I’m in a writing mood today. That Midnight in Paris rant got me fired up. I wish I had been in film club when y’all were debating Inception just because I liked it a lot and it would have been fun to jump in the ring. Oh well. I smell a huge The Dark Knight Rises debate coming next summer. I can’t wait.
Anyway, I watched Super 8 yesterday. I’ll interact with Brandon and Jason a little bit. Spoilers probably will abound.
I agree, Jason, that the kids are great. They do a very nice job. Very much recreations of kids from the 80s adventure films that were brought up. I didn’t mind this because I like those movies too and you can tell Abrams does even if he’s forcing it a bit. Joe and Alice’s relationship is probably the best part of the film. Their secret connection to one another makes their union all the more touching. I agree that the scene where Joe and Charles hash out their differences over Alice is pointless and underdeveloped though.
The monster/alien is not well developed either. I agree, the film doesn’t know whether it should be the alien from Alien, ET, or a prawn from District 9. When he builds his ship at the end, do we care that he gets to go home? Not really because he’s woefully underdeveloped. One scene of him staring into Joe’s eyes doesn’t make him ET. I think the film would have benefited from making the alien a little less cluttered. With that being said, I know that Abrams has stated that they put less focus on the design of the alien and more focus into the story (a rarity nowadays). That’s admirable, but they still could have done better with the alien.
I will say though that when the alien’s ship is departing, it isn’t that important that this misunderstood creature is finally getting to return home but that Joe and his dad and Alice and her dad are watching its beautiful lights ascend together. Joe reaches over and holds Alice’s hand showing that its all about these characters witnessing something together. Fathers are reunited with their kids, the kids are united together, and a painful division that has separated these two families is starting to heal. Abrams gets most of the human elements right, I agree. The alien is just handled clumsily. Perhaps something more opaque like the aliens in Close Encounters would have worked better, I don’t know.
I was thinking watching the film that it seems a little too scary/violent for little kids (scarier than ET I mean), so I think this movie is geared towards adults who remember kids adventure films, as there are many cliche or overly cinematic elements that do make it a kids movie. This one’s way more nostalgic than Midnight in Paris. But, as you suggested Brandon, it’s probably better than most blockbusters one will see this summer and I agree. I liked certain things about it and didn’t like others. I wasn’t really expecting anything from it, so I can say that I liked it mostly. I’m somewhere between you and Jason.
I could write more about it, but I don't know what else to say at the moment.
On to a few other things, quickly...
I get what you guys are saying about The Lower Depths, John and Jason. Renoir does have a LitFic/Modernist/old-fashioned style that can seem uninteresting to some. I happen to love his style because it is those things. I’m an unabashed lover of Modernist and Victorian lit. (my areas of interest at school) and Renoir’s films are a part of both traditions. I can understand your desires for something more pulpier or more original. We have different tastes. I’m glad you both like the friendship between the two leads though–it makes the movie.
John, Take Shelter looks awesome. I want to see it too.
Brandon, great comments on Ebert. My sentiments exactly. Twitter is certainly a mind-to-mouth filter destroyer if there ever were one. It seems like everyday you read the news online you see someone new posting a controversial “tweet.” A.) why do you need to post the first stupid thing that pops into your head as if millions of people couldn’t see it? and B.) why the fuck is your stupid comment news?
I’m with you on the release date issue, obviously. But my criteria is solely based on which year the film fits best into my list. For instance, I have Saraband in my 2003 list (it’s European release) because I like it better in my 2003 list than 2004. I’ll probably stick Meek’s Cutoff on my 2011 list unless there are too many great movies this year (yeah, right) then I’ll revise my 2010 one.
Lisa, I really liked reading your Before Sunrise/Sunset thoughts. I’ll interact with them more if I ever post my 2004 list.