Tuesday, September 8, 2015

maybe i should spend the rest of the day with you

So, today is Labor Day, and the movie I watched at the theater featured in Groundhog Day (aside from Groundhog Day two mornings in a row) was Labor Day starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, directed by Jason Reitman. It should have been better than it was, given its parts, but still, I scored it higher than a lot of people on IMDb. Oh, I’m also not watching Labor Day right now. Gotta watch Groundhog Day one more time to get through the final revision of the screenplay. Not too many pages to go. This should be ending today. Then, on to other movies tomorrow.

Unless I get sidetracked.

Or just want to make it an even seven days, to echo what I was doing with so many other movies last year.

Or something really controversial comes up that demands a detailed analysis and an intricate study of Ramis’ themes, his writing tendencies, his Buddhism, or the complicated question of which of the flat tire ladies is which...

...which is actually going to be not that complicated, once the scene is on. But, honestly, if I time today’s entry so that I reach that scene as that scene happens, I’m not sure how quickly I can get to everything after that scene. And, I do tend to get wordy sometimes, just drone on and on about things as if more words means better analysis. Which, it doesn’t. However, if those more words are the right words, well, then you’re welcome, world.

(Just in case some anal researcher is poring over my entries to find the previous reference to Labor Day, it was Day 184 - it’s so beautiful, and I wandered across the street from the Pour House to the Woodstock Theater after writing that entry (though I wouldn’t post it until I got back to the hotel). There were no good events scheduled for that Saturday night for some reason. The big party (which unfortunately I only got to attend the end of because of my flight times) at the Moose Lodge (i.e. the very same room where the party at the end of the film takes place) was Friday night.)

Anyway, today: Groundhog Day. It’s the first resumption of February 2nd right now. Phil just arrived at Gobbler’s Knob. Just couple minutes ago, there was a weird moment here at the Groundhog Day Project, though—as Phil was leaving the Cherry Street Inn and stopped to say, I’d say the chance of departure is eighty percent. Seventy-five, eighty, I noticed something I noticed a long ol’ time ago but forgot about—the image on the wall by the door. It looks like an old, slightly inaccurate map of Australia. And, I had to pause because how did I never notice a map of Australia? Then, Kieran wanders into the room and there’s some discussion of just how inaccurate the map is, until suddenly it hits me—I know what that image is and it’s not Australia. It’s a drawing of the Cherry Street Inn, and I really need to watch this movie on the blu-ray again sometime; the DVD image is sometimes not too clear.


(There was supposed to be an old map of Australia here, not the image from the movie, just an old map, but my usual image location is being weird about logging in right now, so instead, there’s "frustrated" Phil again.)

Since I only watch Groundhog Day once a month now—not counting this past week’s extended tour of the final revision of the screenplay, which I will get to today—I should go with the blu-ray, nice clean, crisp image quality. When I got the blu-ray originally, the bright colors and the clarity was awesome. But the blu-ray menu is so much more annoying, with previews first that I couldn’t skip; as a daily venture, that just wasn’t doable. So, I went back to the DVD after I discovered some good visuals I just couldn’t see before.

Problem, though, is we just got an Amazon fire stick and that’s using up the HDMI port on the TV, so the blu-ray is hooked by component cables and I don’t even know if playing the blu-ray disc will come through at the right definition...

And really, that’s enough of the AV lesson... or whatever that was.

The final revision. Finally. Let’s start with the library.

INT. LIBRARY - DAY

Phil enters the library, approaches the librarian.

PHIL
Where would I find the Philosophy section?

LIBRARIAN
Down and to the left, 600’s.

Phil disappears into the stacks.

INT. LIBRARY - ANOTHER DAY

Phil is reading one of a huge pile of books on the table in front of him.

CU - LIBRARY CLOCK

The hands start spinning faster and faster. (pp. 105-107)

Okay, first things first: Philosophy is not in the 600s. The 600s are for Applied Sciences. Philosophy is paired with Psychology in the 100s.

Next thing, the cheesiness of the clock hands spinning fast is too much. One of the first thing Gilbey (2004) critiques about the movie is the the opening shot of clouds. He writes:

The first few seconds of the picture seem to bear out Danny Rubin’s concern that his extraordinary premise was having the magic squeezed out of it. Certainly there is good news and bad news about the start of Groundhog Day. Bad news first. It begins with a shot of accelerated cloud formations, an image only slightly less clichéd than the peeling leaves of a calendar, or the swiftly rotating hands of a clock, in its evocation of the passing of time. (p. 24)

Cartoons (and cartoony movies) could get away with the calendar pages flying away a long time ago. By the early 90s, I’d like to think that was gone... and I don’t know how to confirm that.*

* TV Tropes calls it an “exploding calendar” and a lot of their examples are parodies or sendups. So, we’ve got that going for us.

(There’s a similarly cheesy passage-of-time-marker in check marks on a wall, brilliantly subverted in Top Secret!, when Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) is in prison and there’s a closeup of his tally marks on the wall of his cell. He’s just adding one when his... lawyer? manager? (It has been at least a year since I’ve watched Top Secret!, another staple of my childhood, but I should remember the guy with the Anal Intruder. I’m a little disappointed, and may have to watch the movie sometime soon.) Anyway, guy comes to see him and Nick says, Martin [I have no memory of that name], boy am I glad to see you. I’ve been here twenty minutes already. It’s a perfect parody joke. Set up the visual cliché of the tally marks in prison, give the audience just long enough to recognize what those tally marks mean, and not quite enough time to wonder how the hell this movie just jumped ahead two decades before pulling the rug out from under their expectations (to mix up a metaphor, slightly) and ha ha those tally marks are for minutes, not years, ho ho, wipe a tear from your eye and get ready for the next joke.

Where was I?)

Even worse, though, is the next page. Gilbey endnotes that paragraph quoted above with reference to, well...

Bill Murray came up with the idea of a montage of calendar pages being peeled with each page of the calendar dated 2 February; this was shot but eventually cut when no suitable place could be found for it. (p. 90)

Yep, it’s in the final revision.

INT. LIBRARY - DAY

We see several cuts of Phil studying at the library.

SUPERED over these cuts is a calendar with the pages flipping by. They all read “February 2.” (p. 108)

And this:

INT. MARY’S HOUSE - DAY

Phil is playing the piano with ever increasing skill as more February 2nd calendar pages flip by. (p. 109)

Good riddance to old timey visuals like the calendar pages or the sped-up clouds... well, not quite that. This film may go for a sort of Capraesque feel, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be old fashioned. Hell, it still plays pretty well today, as long as you don’t look too closely at the hair or clothing the extras are wearing.

Groundhog Day is, for the most part, quite timeless. It doesn’t need such dated visuals weighing it down.

It does, however, need me to watch it again tomorrow to get through the rest of the screenplay. Just nine tabs to go.

Apologies to the flat tire ladies for not getting to them today.

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