We managed to see Cloverfield a few weeks ago, and with the release of Diary of the Dead (above) this week, we have to say it’s rather timely to discuss our opinion of it. As tired as this quote is, there’s really no better way to describe Cloverfield than to take from Macbeth’s famous soliloquy: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
It’s particularly relevant because Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead are similar only in their decision to be shot with hand-held cameras. Cloverfield attempts to dazzle (if not bamboozle) the viewer with special effects (and shaking the camera as hard as possible for minutes at a time) but says absolutely nothing, while Diary of the Dead looks really cheap, but tries to say as much as possible (probably too much).
Sure, there’s a simple pleasure in meaningless, special effect-laden nonsense, but Diary of the Dead is the far stronger film, and where Romero has spent the money (usually on ludicrously amusing zombie deaths) it’s far more entertaining than obscured shots of a tentacled monster thing. We can’t recommend the film highly enough, and if you pay attention you might spot the odd glimpse of Toronto here and there (particularly at the beginning, though Land of the Dead is probably still a better Reel Toronto candidate).
Speaking of meaningless, special effect-laden nonsense, there’s Jumper. Starring Hayden Christensen as a man with a magical sweater that allows him to teleport, it’s obviously a load of old cobblers, but stars Samuel L. Jackson as a baddie, which is basically all we need to know. Jackson isn’t (really) very good, but he’s great when he’s angry. All the reviews are terrible, admittedly.
Similarly poorly reviewed is Definitely, Maybe (or Definately, Maybe according to Eye‘s headline, excellently. We always misspell that too). Eye‘s Jason Anderson asks, “if characters really must quote Nirvana lyrics to each other, please let them be from ‘Negative Creep’ and not ‘Come As You Are.’”
Also on release this week: The Band’s Visit (a “hugely affecting feature debut,” says the Star‘s Peter Howell), and Step Up 2 The Streets. The Bloor is doing great work again, not only showing doc Garbage Warrior but also showing Blade Runner: The Final Cut! Oh, man! We should go and see it again! They are showing I Am Legend, however, which is probably the worst film ever made from a good book. It really is terrible.
Cinematheque Ontario continues its winter season, and CNISSU‘s Free Friday Film is Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. This may be of particular interest as Eye film critic Adam Nayman (who you’ll have seen quoted in this column many a time) will be speaking on the film. (8:30 p.m. tonight, Innis Town Hall).