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Bin Laden was bad enough, but now this
My guess is that he just couldn't take the hatred. Movie after movie got its kicks out of destroying New York ("Independence Day," "Godzilla," even "Ghostbusters"), each deploying the latest and coolest in special effects to enhance the trauma.
True, until quite recently there was a post-9/11 tenderness and healing factor in New York-based films ("World Trade Center" immediately leaps to mind, though "War of the Worlds" was an exception). But, cinematically, it looks like the statute of limitations on lambasting New York is officially up. "Cloverfield" is upon us.
"Cloverfield" is an absolutely brilliant piece of something (as the tag line appropriately goes: "Some thing has found us") that's probably not film-related. It's shot throughout on a digital video recorder held by someone who could be suffering from cocaine withdrawal, has just gone through a breakup or is scared and running for his life. Actually, all three apply at some point or another, and then simultaneously. The visuals are jolty, murky and brain-cell jittering. The dialogue is often moronic, but that's likely to happen when people are in danger of being chomped to pieces. The special effects, however, are like, hey man, mind-blowing! Put them all together and what you have is something so riveting the 84 minutes seems over way too soon, like a traumatic but addictive roller-coaster ride. "Cloverfield" subscribes to the "Blair Witch" school of thought that telling a story is not really the point — getting the audience's adrenal levels up to max is.
Whether the crassness and inherent primitiveness of the endeavor is cinematically worthwhile doesn't matter much. It works, it disturbs, it thrusts an iron fist right into the innards and churns. Scary doesn't begin to describe what "Cloverfield" is.
And it does it all in New York. The opening scenes are of a yuppie party in a nice East Village address; smoothie exec Rob (Michael Stahl-David) is leaving for a cushy VP job in Tokyo (yeah go ahead, just dump another of those guys right onto our heads!) and his friends are giving him a sendoff in a raucous, beer- and champagne-drenched style.
Rob has issues with Beth (Odette Yustman), with whom he spent a romantic night and subsequent day in Coney Island about a month ago. But he never called after that, which understandably left Beth a little tense, especially now that she's showing up with a new boyfriend.
Rob's best friend Hud (T.J. Miller) is recording the event with Rob's video camera, but he's actually taping over that Coney Island date, recorded lovingly by Rob, a camera-happy jerk who had even shot Beth's blissfully sleeping face the morning after they made love. The footage, when recovered later by the U.S. military (with an explanatory footnote that states: "in a site formerly known as Central Park") eerily echoes city life in a better time as it emphasizes the horror of what came next.
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