Thursday, October 17, 2013

you are new, aren't you?

I just noticed that kid at the bottom right last night. That was Day 76 and there was still something new to see in Groundhog Day.

(And, sorry the screencap is so blurry. The copy I've got of the movie on my iPad is not nearly as clear as the DVD copy I'm watching right now. If I remember, I will replace that image later)

Things to note:

  • He's wearing blue, even has a blue sign.
  • He's facing away from the camera, which at first I thought was awkward. But, then I figured it was a way of getting in the shot without being too obvious about it

    But, then I thought, what if he's not even a real boy? What if he's a ghost? Or a Ted Danson cutout?

    Another supernatural element wouldn't be too out of place, after all. I mean, aside from the obvious supernatural bit... the time loop, there's also the devil in the red hat at the Tip Top Cafe and God serving drinks at the local bar.

    And, if you don't get those references, that is so very very sad... for me, because it means you haven't been with The Groundhog Day Project since the beginning. Anyway, that means you're new. So, what do you need to know?

    I'm watching this movie--maybe you've heard of it--Groundhog Day. As I type this, Phil just called Nancy Rita, and the soundtrack is playing "Phil Gets the Girl." And, well, I blog about it. I'm blogging about it literally right now. I know. Amazing, right?

    Anyway, what else must you know? First, if you want to do some sampling, check out the very special Day 62 recap to know what's what. Or, go back to the Day 1 and make sure you have some time on your hands--some of these entries can get a little long. And, don't expect too many shallow actor profiles or anything, because I haven't gotten to those yet. Instead, I've spent whole series of days (1 2 3) on things like Nietzsche's eternal recurrence or picking apart different versions of the screenplay. I just spent the last two days dealing with religion and a communication theory called confirmation bias...

    And, it's worth noting that I'm a grad student, majoring in Communication Studies, so some other communication theories may show up soon enough. I've got a hankering to do something tying Phil's many date nights with Rita to something called synchrony and mirroring & matching... and, no, I don't often use words like hankering.

    Last night, this blog was briefly the topic of conversation in one of my classes--COMS 500 represent! or some other saying inappropriately younger than I am. We were talking about the ritual view of communication... but really another topic last night was more interesting for me. There was some question as to whether reality is, well, real, or just a construct within our minds, It occurs to me, the latter version works pretty well for this film, since Phil's reality is so very different from everyone around him.

    Nevermind, that it's just a movie. Because, it's not. And, because, I often delve into in-story reasons for some very odd things, treating the film as if it is entirely real. And, then certain details, like an extra I call Phil sign girl losing her friend a little ways into the film becomes very confusing, because what could Phil have possibly done in the first, say, half hour of his day, to keep that friend from making it into the center of town, and why?

    Also, it's not just a movie, because it's a parable or an allegory or a modern myth or whatever else you want to label it really. It's a philosophical treatise on the nature of modern life, with explorations into hedonism, love, self-sacrifice, and ultimately a sense of communion with those around us. It's not a flawless film, but its flaws make it endearing. It's a film that embraces fully the imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness of the wabi-sabi view of life, made better by not being perfect. Hell, being perfect because it's not, if you can get your head around that one. It's transient and transcendent because it's so very mundane in its day-by-day exactitude.

    It leaves me room for so many tangents that, as I said, I haven't gotten to a lot of the simpler stuff.

    And, on a personal level, it's been a fantastic, meditative exercise, watching the same film every day and writing regularly again... I wanted (and I suppose part of me still wouldn't mind it being a possibility) to be a writer and wrote daily for several years, took some time off from writing then wrote regularly again for a bit, and have since been unable to maintain that sort of schedule to make room for collegiate writing. This blog is easy enough to write anytime of day--writing a novel didn't work out quite so simply. The first novel I completed, I wrote in a month, writing from about midnight to somewhere between 1 and 2 AM, depending on the page count. Second one took four months and was written mostly around 4 in the afternoon (I was working a job that ended at 3 at the time, so I'd write soon after getting home each day). Third one, I think I was back to late nights, but the thing was, though I could write at various times, each specific story demanded some consistency in timing. The Groundhog Day Project hasn't done that. It still takes some discipline, especially on days like this past Sunday, when I'd been up since 4 AM but didn't get home until close to 1 AM (as I spent the day coaching at a speech tournament down in San Diego) and still had to get in my Groundhog Day screening in by 6, because that is one of the two official rules to the project.

    Two official rules: between 6 AM and 6 AM, I watch the movie and I write about it for this blog. Of course, that "about" is sometimes stretched a bit broadly. Sometimes it's almost like Groundhog Day is just some inspirational jumping off point. Sometimes, it's an obsessive look at very specific things within the movie itself. And, there are some unofficial rules as well, but I probably won't spell all those out--then they might seem official. One of them, for example, is that, since I have a tendency to work on the blog entry while the movie is on, I try to make an effort, every tenth viewing or so, to just watch the film, write the blog after. I'm not sure how well I stick to that rule, which is why I haven't made it official.

    And, today is the 77th day in a row I've watched Groundhog Day, and I've watched other movies (notably The Butterfly Effect, 12:01 PM and 12:01) and some television episodes (like Star Trek The Next Generation's "Cause and Effect" or Fringe's "White Tulip") that involve time loops. I've read a couple books just for this blog--Danny Rubin's How to Write Groundhog Day and Ryan Gilbey's BFI critique of the film. I tracked down a copy of Richard Lupoff's short story "12:01 PM" in a 1973 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction on ebay, read the story and blogged a bit about that.

    Sunday, during some downtime at the speech tournament, I watched the more recent Oscar-nominated short film Time Freak but have yet to blog about that one because I want to do a bunch of screencaps, and that past couple weeks I've been staying not at my apartment so I'm just on the iPad and not my usual desktop computer... The readers who've been keeping up should already know that. The not-at-my-apartment bit, not the Time Freak bit.

    Anyway, if you're new, welcome. If you're not, I hope you enjoyed this entry anyway.

    And, now the bit that ends every entry (except the first one):

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to not make stupid mistakes like I did today, mistakes that get in the way of certain complications in life from getting better. To instead fix the complications. Well, the worst of them anyway. Life wouldn't be any fun without some complications.

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