June 16, 2011

"Super 8"

Super 8, written and directed by the talented and crowd-pleasing J.J. Abrams (2009's Star Trek) and produced by Steven Spielberg, is a nostalgic homage to Spielberg's E.T., which was the highest-grossing movie ever for a decade after its 1982 release. But I never really got E.T. -- I'm not sure it would make my Top 10 Spielberg films -- and it's not clear I was all that wrong. Spielberg re-released it with a lot of hype in 2002, hoping to make a lot of money the way the Star Wars re-releases did on their 20th anniversaries, but nobody much cared. (Here's my 2002 review of the re-release.) 

In an isolated industrial town in Ohio in the summer of 1979, some 13 year old boys are filming a zombie movie on Super 8 film under the direction of an ambitious fat kid who looks like J.J. Abrams (b. 1966). 

The best scene in the movie is when they draft a classmate played by Elle Fanning, Dakota's little sister (and the closest thing to a movie star in Super 8), to play the detective hero's wife. They give her a speech to read and by the end the boys are all gaping, having really noticed, for the first time, talent / emotions / girls / actresses / blondes / shiksas and other things that will cause them no end of trouble for the next few decades.

Then some sci-fi stuff happens, but the kids have a hard time focusing on that because, well, they're 13. The sci-fi stuff is rather like M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 hit Signs, but that had star power in the form of Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. Plus, Shyamalan is such a dope that you can see him talking himself into believing his own dopey theory about the cause of crop circles, while for Abrams, the sci-fi is just meta -- it's not supposed to make sense, it's a 45-year-old's recollection of what a bunch of 13-year-olds in 1979 would have thought was cool.

It's a popcorn movie in the sense that you spend a lot of time wondering if you'd find it more galvanizing if you got up and got a box of popcorn. Then, when the popcorn is digesting, you start wondering if maybe a box of Whoppers wouldn't do the trick. It's a little dull and unengaging

But it's a nice little movie, so if you lower your expectations, and sneak in a lot of free snacks from home, you might enjoy it.

By the way, that reminds me that my review of X-Men: First Class might have been a little harsh. I called it a "hodge-podge," which it is, but it's a hodge-podge of energetic and interesting elements. Comic book movies make so much money these days that they can afford a lot of talent. Sometimes, they manage to get the right tone to blend everything together (e.g., Iron Man) and a lot of times they don't (Iron Man II and X-Men: First Class), but you still get a lot of first class script doctoring for your ticket price. Super 8, in contrast, is a personal project, but seems a little underpowered. I came home from First Class and wrote two pages of notes. I came home from Super 8 and realized 24 hours later that I hadn't thought of much of anything to say about it.


gfs said...

Sometimes the movies, cartoons, and comics are actually geared to an audience of, gasp!, children.

eh said...

It's a motel chain. Stayed at a few Super 8s. Usually located conveniently, e.g. next to the highway. Just OK, not especially recommendable. Obviously, they should have trademarked the name.

Anonymous said...

You never got ET. I never got sci-fi. It's quite strange because there are vast gaps in my appreciation of popular culture, never having seen or wanted to see Star Wars, for example.
Actually, I did enjoy the standards: 1984, Brave New World, etc. As a student, I read Kingsley Amis' New Maps of Hell, and I 'get' the idea. I just don't find it fascinating.
I don't think this is very self serving confession, BTW, because I fell like I should be a fan.
Gilbert P.

agnostic said...

Totally wild guess here about the seemingly out-of-the-blue post below on "porn star."

Jeez, that was a weird movie -- I mean, a focus on shiksas in an Ohio River town? That sounds contrived. Let's see where it was shot...

Weirton, WV, right next to Steubenville, OH.

Hmm, the famous people from there don't have Jewish names, so it looks like I was ri --

Woah! Traci Lords is from where Super 8 was shot! Talk about blonde shiksas who'll make trouble for Jews (the ones who run the porno industry).

Y'know, I really should try to put a stop to this whole porn "star" nonsense...

Randall van der Sterren said...

ET was lifted from a 1978ish Disney movie called "The Cat From Outer Space." It starred Ken Berry and McLean Stevenson. It's pretty much the same thing, minus the kids and the product placement.

Anonymous said...

I was born in '78. For years I had horrific nightmares about corpses wearing spacesuits, beginning around preschool. When I finally saw ET again in my 20s, I realized, "oh, that's what caused those."

It's true that no one my age that I've spoken to has any fondness for Spielberg's wrinkled, squishy, translucent monstrosity. I've always thought the intentionally repulsive Roger character from American Dad to be a generational send up of Spielberg. Other graphically violent children movies from the period such as The Never Ending Story, Time Bandits or The Dark Crystal are generally fondly remembered, which leads me to think that there's something intrinsically disgusting about the ET character.

Anonymous said...

Good take. I was also underwhelmed by the Star Trek movie Abrams did, which seems to be a minority opinion on my part. There were good snatches here and there, but the overall plot was an inferior regurgitation of Wrath of Khan, not to mention its political undertones. Trekkies have been starved so long of their basic fodder that they'll aplaud anything.

DCThrowback said...

I agree. Whoppers ARE dull and unengaging. Personally, I am a Goobers man first, a Sno-caps man second & I like to close with the Junior Mints. I mean, who would turn down a junior mint? It's chocolate, it's mint...it's very refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Whoppers, Steve? Really?

Anonymous said...

I like your old review of E.T. Science fiction author David Brin likes to say that the real villain of that movie isn't the government operatives, who are only trying to contain a possible alien contagion, but the captain of E.T.'s ship, who cavalierly abandons a crewman at the approach of...teenagers with flashlights.

Anonymous said...

What's there to 'get' about ET? It is what it is. If Sailer saw it at 23 and wasn't particularly moved by it, that sounds about normal. It's a kid movie. Personally my feelings about it have been up-down-up. It came out when I was a freshman in highschool, everyone talked about it, and it sounded stupid. And it would have been stupid if not for Spielberg's magic touch and John William's bliss-out music. It was like Toys R Us as church reconverting me back to childhood. When you enter highschool, you wanna feel you're putting all that childish things away. But watching ET was such a happy experience--I saw it 4 times--that, for a while, it's more like I pushed grownup things aside.
If a person's consciousness is shaped by memory, a highschool freshman, though entering into adulthood, only has memories of childhood, and ET reconnected me to it. If you 23 and look back on the last 10 yrs of your life, it's from 13 to 23. But if you're 13 and look back on the last 10 yrs, it's from 3 to 13. Though eager to fit into highschool, ET was like the last respite into childhood.

But gradually and grudingly, I did grow up, and I really began to hate the movie. Not because it was kiddie stuff but because of the knowledge that I, as a highschool student, had fallen head-over-heels for it. Even thinking about it was embarrassing. Another reason I began to hate Spielberg was that for most of the 80s, he made crap like TEMPLE OF DOOM and produced clone-blockbusters like GOONIES and GREMLINS. He took his genuine magic touch and patented it into a formula or formulagic.

But looking back, I can shelve all those neurosis and just see ET for what it is: some kind of wonderful movie that works its magic on kids. Does it have some scary and dark elements? Sure, but that's why it works. BAMBI is dark too. What killed later Disney was it banished all darkness and just made dull family movies. It turned into DISNEY KNOWS BEST. For later Disney, Rated G meant not General Audiences but Generic Audiences.(But then, today's Disney essentially makes kiddie porn.) There is a darkness, both social and psychological, about the kid in ET. He's a loner and also kinda weird. It's almost as if he dreamt the whole thing... and of course Spielberg, as a lonely child, had fantasies like that. In a way, ET is as weird as Lynch's ERASERHEAD. Lynch pushes into his psyche and does surgery to get the source of his weirdness. Spielberg must have sensed weirdness within him too, but he was into magical-innocence to do radical surgery on himself. So, to hide the pain, he uses a lot of anesthetics and went off to la-la land.

Harry Baldwin said...

I saw the trailer for this the last time I was at the movies. There was nothing about it that made me want to see it. Every image was reminiscent of scenes and situations I've seen in countless movies before. Fists pounding dents in a steel door from the other side, ominous fleets of trucks, nervous cops--who cares?

One thing that made me laugh is at the 1:43 mark, when in the middle of all these tension-fraught scenes we have a close up of a teenaged girl's shapely rear end sashaying across the screen.

Caractacus said...

Proud to never have seen more than a snippets of ET. From the cumulative 10-15mins I've seen of ET and the fact that it has not worn well with time - I think my HS self was right.

ET falls into the dustbin of Hollywood films which have not aged well. My kids would never be interested in crap like ET (1982), Goonies (1985) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). On the otherhand, they enjoy oldies like Mary Poppins (1964), the original Star Wars (1977) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

Is there a "blue book" listing for the book value of old films? It would be an interesting confirmation that films like ET are transitory marketing driven crap rather than anyting of enduring economic or artistic merit.

Anonymous said...

"Obviously, they should have trademarked the name."

They did. Two minutes searching the trademark database told me that.

Anonymous said...

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and ET are Spielberg's two most personal films though SCHINDLER'S LIST is prolly the one he's most proud of. For starters, Spielberg actually created and wrote CE and ET whereas his other movies were originated by others. Though he personalized all of his movies, CE and ET poured from his heart.

Spielberg has such a magic touch that each member of the audience also personalizes what he or she sees. Ths is the difference between Spielberg and Cameron(or Bay). Cameron may know the mechanics but he lacks the magic. His movies may impress but not induce fantasy-trance. Though Spielberg is fantastic with special effects, he's more a nature-spiritual director than a techno-director like Lucas, Cameron, etc. There are spaceships in CE but its main characters are the starry sky, looming clouds, sounds of crickets, tall weeds, rocky ridges, and Devil's Tower, etc. And ET is less about technology than befriending a cross between Yoda and Whoopie Goldberg in the woods. And there is such love of suburbia. Not for its conformity but its semi-nature-ness. There are trees, grass, smell of moist soil, sounds of insects, stars in the night, safe places for kids to bike around in and explore--something absent in the asphalt jungle.

CE and ET are great paeans to the suburbs, the opposite of your average Hollywood movie that associates suburbs with too-much-whiteness and 50s father-knows-bestness.
Even so, it's possible that Spielberg had conflicting emotions about his idyllic childhood. Like Bob Dylan, he grew up atypically for a Jew. Not in NY, LA, Chicago, or some super metropolis but in the suburbs of Phoenix Arizona. Spielberg felt isolated as a Jew. Though the community was idyllic, he stuck out 'as a Jew'. As with Dylan, this might have fed his neurosis in strange ways. Had Spielberg grown up in NY, maybe he would have turned out more like your typical urban Jew.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, this may be why movies like CE and ET are, at once, so universally appealing and so privately lonely. And I think the latter aspect is, paradoxically, as crucial to their success. In the theater, we are with other people but in the darkness, we feel alone. The story on the screen is less 'our story' than 'my story'. The problem with Cameron and Bay is they offer only the 'our' whereas Spielberg's movies makes each audience member feel the 'my'. In CE, you feel misunderstood and lonely as Roy. In ET, even though millions of kids are watching and loving the same thing, you feel lie it's 'me and ET' against the world.

Sailer makes an interesting if exaggerated point about Spielberg's paranoia about the government--but then, spielberg is an Obama-supporting liberal, so he aint no libertarian, rest assured. Spielberg's feelings about the government is ambiguous, maybe confused. The government's rounding up civilians and removing them in CE--as its use of sleeping gas to stun people--to clear the way for meeting with space aliens reminds us of the Holocaust. But the government actually turns out to be good in CE. It went to extreme measures to ensure the success of the encounter. And though the government at first seems menacing from the child's point of view in ET, we learn it too was working for the interest of the nation. There is a kind of Jewish anxiety here. In a way, ET is like a Jew hiding from Nazis. But it turns out the government doesn't wanna kill him/her. It wants to protect, study, and save him/her. SCHINDLER'S LIST is, of course, different. The Goy Government is out to kill, but then one good goy manipulates the Nazi system to save Jews, or his own ETs that he's come to love. Spielberg, as an American Jew, feels both very much an American(as apple pie) and a Jew(the eternal alien outsider). He also feels eternally vulnerable(as a member of a small minority) and superior(higher intelligence and top gun at Jewish dominated Hollywood). Part of him is rooted in the American soil. Part of him feels he's in the wrong world(of goyim)and his REAL home is with the Jews, a theme touched on by MUNICH, which begins in postwar Germany that is welcoming to Jews but only 30 yrs prior had murdered millions of them.

Anonymous said...

And though Spielberg repressed his Judaism for much of his childhood, CE has elements of Moses story. Roy is chosen by the light, he is the one. Devil's Tower serves as a kind of Sinai. And ET is kinda like Spielberg's own private Jesus. As a Jew, he couldn't join in with other Christian kids, so he created his own savior from scratch. ET, like Jesus, dies and is resurrected and goes back to heaven, and etc.

Spielberg's ambivalence about authority can be found in SUGARLAND EXPRESS. Many people thought Goldie was the heroine we should root for. But in an interview, Spielberg said he actually thought the cops were doing the right thing and Goldie's character was a real fool.
In SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, the soldiers are initially very cynical about the government, but they realize the American government is GOOD, at least in contrast to the Nazis.

Spielberg has both an anti-authoritarian streak(since powers-that-be hurt Jews and eccentrics like himself) but also an elitist streak--since the mob, mostly unruly goyim, could come after Jews. The mob at the carnival in AI is pretty scary. They scream for death to robots like Nazis in SCHINDLER'S LIST laugh at the suffering of Jews.

And WAR OF THE WORLDS turns CE and ET upside down. It suggests that Spielberg, though filled with anxiety of the Jew-as-alien, has great fear of non-Jew-as-alien. In other words, US should open its heart to Jewish aliens but guard itself against non-Jewish aliens. As a Jew, Spielberg feels nervous about goy Americanism. But as an American Jew, he feels threatened by non-Jew aliens. WAR OF THE WORLDS begins with some guy at a loading dock saying half of China is entering the ports. In other words, yellow peril is looming. And MUNICH is about them 'muzzies'.
Now, the Tom Cruise character in WAR OF THE WORLDS is the sort of person to make Spielberg(and other jews) nervous. He's a red-blooded working class guy. The sort to feel left out of the New World Order dominated by 'globalists' and Wall Street--and you know who 'those people' are. So, what should be done about the rage of the white working class? Direct it against the 'bad aliens', space aliens as standing for a combination of yellow-peril/Muzzies/Nazis. Don't get angry at globalist Jews who are your friends. Get angry at Nazis(who are still everywhere), Muslims who are terrorists, and the homogeneous yellows who wanna conquer everything.

Maybe this ambivalence on Spielberg's part is real. Maybe it's a put-on to play on audience emotions. Take JURASSIC PARK which both presents a very sympathetic super-capitalist with a great dream(to revive dinos) and warns of such hubris. The dinos go from the most wondrous creatures to prehistoric Nazis. Maybe Spielberg is trying to have it both ways. (Notice how he makes us cheer when the dinos destroy repulsive Jewishy character like the lawyer and Newman in JURASSIC PARK, and the most satisfying killing scene in LOST WORLD is when the dino mother kills the Jewishy guy at the end.) Maybe it's Jewish anxiety that everything fine could overnight turn into everything awful.

Brent Lane said...

I'm a little disappointed you didn't care for Super 8, Steve. Saw Abrams on Charlie Rose last night was impressed with him. Haven't seen much of his work, with the exception of Fringe (which is a nice homage to the first three seasons of X Files, except it doesn't seem to take itself so seriously).

As for E.T., I saw it at roughly the same time of life you did (just out of college) and it was a pleasant diversion, but it's not one of the films I get excited about seeing again some three decades hence. In fact, I recall that I thought at the time that the coolest thing in the movie was when the main character's highschool-age big brother comes home from football practice singing Elvis Costello's "Accidents Will Happen".

But then again I was probably the only one in the theater who appreciated Nicholson's reference to Jack Palance's singing career in Tim Burton's Batman. YMMV, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Spielberg + Bunuel = Lynch.
BLUE VELVET is ET made in hell.

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

"The Goonies" is a great film. The hilarious rip-off of that film "Monster Squad" is even better.

You are too harsh on "Super 8" Steve. It was a fun film with a genuinely touching ending. Plus, Black people are pissed that none of the kids in the film were Black and that all of the Black characters get killed off.

I'm looking forward to your review of the monstrosity that will be "The Green Lantern" as this is the film that might finally show that the law of diminishing returns does exist for comic book movies.

Anonymous said...

"I'm looking forward to your review of the monstrosity that will be 'The Green Lantern' as this is the film that might finally show that the law of diminishing returns does exist for comic book movies."

You mean X-Men 2? That was a while ago.

Currahee said...

Saw ET as an adult, bothered by the technologically advanced interstellar travelers fleeing in abject panic from guys in trucks.

Anonymous said...

"Plus, Black people are pissed that none of the kids in the film were Black and that all of the Black characters get killed off."

That is a weird way of assessing of merit of movies. By its criteria, ZULU would be the greatest movie ever made.

Crawfurdmuir said...

eh - The Super 8 home-movie format was introduced in 1965, before the Super 8 motel chain started in business in 1972. Although I do not know the details, there was most likely some negotiation between Eastman Kodak and the motel people over rights to use the name for their respective purposes. I remember that the selling feature of Super 8 motels when the chain began in business was that the rooms cost $8.88 a night. It's a testimony to the effects of inflation over the past 39 years.

Before Super 8mm movie film, which came in a cartridge format, there was "double 8." This was a 25-foot strip of double-perforated 16mm film that you put into the camera and shot on one side, then you turned it over and shot the other side. The processing lab slit the strip down the center and spliced the two halves to give you a 50-foot home movie reel that ran for about 3 minutes. Super 8 was an improvement over this because the frame size was a little larger, and also the cartridge format obviated the need to stop in the middle of filming and turn the film over.

Either one was much inferior to 16mm, which was the standard home-movie format before the 1950s. However, both 8mm formats economized considerably on film and processing, and brought home movies within reach of a much larger number of consumers.

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

"I'm looking forward to your review of the monstrosity that will be 'The Green Lantern' as this is the film that might finally show that the law of diminishing returns does exist for comic book movies."

You mean X-Men 2? That was a while ago.

X2: X-Men United is considered by most people to be the strongest of that franchise.


It has an 88 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and pulled in an excellent haul at the national and global box office.


Not sure what you're talking about with that one.

Anonymous said...

"Although I do not know the details, there was most likely some negotiation between Eastman Kodak and the motel people over rights to use the name for their respective purposes."

Or, you know, one was a trademark for a hotel chain, the other for a film format. You can't exclude use of a trademark that isn't in a related market and isn't confusing.

Anonymous said...

I noticed Sailer titled his review of X-MEN as Malcolm X Men.
So, how about Martin Luther King Kong?

Whiskey said...

Spielberg just isn't that good. He's over-rated, with a few great films (Raiders, Jaws) against a lot of junk: Catch Me If You Can, 1941, Temple of Doom, Crystal Skull. And a bunch of over-rated stuff: ET, Close Encounters, Munich.

Munich in particular adopts the Tony Kushner view that Muslims are just mis-understood people enraged by "Westernism" and if we are just nice, they'll stop killing us. Spielberg's movie basically frames it as both Israel and the US should cease to exist, with the nominal bad guys (Muslim jihadi terrorists) "created" by fighting back at them, meeting terror with assassination. The framing shot of the Twin Towers at the end of the movie makes the point explicit.

Not only is that bad politics, its worse art.

Whiskey said...

Super 8 and Munich suffer the same flaws. A belief that all national character and tradition, values, history, culture, religion, art, language, and everything else has to be drained out of society to be "good."

Leaving only teen-age, barely pubescent desire for some thirteen year old (who is herself just a kid, and stupid like a kid) the "only thing worth fighting for."

Meanwhile "Authenticity" comes from ... ET, or stone-age polygamous Muslims, some new-Age God substitute. Spielberg is a guy totally captured by elitism, and a fuzzy, "international," Davos-Man type elitism. He's not even a Jew anymore. Not a bit of Jewishness remains! I got more "Jewishness" from an episode of "NUMB3RS" where the FBI Agent brother rediscovers his religious beliefs and starts attending Temple than I have from ALL of Spielberg's movies. Including Schindler's List.

Whiskey said...

Indeed the principal lesson that Spielberg seems to have taken from that movie, Schindler's List, is that evil is best matched with ... a purging of all national, cultural, moral, and traditional values for "citizen of the world." Hence his adoption of Kushner as his muse (Kushner like most US-born Jews hates Israel and wishes it were destroyed, so he could have the moral high ground and superior status).

Which is a dis-service to the actual man Schindler himself. Who did what he did BECAUSE he was grounded in a traditional morality of right and wrong (in the big things) and culture and history. Oscar Schindler did not save Jews because he was "Davos Man" but because he was a particular kind of German that neither Hitler nor the Nazis could ever reach or own.

Whiskey said...

Super-8. The Aliens come. The Government is acting "bad" because well, we can't have aliens being bad. That would be wrong (like Mr. Mackie out of South Park, M'Kay.) So the conflict is not very believable from the start. Meanwhile tensions over some 13 year old don't cut it compared to ... ALIENS ARE HERE!

If Aliens are here, their presence and how that drives conflict, from the personal to the geo-political, ought to be the center of the movie. Its like Chekhov's gun on the table, and the rest of the play is all about which movie the characters will go out and see. All the drama and tension get drained out because Spielberg HAS TO OBSERVE PC ORTHODOXY. Spielberg as a movie-maker has chained himself to Liberal Orthodoxy circa say, 1978, and never ever let go. As he's gotten older the chains have grown larger and his movies crummier.

Really, "nuking the Fridge?" That's Spielberg's legacy. By contrast, Michael Mann's movies have gotten better as he's liberated himself from PC orthodoxy. Same for Peter Weir.

slumber_j said...

I'm enjoying vacation living here on a rooftop terrace in Rome right now and not thinking of much more than the rising orange moon here. And certainly not caring about E.T., which I've never seen and never wanted to.

Still I do dig the remarks by Titles In All Caps. So good.

Anonymous said...

"As with Dylan, this might have fed his neurosis in strange ways. Had Spielberg grown up in NY, maybe he would have turned out more like your typical urban Jew."

So, he's Jewishy-washy.

Anonymous said...

"Spielberg just isn't that good. He's over-rated, with a few great films (Raiders, Jaws) against a lot of junk: Catch Me If You Can, 1941, Temple of Doom, Crystal Skull. And a bunch of over-rated stuff: ET, Close Encounters, Munich."

Foghorn Leghorn: Ahhhhh, Shaddap!!!!

Anonymous said...

But looking back, I can shelve all those neurosis and just see ET for what it is: some kind of wonderful movie that works its magic on kids.

I was 15 when ET came out, and even then, while I liked it, I had a inarticulate revulsion at all the plaudits being heaped upon it, saying it would be timeless: "this generation's Wizard of Oz!" Maybe because I was just past puberty I saw it for what it really was: a boy-and-his-dog story with UFOs.

So I'm not at all shocked that the film hasn't aged very well. All of the boys in my daughters' grade school, from pre-K up, are original trilogy SW-obsessed, but most of them seem not to care a fig for ET, if they even know what it is. For most of them I suspect it is as obscure as a Lassie film of the 40s.

Anonymous said...

"And certainly not caring about E.T., which I've never seen and never wanted to."

Proud to be hipster?

Well, I salute you, skinny-jean-wearing eunuch!

agnostic said...

I don't remember most of my elementary school friends liking ET because it seemed too kiddie. We saw it on home video or TV, not in theaters, but I doubt it was much better on the big screen.

ET did have a great breakfast cereal and the funny-to-kids line "It was nothing like that, penis-breath!" But otherwise I remember it being the Barney the Dinosaur of the day, and us cracking jokes about ET using his weird-shaped fingers to stick Reese's Pieces up his butt.

The white-knighting in this thread on behalf of someone trying to make a Blue Velvet for children, I get the impulse. But I can't think of a single movie that does that well.

The NeverEnding Story and Labyrinth were good, but those worlds weren't really part of suburbia. Stand By Me was more rural than suburban, and didn't feature the magical so much, but this one is probably the closest you'll find to David Lynch for children.

At least for me and my friends, we got more of a feel for the local supernatural by watching '80s horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street. Even Gremlins (which also had a great cereal).

slumber_j said...

Nope, anon: not a hipster. I just like the other (better?) Anonymous's comments despite knowing very little about the movie in question. Thanks for responding.

Harry Baldwin said...

Whiskey said...Michael Mann's movies have gotten better as he's liberated himself from PC orthodoxy.

When did Michael Mann liberate himself from PC orthodoxy? "Collateral" was about as PC as could be, with AA hero Jamie Foxx and the requisite white muggers.

"Public Enemies" didn't have a PC or non-PC aspect.

Anonymous said...

>the crowd-pleasing J.J. Abrams<

Include me out.

Wandrin said...

ET. I liked the bit with the flying bikes but otherwise too sentimental. I think the best kid's films are where the baddies are very scary and there's 2+ kids who have to stick together to survive - preferably orphans. Makes 'em appreciate their parents.

"By its criteria, ZULU would be the greatest movie ever made."

The Zulus in Zulu are more respect-worthy than any Hollywood fake holy black man imo. Zulus were genuinely that disciplined and well-organised and built a solid empire before european technology came along and flattened them.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

To me, E.T. fills in a niche in a category which also includes such unrelated movies as Poltergeist and the Karate Kid: The quintessential Southern California 1980's movie. The neat, conformistic lily-white suburbs and sweeping vistas - it's a California which when you look back at, you can't help but feel sad that it's gone and never coming back.

Anonymous said...

Spielberg producing/financing an homage to himself? Kinda icky, no? A sort of an authorized cult of personality?

Anonymous said...



TGGP said...

Somehow I think Spielberg dwells a lot less on Jewishness when filmmaking than Caps Titles does in analyzing his films.