Cloverfield ****

Warning: Not for the weak of stomach.

Grab your Dramamine and brace yourself, the entire film is shot with a hand held camera. This technique is quite jarring and a cinematic language that is out of the norm. In fact the last big film that comes to mind is the Blair Witch Project (1999). Unlike its predecessor, however, Cloverfield (2008 ) is packed with action, suspense and best of all – monsters!

Drew Goddard the writer behind episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lost and Alias teams up with J.J. Abrahms to bring big scary monsters to audiences. The movie starts very ominously with placards stating that the film is the property of the U.S. Government and includes a hint of Abrams mythology. After being introduced to the spunky, young leads: Marlena, Lily, Hud and Rob Hawkins mayhem and terror ensue as the bug/crab like creature, Cloverfield, tears through New York City.

I cannot comment enough on the hand held camera work and how appropriate it was for this story. The first person perspective gave it a bit of a claustrophobic tunnel-vision feel, but put you right in the action. Cloverfield is a commentary to the cultural phenomenon of “iReporting,” which has been made possible by Apple’s obsession to add an “i” to the beginning of everything. It is also made possible due to an increase in personal, user-friendly technology such as camera-phones. The filmmakers actually watched YouTube for phone videos from 9-11 and other disasters in preparing for this film, which they talk about on the DVD’s extras.

This movie is most fun on a stormy night with all of the lights off. Great for sucking you in and keeping you at the edge of your seat. Chock full of visual effects surprises, Cloverfield is an incredibly imaginative beast that is fascinating to watch – when you’re given a glimpse of him. Definitely one of the best suspense films I’ve seen in a while.

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Juno **

I give the much-hyped film, Juno two stars.

What I didn’t like:

  • I felt the relationship between Juno (Ellen Page) and Bleeker (Michael Cera) could have been better developed. He felt like more of an accessory to the film than a pivotal character.
  • The music.
  • The dialog sounded very forced at times.
  • Its slow pace of the film lacks replay value.
  • The relationship between Juno and Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) was kind of creepy.
  • All the hype.
  • Jennifer Garner’s character.
  • Jennifer Garner. (just for Aaron, she really doesn’t bother me, but I do like watching her kick ass much more than play a yuppie)

What I liked:

  • Ellen Page
  • The film’s handling of a controversial and uncomfortable subject.
  • Allison Janney’s character telling off the ultrasound technician.
  • The way it ended.
  • The title sequence.
  • Jason Bateman
  • Michael Cera

The movie was definitely worth watching, however this character study lacked a certain depth and intimacy. The characters felt at an arm’s length because of the forced slang-filled dialog and its overall lack of relationship set up. We don’t even know who Juno is and the movie starts with her discovering she’s pregnant. From there a series of anticlimactic events ensue. For an emotionally charged issue this film treats pregnancy as more of an incidental medical condition than the start of a human life. As for the awards it was up for and won, I’m going to extend my humble opinion and say that I don’t think it deserved them.

The film did have some laughs and some nice moments. The performances themselves were also right on and the cast was mostly enjoyable to watch. So, go ahead and pick it up when you’re really bored one Friday night. Just don’t expect it to be the phenomenon it’s advertised to be.

“Subivor”

Every morning I grab a Metro paper on my way onto the PATH train. Nothing satisfies like McNews on a crowded train! The front page has the following headline: “City not sold on ‘Subivor'”. What is ‘Subivor’? Is it a failed reality show? Could it be a 15 minute of fame faux celebrity with a ridiculous story? No, no, it’s an emergency kit that for just $27.99 is going to save your life! You can read about it here.

Pretty genius, huh? And a gosh darn cheery web page to boot! The blossoming entrepreneur, David Ruggiero, is ironically more optimistic about his ability to sell these kits to New Yorkers than he is about the subway system. Let’s see what’s in it:

5 inch Flashlight – Ok, that’s handy.

Anti-fog mask – Definitely don’t need a disaster to want one of these!

Moist towelette – I didn’t know disasters came with honey bbq spareribs.

Metal whistle – Seriously?!

7-inch Pry Bar – Perfect for prying flesh off the bones of fellow commuters after no one hears your whistle and you turn to cannibalism.

Way to profit off of our fear culture, David. Oh, wait… you didn’t. Thankfully people are smarter than to shell out almost $30 for a carry case full of objects they may never use. A 7-inch pry bar in the event of a subway emergency is about as useful as the duck and cover advice for surviving annihilation. I guess people won’t buy anything. Who knew?

Housekeeping Decisions

Happy Friday! TG, right? Thanks for those of you who commented on my first blog post, I wrote another one for you to grace your insights with. Thank you in advance and you’re welcome. 🙂

The past few years, I have noticed a trend of me lacking follow-through when it comes to my own ventures, which bothers me on a variety of levels. This is my launch-pad for reawakening my creativity. In the interest of maintaining this blog and garnering readership of it. I have come up with a very basic format:

  1. 2-3 times a week I will create a 200-500 word blog entry.
  2. On the last day of the month, I will give a basic review of any films that I’ve seen in the preceding 30 days. I would also like to include the TV shows that I follow. Since I’m planning such a brief overview, I think this is feasible. Plus, I don’t follow too many shows.
  3. Also, on the last day of the month I will post an essay that will be developed throughout the month concerning an issue in mass media. I particularly enjoy watching films and shows (old and new) and picking out their relevance to the real world and current events.

So, there you have it. I think that those are realistic goals considering that I always am commenting on and picking apart mass media, popular culture and politics, now, I’m going to put it to good use.

Celebrities

I recently saw, About a Son (2006), a film that documents the life of Kurt Cobain. The film (which I think is all-around excellent and a must-see) uses Kurt’s own words from a series of taped interviews that Michael Azerrad used for his book, “Come as You Are”. Towards the conclusion of the movie, Kurt talks about celebrity. He criticizes the public and the media for wanting to know intimate details of celebrities’ personal lives. He also mentioned that he would love to see that changed. Well, I think that the media owes Kurt an apology.

Some celebrities are very private and, though high profile and influential, manage to stay out of the limelight. Others, like Britney Spears are examples of mentally unstable people who should be left alone and are going through enough in their personal life. Amy Winehouse is another fine example. Do I really care that her husband is suing her for a sum of money that most people could live off of for the rest of thier life? No… no… no.

Now, let’s talk about celebre-whores. Just in case being photographed and talked about in every tabloid, news outlet and website just isn’t enough attention, you can go get a TV show, release an album or do both.  Throw in a clothing line while you’re at it. Lindsay Lohan and Jennifer Lopez are also multi-talented EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK!

So, Kurt, I regretfully inform you that celebrities are still cartoon characters for the lowest common denominator to obsess over. Sorry. The soft news and the hard news have become one and celebrity trash talk is no longer limited to tabloids at the supermarket checkout. The next time you see some rich twit’s twat blocked out on the front page of National Enquierer just remember the twit behind that twat.