Monday, May 26, 2014

you're a sucker for french poetry and...

As far as deja vu jokes go, Top Secret!--which has absolutely nothing else to do with Groundhog Day, except I just watched the former after not having seen it in many years and am now watching the latter--has a good one.

Du Quois introduces the Resistance members. The first group is "Chevalier, Montage, Detente, Avant Garde, and Deja Vu." That last one looks at our lead, Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) and says, "Have we not met before, Monsieur?"

Actually, I thought I found another link between Top Secret! and Groundhog Day when I saw that IMDb lists Top Secret!'s release date as June 8, 1984, the same day Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray and directed by Harold Ramis, came out. Except, on closer inspection, i.e. Box Office Mojo, I confirmed that Top Secret! actually came out 2 weeks later, the same day as Rhinestone, which I am sure Rita Hanson just loved. But Ghostbusters was still number one at the box office. And, since I've reminisced recently about watching a lot of movies when I was a kid, I looked over the Top Ten (actually 12) for that weekend.

  1. Ghostbusters (3)
  2. Gremlins (3)
  3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (5)
  4. Rhinestone (1)
  5. The Karate Kid (1)
  6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (4)
  7. The Natural (7)
  8. The Pope of Greenwich Village (1)
  9. Beat Street (3)
  10. Romancing the Stone (13)
  11. Police Academy (14)

I had to look at the weeks in release numbers (the parentheticals above) because I saw 7 of those 12 in theaters (and another 3 later on TV or video), including Ghostbusters and Gremlins, which came out the same weekend, and The Karate Kid and Top Secret! which came out the same weekend.

Just because looking at Box Office Mojo pages fascinates me and I was curious, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, starring none other than Andie MacDowell, came out March 30 of that year, along with Romancing the Stone, but Police Academy in its second weekend was number one. Greystoke took second, Splash, starring Tom Hanks, who was on the shortlist to play Phil Connors 6 years later, took third in its fourth weekend, and Romancing the Stone took fourth. I saw all four of those in theaters.

I have been alive for 1,999 weeks (just a few days shy of my 2,000th week (how to celebrate?) according to How Long Have I Been Alive For?. My seen-it list on IMDb currently has 3,994 movies on it, and I'm sure it's still missing a few, so I'd say I've seen about 2 movies a week since I was born. Not a bad average, I suppose. Especially, since that total does not include multiple viewings of stuff like Top Secret! or Police Academy or Romancing the Stone which were all movies we had on video. Or Groundhog Day, which I've seen well over 300 times now.

When I first went to college, right out of high school, I wanted to get into the film program but didn't. Last year, when grad school classmates learned I was not TVF--our department is split between Communication Studies and Television Film (TVF)--after writing about Groundhog Day with my Christ-Figure paper and talking about this blog, I guess it made sense they might be confused. Looking at some of the courses in the catalog this past week while planning what I might take in my second year of grad school, I lamented that I hadn't taken a few of the TVF classes, actually. There might have been some interesting stuff for this blog...

Of course, that's a weird way to think about it. Not there might have been some useful stuff for my degree and my future career but there might have been some interesting stuff for this blog. In the words of Phil Connors, I may be having a problem.

But, nevermind that. I just noticed the stairs in the background as Phil goes to get the toaster to kill himself and they are not at the angle I had figured before. I had assumed the bottom of the staircase brought you down heading toward the entrance of the Cherry Street Inn. That is to say, since, in the movie, the bed and breakfast is north of Gobbler's Knob, thus facing south, this window would be on the north side (i.e. the back) of the building.

But, no, the lower part comes down toward the "east" so that window is on the "west." Why does this matter, you might be asking. Well, I'll tell you. Phil's room is a slightly awkward set--and it was a set, built in a warehouse in Cary, Illinois, though the exteriors were in Woodstock, Illinois (and actually south of the Square they used for Gobbler's Knob)--because the small alcove with the sink where he splashes water in his face each morning does not fit with the exterior shape of the building... for one. For another--something that's been bugging me lately--the room seems to be divided into two parts when Rita comes there the first time. You can see the divider, white panes with glass, and folding doors, in this screencap:

And, there's a fireplace on the "east" wall, a couch facing it. The chimney behind Rita in this screencap is probably connected to that fireplace--

--but Phil's eyeline looking at her implies that she is in the "northwest" corner of the room

Another thing: there are windows behind the couch, on the "west" wall, and on the "north" wall.

Just checked the scene in which Rita slaps Phil then leaves via the stairs. The chimney we see behind Rita is not the same one as has the fireplace. See it here:

There's a window to the left--where Phil had that ice cream waiting--and to the right, though we see no more than the railing, a staircase goes down. This is all behind the couch, so we are facing "west" here. But, if there's a wall right there and a chimney, those stairs cannot go west, perpendicular to the couch. Rita does sort of turn as she starts down those stairs, like they could be running parallel to the couch, toward the south. But, that doesn't make sense. The problem is this: for Phil to exit those stairs to meet Chubby Man and then head down the stairs, the stairs out of Phil's room have to go down to the west. Which is fine for the layout of the whole building in relation to the downstairs--Phil exits his stairs facing west, talks to Chubby Man, continues down to the west, turns right then right again to come down the stairs headed east, then turns south toward the entrance (the dining room to his left, i.e. east of the hallway. But, then that chimney cannot be where it is, and that window where he's got his ice cream cannot be where it is...

Phil's room--the set--basically takes up an entire floor... except it has no windows on its east wall so maybe the set was built as if it were on the left side here:

But, Phil's windows--even if the POV shot is from the left--are those on the right. It's like whoever designed the set confused the side of the building, but still wanted that trio of windows. But, if Phil's room is on the left there, then a) his chimney would be in the middle of the house and b) the stairs down from his room would pop out of the left side of the building.

Really, I guess the problem is that those stairs we see Rita start down are not really there. Maybe they go down a couple steps, but that's probably it...

And, my back-and-forth here is probably confusing. I should just work on a diagram. But, it is nearly 1 A.M. and I should get some sleep. I have a paper to write tomorrow.

(That paper does not involve Groundhog Day but the topic of the paper will probably come up in this blog in the next few days.)

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to memorize the layout of every building inside my time loop area, so I have none of this confusion.

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