• Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Sep 18 11:12:00 2016
    10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    *** (out of ****)

    Rarely has an incredulous "Come on!" been spat with such vociferous exasperation as when delivered by Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character
    Michelle in "10 Cloverfield Lane." The outcry resonates for us because we share her disbelief one hundred fold. Up until then we've been taken on a journey to some place else, not a place we were necessarily expecting, but
    one rife with dramatic tension and the palpable fear of not knowing. And
    then, what, this left-field shift? Come on! Only it's a good come on.
    We're in Louisiana. Michelle has left her boyfriend, Ben (voice of Bradley Cooper of all people), after a tiff. She's driving at night when
    she gets sideswiped by a pick-up and winds up in a ditch. She comes to in
    a stark concrete basement room handcuffed to a pipe (shades of the first
    "Saw" movie?) and hooked up to an IV. Her injuries appear minimal.
    Enter her savior and protector, Howard Stambler (John Goodman), who
    placed her here (in more ways than one). He tells her there's nobody to
    call, that nobody is going to come looking for her. There *is* nobody.
    There was an attack, possibly chemical, maybe nuclear, it's not clear
    who--the Russians, aliens, maybe the South Koreans (he means the other
    ones, the "crazy" ones) and there's deadly radiation out there but they're
    safe in a bunker of his own making. The three of them, that is. There's another man, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who, unlike Michelle, came of his
    own accord. He saw the devastation for himself, witnessed the cataclysmic event.
    We spend much of the film wondering, as does Winstead's character,
    whether Howard is sane or psychotic, whether he's telling the truth about
    what, if anything, happened outside. Michelle sees "proof"--a couple of Howard's pigs horribly mutilated, a possibly-irradiated neighbor (Cindy
    Hogan) who comes blundering up to the bunker's outside door, demanding
    access, and Emmett's first-hand corroboration--yet she's not convinced.
    Not until she can escape and witness the world, or what's left of it, for herself.
    In 2008, producer J.J. Abrams and director Matt Reeves devised a
    tricky, handheld sci-fi parable called "Cloverfield" that threw
    unsuspecting audiences for a loop. "10 Cloverfield Lane" was rumored to be
    a sequel to that film, and this time around director Dan Trachtenberg and
    his three screenwriters (plus, I daresay, a contribution or two from co-producers Abrams and Reeves) deliver a likely scenario that keeps us guessing until the very end. Winstead and Goodman are entertainingly good enough to carry what is, essentially, a two-character piece--Gallagher is satisfactory but has less screen time.
    All told, "10 Cloverfield Lane" proves to be a real meat (the bunker scenes) and potatoes (the ending) proposition. The meat is satisfying and gives you plenty to chew over but come on! Those potatoes are pretty
    darned tasty too.

    David N. Butterworth

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  • From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Wed Mar 16 12:06:27 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Michelle is leading a normal life when she
    has a car accident and wakes up to find herself in
    an underground cell that, as she is told, was why she
    survived the end of the world outside. She does not
    know if she should elude her captor or cooperate with
    the man saved her life. This is a taut film that
    flips reality and tears up your expectations of where
    to think the film is going. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4)
    or 7/10

    The first thing that film buffs will notice about 10 CLOVERFIELD
    LANE is the title. Does the film have something to do with
    producer JJ Abrams' CLOVERFIELD? That was a found-footage film
    with something big attacking Manhattan. Well this film's plot may
    not have anything to do with the other film. Then again, any
    conclusions you draw from what you see on the screen are likely to
    be wrong. This is not a found-footage film and does have one or
    two stars. But the viewer is cautioned. Abrams likes to toy with
    his audience. Whatever you think you have guessed about what is
    going on, in five minutes things may seem entirely different and
    you will likely have new theories as to what is going on. Abrams
    keeps shaking the viewer's understanding around like a cat with a
    field mouse.

    So what do we know about what is going on? Well, Michelle (played
    by Mary Elizabeth Winstead of the most recent THE THING and
    currently of "Mercy Street") is leaving her husband to strike out
    on her own. Driving down a dark country road suddenly her car is
    hit by a pickup truck and is badly rolled end over end. When she
    wakes up she has good news and bad news. The good news is that she
    is not badly hurt. She will have to spend some time on crutches.
    That may be a little difficult since she is chained to a wall. Not
    a very nice wall either. She is in some sort of a cell with cinder
    block walls. That is the bad news. But then Howard (John Goodman)
    visits the cell. It seems this is not so much a little cell as a
    large room in some sort of underground shelter or bunker. Howard
    has brought her there as a mercy. How is it a mercy? It seems
    that while she was unconscious the world as we know it has come to
    an end.

    Apparently there was some sort of an attack and maybe by chemical
    means, maybe by nuclear means, everybody is dead. She can probably
    leave, but as soon as she steps outside whatever killed off most of
    the human race would probably kill her. Now what kind of a
    ridiculous story is that? Well, maybe Howard has a wildly active
    imagination or maybe most of the human race is gone. And evidence
    keeps building on either side of the argument. John Gallagher,
    Jr., plays Emmett, who shares the underground bunker and has seen
    enough evidence to know that Howard is absolutely right. Or are
    they both crazy?

    John Goodman is best known as a comic actor. This is one of only a
    few films in which he can be frightening and is imposing as a
    possible dangerous psychotic. If he were just unambiguously shown
    early on to be psychotic that would be one thing, but with director
    Dan Trachtenberg and writers Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and
    Damien Chazelle toying with the viewer the viewer finds him/herself
    straining to look at him for clues to the central question of
    understanding him. Winstead is quite good in a role that is not
    particularly new or cutting edge. She is the main character, but
    could have been a little more complex. JJ Abrams has found a film
    that would keep the budget down much as he did (differently) in
    CLOVERFIELD. This is a smallish film with a limited cast. Most of
    the film takes place in a bunker. But the film does seem to be
    pleasing audiences in a time when so many films are overstuffed
    based on comic books. I would rate 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE a low +2 on
    the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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