Home > Uncategorized > “Super 8”: Am I Becoming a Film Snob?

“Super 8”: Am I Becoming a Film Snob?

This past weekend the little lady and I went to see Super 8.  I have to point out, I only went to see it because it was playing at the Premier theater (she prefers it) and because it was a cinematic stew cooked and served up by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.  I didn’t exactly go kicking and screaming, but I also wasn’t convulsing with anticipation.  So, to dispell the naysayers with the dismissive opinion that I went into the theater wanting to dislike the movie, I’d like to say: pipe down!

I enjoy Summer movies, I really do.  I just didn’t get wrapped up in Super 8.  Public opinion, and that of the critical society, has been mostly in favor of the film.  Here’s my issue: when I left the theater I didn’t give the film a second thought.  It didn’t stick in my head, make me think, or stir up a conversation with my girl about the elements of the film.  It is what it is, a nostalgic little mystery with a poorly conceived alien and several unknowns that didn’t elicit much empathy from me at all.  The kids were neither likeable nor dislikeable, they just were.  After it ended we both pretty much summed it up as “ehh, it was good”.  And it is, it’s good.  But that’s it.  And for most Summer films that’s plenty, but I have a sneaking suspicion these guys wanted it to be more.  And that it isn’t.  When you think J.J. Abrams, you think Lost, Cloverfield, Star Trek, and mayyyyybeee Mission: Impossible 3.  In short, solid action with a passable-to-good storyline.  Spielberg?  How about E.T., Jaws, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan?  He has a pretty damn good track-record of creating empathetic characters and engrossing storylines to go with the action J.J. Abrams could whip up.  Only I think the two got jammed together and never really meshed, creating a film that contains decent action with an OK storyline and fairly bland characters.   For me, it fell short.

First thing I did when I came to this conclusion was question my cinematic sensibilities.  Can I enjoy movies like this anymore or was my opinion solely related to this one film?  Most of the films I’ve been watching lately are old classics, many of them in black and white and quite a few in foreign languages.  The directors are known for complex storytelling and the stories are deep and involving.  Often times, it takes an entire viewing to fully understand the film, and sometimes it takes me hours and days to decipher what I’ve just seen.  It’s what interests me, that yearning for a story that challenges my intelligence and sets up camp in my brain for days or even weeks.  I’m very well aware these movies aren’t for everyone, they can be slow and plodding, and very many of them can be downright confusing.  They’re told in a different language, and not just a foreign dialect.  They have a different cinematic cadence to them, their own structure, a unique style.  For me, it works.

The greater question remains: have I become so inebriated with these other films that I am unable to enjoy current cinematic offerings the way I used to?  Or to put it simply, have I become a film snob?  It worries me a bit.  To be honest, I kind of felt it last year when the entire planet was going ape-shit over Avatar while I was being blown away by The Hurt Locker and Precious.  Ultimately I was redeemed when those two films walked away with the majority of meaningful Academy Awards and James Cameron was left to weep all over his piles of money.  Still, I enjoy the fact that a man with an ego the size of his was left humbled by not only a small character study disguised as a war film with barely a recognizable face in the cast, but also by the woman who he used to call his wife, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow.

The only defense against my own self-inquiries is I did thoroughly enjoy Thor, mostly due to the overall fun vibe of that film, whereas Super 8 and Avatar were attempting to be entertaining as well as enlightening, or at least thought-provoking.  I recently re-watched Spider-Man 1 and 2, two films I loved upon initial viewing as well as subsequent viewings.  As I watched I found myself cringing multiple times at moments that I never even batted an eye at when I first saw them.  The dialogue is clunky, the acting is hokey, and Willam Dafoe is simply awful on both fronts.  It was a little disappointing, like I was shaking my head at my younger self who’s own preferences and tastes originated from a time not that long ago.  Was it time that changed my perception of these films, or is it my thirst for cinematic kool-aid of a different flavor?

It’s perplexing.  However, it’s not going to stop me from keeping relatively current with recent theatrical fare as much as I can, while still quietly enjoying the esoteric, possibly pretentious offerings I’ve become addicted to.  If Hollywood cooks up a dish sprinkled with all my favorite ingredients and a dash of the proper seasonings, rest assured I’ll write about it in bold type.  Until then, the search is on.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. The more you see, the more you can sort of see Oz behind the curtain and it takes some of the magic away. Super 8 was a great example. It felt (to me) like Abrams trying sooooo hard to make a Spielberg homage. And it was fine. Really, it was. Nothing at all wrong with Super 8. But if I’d never seen all of Spielberg’s billions of movies (and grown up on them, to be honest), I wouldn’t have had a second thought about the Amblin logo and the gratuitous lens flares and the Spielberg faces.

    For me (and speaking only for myself), it’s only really problematic when I carry it out with me and tell people they’re wrong for liking such-and-such summer blockbusters. I went through that phase myself (and can still go in that direction). “You liked Spiderman 3? What in blazes is wrong with you? Go watch an Ingmar Bergman movie and tell me Spiderman 3 is still good”. I’ve learned to fight it. Basically, I try my best to accept movies like Super 8 for what they are- pure entertainment. I’m sure Abrams wasn’t exactly aiming for Kurosawa or Hitchcock when he made Super 8.

    Anyway, forget about “pretension” with the foreign and classic movies. Those are genuinely good movies. Ain’t nobody can call me pretentious for liking truly good movies. It seems like goofy anti-intellectualism, which is a horrible road to go down.

  2. August 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    That’s a good point about the so-called pretension. I genuinely enjoy the art-house films and shouldn’t feel guilty about it, it just feels like I have my nose in the air when most people are all talking about movies that seem superficial to me while I’m dissecting a Bergman or Bunuel film in my head. It takes all sorts, though. I feel like most people would enjoy the deeper films if they learned how to watch them and began to appreciate what films are capable of.

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