Harry knows what CLOVERFIELD is!!!
What is CLOVERFIELD?
For the past year or so, that’s been the question that everyone has been asking. Well… they also wanted to know: What was that trailer? What’s the name of this movie? Who are those actors? What is a SLUSHO? What does any of this mean?
Having seen the film, I can tell you – I have completely forgotten the marketing. I no longer care why the film is titled CLOVERFIELD, I don’t think it has a secret meaning – other than the fact that the movie that the marketing would lead you to, if it will… will knock your cinema-going mind into the floor of the theater.
CLOVERFIELD is a bold genre-reinvention unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
The basic premise that we know is there. The film is found footage, not an assembled film. The footage is recovered in Central Park. From trailers and ads you know that it probably starts at a party, something happens, and we think there is a giant monster. You’re pretty sure there’s a giant monster attacking New York City… specifically Manhattan.
Well, I’ve just come home from watching CLOVERFIELD. The security on me and my wife for seeing this movie was un-frickin-believable. I suppose some would have the temptation to snap a pic of the monster and send it out online to end, forever, the “mystery” – but folks… there’s no mystery.
The movie is fucking brilliant. It’s what we were told it was going to be. An intimate perspective on an impossibly grand scale human disaster beyond most human levels of comprehension.
What is the monster? How do you describe something that doesn’t look like anything you’ve ever seen before? It’s not a fucking upright walking whale. It doesn’t look like any iteration of GODZILLA that we’ve ever seen. It is enormous. And even though I’ve seen it… I am hard-pressed to come up with a comparative creation. You know that big fucking thing in THE MIST? It isn’t that. Is the creature a biped? I’m not sure, I think it might’ve been a four-legged beastie… it has a tail, it has teeth and freaky eyes like that horse that died in ANIMAL HOUSE. It’s kinda of a grayish-yellowish-off-white looking thing. But more important than the creature is what this fucker does. He basically goes bug-nuts.
The creature isn’t the groundbreaking thing about the film. It is, but it isn’t.
You see, what has me so excited about this film is that this is the giant monster movie that isn’t at all like any giant monster movie we’ve seen before… but is exactly that movie.
I guarantee you that as this movie takes place… all the shit that you’ve seen in Giant monster movies is happening. Somewhere a general is screaming about nuking New York…. Somewhere is a politician screaming that you can’t nuke New York. Another General wants to know why our weapons are not affecting this thing. A PRESIDENT wants to know where it came from – and several thousand journalist are trying to figure all that out too.
But this film isn’t about the scientist, the generals, the Presidents, the mayors or any of the big people. This time, the film is from the perspective of those people that live in those buildings that the monster is breaking through. This is about the people running in the street that scream, “GODZILLA!!!” and run. This is about trying to survive that insanity. Not just that, but to try and save one life.
Like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but instead of Nazis it’s a giant monster.
This is a handheld camera movie – knowing this and knowing not to sit too close is probably a good thing… but having said that… you can’t sit far enough from the screen to feel safe. As many of you people know, I am in a wheelchair – and while watching movies, I have my brakes on. There was one moment, so unexpected and so intense that I went 3 ft back.
What about the characters?
You learn everything you need about them in the first 20 minutes. Rob is going to Japan to a new job. He has a brother Jason and a best friend Hud who gets strapped with filming testimonials at his surprise party – but Hud has the hots for Marlena and got talked into it by Jason – who was told to do it by Lily, who loves him. Oh – and they’re taping over a tape that Rob shot of the morning after he and Beth finally did it – after being friends forever. But now he has to go to Japan for his career and Beth shows up with some dick at his party because he didn’t know how to talk with her after they had sex.
It’s a fairly real situation that could happen to anyone. These are just regular good people in the rat race – and trying to have a good time. When the shit goes down.
I wasn’t expecting to like any of the characters. That changes… a lot.
My favorite character? Probably Hud… our cameraman. He’s not a professional photographer, though this “tape” tells an incredibly focused and direct story of epic sweep and filled with intimate reveals. But HUD is “the best friend”. But if I could compare him to any character actor, I’d say he’s like a reigned in Bill Paxton. He’s not going around screaming obscenities… but the shit that comes out of his mouth cracks me up.
The story of this film is actually beautiful though. When the world goes to fuck, you instantly think about the person you love that you don’t know is OK or not. That’s this story. Beth left Rob’s party before the shit went down. They had a fight. When it all goes to hell – Rob and his friends are just trying to get off the island, when a call comes… Beth is somewhere… she can’t move, she’s bleeding and she needs help. And oddly… 911 is busy.
This group of friends sets off through the biggest sort of hell you can imagine to save Beth. Characters die. Shit goes horribly horribly wrong – and it rules!
There’s no score, there’s no rules, there feels like there’s no script and no movie. It feels found, but it is so huge that you can’t ever really believe that… but handheld film just has never had a story of something this fantastical or huge happen. The movie is a landmark genre film. A true milestone in film.
It is all at once art, commercial and grotesquely gleefully gargantuan.
This frankly launches two giant film careers at once. As of this second, I will see and eagerly anticipate every film that J.J. Abrams produces. This sort of stepping back from a genre convention and reinvention is EXACTLY what needs to be done. It isn’t simply going, “Oh, I can make a better Godzilla movie,” but the audacity of saying I’m going to tell that story from one of the most loathed film approaches – the found footage – and simply make the most fucking amazing found tape ever. It won’t just be what it is, but the characters and the story and the emotion and the scope and the journey that the tape takes us on. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Then there’s Matt Reeves, I don’t know this guy. But I’ll tell you what. You’re gonna mark his name after this. He just came out with a film about as SUNDANCE as you could imagine. This is like an INDIE film – that you’d dream Spielberg would make. Remember the beard’s WAR OF THE WORLDS? Now just imagine that, but with the disarming nature of handheld photography. Where if the camera got dropped and suddenly you’re looking the other way… you don’t see the seams. There’s no backlot, this isn’t two blocks at a time… it’s fucking Manhattan being torn to fuck and they’re just smack dab in midtown and midtown has giant lice monsters and some monstrously huge creature… and then there’s the fucking military… and they are on target, and buildings get hit, shit is going everywhere – and the man directing this apocalypse is Matt Reeves and the planning to just deliver what this spectacle is – is daunting. But sir, BRAVO!
Folks – CLOVERFIELD is worth the obsession, worth the months I’ve had to put up with fans wondering what the hell it was – worth having to deal with reporters asking me what it was – and I didn’t know either. This is a towering movie. A complete reinvention of the disaster movie, the giant monster movie and even the love story. I absolutely love this film and the only thought I had when it was over was how I wanted to watch it 5 more times today.
I want to see the details, I want to watch this film once I’m so familiar with it that I can appreciate the complexity of the frames and the shots. To try to pull the film apart – but I don’t think you’ll be able to. It is just that fucking good! And the flaming hobos... holy fuck man... flaming hobos, but not with shotguns!
Good Bad Robot, Good Bad Robot!!!