Here’s something weird about the reaction to Cloverfield, a film we have covered a bit more than we probably should have…
At the end of the day it’s a movie just like any other, and when it arrives and the hype is gone and the speculation is gone it’s our job to treat it as such or else it cheapens the stuff we do before and after a film is released. Cloverfield (which I’ll be seeing tomorrow and reviewing as soon as the embargo allows me to and not a moment before because this site is a luscious gift to people on both sides of the fence) is a movie, but I’m noticing that it brings out the best and worst in people as they see it. I’m not saying that the film is some special thing. I wouldn’t know, but take a look at how a few prominent web personalities have responded and notice the different ways they treat the subject. It just seems to really illuminate, for better or worse:
Harry Knowles (LINK):
“CLOVERFIELD is worth the obsession, worth the months Iï¿½ve had to
put up with fans wondering what the hell it was ï¿½ worth having to deal
with reporters asking me what it was ï¿½ and I didnï¿½t 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.“
Now, Harry and his site are known for ‘Geekgasms’ and are as good at hyperbole as anyone, with their somewhat redundant ‘Brilliant Masterpiece’ line adorning posters and DVD boxes the world over. But as far as I know, there’s no real motivation for these guys to be anything but truthful about Cloverfield. I mean, they were quick to debunk the fake stuff which may indicate that they have some insider info, but I feel this is a genuine response. There’s too much hell to pay for pulling wool over the eyes of your readership at this stage of the game in the world of online film journalism. There’s already enough bullshit out there. There are already enough folks parlaying their connections into special treatment. I think this is a nice little bit of AICN glee. Everyone has their own baggage to sort when they read one of Harry’s articles. You’re a fan. You’re a hater. Whatever. So, I don’t assume to sway anyone. I’m just saying that out of the three folks I’m focusing on here, Harry seems the most level-headed and his enthusiasm is luckily about the film and not himself. Is it because I too harbor a ‘glass is half full’ take on the film based on what I’ve seen and heard? You decide. It’s just refreshing to still see an honest-to-Kali bit of wide-eyed wonder.
Jeffrey Wells (LINK):
“It’s amazing in that it’s so short (by my watch about 74 minutes without credits), and yet so fierce. If Allen Ginsberg didn’t already own the title I would suggest that they call it Howl. This is not your father’s Ray Harryhausen
rampaging- monster flick. Those movies, comparatively, were parlor
dramas for the tame of heart. This movie is REM madness. It is Guillermo del Toro on a tab of brown acid with a little crack thrown in.“
First of all, I am not a fan of Jeffrey Wells. I mean, not even a little tiny bit. I find him to be a sledgehammer of things I don’t need and his writing is for people who most certainly aren’t me. I also don’t care what Starbucks he’s at or why he has to be home in a few minutes or what color his stool will be from the day’s breakfast du jour. I mean, only a select few can pull off something like a travelogue and make gold with it. Anyhow, his take on the film is also positive and filled with fancy words (Wells likes to distance himself from other web writers by being more Film Journal than Empire in the way he writes, me… I’ll take Empire every day of the week) and it’s apparent that he was shellshocked by the tempo and fierceness of the movie and it translated into something that also seemed genuine. There’s also somewhat of a hint about the truth about the film in Wells’ article that kinda irked me, but whatever. Speaking of Wells, here’s our last entrant and a guy I usually sided with in his Jeffrey Wells Wars, but not this time…
David Poland (LINK):
“I’m never going to waste the time to review this magical marketing scam
because it isn’t even worthy of the blog-umn inches. Besides, I will be
in Sundance when this one drops… into the toilet bowl of movie
history. That said, it will open to over $40 million, breaking the
record for January openings.“
Now, tell me what value that has? Especially to his readers, whom I assume would be interested in hearing why he didn’t like the movie. Instead they get a weird, obviously biased statement that uses the lame cop out of him being at Sundance as a reason he won’t be giving the film an official review. As if they don’t have the internet there. As if he couldn’t write it now and post it later. But he’s going to Sundance and you’re not. He’s also seen Cloverfield and you haven’t. SO THERE. I have clashed with David Poland before and it may be because the admittedly lame Webmaster Panels at Comic Con created a weird dynamic between the different personalities of the guys who created the sites and also created a weird “me too” thing in their wake. Poland’s been vocal about a lot of things. So have I, except I’ve changed hairstyles over the years. I don’t know, this blog entry really rubbed me the wrong way. Then again… it’s a blog entry.
There’s no doubt that I’m a CHUD.com guy and each of the folks above represent sites that are most definitely their own demographic. They have different goals, different audiences, and different reasons for doing what it is they do. We’re not really ‘Peers’. Different goals, paradigms, whatever. When this film hits it’s going to be very illuminating, though. I already have developed opinions on the way folks react to specific movies, this site’s staff included, and I think Cloverfield will be one of those that serves as a window more into the viewer than the film itself. For better or worse.