Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cloverfield and Other Disaster Movies

Who needs monster movies? Obviously, we do.

The clusterfuck Presidency of W. Bush has yielded its most seismic shock waves since the launch of the Iraq War, plunging some markets at or below previous immediate post-9/11 record lows,
  • rocking the international markets to the core
  • while Bank of America reported its fourth-quarter earnings fell by 95 percent and Wachovia reported its earnings tumbled 98 percent. Ouch.

  • None of this bodes well, and despite the rosy optimism of our President, we're looking at a rough 2008 and the likelihood of economic devastation ahead.

  • Courting further future calamity,
  • the Fed (Federal Reserve) slashed interest rates again -- by three-quarters of a percentage point, the biggest one-day move by the central bank to date.

  • Keep an eye on the American dollar, which is at an all-time low and is likely to plunge further.

  • That said, the US theatrical boxoffice echoed 9/11 with the record earnings Cloverfield -- the second 9/11 monster movie (Bong Joon-Ho and Baek Chul-hyun's excellent 괴물/Goemul/The Host, 2006, was the first) -- scored this past weekend.

  • I'll post a full review of Cloverfield later this week, but I gotta tell you, I loved it. Cannibal Holocaust meets The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms: what's not to like? This is the Dogme 95 post-Millennial monster movie; specifically, Cloverfield is precisely to post-9/11 America what Ishiro Honda's ゴジラ/Gojira/Godzilla King of the Monsters (1954) was to post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki Japan, a traumatized nation materializing otherwise shapeless dread, and it's that good, too.

    For this die-hard monster movie lover, the fact that Cloverfield's enigmatic monster was created by Tippett Studios (though Phil Tippett isn't credited, it was heartening to see Tippett vet associate and partner Jules Roman's name on the final credits crawl) was a most pleasant surprise, and the images resonate mightily in my mind and dreams.

    My old comics amigo Mitch Waxman (whose incredible Plasma Baby is still my fave giant-monster-comic of the '90s) agreed: "...I thought it was kind of interesting that 9/11 is now in a bottle." Mitch is a die-hard New Yorker, and he wrote that Cloverfield "...got me when the newscast came on (that's actually our "local" station and the newscaster wasn't an actress but one of the actual anchors- its what we NYer's tune in to for morning weather, traffic, and believe it or not- disaster news). Most unrealistic part of the story was moving from Spring Street to Columbus Circle in under 30 min walking."

    Having walked that myself (back in the late '70s), without either a monster on the loose, the intrusive military presence, or hordes of dog-sized carnivorous monster young (or parasites?) infesting the streets and subways, I can only say you're right, Mitch. It does take a hell of a lot longer than a half hour.

    Have a magnificent Monday...

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