Film Review – Super 8 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Super 8
(2011, dir. JJ Abrams)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(1977, dir. Steven Spielberg)

Movie nerd confession: I had not seen Spielberg’s Close Encounters until a night ago. It was one of those films that I never felt compelled to watch as a child, and now after seeing it, I think it isn’t a movie for kids. In many ways its a fairy tale for adults. Yet, it still evokes that same sense of awe and mystery all of Spielberg’s work does. Super 8 is most definitely a massive nostalgia trip for my generation, accurately mimicking the tropes and tone of the Amblin films of my youth.

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Top 10 Documentaries of 2011 as of June

Thanks to Netflix I have had much more access to documentaries and have enjoyed enough that I didn’t want any to be buried by the narrative features. So starting this year, I will do a separate top 10 list for these amazing docs. Tomorrow, I’ll look at my favorite tv from the first half of the year.

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I’m Back! and my Top 10 Narrative Films of 2011 (as of June)

Now that school is out till August 8th, I will be trying to post much more often on here. Starting out with a look at my top ten favorite films I’ve seen in 2011 so far. Without further ado:

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Film Review – 127 Hours

127 Hours (2010, dir. Danny Boyle)
Starring James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Treat Williams, Clemence Posey, Lizzy Caplan

Aron Ralston couldn’t be contained and he wasn’t going to let anyone hold him back from exploring deep canyons or scaling perilous cliffs. That rush of adrenalin as he tackled the impossible was everything, and like most addicts, he damaged a lot of relationships for the sake of his rush. Director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire) takes Aron’s story of survival and will and transforms it into something transcendent that becomes incredibly philosophic. The film succeeds based on two factors; the acting of James Franco and what is essentially a masterclass in film editing as storytelling.
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Ranking my 2011 in real time!

Thanks to one of my favorite web series, The Totally Rad Show, I was made aware of Flickchart. The website randomly picks two movies and has you rank them against each other. I had a personal Flickchart and decided for the website I would create one with just the films I watch in 2011. This way I have an “accurate” top 10 list by the end of the year. I’m interested to see how it works out, and encourage you to get your own Flickchart account as well, if you are a film nerd like myself.

Popcultureocd2011’s Flickchart

Movies in 2011

Looking forward at 2011, there are a ton of big film releases on the horizon. While I personally end up enjoying films that slip under the cineplex radar, there are still some major releases that garner my interest. Here’s a few that I am looking forward to finally seeing:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 (March 25th, dir. David Bowers) – the first film may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it to be a surprisingly good kids’ movie with a lot of wit. It didn’t sugar coat things and is the kind of movie I’d be happy with my imaginary future child watching.

Dream House (September 30th, dir. Jim Sheridan) – The key factor in drawing me to this thriller is the cast: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts. Sheridan is also a very deft director so count me in for this one.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (December 9th, dir. Martin Scorsese) – I have not yet read this award winning children’s picture book, but from what I have seen its pretty amazing. So this film adaptation has a lot of buzz to live up to. The film stars 2010 breakout star Chloe Moretz and Jude Law, with a lot of other big names as well. Sounds like a big departure from the DiCaprio era Scorsese films.

Scream 4 (April 15th, dir. Wes Craven) – There’s something about this sequel that has me intrigued. The first Scream is a great horror satire that has a lot of smarts. Despite Craven’s recent disappointing work, I think this could be a really fun picture. My hope is that they just go over the top in satirizing what happens to horror franchises when they wear out their welcome (Saw?).

The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (December 21, dir. David Fincher) – Given my track record with Fincher movies, I will probably hate this. It seems to be every other film that I enjoy, The Social Network being the one that won my praise after I hated Benjamin Button. I’ve seen the original Swedish film, it was good, but nothing that amazed me. Here’s hoping Fincher pulls another Zodiac and delivers an engrossing crime film. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Zodiac you are missing a majorly good overlooked movie.

Super 8 (June 10th, dir. J.J. Abrams) – After re-watching the Back to the Future trilogy in 2010, I found myself remembering how much fun those Spielberg produced fantasy films of the 1980s were. This film promises to nostalgically return us to that era. The one teaser trailer was effectively vague and after the fun of Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, I am ready for this one.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (December 16, dir. Guy Ritchie) – The first film in Ritchie’s Holmes series was a big surprise to me, and while Downey isn’t really playing Holmes so much as a British version of his own film persona, it was a very funny and well made flick. The recent BBC modern day Holmes is markedly better, but this is the perfect big screen version of the character.

The Adventures of Tintin (December 28th, dir. Steven Spielberg) – This has all the makings of a disaster. It’s a CG-animated adaptation of a comic book series whose popularity mainly resides in Europe. It’s also hearkening back to older era of film adventure, but Spielberg has shown he can do that well, until recently (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Looking forward to seeing if this one pans out well.

X-Men: First Class (June 3rd, dir. Matthew Vaughn) – This Sixties era tale of the X-Men’s origins has me psyched. I’m praying they pull out the classic blue and yellow team uniforms and feature a snowman Iceman. This could be the crazy jolt the X-Men need after the dismally dull Wolverine and Last Stand films.