J.J. Abrams Super 8 is a movie banking on the nostalgia of the Spielberg era of innocent American filmmaking. It seeks to appeal, I gather, not necessarily to kids and teens looking to cool off and get some thrills, but instead to their parents, who remember with fondness ET and The Goonies. What makes Super 8 more successful than other recent kidcentric adventure movies, though, is not its relationship to Spielberg’s action-comedies and science fiction dramas—unless that relationship is understood primarily in terms of historical setting. The movie’s 1979 setting is not an accident, nor is it pure homage. Instead, it’s the only way J.J. Abrams could possibly make a movie that doesn’t involve little kids interacting with computers, cellular phones, and the other assorted technical artifacts that keep kids from actually doing interesting things on screen. (more…)
Somewhere, dir. Sofia Coppola (2010)
Richard Brody—a critic whom I respect—said of Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere that it was “One of the most radical films ever made in Hollywood, if the root of the cinema is the conjuring of inner life through outer particulars. The gap between the life lived and the life perceived—a quiet tragedy, Sartre-style—is traversed with the tender, near-weightless glide of a Ferrari on a freeway.” I thought about Brody’s assessment of the film for a long time after I saw it. Aside from being simple amazed with Brody’s coining of the term Sartre-style to refer to an aesthetic, I wondered if we could have seen the same film: I would hardly call Somewhere, with its by now clichéd neo-Antonioni visual metaphors strained through Stephen Shore cinematography, radical.