Super 8 isn’t the best movie ever made. It introduces no new ideas regarding sci-fi or aliens or monsters and neither does it break new ground regarding plot or special effects. But Super 8 captures that feeling of being young. And specifically, being young and pretending to be an adult. For those of us that grew up on Goonies, E.T. and Stand By Me, Super 8 takes us back; drawing a very thin line between adulthood and childhood. Sometimes it takes the children to teach the adults. Sometimes it takes the children to save the day. Super 8 takes the best thing about being young and reminds us what it’s like to be that way again. You’ve heard it said and will hear it again that Super 8 is nostalgic. Well, that’s true. There’s no agenda, there’s no hidden message. There’s absolutely nothing behind this film except a director who is desperate to help us remember what it’s like to be a kid.
However, the film gets rocky when other added elements come into play and derail it a bit. Super 8 is about the growing up of a young boy, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), who has just lost his mother at a point in his life where it seems he needs her most. The death of his mother seems to have created a chasm between himself and his father…or at least exposed it. Here the film seems to impose upon us the tiny subplot of the two fathers, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) and Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard), of the main characters, Joe and Alice (Elle Fanning), Jackson and Louis overcome their very troubled and strained relationship all in the name of their children. There being a rather deep-seeded hatred between the two involving the death of Joe’s mother, this resolution feels rushed and unrealistic.
Also, the film tries to shoe-horn in this brow-furrowing storyline involving an alien. Whether accidental or on purpose, the alien looked strikingly similar to the Cloverfield monster, a film which Abrams produced. This alien aspect of Super 8 also seemed a bit unoriginal. All the alien wants to do is go home and when the alien touches a human an immediate understanding flows between the two of them. We’ve seen this before, but this does not feel nostalgic at all. It feels copied. It goes from having a throwback, “Golden Age” feeling (wink, wink) to a paint-by-number scheme. I can’t help but think about the line from Chasing Amy, “You’re a tracer”. If the film were simply about the kids, then it would have been much better. Abrams gave us hints and resemblances to older films close to the hearts of Super 8’s target audience, yet keeps in a bit of his own style. However, with the alien sequence, he seemingly lifted straight from another source.
So the question becomes: At what point does an homage become a rip-off? When it stops “inking” and starts “tracing”.
For further Super 8 discussion you’ll want to check out the podcasts below:
FilmNerds Roundtable – where myself and several other film nerds discuss their thoughts on Super 8.
Cinematrimony – where my married friends, Matt and Francesca Scallici watch a movie together and discuss it.
The Belcourt theatre’s annual Second Saturday Outdoor Cinema is upon us once again. Every second Saturday throughout the months of June through September, the Belcourt sets up a projector in the parking lot at sunset and screens a film on the walls of the theatre itself.. All Second Saturday Outdoor Cinema screenings throughout the summer are free and open to the public. Nashville residents bring chairs, blankets, snacks and enjoy the evening temperature and the fun atmosphere of Hillsboro Village while they watch a movie outdoors. This summer long program gets kicked off this Saturday, June 11 with The Blues Brothers. See below for the dates and times of all the movies screening at the Second Saturday Outdoor Cinema.
The Blues Brothers – June 11
Directed by John Landis in 1980, The Blues Brothers is a classic road trip comedy and stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake & Elwood Blues as the go out on their “mission from God’ through various shenanigans and mishaps. The film also has cameos from such blues legends as Ray Charles, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. It will be a great experience watching this film outdoors with others.
Destry Rides Again – July 9
Destry Rides Again is a 1939 Western directed by George Marshall, who directed “The Railroad” segment of How the West Was Won. Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich star in this Western about an unlawful town controlled by a corrupt mayor and saloon owner.
Wargames – August 13
Directed by John Badham in 1983, Wargames stars Matthew Broderick as a hacker that accidentally sets off a nuclear war scare when he hacks into a government war simulation. The film also stars fellow 80’s regulars, Ally Sheedy and John Wood. Check out FilmNerds front-man Matt Scalici’s great write-up of Wargames.
Psycho – September 10
Psycho was directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960 and is one of the greatest films ever made. If you see only one Second Saturday Outdoor Cinema film this year, make sure this is the one. The Nashville September weather coupled with the fantastic audience involvement will create a terrific atmosphere in which to watch this film.
Come to the Belcourt theatre every second Saturday just before sunset and enjoy these rare film experiences. Afterwards, stick around and enjoy the great night life in Hillsboro Village.
Terrence Malick doesn’t make movies very often. In fact, in his over 40 year career, Malick has only made 5 feature length films. This coupled with a very artistic and unique style of filmmaking and cinematography has created an almost legendary status for him. The Tree of Life is the reclusive director’s first film in 6 years. The Belcourt theatre will begin a run of The Tree of Life starting Friday, June 24. However, in typical Belcourt fashion, every Tuesday in the month of June the theatre will be screening all 5 Terrence Malick films in the order of which they were made. They call it Tuesday’s with Terrence Malick.
June 7 – Badlands (1973)
Badlands is Malick’s first and one of his best reviewed films. It debuted at the 1973 New York Film Festival alongside Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets. Badlands is a crime drama that takes place in the 50’s and stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.
June 14 – Days of Heaven (1978)
Days of Heaven is a romance drama set in the early 1900’s about two lovers with no money looking for harvesting work. Days of Heaven was nominated for Costume Design, Original Score (Ennio Morricone), Sound Mixing and won the Oscar for Best Cinematography.
June 21 – The Thin Red Line (1998)
The Thin Red Line is a World War II drama centered on a group of soldiers in C Company at the Battle of Mount Austen in Guadalcanal. The film has a great cast which includes Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, George Cloony and John Travolta among many others. The fact that this is a war film does not take away from Malick’s ability to add incredibly artistic elements to the film, especially in the aspects of cinematography and free-floating, poetic narration. The Thin Red Line was nominated for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Cinematography and Film Editing.
June 28 – The New World (2005)
The New World is Malick’s most recent work prior to Tree of Life. The film stars Collin Farrell, Christopher Plummer and Christian Bale in a tale about Pocahontas, Captain John Smith and the founding of Jamestown, Virginia. The New World was nominated for Best Cinematography.
June 24 – The Tree of Life (2011)
The Tree of Life premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and won the Palme d’Or, which is the highest prize at the festival. So far, it is one of Malick’s highest reviewed films and stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, centering on a 1950’s Texas family.
So, if one were so inclined, one would be able to view Terrence Malick’s entire body of work in just one month. What better way to get acquainted with the brilliant director that is Terrence Malick than to see every single one of his films every Tuesday in the month of June with The Tree of Life beginning its run on Friday, June 24?
With the recent passing of the legendary Hollywood starlet and acting icon, Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011), the Belcourt theatre has put together a 2-month-long program called Reflections in a Violet Eye, devoted to the late Elizabeth Taylor. The Belcourt pays tribute to Elizabeth Taylor with 6 weekend screenings of her greatest performances and films throughout the months of June and July. Elizabeth Taylor received 6 Oscar Nominees for Best Actress and won 3. She was also the recipient of the lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards in 1992. One of the great things about Elizabeth Taylor’s films is not only her performances, but also the performances of the great leading actors that she shared the screen with. Reflections in a Violet Eye begins this Saturday, June 4 and will continue through the month of July. All screenings are on Saturday and Sunday.
National Velvet – June 4-5
Directed by Clarence Brown (1944)
The program kicks off with a young Elizabeth Taylor who was just 12 years old in this film.
A Place In the Sun – June 11-12
Directed by George Stevens (1951)
A Place in the Sun was nominated for Best Picture and is one of the few films to win Best Director without taking home Best Picture. Taylor earned a Best Actress nomination as did her costar, Montgomery Clift, who was nominated for Best Actor.
Father of the Bride – June 18-19
Directed by Vincente Minnelli (1950)
This film was nominated for Best Picture and Spencer Tracy earned a Best Actor nomination.
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof – June 25-25
Directed by Richard Brooks (1958)
Taylor is as stunning as ever in this adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. Taylor earned a Best Actress nomination and stands opposite Paul Newman who was nominated for Best Actor. This film was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director.
Suddenly, Last Summer – July 2-3
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1959)
Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn both received Best Actress nominations for their roles in this film. Montgomery Clift also stars.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – July 9-10
Directed by Mike Nichols (1966)
Just 34 years old but made to look much older, Taylor please opposite Richard Burton and won the Oscar for Best Actress with her performance in this play adaptation about the deep troubles of a middle-aged couple becoming evident during a double date with a much younger couple. This film was nominated for Best Picture and
BOOM! (1968) & Secret Ceremony (1968) – July 16-17 (Liz & Losey double feature)
Directed by Joseph Losey
Boom! stars Richard Burton, who in reality was romantically involved with Taylor, which caused a very public Hollywood scandal. Secret Ceremony stars Mia Farrow and Robert Mitchum. The program will close with this double feature.
After a 4 year hiatus, the historic Franklin Theatre is now finally ready to open its doors once again. Originally built in 1937, the Franklin Theatre, closed up shop in 2007 amid questions of whether it would ever open again. Now, after a multi-million dollar renovation, the theatre officially reopens this Friday, June 3. The theatre will also be the venue of regular concert events, musical theatre and plays. The Grand Opening street party begins at 6:00 pm on Friday, June 3 in front of the theatre where there will also be an outside screening of The Wizard of Oz.
The Franklin Theatre’s first film screened since its re-opening will be Gone with the Wind, playing June 3-4, followed by Charlotte’s Web, Casablanca and The King’s Speech throughout the rest of the week. Go to the theatre’s main website for more programming details regarding films, live concert and theatre events.
The Franklin Theatre is one of the last remaining small-house, old school, independent theatres left in the South. We’re very lucky to have the 2 of them in the Nashville area, including cross town indie Belcourt theatre. If you’re free this weekend, then you should check out the Franklin Theatre’s grand opening street party or one of the great films showing this week.