Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chronicle

I really have a thing for the modern handcam fad in cinema and I truly do believe that when done well, can result in some of the most engrossing film experiences imaginable. Cinematography is a crucial ingredient in all films and one that is all too often overlooked and under-appreciated. While the documentary style doesn't appeal to all movie goers, I surprised myself when I realised how many of my favourite films of all time make use of this experimental filming technique: Blair Witch project, Paranormal activity, Session 9, Cloverfield and Children of men.

I now have another handcam entry to add to this growing list of mine - Introducing the prolific and super intense, Chronicle. On the surface, there doesn't seem to be anything special about this 'teen movie for adults': The premise is noticeably overused, the actors noticeably unfamiliar and the plot noticeably predictable. But as apparent as these shortcomings might seem, so evident is the film's amazing use of cinematography that elevates all of the film's mediocre elements into the realm of unadulterated awesomeness. With the apology of coming over as a bit of a handcam acolyte made beforehand, I do firmly suggest that everyone sees this film as an outstanding example of experimental cinematography done exceptionally well.

"But as apparent as these shortcomings might seem, so evident is the film's amazing use of cinematography that elevates all of the film's mediocre elements into the realm of unadulterated awesomeness."

And it's not just a mere rehash of what has been done in similar feeling handcam style films like Cloverfield. The film uses the style in a multitude of creative and daring ways that for the most part, pays off in the form of astonishing movie brilliance. The handcam technique enhances the film's more light moments with a great sense of whimsicalness, but at the same time, imbues the film's darker moments with a painfully unsettling sense of immediacy, dread and above all, believability.

Film goers not used to the movie style might find it difficult to get into the film from the get-go, but director Josh Trank really has taken the utmost care to try and orientate his audience as much as possible, without subtracting from the film's crucial sense of realism.

You'll surely be gasping for air in more than a few of the film's action sequences and the experience of these moments alone makes it worth the price of admission. Be warned however that the film can be very unforgiving at times and you might be shocked quite greatly by some of the film's more graphic and intense scenes.

With all the handcam prejudice put aside, Chronicle is a wonderful mishmash of teen adventure comedy, moving drama, Hollywood action cheese and very creepy indie goodness that everyone should experience. Oh, and there's also a nice chewy piece of social commentary to be enjoyed, but it's really secondary to all the visual awesomeness that awaits your senses.

Much like a very scary rollercoaster, Chronicle is a rough ride, but one you will be delighted you took. 
Highlight: There could be a few, but there's one specific scene of graphic violence that I just can't seem to get out of my skull. Beautifully dark stuff.