BREN: Tuesday night, based only on Roche's recommendation and the inclusion of Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the cast, we went to see *10 Cloverfield Lane*. Since it was a 9pm show, I considered having a coffee first. Had I done so, I probably would have gone into some kind of seizure. I spent most of the movie vibrating with tension.
Tell me, Roche, did my constantly shaking legs disturb your enjoyment of this movie?
ROCHE: I spent the film in rapt guilt. Rapt because I was completely into *10 Cloverfield*, much moreso for this, my second viewing. And guilt because I'm terribly desensitized to movie violence and tension (John Carpenter's *The Thing* is on in the background as I write this, heads are falling off and crawling away, I'm basically yawning) and forgot, as I always do, how movie tension affects you. But the guilt did subside after a while, replaced by anticipating your reactions: If you're freaking out at [this], I've gotta see how she reacts to [the later thing].
BREN: I'll say that that it was not scary in the way that I'll need to keep the lights on all night (like The Conjuring 2 for which we saw a preview: NOPE NO THANK YOU). It was mostly just tense, with the tension coming from both mystery and awkwardness. I mean, that's a social situation hard to navigate: How gracious should you be, when you're in shock and holed up with two strangers whom you may or may not be able to trust?
ROCHE: I felt the filmmakers were making a point about one of the sick defects of human nature: even when we're skeptical, we'll basically go along with what an authority figure tells us. Goodman tells her right away that no one can help them, that they can't leave his bunker. Even though Winstead's Michelle wants desperately to leave, she can't help but eventually give up and go along with his plan.
BREN: I'm toying with whether or not to talk about spoilers.
ROCHE: Spoil away.
BREN: Maybe some mild spoilers? Like the music. You and I discussed the score - I thought/hoped that its overwrought ratcheting was supposed to be ironic at times, helping to keep one guessing about which moments were truly menacing. Do you agree, after seeing it twice?
ROCHE: I like that idea. But the more I think about the movie, the more I like that the score, and sound design overall, is very *there*. It's set off very effectively by the jukebox oldies.
BREN: Especially the first tune we hear, Venus:
How about the cast? Winstead I have loved since Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe and I feel she has, for lack of a better descriptor, a very watchable face.
She can go from blank to crafty in a blink, and since she's our entire point-of-view for the movie, she's great at sharing suspicions and thoughts with fairly little dialogue. As Michelle, she's escaping/running at the beginning from a relationship, and has to debate how - and whether - to escape for the rest of the movie.
ROCHE: Big Winstead fan, since Death Proof. She's the right mix of charming and "strong" -- whatever the hell that means anymore. As Michelle, she reminds me a lot of Sigourney Weaver. She sings too.
BREN: John Gallagher Jr, a total "that guy!" who shows up in a sling and helps verify the big guy's claim that they're lucky to be living in an underground bunker together, really makes the most of the thinly sketched Emmett he plays. And who isn't a sucker for a soft Louisiana accent?
ROCHE: I liked Gallagher better here than in Newsroom.
BREN: OMG, I did not even realize that was Jim!! I think that Newsroom poorly served/squandered most of its cast*, so I'll just move on to the big guy.
*Don't @ me, HBO-Sorkin fans, I was hoping for Sports Night and got Studio 60.
Oh, John Goodman. Roche, I think you said it best: they really capitalize on the goodwill you have for Goodman.
ROCHE: I did have that solid insight.
BREN: I hate not liking Goodman. I mean, he was Dan Conner, and he brought the couches from the Roseanne set with him, to cozy-fy that bunker. Sure, his character Howard thinks that the attack is either from Russia or terrorists or Martians, and sure, he talks oddly and bitterly about his daughter. But when he adopts his avuncular forehead crinkle, don't you kind of want to be his daughter? (Well, maybe not when you're discovering the bloody earring of the previous daughter.)
ROCHE: Oh, SPOILER ALERT EVERYONE.
BREN: I have to say, that earring is one of the only big holes I found in this story (despite the fact that there may or may not be aliens out there - this is, after all, a successor to that hand-held Dramamine-fest Cloverfield). The timeline was never established to my satisfaction. Yes, injuries that appear early on gradually heal, so you can see that time is passing and they've been below ground for a few weeks maybe. But before that - the message and clues about the daughter that are found really don't make sense based on the timing of when they inhabited the bunker (since it's implied that Howard had been living in the farmhouse up until it was time to go down - Emmett breaks his arm trying to get in with him, and we have to assume that it's the same descent when Howard brought a car-wrecked Michelle down). Actually, they never really answer why he felt the need to shackle her to the wall, either (keeping her knee stable? eh...) since his first interaction is to feed her and give her the key.
ROCHE: I thought they were implying that Goodman was maybe a serial killer or serial kidnapper, and that Meghan's time in the bunker had well-preceded the events of the story. But timeline-wise I'll have to think on it a minute. A leg restraint would give a guest complex emotions.
BREN: It would be a good place to stash a kidnapped person, I guess. And, to be fair, the only flaw that took me out of the story was that to get to where the earring is found, Michelle has to crawl through a space to get to the air filter that's obviously important and obviously only someone her size could reach. Why would Howard design a bunker with an area he couldn't reach - an area with a fairly important piece of machinery?
ROCHE: He's a former Navy man, not an architect.
BREN: Fine, fine. I got over it almost immediately, since the pacing is so effective. And the last, what, fifteen minutes, from the screw falling out of the vent to the final camera pan up from the road, are just flat-out non-stop bonkers. TOTALLY BONKERS, I SAY. It was great, and I'll probably never trust John Goodman again.
ROCHE: Say what you will about Walter Sobczak. You could trust him. I suggested 10 Cloverfield Lane because it was good and available at the time we could see it (and it wasn't Batman V. Superman). But I ended up enjoying it even more on this second viewing. The possibility of you having a mid-movie heart attack definitely added to the suspense. Doesn't sound like I'll be seeing you at Conjuring 2 but perhaps Ghostbusters, or what was the one we said?
BREN: I can't remember. Is there another Transformers movie this summer? #whyamievenaskingofcoursethereis #cantstopwontstopMichaelBay