Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Beast From Nowhere

Cloverfield(2008) Directed By Matt Reeves

One of the most enjoyable movie going experiences I've had in a long while.There is an inordinate amount of references from critics to this films 9/11 visual allusions, which I think are more projected than anything. There is an essay called "The Imagination Of Disaster" by Susan Sontag(my favorite of her essays), which can really be applied to this film in a lot of ways: thing Sontag notes is the depiction of the scientific/military/industrial complex in monster/disaster films; the heroic scientist, The UN security councils, the hard ass general, the plucky journalist, the madman's daughter, etc, all of which distract us from the people being killed in the exploding buildings.Cloverfield, doesn't give us a tour through aesthetic destruction, nor does it re-enforce the political models of the salvation through military force, it confines itself in the most literal sense to showing people caught in a terrifying and surreal experience.The last "Godzilla" film starring Mathew Broderick representative of our pre-9/11 political illusions of Military Intervention and organization.Cloverfield's monster comes literally from nowhere and has no name(with smaller parasites fall off it, spiders the size of dogs). Apparently, you can see something crashing into the ocean in at the end of the video, the survivors are taping over.But that doesn't answer whether what fell was what attacks the city, or just what dislodged what was already sleeping, and I think the teasing of this mystery(I hope if they make a sequel they don't ruin this by answering it), is a recognition of an important ambiguity of collective trauma of U.S. country and culture.Though I hear in Micheal Bay's Transformers 2, the robots are now working for the government, so what the hell do I know...
What I liked about this movie so much was that it was just the camera, a few people, and some monsters, and it was gripping stuff. A fifty foot monster is much scarier if it's too big to capture on camera, only seen at a glance surrounded by screams and debris, something I cant think another film doing. The shabbiness of the camera at first made me a little dizzy, but it improves as the film goes on.I actually think this kind of film making has a much bigger future than people think, another film this year "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" used a very similar technique of withholding camera perspective to very different and very successful effect. Here we are documenting the action ourselves while watching it on other screens simultaneously, this shift of focus has happened so gradually few can grasp how science-fiction like the world has already become. All and all, I thought it was really good, scary even at times, and much better than any modern monster movie I can think of, maybe not "The Host", but then again...Anyway If there is any art to making monster movies, Cloverfield is it's new watermark, and is going to be the one to beat in the future. It ends and begins on Conney Island a day spent reliving old thrills from the past in ends there as well, as we relive our great Godzilla fantasies and fears.


neillgrant said...

did you by any chance see the moster fall from the sky while they were at coney island?

Joe Sylvers said...

no i noticed it when I rewound and paused it later on dvd. But I'm familiar with it.