Saturday, July 13, 2013



OK, ladies, I think it's time we discuss Cloverfield, the hand-held-videocam spectacular about THE THING THAT ATE MANHATTAN.  It's a 2008 release directed by Matt Reeves, produced by J.J. Abrams and filmed, by, well, A GUY NAMED HUD. 

I waited an awfully long time to discuss this film here at the Notes, but frankly, if I had a choice in the matter I WOULDN'T DO IT AT ALL.  It's just that in our chapter meetings, The Thing That Ate Manhattan has turned into The Debate That Would Not Die, and between you, me and the Internet I AM UP TO HERE WITH IT.  Is Clover an operative?  When he eats a screaming New Yorker, does that equal a successful recruitment?  Who would want to recruit Shaved Monkeys such as these?  Where does Clover come from, REALLY?  And from there we go into the whole giant-monsters-stomping-Tokyo thing and it all goes swirling out of control.  IT'S BEEN FIVE YEARS, PEOPLE.  IF I HAVE TO LISTEN TO ANY MORE OF THIS I AM GOING TO START SCREAMING AND NEVER STOP.

THIS KIND OF DEBATE AND DISCORD IN OUR RANKS IS ENTIRELY HUMAN AND FUNDAMENTALLY ANTI-FISH.  FISH DO NOT DEBATE ANYTHING.  GET IT?  The sooner you stop debating, the easier your transformation into a water-breathing species will be. That's just a tip based on my personal experience.  And now you also know why we hardly ever recruit a lawyer... Onwards.


First, let's go through the basics of WHAT IS A FISH?  What about Clover reads like a fish?


>> Clover has never been seen by human eyes (which in their tiny minds, determines whether he EXISTS or not, for pete's sake) before the day he emerges from the ocean.  His first act affecting humans is the capsizing of a cargo ship.  That says "fish" to many of you, AND I CAN SEE WHY.

>> Clover breathes using head siphons similar to those employed by an Octopus.  OK, that's very piscatorial.

>> Clover definitely behaves like -- and I lapse here into human similes because the Catfish ones are too hard to translate into English -- a fish out of water.  That's kind of the whole story in this movie.

>> Clover has teeth of the sort seen in Piranhas.  

>> If Clover or his lice are operatives, then they made an excellent choice in recruiting Marlena and spitting Lily out before inserting the fish juice into her.  (For you new recruits, the reasons why are not allowable on the Internet.  Ask your chapter leader.)

>> Clover continues to eat people while being shot at and bombed.  That's what I expect from ANY of our recruiting operatives.


>> Clover walks on land.  While I, as a Walking Catfish, can do that -- along with other species like the venerable Mudskipper, Freshwater Eel and Northern Snakehead -- most fish do not.  Even air-breathing Whales do not walk on land.  And when a fish walks, she walks on her fins and waggles her tail to get around.  Clover walks on some deuced-odd-looking legs and uses his tail as a bit of a weapon.

>> Clover has TOES!  I was seriously considering the hypothesis that Clover was some kind of danged-large, toothed crustacean when I saw the toes, which are something like a camel's, something like a dog's, something like a human's. 

>> Clover breathes air along with water -- not in a piscatorial manner, either, but like a land animal.  An Aruana gulps air at the surface as a matter of course; so does a Goldfish when the tank is too grungy.  A Lungfish can hold her breath for MONTHS if she has to.  But Clover has lungs AND a voicebox of some kind; he screams like a banshee.  Name a fish that does THAT while standing on four legs and crushing a skyscraper with her tail. 

>> A fish has a very hard time managing up on dry land -- THAT'S THE WHOLE REASON WE HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMING HUMANS INTO FISH ALL THESE YEARS.  I gather also from Monkey People scientists that a land animal the size of Clover is theoretically impossible; they would cave in and die, I guess.  (But you can't rule out the fact that Monkey People psychology makes the idea of anything bigger or badder than they are UNBEARABLE; it could all be nonsense.)  Clover comes ashore, lays waste the neighborhood and keeps at it all night instead of slipping back into the ocean and disappearing when the shooting starts.  NOT VERY FISHLIKE.

>> And what about those planes and bombs from Selfridge Air National Guard Base?  When you shoot a fish, she gets a hole in her or vaporizes entirely.  When you shoot Clover -- nothing.  He gets upset, but doesn't bleed or come to pieces or die or ANYTHING.

>> If Clover is a fish and thus one of our operatives, WHY RECRUIT JASON HAWKINS?  It is clear that the appendage descending on the bridge was aimed STRAIGHT AT JASON.  There were plenty of other humans right there on the spot who would make excellent recruits, but this guy?  Sometimes ONE BAD APPLE DOES SPOIL THE WHOLE BUNCH, GIRL.

>> If Clover is a fish and thus one of our operatives, why is he blundering around screaming and ripping out the sides of buildings?  THAT'S NOT OUR STYLE.  And even if Matt Reeves doesn't know better than that, well, J.J. Abrams DOES.

>> If Clover is a fish and thus one of our operatives, well, CAN HE SWIM?  I see legs with toes and no webbing.  I see a non-hydrodynamic tail.  I see a totally unseaworthy design -- every bit as unseaworthy as Paul the Shark in Hammerhead Shark Frenzy.  Maybe worse!


>> Does Clover smell fishy to humans?  While they appear NEVER TO HAVE FIGURED THIS OUT, a fishy smell in the human nasal passages is really the defining characteristic of piscatoriality.  In a film that essentially concerns a bunch of twentysomethings pretending to react to a computer-generated CARTOON, this entire question was left out.

>> Is Clover a recruiting operative?   Marlena Diamond said she saw Clover "eating everyone."  But she was a little upset at that moment -- the usual reaction in the USA when the Statue of Liberty gets decapitated.  NO MATTER HOW OFTEN IT HAPPENS, they still go all green in the face and shocked for a while.   But I digress...And someone at this point in the chapter meeting will always rush to say that we SAW him eat Hud Platt.  But did we?  To me it looks as if he were chewed up and spat out.

>> While a few fish have that rubbery, mottled skin you see on Clover, you're more likely to see it in a Whale or Dolphin, which is still in the right ballpark.  (Even a dead Minke or Humpback smells fishy, remember?)  Or, for all we know, the rubbery look could be deceptive and Clover could be covered with toothed Sharkskin of some sort.  The skin is a confusing issue for sure.  It doesn't say "yes" OR "no" to me.

>> What do we make of the lice infesting Clover's, um, integument?  They look as if someone grafted Clover's face onto an insect or spider of some sort.  If these are a smaller version of Clover, maybe Clover's pups, then we have to consider the crustacean theory all over again.  They could definitely be sea bugs.  But they are not clumsy or sickly on land.  And they have no toes.

>> What knocked down the Brooklyn Bridge?  Most human viewers insist it was Clover's tail.  But wasn't Clover way over thataway, blocks from the scene, when the bridge collapsed?  When they watched it on the TV news in the electronics store, why did we see the bridge collapse without ANYTHING hitting it?  Certainly Clover was nowhere in sight.  But when our plucky heroes were on the bridge themselves, they saw others screaming and running from something that terrified them.  WHAT WAS IT?

Overall, I have to mark Clover down as a Lovecraftian horror from another dimension. This is more of a Shoggoth than any sort of fish, daikaiju or even Kraken.  I'd say it was the way bullets pass through him that really sell me on this idea.   

Now can we PLEASE stop talking about this at the chapter meetings?


Blogger Ur-spo said...

I hope you will see Pacific Rim!

7:49 PM  

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