1.18.2008

Cloverfield




Some actors whose names I'm not bothering to look up in Cloverfield (dir. Matt Reeves, 2008).

It is kind of scary. But then, so are thunderstorms. And big trucks driving by at night on the road outside your house. If you're me.

I'm not sure how to feel about the obviously 9/11-derived imagery (fireballs, skyscrapers collapsing, huge clouds of smoke billowing toward the camera between concrete corridors, pedestrians stumbling around coated with dust). I think it may be in bad taste or something. Or a pretentious stab at commentary on the way in which the media has conditioned our responses. Or both. I was too busy holding my breath to evaluate it carefully. Did I mention it was kind of scary?

Oh, in case you hadn't heard, it's about a huge squid-looking thing attacking Manhattan, filmed Blair-Witch style by a group of twentysomethings.

2 comments:

Decapitationcon said...

The 9/11 derived imagery is interesting keyed up against the movie's formal process of "taping over" elements of itself - how the romantic day trip to Coney Island is erased by Hud's recording of the attack, and how the film writes over 9/11 with this invented, digital monster, absented origin or purpose, feeding on whiny yuppies likewise incapable of registering the magnitude of what they're embroiled in ("If I stop talking I'm going to shit my pants!").

I'm not so sure it's about our conditioned responses to media as much as it is about the conditioning of tragedy to accommodate media coverage. If what the effects-laden fantasy of the monster replaces is real people just doing normal stuff at the beach, the redaction inherent in that overwriting transforms the day trip into a consumable, idealized version of itself: no awkward silences, no bathroom breaks - just the giggles and kisses. The fantasy not only replaces a reality, it compromises the designation of that reality as preceding the switch to fantasy.

Looking again at the film's invented 9/11, what might be drawn is that, in imagining the tragedy (presently), media affects the reality of that tragedy (in memory) in order that it conform to narrative - much in the same way that the edited trip to Coney Island comes to resemble the indefatigable love of its protagonists as they search for each other in a devastated Manhattan. Now that 9/11 can be imagined as a roller coaster, can it be remembered as anything else?

That this is also probably one of the most physically assaultive movies I've seen, ever, just in terms of camera work, seems to give it some sense of moral outrage at either the idea of this, or its reality as such. It literally made me ill to watch it.

jwg said...

But did you see the monster? Jesus, it was big. And the little monsters? They were small and mean. That is all I need from a movie.