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My Best of 2011: Super 8 & Understanding as a Child…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Super 8 is number ten. Check out my original review here.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

– Corinthians 13:11

It seems easy to lambast modern mainstream cinema as devoid of originality or of new ideas. It seems that every other film is a sequel or a prequel or a remake of another film, with Hollywood seemingly eager to cannibalise itself. I’ll concede that there are more franchises than before, but I also think that indie and original cinema is thriving in its own environment. I’d make the case that there’s room for all sorts of film, and that originality and quality don’t necessarily equate. Still, I doubt that will appease too many of the people who are sick of “the same old nonsense”, and I imagine that those people will cynically pick apart Super 8 as exactly the sort of copycat movie that demonstrates everything that’s wrong with modern cinema.

Naturally, I take a different approach, even if I can concede it’s hardly the most original of films. Then again, I’d make the case that this is precisely the appeal.

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What Measure is a Monster? or Sympathy for the Devil…

I loved Super 8. It was just a wonderfully made coming-of-age tale that paid excellent homage to those old Spielberg films (even those he produced, like The Goonies, not just the ones he directed). However, as I got thinking about the film, and the plot that focuses on a rather ugly-looking alien escaped from government custody, I did find myself somewhat conflicted in what to make of the menace. Was it a poor victim of torture and inhumane treatment at the hands of the United States military, or was it a genuinely evil creature that deserved to be put down? It’s interesting how Abrams manipulates us into feeling sympathy for the creature, despite the fact it tends to feast on innocent human flesh.

Well, it's certainly alien...

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Non-Review Review: Super 8

Super 8 is a love letter to film. It’s an ode to the trashy, forgettable – yet still endearing – stuff, like a bunch kids screwing around with an obvious fixation on the work of George A. Romero. It’s also a sweet tribute to the film that emotionally connects with us, like the footage of a long lost relative projected against a wall, almost convincing us for a second that they’re still with us. JJ Abrams might consciously evoke early Spielberg with his style, but it’s only to celebrate the common ground they both share, the believe that film is truly powerful and emotion medium, one that strikes a chord on the most improbable of notes, teaching us life lessons and engaging us in nothing short of magic. The posters and trailers might convince you that Super 8 is a classic monster movie with seventies trappings – and it is – but it’s also that other difficult-to-get-quite-genre, the coming-of-age tale. Just one that features giant monsters.

Nice camera work...

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