Friday, January 29, 2010

Groundhog Day Movie - Not Just A Day About A Rodent, But A Really Fine Film.

Groundhog Day Movie - Not Just A Day About A Rodent, But A Really Fine Film

I have been remiss in not writing a piece about how much I like Harold Ramis's excellent 1993 movie, "Groundhog Day." It's so good, and repeated viewing only improves it, like the life of its protagonist, Phil, played in an emotionally-satisfying arc, by the great Bill Murray, and directed by the great and sweet Harold Ramis.

During "Ghostbusters," some of us went pistol shooting at the Beverly Hills Gun Club, and I remember Danny Aykroyd and I horrified Harold, by doing a full field-strip of a M1911A1 Colt, in the hallway of Boss Film. Mr. A could do it forward and backward, with his eyes closed.

I could tell Harold was nervous, he was laughing too long, but he went with it, and we all had a fine time. I got the chance to quiz him about two scripts of his I still really love, "Stripes," and the picture we were all working on, "Ghostbusters."

Harold was quite open about his method, which was a clever system. He said he made a list of the different movie genres he enjoyed, and then he and various writing partners went down the list, knocking off here a service comedy like "Stripes," and there a ghost movie like "Ghostbusters." And so on.

There had been many of each of those movie genres, and Harold's idea was his would just be a different take on those identifiable movie types. God Bless Harold Ramis, such a nice man, what a lovely simple way to do things, and just look at the career he and his simple method sculpted for him.

I was a young screenwriter then, and that just seemed too methodical to me. I thought then you had to be dragged about by your muse, writing as a-mused. Of course, that was before I actually had to meet a Deadline and please Investors. Now I just laugh at my 27-year-old naivete. Of course you make a list. Of course you go down that list, and tick off your tasks. Of course.

Anyway, "Groundhog Day." Having told you about Harold's List, I have to admit I can't think of many movies like "Groundhog Day," although some will inevitably occur to me. "Ghostbusters" of course, comes from the Bob Hope movie, "The Ghost Breakers," and "Stripes" was just like so many enjoyable you're-in-the-army-now movies, only with new funny Second City actors.

"Groundhog Day." Is there another movie so satisfying? One that goes right through "funny," and deeply into "profound?" About a prickly jerk creep of a guy who "doesn't even like himself," a shallow, mean, using guy, who clambers over the faces of his fellows, who learns to be a real live boy, the way you learn anything, through endless repetition?

Has there ever been a movie with such a good script, a cast with such an enjoyable journey together, such a deep movie-objective need for guy and girl to get together, or a girl as beautiful and sweet as Andie MacDowell?

Or a guy who's such a jerk as Bill's Phil? One who pays for it so much, he transcends and redeems himself, reinventing his own life, over and over? Yes, I know. We all do.
Every day, until it's all over. If it is.

I think "Groundhog Day" is unique. I can think of some dharmic "Twilight Zone" episodes that are like it, but not a lot of feature-length theatrical movies. How would you sell such a beastie? Here's the trailer. I think they sold it pretty well.

Everything, everybody, and everybody's life, has a sweet spot.
"Groundhog Day" was the sweet spot for everybody in it, and for those who made it. "Harold Ramis's masterpiece?" You bet.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Make a movie

Make a movie

"Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all."

-- Stanley Kubrick

Sam Longoria
make a movie
Stanley Kubrick
Digital filmmaking handbook
Sam Longoria digital filmmaking handbook