Thursday, February 09, 2012

Chronicle – or How I learned to love Cloverfield


A still from Chronicle

Ok. So, this was like, one of those films I had heard nothing about. And the only reason that I had ventured into the theatre to watch it on a Sunday evening was because one of my iconic Tweeples had ravished my timeline with raves about how coolly the film was made. Fair enough, I trusted his judgment more than my own and set about watching Chronicle, which he described as the coolest found-footage film ever or something on those lines.

As usual, I am not going to review the film because I hate the idea of a review. Every Tom, Dick and Dirty Hairy worth the depreciation cost of his smartass phone seems to be in a position to review a film. So why the hell would I do the same? I instead, chose to do what I do best. And that is tease potential audiences of the film – taunt them with nuggets of data, not the whole thing, just a part of it. ‘Don’t tell them nothing,’ I am reminded by one of the wise guys from Scorsese’s Goodfellas. 

So how do I even begin? Maybe, we could start with something that resembles the truth. Something, like I have never even seen Cloverfield. Not even once. And I also hate the shaky-cam style of filmmaking. I don’t care who taught you that. I don’t care if you graduated from Darren Aronofsky’s school of Disoriented Imagery. I don’t give a flying flick if you cut your teeth sitting through Lars von Trier’s meandering treaties on the Dogme 95 movement.

And most of all, if you even happen to be related to the guy (or gal) who designed the Snorricam, maintain a minimum distance of a 100 yards if you spot me in a public place. Chances are it might get ugly. But I’m gonna be partial to Chronicle. It’s a lovely film for almost 45 minutes of its running time. There are sequences that are certified fresh – stuff that deserve to be in hall of fame of cinematic inventiveness. And almost everything works in favour of the film in its first half. I was kind of dazed by the multihued range of emotions that it evoked in me.

There were thrills, chills, guffaws, plain vanilla delights and even breadcrumbs of conspiracy theories being thrown around. And it was all entertaining until the filmmaker was compelled to think about the direction in which one could take the story after you ran out of his surprises. It felt like a letdown. Much like the manner in which In Time, and to some extent, Duncan Jones’s Source Code opted for some Deus Ex Machina mechanisms to salvage their story in the last reel.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m completely pro-‘character development’. It’s only when screenwriters and directors develop their heroes in ways that belie their original sensibilities, do I have a problem. It happened with the crew of In Time and now the demon has come back to haunt moviegoers in Chronicle. I risk giving away too much about the film by elaborating any further. You can take my word for it. Go watch Chronicle. It’s a brilliant experience for a majority of its running time. And it a bellwether of the manner in which modern day storytelling is headed on celluloid.

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