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Showing posts from August, 2013

there's a lot of things really wrong with...

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To err is human. To point out someone else’s errors is, presumably, extra-human. So, let’s look at the errors in Groundhog Day . And, I don’t mean Phil’s errors in judgment or anything like that. I mean filmmaking errors. We’ll work off the IMDb goofs page for the movie and go from there. First category is “Audio/visual unsynchronized” In the last part of the movie, Phil is seen playing the piano on stage at the party. As he finishes up song before going and talking to Rita, the piano in the soundtrack is playing a glissando (running a finger rapidly down the keyboard) while Phil is still playing as he was before. Finally, at the last run, Phil's hands match the sound. Don’t have a screencap for this one (as you’ll see, I’ve got screencaps for a lot of the other “goofs” below), but I’m not seeing it—and I had two different screens going for the movie today, two different copies of the film. Aside from a possibly inaccurate use of “glissando” Phil does run his hand across the

what did you do today?

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This Oscar-winning short film is how I imagine Phil Connors’ mind on Day 33 . It’s called Tango . If you’ve got 8 minutes, watch it before you continue reading. It’s an amazing exercise in… well, it’s live action, it’s animation, it’s trick photography, it’s a lot of complicated things. Anyway, if you haven’t the time, it’s one room filled with the actions of 36 characters, starting with a kid coming in the window after a soccer ball, and gradually introducing the other characters until the room is a mass of perfectly orchestrated and choreographed action. For some of the huge amount of work that went into designing this film, have a look here . 16,000 cell-mattes, several hundred thousand exposures on an optical printer. Seven months of work, sixteen hours a day. (I think Phil Connors could relate.) Particularly, notice the levels of complexity in this single gif: Or this graph of where each character (or group of characters) comes in: In his book, Animation Techniques , Ro

there's nothing i can do about it

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We see the clock turn from 5:59 to 6:00 numerous times in Groundhog Day , but if you believe a complaint—I’m having trouble figuring out if they ever actually sued or just threatened to—from back in 1993, the film owes a great deal to the time 12:01. “12:01 P.M.” was a short story by Richard Lupoff, published in 1973. Then, in 1990 there was an Oscar-nominated short film made from it, and in 1993—the same year as Groundhog Day --there was a TV film made from it as well. At the time, I think, this was my first time noticing how TV films seemed so conveniently timed with similar theatrical releases, something that happens all the time now; for example, when Battle Los Angeles from Columbia Pictures was coming out a couple years back, we got Battle of Los Angeles from The Asylum premiering on television. Call them knockoffs or knockbusters or mockbusters or what have you, they capitalize on similarity in name recognition and at least a vague similarity (generally) in plot. The Los A

are you making some kind of list or something?

So, why does Rita slap Phil? And, I don’t mean the first time, when he asks her to do so on Day 2 at Gobbler’s Knob. What we see in the “seduction” sequence is Phil doing what’s called A/B testing. In short, an A/B test involves two slightly different versions of, well, anything, and some people are exposed to one, some to the other, and the success of A is tested against the success of B. In modern, internet terms, for example, you could test two different versions of a webpage, and see which one garners more clicks or reduces the bounce rate or what have you. For Phil Connors, he A/B tests Rita a few times. Order any drink the first time, just to hear what she’ll order. Then, the next time order her drink, forge a connection in her mind. Toast to the groundhog the first time, learn she toasts to world peace, not only toast to world peace the next time but say a prayer as well and you have endeared yourself to her on at least one level. He tests and retests, finding the better opti

strike up the music

The opening track on the Groundhog Day soundtrack is “Weatherman” written by Harold Ramis and George Fenton. It’s “a cheesy pop number” just like Ryan Gilbey calls it in his critique of the film. Its lyrics are so on the nose, it kinda loops back around to being awesome. Lyrics like this: Predictions show a steady low You're feeling just the same But seasons come and seasons go I'll make you smile again If you don't believe take me by the hand Can't you feel you're warming up, yeah, I'm your weatherman The best line, and perhaps most indicative of Phil Connors being a god, is this one: “For you I'd turn it into spring.” Of course, the film starts with track 2, “Clouds,” a rather unassuming bit of music that dares you to get distracted away from the film. Then, of course, Bill Murray gets on screen and your attention is back. Next comes the obvious, “I Got You Babe” followed by “Quartet No. 1 in D – The Ground Hog” which is the nice pleasant music playi

it's like yesterday never happened

Groundhog Day wasn’t the first exploration of the day-on-repeat phenomena, or its technical term per Star Trek : a temporal causality loop. Though, we shouldn’t confuse this with the causality loop of a “predestination paradox.” And, now that we’ve lost the non sci-fi fans, let’s discuss these loops as represented in a handful of relatively recent (one of these actually predates the release of, though not the writing of, Groundhog Day ) television shows. And, they are all genre shows. And, I watched all seven of these yesterday, declaring on Twitter that it was time loop day. Just to get the list out of the way (and there are more episodes like this left from other shows (and movies) so I may have to do this again sometime ), the seven episodes are: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - “Life Serial” Angel - “Time Bomb” Stargate SG-1 - “Window of Opportunity” Star Trek: The Next Generation - “Cause and Effect” The X-Files - “Monday” Supernatural - “Mystery Spot” Fringe - “White Tulip

fred, how was the wedding?

I already mentioned how I briefly thought the quilt on Phil’s bed was a wedding ring pattern—I’m not a quilter but I my mother used to be, so I’ve heard of some stuff like this. Anyway, found online a couple spots (like this one ) where people were talking about that quilt and, well, apparently it’s an “ irish chain ” (maybe a triple irish chain) which has nothing to do with wedding symbology. But, I wanted to write about the stuff that is wedding symbology today. Not just symbology, of course, but weddings themselves. In the movie, we don’t see the Kleiser wedding, but in earlier drafts, the big party at the end was the wedding, not the Groundhog ball. Rubin includes a version of this scene (though it was not part of the original screenplay) in How to Write Groundhog Day . Debbie is still named Doris, and all Phil says he did to get her to go through with the wedding was have “a little chat.” The movie presents this better; as Phil says, “All I did was fan the flame of her passion f

i've killed myself so many times, i don't even exist anymore

I intended to write a bit about marriage today, but I’ll save that for tomorrow maybe (even though it was a logical third part to the last two days on romance and love . Instead, I wanted to explore something else today because of something I just learned about on Facebook —this particular angle on this topic and where I think I might go with it seems like it will work better fresher, without too much thought or research. The title above will give away my topic, of course. Suicide. Which Phil Connors commits at least three times, and presumably more if he’s been in the repeating cycle for decades as some suggest. Keep in mind, Phil does say he’s “been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.” We only see one of those on screen, when he drops the toaster into the bathtub at the bed and breakfast. The others must be suicides or accidents also, though, because the people of Punxsutawney don’t seem all that homicidal. I’ve written about Phil’s depression and sui

this is real. this is love

…that being said, Phil, human like the rest of us, probably still has no idea what love is (if it’s anything) at the end of his journey… Except, maybe he actually knows it better than any of us; it just isn’t isolated to romantic love anymore. Phil loves everyone. After years of repetition, after getting past his arrogance and his egocentrism and his chauvinism and his narcissism, he has become the ultimate, well, hippie I suppose. Without all the lazy stereotypes, of course. Phil’s world has become a literal microcosm of the larger world, so it may be easier, but he has come to care about, presumably, everyone in it. He doesn’t just save a kid from falling out of a tree, or save Buster from choking, or fix Felix’s back. He also changes a tire, lights a cigarette, and “fan the flame” of a young woman’s passion for her fiancé. And, so much more, I think we can assume. (In Rubin’s first revision (according to Ryan Gilbey; I haven’t seen that draft), Phil also “pump[s] the stomach of Ja