps Phil’s apparent misogyny deserves its own entry.

I want to put together a timeline for Groundhog Day, just that one day. For example, the scene in the bar that repeats as Phil sets up his date with Rita takes place earlier in the evening than the scene where Rita and Larry found Phil in the bar way back on Day 1; in that scene, Rita had already changed into her blouse and vest. Weirdly, on Day 10 (aka date night), Rita apparently changes clothes between the fudge shop and the restaurant… or these are separate days but let’s not go there.

(Or, another option: Rita’s layers are even more numerous than I thought. She’s got the white long sleeve shirt she wears at the bed and breakfast on under the blouse, which is under the vest, which is under the blue shirt which is under the pink sweater which is under the blue coat. I know it’s high of “about 30 today, teens tonight” but that is a lot of layers. If Phil were really a gentleman at the end, he’d offer her his coat.)

Phil is so lying when he says, “oui.” Those people who calculate the days Phil is in the loop—you know those nerdy obsessive freaks who make a list of days in the movie—they can stop pretending Phil learned French for Rita. He memorized a few lines of a song and got his hands on a Baudelaire book—that’s all.

Color note: the ceiling in Phil’s bedroom looks red.

I discovered a fourth black person in the movie… See, I made a joke about wanting to talk about race in the movie after I talked about gender. I’ve even got a post-it note on my computer monitor that lists the three black people in the movie—the bartender, the nurse, and that guy at Gobbler’s Knob taking pictures behind Rita and Larry (he has no lines). There’s another guy on the morning of Day 19, seen behind Rita and Larry… wait, no, it’s the same guy and he has just put his camera down. But, anyway, he’s wearing a bright blue scarf tucked into his coat.

Color note: Phil’s stolen truck is red (I think I mentioned that yesterday) and Buster’ chase care is blue. Police car also has a blue stripe.

Speaking of Buster’s chase car. I said it was awkward that the other guy who plays no role in the movie whatsoever otherwise went along with Buster. Noticed this time: he’s doing the driving. Buster enlisted some random guy for a car chase. That is at once both horribly pushy and awesome.

The tower from which Phil jumps is part of the Pennsylvanian Hotel (note the scribbling on that map above as I figured out the hotel and tower were in the same location).

Phil’s meetup with Ned on Day 31 is in near the Pennsylvanian Hotel, which puts it on the opposite side of Gobbler’s Knob. This isn’t important, but I’ve got a map now.

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to definitively prove that colors matter in Groundhog Day and Harold Ramis (director) or David Nichols (production designer) or Peter Landsdown Smith (art director) or Jennifer Butler (costume designer) wanted to show us the cosmic battle between red and blue.

(Gossipy note: Maybe the colors are some secret message from Jennifer Butler to Bill Murray. A few years after this movie, Murray would divorce his wife Margaret over an affair with Butler (who he would marry as well).)

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