Jan. 23rd, 2012

innocent_man: (Default)
Cloverfield is a monster movie in which the monster wrecks New York. So hardly a new concept by itself, but what sets Cloverfield apart is the "found footage" approach - the whole movie is filmed by a dude named Hud (get it? he's our heads-up display?) who was filming a friend's going away party when the monster hit town. As such, the movie does a great job of avoiding the "gamer problem" of similar movies.

See, when gamers watch movies like Cloverfield, or any zombie movie ever, they tend to look at it "top down." That is, they have all this information that the characters don't have, and so they set to work solving problems. In Cloverfield, there isn't any of that. You know what Hud knows because you've seen what Hud's seen. The movie is very chaotic - one character, separated from the others when the Woolworth Building collapses, mentions that "it was eating people," but that just gets blown right over in the chaos. And the chaos looks damned convincing.

Likewise, the inclusion of the parasites on the monster (if that's what they were) was genius, just because it lets the creature be scary and a threat without being physically present. The scene in the tunnel is fucking scary, and it manages to do that without resorting to musical cues or other cheap tricks of the genre.

Now, I do have a couple of complaints. First of all, you could argue that the movie evokes 9/11 in a kind of exploitative way, particularly when the Woolworth collapses. I do like that we hear someone ask, "Is it another terrorist attack?" because that's appropriate, I just wonder how tasteful the collapsing building was (for the record, this movie came out in 2008).

Second, the looting scene - why are all or almost all of the looters black? I think bad form, filmmakers.

And finally, the movie does fall prey to the whole "if it's not on screen, it doesn't exist" fallacy (common in slasher flicks). That is - how the hell did a 300 foot monster sneak up on the characters in the last scene? How could they not have seen it coming?

For all that, though, I think the movie is really well-made, the monster is amazing, and the acting is convincing. I wish I'd made time to see it in theaters. Oh, and it's totally a curse the darkness movie.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Probably medium-high, but I just saw it for the first time.

Next up: Corpse Bride

Points, weight. )
innocent_man: (Default)
Points first. )

Anyway, last night was Leverage. Only two more Jobs, and then Max is moving and the series is ending.

Things went much more smoothly last night. I'm not sure if it was the nature of the Job (which was less social than the others I've run and more "go steal shit"), or just that folks are getting more used to the system. I do know that the cats didn't resist being herded quite so much, people seemed to stay more or less on track, even with Leo having digestive issues (don't ask, for the love of god).

Anyway, the Job: Mike and Selma Vedder are the Clients. They own a cleaning company called Mighty Scrubber, and they occasionally agree to test new products. In this case, they were testing a product called Mold-Off from a company called Sparkle. The product was supposed to take out black mold, and it does...but it also makes people and animals sick. Several dead pets and sick kids later, the Vedders are involved in a class-action lawsuit. Their ironclad NDA and gag order make it impossible for them to indicate who is really responsible - Sparkle (and their parent company, CommuniChem). Selma Vedder, as it turns out, is a friend of Philippa Fulbright (whom you'll recall from our last job), and she does some analysis. Turns out, yes, this stuff will make you sick, and it should never have been on the market.

The Crew does some research, and comes up with Herman Wolf, the PR director for CommuniChem. He was responsible for letting Mold-Off into the wild, and he knows it isn't ready yet. He's also a micromanager and megalomaniac extraordinaire. The characters figure him to be the problem; if he becomes a liability, the company will make of him a scapegoat, and getting the proof of what he did into the public eye (and past the gag order) will make that happen.

But how? He doesn't keep anything incriminating online, and so Jessica can't hack it. The Crew shares intel (Gil is on the phone with them, as his player was sick last night and couldn't physically be here). Gil tells them that there are security guards in the lobby of the building, both uniformed and not. Frederick outlines the tech security - extensive and hard to beat, including Faraday cages at the entrances that the science folks use. Jane points out that there's a protest at the building coming up, which would make for good cover. And at this point, Gil starts coughing and the line goes dead.

Turns out when Gil interviewed one of the folks who worked for the Vedders, he must have gotten exposed to the product. Now he's sick - not really in danger, but out of commission. The characters spring into action. Frederick has stolen a keycard, which Jessica hacks to make it work for any floor (they're normally keyed to specific floors).

Cut to the protest. Jane is out with a sign, blending in. Frederick goes in as a young exec and heads to the lounge floor (he's there as backup). Horace and Jessica go in as techs to upgrade the server (Jessica creates a fake website and company, and then makes an appointment for them). They get upstairs and into the server room, but there are cameras. No matter - Horace blocks them with his body (while pretending to work) while Jessica hacks.

This doesn't work as planned. Horace fails to block the right camera, and the computer shuts down. The security guard comes in and brandishes a taser. Horace tries to fight him off (Horace is, you might recall, a fan and participant of mixed martial arts) but fails and gets Taken Out. Jessica steps up, brains the dude with a keyboard, and then pushes the cart into him, knocking him down. Horace is OK, only his pride is injured. He mimics the guard and gives the all-clear.

Jane asks Jessica to hack the guard frequency so they don't get surprised again. She does, and Jane notices some weird static in the background. Jessica amplifies it, and hears, "...closing in on her office now. She's there. Take her."

The Crew has a collective "oh, crap" moment. They figure this is happening in the building. But the Jessica traces it...it's at Berkely. Philippa Fulbright! (Cut to commercial.)

The Crew races out there, but she's gone already. The office is a mess, which is not atypical, but to Frederick's trained eye, it's been ransacked. The Crew searches and finds a paper, page 6 of 10 of a report that Dr. Fulbright ran on Mold-Off, as well as a sealed bag with what looks like spoiled pudding in it. Jane, as she has One in Every Port, finds a prof who can interpret the results. He says that this stuff interacts with the mold and makes it much more serious a health risk. The characters also note that security is coming.

They leave, and discuss their options. Obviously this group, whoever it is, nabbed Fulbright to keep her quiet. The one who would most directly benefit from this is Herman Wolf. They know from talking to his employees that he enjoys a daily game of racquetball, so they head to his gym.

Herman walks into the locker room and finds some pudding-like stuff in his locker. He recoils, and Horace is standing there with a vial of it. He threatens Herman with it, and then rattles off a bunch of legal and technical reasons why Herman should just come clean and tell him where Fulbright is (Clark Kent Distinction). Wolf agrees, and tells Horace that the group was called TM Security. CommuniChem contracts with them for nasty jobs, but he doesn't know where they took her. That's all Horace needs, though, and he splashes the vial on Herman, who flees to the shower. Cut to Horace licking his finger. "Licorice."

Jessica looks up TM Security. They're a private defense firm, used to do work in the Gulf until recently. They have offices by the wharves, and so Jane and Horace go there. Jane barges into a boss-man's office and reveals that they have the bag of "black pudding." They'll trade it for Philippa Fulbright, at the protest, in an hour.

And indeed, an hour later, a van pulls up. Gil is in the crowd, looking sick, with a sign saying "Look What CommuniChem Did to Me!" Jane approaches the van and Philippa is there. She hands over the stuff, they let Philippa out the back...and then cherries.

The van starts to peel out, but Horace points at the van and yells, "CommuniChem! Right there they are!" The crowd surrounds and blocks the van, and the folks inside are arrested. In one of the police cars, handcuffed, is Herman Wolf.

Flashback to...

...Frederick, tailing Wolf into the gym, slipping the page from the black pudding report into his bag...

....Horace on the phone with all of the folks who had samples of Mold-Off but were bound by gag order, and all of them agreeing to testify...

...Jessica calling a journalist at the Chronicle. "Trust me, you want to cover this protest."...

...Gil, giving an interview in the crowd about how sick he got from Mold-Off...

...and finally Jane, faxing report to CDC with Gil's test results from the hospital.

Cut to the wrap-up. Gil is feeling better, the Vedders are off the hook, Wolf copped a plea and is going to jail (CommuniChem cut him loose, and paid off the folks who were suing the Vedders). But then a bailiff friend of Horace's calls him up. "Yeah, remember those dudes from TM Security? Some high-falutin' lawyer met with the DA, DA comes out looking sick, and they all got off with probation and time served! Someone's looking out for these guys, someone with some deep pockets."

The Crew considers. Who do they know with that kind of pull?

And then Frederick figures it. Tyler Madison.

Roll credits.

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January 2013

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