Monday, January 21, 2008

"Cloverfield" and Character

I saw “Cloverfield” on Friday. I thought I should see it, just because it looked very interesting as well as pacify my wait for another film, which I will be posting on in a few days.

What I think is fascinating about the film is how influenced it is by the work of great docu-drama. The movie puts you into a situation where the entire scope of the events are fully explained to you. We never see any presidents on TV, worried relatives outside the situation or military officials behaving like chickens with their heads cut off. Even when they have a scene with military, they don’t know everything about what’s going on either. The only official outside words given on the situation are only heard in brief glimpses of the news on TV or snatches of transmissions from army radios. This type of narrative is not akin to most sci-fi/monster films, and frankly, I find it refreshing and exciting.

Instead, all the movie wants to focus on is on this small group of people who are trying to survive the attack from the monster. What impresses me about J.J. Abrams (producer) as a storyteller is how, above everything else, he wants you to care for the characters that you see in front of you. Even if it’s for a short period of 84 minutes. Some of the movie’s most affecting scenes are when the action pauses and the characters were allowed to ease each other’s shattered psyches. The most prime example is after Rob (Michael Stahl-David) had to tell his mother that his brother, Jason (Mike Vogel) was killed, Rob and Jason’s devoted girlfriend, Lily (Jessica Lucas) take quiet comfort in each other’s grief. While the camera operator Hud (T.J. Miller) talks to Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) about what they could’ve done or couldn’t do. It’s a simply played scene like this that I look for in a film, a gentle expression of emotion.

Overall, the film is an impressively entertaining one. What more could you want?

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The movie also illustrates one of my ultimate theories about film and TV. One of the most important things to me when I watch anything is character. Character, character, character. If I have at least some emotional connection with one character, even one I hate, then I don’t get a feeling of borrowed interest. Even when I’m watching something with a plot I don’t fully understand, there is still a mystifying bond with the person on the screen that keeps me transfixed.

We are forever drawn to the mystery of who we are…

1 comment:

Ari said...

I haven't seen it yet. Maybe I should watch it if I have the time. I feel the same way about characters on TV, movies, books etc. I can't stand to watch a movie where I don't like the main character.