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1 item from 2008

Up close, personal and right now

21 January 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

When "The Blair Witch Project" came out in 1999 with its scratchy "lost video tape" aesthetic and went on to gross $140 million, the industry braced itself for a wave of movies looking like they were made by the weirdo-wannabe-filmmaker-kid-next-door.

It never happened.

Even the sequel to "Blair Witch", 2000's "The Book of Secrets: Blair Witch 2," reverted to a more standard Hollywood format.

But with this weekend's release of "Cloverfield", which recounts a Godzilla-style attack on New York as told from the perspective of a young man with a camera, the "point of view" film wave finally is here. The Paramount pic took in an estimated $41 million.

The new wave of POV movies is part of the proliferation of cameras and the YouTubing of America. Back in the "Blair Witch" days, the justification for the cameras was that the characters were film students. But now cameras are ubiquitous throughout society -- and so is sharing what you shoot.

"This is now an aspect of people's lives," "Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves said. "When your phone is also your camera, and it's with you 24 hours a day, it's a way that people now process the world. It's a way to take it and share it. So it makes sense that there would be a sudden surge of movies from this point of view because it so connects to people's experience."

This year will see the arrival of no fewer than five POV films, up from last year's zero, including MGM's "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" in the fall, Screen Gems' "Quarantine" in October and "Paranormal Activity". Even renowned horror director George Romero got on the bandwagon with February's "Diary of the Dead", which explores a zombie outbreak from the first-person perspective.

Artier movies are getting in on the act, too.

Brian De Palma's "Redacted" used various POV techniques, including security cameras and film crews, to create a sort of faux documentary about soldiers in Iraq. Even the French-language "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" takes a modified first-person approach. Although it doesn't use a gimmick like "Cloverfield"'s hand-held videography, the first section of the film, as well as subsequent installments, are photographed from the point of view of the movie's stroke victim. »

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