.:Movie Review: Cloverfield

January 26, 2008 at 6:25 am (movie review) (, )

Hud: Do you guys remember a couple years ago
when some guy would light homeless people on fire
in the subways?
Rob Hawkins: Now is not the best time.
Hud: I was just thinking about how scary it would be
if a flaming homeless guy came out of the dark right now!
Marlena Diamond: Shut Up!
Lily Ford: Shut Up!
~Cloverfield

cloverfield_poster.jpg

A promised, I caught the film Cloverfield this weekend. It was my first time to see a film in the theaters all by my lonesome… and I doubt I could have picked a better flick to go see by myself.

There was a lot of buzz about this movie in the viral world leading up to its release last week, and I was one of many who visited some of the fake sites in order to get as much information as I dared. As Michael Caine said in The Prestige, “Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.” This is one reason I wanted to see Cloverfield as soon as possible…

I knew pictures and details would leak shortly after it was released, and I wanted to relate to the people who were running from whatever it was they were supposed to be running from. When I saw a link on imdb.com yesterday about a figurine of the Cloverfield monster, I knew it was time to see the film ASAP or else I ran the danger of knowing what the boogeyman looked like (and thus ruining a good portion of the fun). I wanted the mystery.

Well, I got what I wanted. I won’t ruin this for you by any means, but I won’t be remiss in saying that the film does an excellent job of teasing you for a good long while without letting you down or feeling jipped that this was ‘a low budget film’ that maybe couldn’t afford too many effects shots.

Speaking of the effects… I hold a lot of respect for the people that were behind them… the whole film is handheld, shaky camera-work… and putting something on the screen that wasn’t there with any sort of movement in the camera is a challenge. They did a good job of making you feel like the tape really was discovered, and that it was one continuous thread of footage with some amazingly brilliant storytelling work done in the unorthodox method of taped-over footage occasionally cutting in when the characters wanted to review footage of what they just saw and then didn’t sync the timeline back up properly again (those of you in the video world that have had to reuse old tapes would get an extra kick out of this storytelling vehicle).

I have much more to say about the different aspects of this film in the rest of the review, but for now I’ll just poorly segue into the summary…

Summary: Cloverfield is not for the weak of stomach… if you get seasick easily or can’t stomach some blood and guts (nothing too prolonged), I wouldn’t recommend it. Or, at least wait until it hits the small screen when you have your trusty remote to fast forward (and a friend who has seen it to guide you past some of the parts).

Overall, the story was not the king here, but the devices used to bring the story to the screen were nothing short of groundbreaking. I don’t look forward to the plethora of film students who try to mimic the style since it is fairly easy to accomplish and is forgiving of lower quality footage, but the film was outstanding in it’s unorthodox reinventing of a genre.

This is the new standard for American monster movies. While monster movies are a little more tolerable than horror movies to me, neither are really my shtick. But I enjoyed it thoroughly, even if I had some minor qualms with the story (which I won’t go into and ruin anything for you).

Grade: A-

A little interesting tidbit… this movie recreated one of my worst reoccuring nightmares I had as a child… big monster, plenty of people… yet I’m singled out.

On another note… on the first time that I saw a movie by myself… I managed to wear a trenchcoat. I really hope I didn’t creep anyone out, but hey, it’s really cold outside, it’s my dad’s trenchcoat, and I’m a sucker for noir and the 20s. It just didn’t help that I was by myself…

For a further look into the aspects of Cloverfield: Read the rest of this entry »

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.:Movie Review: Juno

January 24, 2008 at 7:14 pm (movie review) (, )

“You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear
they give away babies like free iPods. You know,
they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns
and shoot them out at sporting events. “

~Juno

Juno

I recently saw Juno with my wife last weekend. It seemed to be a good choice as people were lauding it as the next Little Miss Sunshine. The trailer looked quirky/witty, and there were plenty of fairly recognizable faces, even if I couldn’t put names to all of them.

Starting out, I began to wonder if Juno was Napoleon Dynamite‘s (the movie, not the character) cooler sister, as the opening sequence was animated in a style that evoked the indie-flavor of the latter film. But shortly thereafter, Juno delved deeper into a more mature set of themes and images (the first sequence including the sex scene that begins the story of her pregnancy).

For me, it almost seemed that the movie would hearken to other popular indie titles, but be different enough that it would be difficult to directly compare the film to its influences and neighbors.

Summary: Juno had very enjoyable parts, painfully awkward parts (not the funny sort, but the I’m-cringing-and-not-wanting-to-look-at-the-screen parts), and a few moments of sincere authenticity from some of the cast members (especially Jennifer Garner). I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but it usually takes extraordinary quality for me to watch a film multiple times.

Grade: B-

My wife is heading to NYC this weekend, so I’m hoping to catch Cloverfield (the movie, not the monster) by myself. If so, I’ll give a review on that.

For a further look into the aspects of Juno, click on the link: Read the rest of this entry »

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