Richard and CP24 anchor host Nneka Elliot have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the psychological thrills of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” the grown-up children’s tale “The Little Prince” and the elephant-ejaculating glory of “The Brothers Grimsby.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the psychological thrills of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” the grown-up children’s tale “The Little Prince,” Ethan Hawke in the Chet Baker biopic “Born to be Blue” and the toilet-clogging glory of “The Brothers Grimsby.”
Los Angeles is a sun-dappled utopia with a Mediterranean climate, palm trees as far as the eye can see and only 35 days of precipitation annually. It’s a sprawling Garden of Eden, with pockets of paradise connected by an interweaving series of freeways. Think year-round sun tans, flip-flops and driving the convertible with the top down.
So why, when such natural beauty surrounds it, does Hollywood seem obsessed with stories about the end of the world? Could it be it’s because they live above the San Andreas Fault, an inner earth rupture that issues occasional rumblings that threaten to drop much of Southern California into the Pacific Ocean? Perhaps it’s because it’s the home of Kim, Kourtney and Khloé, an alliterative television family who seem to be a harbinger for the dissolution of society.
Whatever the reason, in movie after movie Hollywood hands us terrifying visions of what the world will look like when the Kardashians are done with it.
This weekend 10 Cloverfield Lane, which producer J.J. Abrams calls a “blood relative” but not a sequel to his 2008 monster flick Cloverfield, sees Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) trapped in an underground bunker with a sinister survivalist played by John Goodman. Outside, he says, an attack is about to leave the world uninhabitable. “Something’s coming,” he hisses.
What exactly is happening outside the bunker’s walls is unclear. Whether it’s nuclear fallout, an unexpected ice age or a zombie holocaust that brings about the end, the post apocalyptic feel of 10 Cloverfield Lane is just the latest attempt by the film biz to tap into the world’s general feeling of unease.
In 1959 bright and sunshiny Hollywood offered up a scary story that set the date for the end of the world just after World War III in 1964. In On the Beach, nuclear war has destroyed all life on the planet save for a small enclave in Australia, but even they will succumb once the radiation clouds drift by. As doomsday dramas go this one is particularly depressing — for example people gobble up “suicide pills”— but its Cold War commentary led one writer to label it “the most important film of our time.”
Not all end-of-the-world scenarios are as grim as that, however. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’s set up sounds bleak but it’s actually amusing and inventive.
Three weeks before a giant asteroid is scheduled to collide with earth, Dodge (Steve Carell) and his flaky downstairs neighbour (Keira Knightley) head out of town, looking for meaning in a world that soon won’t exist. It’s a low-key movie that could have been a broad comedy, but instead chooses for a more modest, heartfelt approach.
Sometimes the end of the world is appealing; cute even. WALL-E, the story of a lonely, but adorable, robot who inadvertently gives humankind a second chance, is aimed at kids but doesn’t look like any other kid’s movie you’ve seen. Don’t expect the same old from Pixar. It’s ambitious and beautiful like 2001: A Space Odyssey for children.
With such a range of dystopian stories to mine it seems sunny Hollywood just might produce dark visions of our planet until the end of the world comes for real.
“Something’s coming,” hisses Howard (John Goodman) in “10 Cloverfield Lane.” But what?
When we first meet Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) she’s packing up and about to hit the road to get away from her fiancée. In her car she answers a call from her ex, and, like a PSA about distracted driving, promptly has a car accident that leaves her unconscious. When she wakes up she’s trapped in an underground bunker with sinister survivalist Howard (“He’s like a black belt in conspiracy theories.”) and sweet-natured motor mouth Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Outside, he says, an attack is about to leave the world uninhabitable.
“What are you going to do with me?” she asks.
“I’m going to keep you alive,” he replies.
The bunker has all the conveniences of home, just don’t flush when you don’t have to. What exactly is happening outside the bunker’s walls, however, is unclear (NO SPOILERS HERE!). Whether it’s nuclear fallout, an unexpected ice age, rabid Donald Trump supporters or a zombie holocaust that brings about the end, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a modern day episode of “The Twilight Zone” played out on the big screen. Dynamics develop between the trio as Michelle struggles to make sense of the situation but discovers the mystery only deepens the longer they stay sequestered underground.
“10 Cloverfield Lane,” doesn’t share a city, characters or situation with the 2008 mighty monster flick “Cloverfield,” but can be considered a spiritual cousin. Nor can it rightly be considered a horror film. It’s more a psychological thriller with a twist. There are creepy moments. Director Dan Trachtenberg (J.J. Abrams produced this time around) makes good use of the soundtrack, using jarring hums and thuds as a soundtrack to the daily life in the underground. Add to that an anxiety inducing score by Bear McCreary and a small collection of well chosen pop songs, including the ironically appropriate “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and you have a movie that uses sound as effectively as dialogue and story.
The bulk of the film could be recreated on stage with virtually no changes. Screenwriters Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien “Whiplash” Chazelle carefully control the story, doling out details in dribs and drabs, tightening the vice with every scene. Howard’s backstory is slowly revealed, but we’re never sure what’s real and what’s not. For his part Goodman gives nothing away. He is masterful, toggling between compassion and rage, riding the line of sanity in his concealed kingdom, ruling over his “family” with an iron fist.
Goodman is the star, but Winstead has the most screen time and emerges as a formidable action star who will likely get co-opted in the Marvel or DC universes before you can say J.J. Abrams three times, fast. Also strong is Gallagher Jr. who brings a goofy charm to Emmett.
“Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane” are two very different films linked only by their name and their ability to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Gone is the original movie’s wobbly camera work and sprawling cast, replaced by a film with just three characters and a healthy respect for classic filmmaking. Best of all the new film is fuelled by the jittery times we live in when Howard’s rantings about attacks—whatever the cause—don’t sound completely far fetched.