Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cloverfield and Atonement

This past Sunday, Sheila and I had the rare treat to catch up on not one, but two films we were interested in seeing:




I will begin by reviewing Atonement first, as my review of Cloverfield leads to another topic. First I'll say, I enjoyed this film, very much. In fact, I found little about it that I didn't like. Keira Knightly was pretty good, James McAvoy was superb. A real treat was the skills of both young Briony, played by Saoirse Ronan and the young adult Briony, played by Romola Garai. I'll get this out of the way too, James McAvoy is REALLY an excellent actor. I liked him a lot in The Last King of Scotland. He has the great ability to say a lot without saying anything at all. It's all in his face, it's all in the eyes:


The film was good. It was shot well enough, nothing in my mind screamed holy CRAP that was awesome. There was a really nice tracking shot at the end, of soldiers on a beach waiting to be picked up that was noteworthy. What I REALLY enjoyed was the Score by Dario Marianelli . The thematic use of hitting typewriter keys as an instrument in several of the pieces was just such a savvy move. It just really tied in a lot of elements so simply, the play she writes, the letter he writes, her novel, becoming a novelist, love letters written back and forth, all neatly melded together by the simple use of typewriter keys in the score.

One touching moment (read, shed tear here) was, well, touching. A soldier lies on his deathbed and Briony is comforting him, she's not supposed to let the soldiers know her first name, so tells him her last name as her first name, and as he's slipping away he is mumbling her last name, and she is yelling "Briony! My name is Briony." It was a really powerful moment.

So what didn't I like? Well, that moment I JUST mentioned, was so close to the end, and so well done, when it came time to reveal that the two young lovers never saw each other again, well, I was emotional spent already. I felt more for that moment with the french soldier than I felt with the tragedy of the two main characters unfortunate ends. I also thought we could have spent less time with setting up in the beginning and more time with some story later on. When we see Robbie (McAvoy) not only have we skipped all his prison time, but the entire war as well. Just skipped over it. And Cecillia (Knightly)? what happened there? She just up and left her rich family and mansion to pursue nursing? It just left a lot to be desired on the main characters arch. It was more like a sharp triangle.

OK! So now, we move onto Cloverfield. Overall, I LOVED it. I went into it expecting that It was going to start in the party ala handheld camera, and then when the monster hit town, it would just jump out to a big-boy film camera. I was quite surprised, when we stayed with the pov of the "hand-held" lil guy for the entire film. Yes, quite surprised. More on the camera (s) they used later.

More things I liked about it....I didn't mind not really finding out where the monster came from and what it was doing in Manhattan. Would I have liked to have seen MORE creature? Yes, I would, but as we learned in Jaws, an audience can have a high tolerance for NOT seeing the monster. I believe you don't FULLY grasp JAW'S look and size until something like 1hr 20-1hr 30mins in. SO...I didn't mind the fleeting glimpses. It was enough for me. I also liked how during the entire length of the movie, there was no music. There was practical music in the party scene, but there was no score during the film. So when the music came up over the credits, it was pure eerie, it was THEN that I realized that I hadn't heard any score. Interesting choice there, very interesting.

So just a few, totally nit-picky things that bothered me. When they are crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, right before it goes down, they have a shot of the Statue of Liberty:


Click on the Pic above, and it will bring you to a view that is closer to the real scale. I just didn't buy that it was so close, or that "lil hand-held cam" he had could zoom in that far. Along those lines as well, with the length of the "footage" ie the film, he would have HAD to have changed tapes at some point. Next thing, again relating to living in NY, this Subway stop isn't real:


I know they shot in NY for 12 days....but they couldn't film in the real stop? And the real buzzkill, was at the VERY end, the two leads Rob and Beth are about to die, they say their last words to the camera, put it down, and then they say they love each other:


They each said it, and both of them had ZERO conviction or emotion in their delivery. I blame The Director, Matt Reeves. It totally ruined that, the final, moment in the film.

Now after the fact, I've been told, have heard about some interesting Cloverfield stuff. I stayed till the end of the credits and heard the sound bite. Someone told me that if you were to reverse it you'd get this

Also, mention of some video of the monster attacking an oil rig:

and this one:

Basically, there is a hell of a lot of Viral marketing that went on, and continues to go on for this film. Check out Cloverfield Clues as well as Geeks of Doom. I think you could spend a day or two on there just absorbing it all and piecing it together. I just skimmed the surface.

Anyhoo, this has become a MONSTER blog, hehehe, and I'm beat, so I'll wrap this one up tomorrow. Stay tuned.


Greg Tito said...

Your nitpicks are wrong.

Ian Savage said...

how so?