City Living

Cloverfield = Coastal Insensitivity?

The New York Times takes the Cloverfield filmakers to the woodshed with a review that charges they should be ashamed of themselves for some spot-on visual allusions to Sept. 11, 2001. Critic Manohla Dargis writes:

Like Cloverfield itself, this new monster is nothing more than a blunt instrument designed to smash and grab without Freudian complexity or political critique, despite the tacky allusions to Sept. 11. The screams and the images of smoke billowing through the canyons of Lower Manhattan may make you think of the attack, and you may curse the filmmakers for their vulgarity, insensitivity or lack of imagination. (The director, Matt Reeves, lives in Los Angeles, as does the writer, Drew Goddard, and the movie's star producer, J. J. Abrams.)

I saw the film and there ARE two scenes which look more like footage from that sad fall day than a 2.0 monster movie.

What do you think? Tacky or realistic story telling?

— Alison Stewart



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It sure did look like 9/11 in a couple of spots. But doesn't it have to in order to acheive any realism? If you make a monster movie in which huge buildings are knocked down in a densely buit city, it would strain credulity to avoid those images. The fact is that we all unfortunately know what that looks like. How can a filmmaker be expected to set that kind of story in that environment and not invoke those images?

I'm sure there are people who feel particularly sensitive to those images and who are particularly disturbed by them. That's understandable. Such folks would do well to avoid thrillers that take as their premise the destruction of Manhattan.

9/11 is part of our history and, although it may not be in the best of taste, filmmakers can't be expected to ignore it any more than the Vietnam war, the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the sinking of the Titanic.

Sent by Maura | 12:44 PM | 1-22-2008

I think whoever wrote that at the NYT missed the point. Of course it looked like 9-11. Its a metaphor for what happened on that terrible day. This movie is the US version of the old Godzilla movies. That's what Godzilla was for the Japanese; a metaphor for war. The monster represented the US devastation of Japan during WW2. It also had an anti-nuclear war theme to it since it was showing the evils that could be unleashed from nuclear weapons.

Sure its a monster movie, but it does have a message. The monster attacking NY for unknown reasons, the fight takes all our resources, and the monster is unstoppable is an allegory to the so called "war against terror."

Sent by Earl | 2:55 PM | 1-22-2008

Extensive viral marketing campaign + emotionally manipulative imagery + mediocre monster flick = cheap, offensive exploitation filmmaking.

This is the best we can expect from the industry these days. We're all better off sticking to what's coming out of Sundance & Tribeca than Warner & Fox.

PS. Great Sundance coverage you guys. There's a lot to be excited about this year.

Sent by Cheshire Katz | 9:46 AM | 1-23-2008