Monday, July 14, 2014

where have you been?

A few things:

I am considering something permanent to celebrate a year of Groundhog Day. A tattoo. This would be my second. I have one small one already.

I finally got these videos in a format I could use. When my kids were out of town a month ago, my son sent me these. The first is my daughter Saer (who recently wrote most of an entry for this blog) reciting a certain bit of poetry from the film…

The second is my son Kieran and my daughters Saer and Hayley paraphrasing a bit of god day

My screening of Groundhog Day for today is nearly done—he’s hugging Ned right now. I spent a good portion of the day working on an unrelated short film project and a card game—making Groundhog Day The Board Game and buying the blank cards I used for it (and a good many extra because they came in a box of 500), not to mention my obsession this summer with tabletop games, got me in the mood for making games. I won’t say much because a) it’s nothing to do with Groundhog Day and b) I don’t want to give away anything before I put this one together a bit more, but it has to do with an exorcism. But, it occurs to me that games are a good way to pass a lot of time if, say, your day is repeating. Getting to know all the people in town, jointly, separately… however—that could be fun too. But, the two things could go together. Play games with someone and you get to know them in a different way than you might otherwise.

Thing is, Phil Connors doesn’t strike me as a guy who likes to play games. Literally, I mean. Figuratively, of course he likes to play games. You could call it “time loop date rape” or “Nancy. Lincoln. Walsh.” Whatever you call it, Phil likes to play it. As for more literal games, Phil might take some time with them. He throws cards into a hat afterall, so maybe he finds some guys in town (maybe Ralph and Gus) to play some poker. Maybe he even tries to take advantage of them using the time loop, but realistically, I’d say card shuffling is affected by so many variables that he wouldn’t really be able to predict the cards—

(This is contrary to what we see in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Cause and Effect”, of course. And, Data is only stacking the deck on the final resumption there.)

—and it would be the same with dice or bingo (and you just know a town like Punxsutawney has bingo on its biggest day of the year). In a deleted scene, he bowls a perfect game but that’s more about practiced skill than any time loop trickery. Similarly, he gets good at pool, but he also makes bets on some basketball games—

(the Lakers over the Sonics by 4, the Bulls over the Pistons by 14, the Jazz over the Sixers by 9, the Bucks over the Celtics by 21, the Spurs over the Mavs by 5, and Il Messanggero over Mancini and Romo (?) by 41 in the European League… That last one makes no sense to me because I can’t find any evidence that Il Messaggero (close enough) is anything but an Italian newspaper. And, no idea what Mancini and Romo might be. In Ramis’ third revision of the screenplay, the games are different: Sixers over the Celts by 7, Atlanta over Charlotte by 15, Knicks over Washington by 11, Bulls over Pistons by 5, and Sonics over Blazers by 8)

—while he hustles pool.

I wonder about the butterfly effect of Phil’s changes altering not only local card games or dice throws but also distant sporting events. Does Phil order blueberry waffles instead of a sticky bun one day and so the Pistons beat the Bulls? Recall the Phil sign girl--I’ve written about her before. She’s there behind Phil as he heads for Gobbler’s Knob on Days 1, 2 and 3, and she’s got a friend with her. But, Day 4 she’s alone.

A shallow perusal of the film tells us this is mere minutes after Phil has left the Cherry Street Inn… Of course, a shallow perusal of the film would not notice the Phil sign girl’s missing friend, I suppose. But anyway, pay closer attention and you realize there’s more time in the morning than that. Phil wakes at 6:00 AM. He dresses and leaves his room, runs into Chubby Man in the hall, Mrs. Lancaster downstairs and heads out. But, the prognostication at Gobbler’s Knob happens at 7:20 AM and 30 seconds, so Phil has time to do a lot… unless we include Day 3, when he is practically running, panicked as he is. I once argued on the IMDb board for Groundhog Day that his timing arriving at the town square on that hurried day being so close to the days he walked slower could actually be explained simply: by running, he tired himself out and when he slowed down, he actually walked slower than usual and the two speeds balanced each other out and he arrived at the town square and Gobbler’s Knob at approximately the same time. But, this doesn’t account for that hour or so between when he likely left Cherry Street and when he arrived at Gobbler’s Knob.

I like to—while forgetting all about Day 3—assume Phil stops for coffee someplace. Same place he buys the coffee and pastries he brings to Larry and Rita so many days later. And, something he does at the coffee place on Day 4, something we just don’t get to see, causes Phil sign girl’s friend to get left behind.

On the one hand, that totally explains things. On the other hand, that is reading far too much into scenes we don’t even get to see.

Anyway, games wouldn’t be the same every day for Phil if he played them. So, they would be a good way to pass some time.

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: I don’t follow sports, but I would wager money on just about any game available every day if the time loop allowed it.

2 comments:

  1. I don't think Phil would like games either-- at least, not prior to his 'redemption'. One of the subtlest and most well-observed character moments in the movie is the part where Phil says: "This is one time where television fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather". You can see that, in one moment, Phil has gone from a kind of curmudgeonly, but still basically humorous, acceptance of the Groundhog tradition to losing patience with how pointless it seems to him. And it's psychologically well-observed because curmudgeons of that kind DO, in fact, get impatient with anything that seems silly and pointless to them.

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    1. i can imagine a scene in the third act montage in which Phil is hanging out around the Cherry Street Inn with the old folks staying there. But, he's not watching Jeopardy! in his pajamas, drinking. He's enjoying a nice round of Bridge or Parcheesi or Monopoly... really, he's enjoying the company and the camaraderie.

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