31 March, 2011

What I Watched Last Month…

February 2011

Cloverfield. (On DVD)
As a post-Lost season 06 chaser, we popped this one in the DVD player, due to the talk that this supposedly takes place in the same universe as Lost. I might be wrong about that, but I know for sure that I saw a Dharma Initiative logo pop up on screen very briefly, so that's enough for me.
What an amazing piece of storytelling this is. And very exciting and gripping too. On the small screen, the nausea inducing effects of the hand-held camera are thankfully mitigated. My wife had to leave the cinema 20 minutes in when it was first released, but she happily sat through the whole thing this time.
The conceit of having the entire movie supposedly being the play through of a personal video camera tape is a pretty hard internally imposed rule to stick to and make work, but work it does. There are times when the convenient turn of the camera at the precise moment to capture some necessary action becomes a little too much, and there's certainly a point where I feel like I've been plunged into a video game due to the combination of the first-person perspective and some blatant exposition and set-up that's just that smidge too clumsy, but if you accept the immediate conceit and get on board for the ride, it's a great and satisfying ride for sure.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. (On DVD)
What great fun this movie is! I have nothing to say regarding it's adaption from the comics since I've only read a few pages of Vol. 1, but as a movie in it's own right it's great fun.
This is the second time I've watched it (originally in the cinema) and I seem to be more forgiving with the pacing of the last few Ex-battles. It's obvious to me that the episodic, long-form nature of the graphic novels suits the whole protracted "7 Evil Exes" shtick, and shoehorning them into a single movie is a pretty big ask, but I'm more comfortable with it this time. I really felt it was incredibly rushed the first time around.
I don't know if I'm just being dense, but the ending still makes no sense to me, specifically regarding the Knives/Ramona/Scott triangle. I still feel like Scott is a heel and probably undeserving of winning the heart of either girl. I totally don't see any redemption in what he did with his 'extra life' whatsoever.
I also really dislike the introduction of the mind control chip. I don't know exactly why, but even in a movie like this, full of fanciful turns of story and logic, it felt far too out of nowhere, both as far as the story is concerned as well as what the universe the movie had set up would bear. Too easy, too convenient, too lazy.
On the visual side, I really, really love the integration of both comics and video gaming imagery and language. The use of split screen, visible sound effects (both as written words and as drawn graphics) extreme foreshortening and stretched, malleable perspective, all add an extra dimension to the kinetic feel of the movie. Even better, it does so entirely in service of the story and to support the personality and lifestyle of the characters. The video game imagery and metaphors do the same — this is how the characters (Scott at least) see their lives playing out, with 1-ups, points scored and pee-bars. Brilliant. It's all about giving external expression to the internal life and personalities of the characters.
I also watched/listened to the director/co-writer/comic creator commentary, which was both entertaining and enlightening. Well worth putting on in the background while doing other stuff (like inking comics, as I was).
I'm pretty sure I'm well outside the target audience for SPvtW, so I'm putting down my misgivings about the film to my lack of yoof. That being said, thinking about it and writing about it here, I already want to watch it again, if only for the eye candy.

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