Sunday, January 27, 2008

Clinical Homophagocinemaphilia

Oh, yeah. I saw Cloverfield last weekend. And I liked it. I thought it was a lot of fun. It was a stylish, with good creature design, layered tension, interesting set pieces, and a informal tone that gave it a sense of urgency. I mean, it was stupid, but it was easy to relax into. It wasn't a Great Movie (tm), but who can dislike giant monsters stomping around New York?

Well, a lot of people, apparently. It was stupid, like much of pop culture. Some people didn't like the jerky filming, which I also understand. Some people didn't like the movie's vagueness. There are reasons to dislike Cloverfield.

NY Mag has written an article asking about the "meaning" of Cloverfield. This, I don't understand at all. Cloverfield is a spectacle. Which comes from the Latin "spectacticus," meaning "gonzo." NY Mag quotes two reviewers who believe that Cloverfield represents some kind of protest against NY yuppies and gentrification and/or young people in general.

Although the makers of Cloverfield might have an anti-Yuppy bias, Cloverfield doesn't scan as such. If the makers of Cloverfield had inserted "meaning" into Cloverfield, Cloverfield would have gone from 60 to 0 in nothing flat. It would have become a drastically overextended metaphor from go.

Cloverfield is simply a cool action flick. I don't think there was even a cigar in it.

The reviews from New York papers reflect the average New Yorker's tendency to feel themselves at the center of the universe, which has been magnified by the 9/11 tragedy. The NYT reviewer saw "tacky references" to 9/11 in Cloverfield. Having lived in NY during 9/11, I did not share that perception. If you are a primitive screwhead, you might think that the sympathetic resonance between the concept of explosions and the concept of New York make Cloverfield a meditation on something 9/11-like.

Cloverfield did give me strong flashbacks to the black-out a couple of years later, when I found myself crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot in the dark. Cause, you know, there's a scene in there just like that! But I got no 9/11 from Cloverfield at all.

Several reviews that I've seen have mentioned a penchant for New York to get destroyed in movies. Somebody mentioned Day after Tomorrow in a similar vein. I think this is just because New Yorkers love themselves soooo much they keep putting themselves in movies. By doing so, they've turned New York into a defacto reference point for movie goers. Everybody recognizes New York. Who would care if Kalamazoo got smushed? Maybe half a million people. Blowing up New York has become a feedback loop that apparently New Yorkers are sensitive to.

Can anybody tell me why movie reviewers are such cannibalistic, cold blooded bastards? Every single reviewer mentioned above bespoke joy at seeing people get eaten because of their race, interestingness, age, social class, being Odette Yustman, or earning power.

I just love seeing people getting eaten on film. All people: Red or Yellow, Black or White, it is precious in my sight when they get eaten by giant monsters. It's a strange condition. I call it homophagocinemaphilia, which sounds creepier than it really is. Fellow homophagocinemaphiliacs will probably get a kick out of Cloverfield too. Not so much if you don't like jerky camera work or Odette Yustman.


They sponser Monsterquest, a show on The History Channel about finding "real" monsters, with beer ads. Enough said.

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