Saturday, December 7, 2013

thanks for watching

Thinking about the way Ramis directs the action, or maybe the way John Bailey directs the photography, and right off I'm noticing a couple odd choices. Frame Phil in the bluescreen, then lazily pan out just enough to frame the monitor to the side with him. Then, cut to not the image that would be on the monitor but a shot of the monitor itself, framing the image...

Actually, considering the crazy notion I put forth once that the entire movie takes place inside that other monitor--where the shot transitions from aerial shot of the Ohio River flying into Pittsburgh on the monitor to the same shot on our screen--I'm wondering if windows and shot framing is going to matter a lot here. I wrote a paper once about the windowframes in Rear Window, though that one is more obvious, so maybe there's something here.

Van ride, and the shot we get of Phil asking Larry if he can keep a secret is from outside, through the windshield. Less interesting, we see Phil from outside the van again as the van passes Gobbler's Knob.

Oh, and there is that shot that frames the van itself beneath the giant Punxsutawney billboard. Even before I heard Ramis mention this one in the commentary, I'd noticed it and it reminded me of some of Jan de Bont's work in Cujo... not as awesome but still good.

Most of the shots are fairly pedestrian. The camera placement in Phil's room at the Cherry Street Inn is interesting because it pans with him as he gets up and walks to the sink and then back to the window.

Then, Phil is framed in that window from outside. Downstairs, we see Phil and Mrs. Lancaster not only directly but reflected behind them, framed again but by wood.

When Phil does his weatherman routine for Mrs. Lancaster, his hand movements focus on the painting in the background because of the angle of the shot.

The entrance to Gobbler's Knob is a wood frame with a sign on top--oddly labeling Gobbler's Knob on the inside instead of the outside--and from it comes Phil Connors to get to work. Then, we get the most obvious framing in the film, Phil framed by the camera, red dot and "REC" in the bottom left corner. Twice on Day 1.

Phil pokes his head out of the window of the van before actually exiting.

Phone call from the gas station, Phil is framed in the window. Not from outside (though the van is visible through that frame) but by the angle.

Day 2, the framing of Phil between doorway and coat (?) hung up as he uses the sink is more obvious that on Day 1.

Again, Phil and Mrs. Lancaster are doubled in the mirror.

The door is interesting, now that I'm looking at visual frames. On Day 1, we see Phil go out the door from inside, so we get his shadow on the curtain. On Day 2, we see Phil from outside as he comes through the second door, and there's no curtain on the outer door, just the glass.

Camera frames Phil's report again.

Late night phone call, Phil is framed within the massive headboard... as Phil might say, "maybe it's nothing."

I find it a little odd--and this is more set design than anything else--that we don't see the door to Phil's room. He's staying up on the 3rd floor with his own little stairway, but the way it's shot we never see the door itself from in his room--we barely even see the railing next to the stairs--or from the hallway.

The "Neuorologist" has Phil's head framed in the usual x-ray lightbox, but then when Phil is also in the shot a moment later, now he is framed in the light from the window.

(Not a framing thing, but I only just noticed that the establishing shot for the bowling alley is a guy bowling a strike as another guy sits at the scoring table. Cut to Phil talking to Ralph and Gus, and when we get a shot that includes the lanes again, those guys bowling are gone, the machine is out that--I don't know, rewaxes the lane and a worker looks to be sweeping or mopping or whatever you do to bowling lanes. Consider this parenthetical an addendum to my Doctor Who blog entry.)

With Ralph and Gus, again the shots are from outside the car (except when Phil is driving in reverse; then the camera's in the backseat).

Back to the bed and the headboard, though. I realize that on the days Phil wakes up more eagerly, we don't get the shot from an angle that frames him in the headboard. Instead, he's filmed from the side.

I won't mention the ticket lady at the Alpine Theater who is seen only through glass.

Two frames of Phil reporting (using footage from Day 1, the cheaters) at the start of the whole "date night" sequence. And, Rita is framed in the van.

So, just like Phil entering the hallway to meet Chubby Man, and entering the breakfast room from the hallway, Phil enters the bar on date night from another space which we cannot see. Actually, we can sort of see the space outside the breakfast room, but the other two have similar shots and framing with Phil emerging from a doorway with no door.

There are also a lot of open doors that aren't used. Phil's bedroom is separated from the room with the couch and fireplace by folding doors that remain open. A closet (one of an apparent two, even though the room also has a wardrobe) has an open door.

The snowman bit starts with a nicely composed shot, the Pennsylvanian in the background on the left, a statue pedestal just right of center with the kids sneaking up to the right of it. Just left of center the snowman and Phil and Rita. And, a couple are walking out of Gobbler's Knob to the left.

Walk of shame past the ice sculptures, Phil walks offscreen down and to the right, cut to Phil coming up the stairs at Gobbler's Knob (presumably) the next morning from the bottom right.

Jeopardy! on the TV screen, and weirdly not all from the same angle as it goes back and forth between TV and action in the room and back.

Only just noticed that the morning Phil calls everyone hypocrites he is not framed by the camera. Nor is he framed when he puts the blame on the groundhog and says he has to stop him. It's a weird time for the shot to open up like that, I think, since Phil's world is closing in on him at this point.

Phil and Phil filmed through the windshield. Rita and Larry as well.

End of god day, Rita and Phil framed in the bed together... I'm remembering something about wooden frames, relating to Exodus bit with the blood on the door posts as well as later nailing bits of iron (ultimately horseshoes) over a door frame); we went over it in my Philosophy of Religion class a few years back, but the notes are all handwritten and I'm not finding the reference I want.

The last time we see Phil meet Chubby Man, we hear Phil's door close but we still don't see it. As far as doors we actually see opening or closing, there's the van doors, the front doors to the Cherry Street Inn, the door to Mary's, and the door to the Pennsylvanian Hotel's lobby.

(Separate thing, curtains: Phil showers twice, behind a pink curtain. This is fairly early in the film (curtain pulled open at 17 minutes 52 seconds and we never see him open the curtain the second time but the shot begins at 24 minutes 30 seconds in--averaged those out to roughly 21 minutes from the beginning of the film). Then, at 1 hour 20 minutes, 48 seconds (roughly 20 minutes from the end of the film), he pulls back the curtain to see O'Reilly at the hospital. So the central bit of the film is framed by curtains.)

Phil's final report is not framed by the camera. But, at this point, visually it makes sense. His world has opened up by being so limited.

Old ladies shot through the windshield. Then, the open side window.

Phil walks in from a separated space to save Buster when he's choking. Maybe Ramis just liked starting shots with movement.

The barman is framed, depending on the scene, between two wooden posts and/or in a mirror.

February 3rd, Rita and Phil are not only on the bed but framed almost entirely in the pillows because they are so close together and shot so close up.

The whole film is framed by clouds, of course. Swiftly moving clouds to start and relatively still clouds to end it.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to plan all of my entrances and exits from anywhere I go to be framed so that I appear quite awesome.

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