Tuesday, June 14, 2011

J.J. Abrams' ideal woman has a great personality, a pretty smile, big tits and lens flares all over her.

The sucky thing about being self-employed is the whole lack-of-medical-insurance thing, but a cool thing about being self-employed is that you sometimes find yourself able to attend a showing of Super 8 at your local theater at 9 on a Monday morning. I previously declared that I would attend movie theaters far less since The War of the Considerate vs. the Inconsiderate ended in a victory for the latter, leaving me roaming the barren lands like Ethan Edwards, looking all assed out as the doors to the movie theater close behind me, separating me from all those happy people talking and texting their asses off, content in raising discontent in their fellow moviegoers. But hey, give me an early morning option with fewer people and fewer possibilities of Cocksucker or Cuntbag busting out with his or her iPhone and I'll give you a happy moviegoer. 

The night before going to see Super 8, I got a text from one of my preciously few friends and she told me that she had just finished watching said film, and that there was a character in it that reminded her of me. Oh fuck, like I really needed that; now I was cursed to watch the movie with the thought in the back of my mind of "Is that supposed to be how she sees me?" while trying to enjoy it. Turns out she was talking about the character of Charles the kid director, because that was pretty much me growing up; making movies and being a fat fuck. 

So yeah, it's summer 1979 and Charles is trying to make a zombie movie with his friends, and Super 8 focuses on one kid in particular named Joe Lamb who's had a shitty four months so far, what with his mother being crushed to death by a fuckin' steel girder. But whatever, you can't waste your life crying over the dead, so Joe's pretty well-adjusted and not nearly as fucked up as you'd think; he's painting train models and living life with his father, who's deputy sheriff of a small fictional Ohio utopia filled with clean wonderful White people (father's interests include pizza, baseball, and crying on the toilet while reminiscing about dead wives). 

Because Charles reminded my friend of me, I'm gonna say that he's an awesome motherfucker who knows what the fuck is up. He's very bossy and take-charge because that's how young winners and future big-ballers roll, ain't that right, Charles? Not only does this guy have no problem walking up to a cute girl in his class and asking if she wants to be in the movie, he also somehow manages to get her to jack her father's ride and drive them to the location -- that's straight-up pimp, talking that smooth shit! 

The only thing not that awesome about Charles is that he keeps calling things "mint", which I'd like to think was the summer '79 version of "awesome" but is most likely just writer-director J.J. Abrams' trying to make Fetch happen. I'd have to ask Billy Corgan or anyone else who grew up during that time, ask if people threw "mint" around, like "Hey, I just saw Apocalypse Now. That movie was so mint!" I was going to use another '79 movie like Moonraker as my example, but I didn't think that movie was mint at all. 

Anyway, if that's the case, if "mint" is just Abrams trying to create slang, then he should just stop it. I mean, he's the creator of two hit shows (one of which was a genuine fuckin' pop-culture phenomenon), he directed two hit movies (one of which reignited a franchise), and it's still not enough for the guy? He wants to hear kids on the street calling shit "mint" just so he can feel he made an impact on this planet, I bet.

One day, this guy's gonna drive over to Baskin-Robbins and while standing in line, he's gonna hear some kid go "That's so mint!" and I bet he's gonna have this smug satisfied look on his Regarding Henry-writing face, but then he's going to realize the kid was referring to the Mint Chocolate Chip cone he was tasting. Crushed that not everything in the world revolves around him, J.J.'s gonna do a Charlie Brown walk back to his car and sadly drive home and cry on his giant bed of money, the ungrateful fuck. 

So Slick Charles The Ruler, Elle Fanning and that pussy-ass dead mama's boy Lamb, they're out shooting the zombie flick with their friends at one of those old, out-of-the-way train stops -- when suddenly a pick-up truck drives up the railroad tracks and crashes head-on with an oncoming train, which I'm sure they showed in the trailers and commercials, but I wouldn't know because I never watched them. I knew about this movie, I knew the title, I knew who was behind it, but that was it. I'm pretty good about blocking shit out, even when I'm on the internet (and in exchange for my movie-spoiler-blocking abilities, I was also cursed with a hyper-sensitivity of my everyday surroundings) and all I have to do to avoid spoilers in a movie trailer is look away. So, I don't know about you guys, but I was all like Holy Shit when that train crash happened because I sure wasn't expecting it. 

Part of my Holy Shit reaction came from how scary/impressive the train crash/derailment looked, and the other part of the Holy Shit reaction came from watching these kids end up in serious danger and that's something you don't see that much of these days -- kids mercilessly tossed into serious life and death shit. Fuckin' flaming metal debris is crashing all around them, some of them are crying, one's even throwing up from his fuckin' shattered nerves, and the awesome Ben Burtt-esque sound design is just as unforgiving and insane as all that twisted burning steel trying to murderize these children. Harrison Ford in The Fugitive is a pussy compared to these kids. It's a scary scene, is what I'm trying to say.

Anyway, it turns out the guy who crashed his pick-up truck into the train also happens to be like the only Black dude who lives in that small town, and I guess if you're the kind of person to get all racially sensitive about this shit in movies then now's the time to go Why Does It Have To Be A Black Man? But then later on you find out that this dude was actually pretty righteous, trying to do some good -- but then the same racially sensitive people can complain about him being a variation of the Wise Magical Negro.

And yet if the filmmakers cast a White dude in that role, then you'd hear complaints about how there are no Black people in this movie (actually, there's about 3 and one tense scene even possibly appears to be making a humorous statement on the expendability of Black guys in general) and basically Nobody Wins when it comes to representations of race in movies. The way I see it, if you're a filmmaker, you're fucked when it comes to how you represent race and ethnicity, so just put on your Racist hat and dive right in like it's the 70's again, because since you're a racist either way, you might as well enjoy it, you fuckin' racist. See what I mean? 

Anyway, the military gets involved in cleaning up the train crash mess, and in old-school Spielberg style, these guys are scary, secretive, and probably evil too because the government in these kinds of movies are usually up to no good. See, the beauty of this film and old-school Spielberg joints is that conservatives and liberals can get together on them; your jacking-it-to-Glenn Beck types watch these feds do their thing in Super 8 or Close Encounters of the Third Kind and go "You see? This movie tells us that we can't trust the government!" while forgetting that this is a science-fiction fantasy, and then Rachel-Maddow-Can-Do-No-Wrong types apparently have some perverted fantasy about their precious government doing rank shit behind the public's back, considering that it's mostly liberals who make these movies in the first place. 

I noticed Spielberg's name was featured on the poster outside about as prominently as Abrams' and after watching the movie, I can see why; an alternate title for this movie could've been called Thank You For My Childhood, Mr. Spielberg, I Love You (But Not In A Gay Way) because it plays like a cover of that Asperger's Syndrome-having motherfucker's greatest hits. It's mostly a E.T. The Extra Terrestrial meets Close Encounters vibe going on here, but Abrams wisely adds his own nasty little touches to it.

This felt like J.J. Abrams' version of Grindhouse, only instead of paying homage to drive-in/exploitation movies, he's paying tribute to the kind of awesome suburban adventures that guys like Spielberg, Joe Dante, et al., used to make, back when the best way to watch a movie wasn't in 3D or IMAX or Fake IMAX, but in 70mm and 6-Track Dolby Stereo. Unfortunately, the overall result feels less like a recreation of the kind of movie that is fondly remembered for its quality and feels more like a recreation of a movie that is fondly remembered purely for nostalgia. 

Listen, the movie is very well-made and it's worth watching, and hell, for the first half of the movie I was ready to say this was just as fuckin' great as an old-school Spielberg joint, but then somewhere during the back half of this film, I felt like the train derailment from the movie ended up serving as a metaphor for Super 8 itself -- the shit rolls along beautifully until something gets its path and fucks it all up, damn near leaving a fiery mess at the end. OK, that's a little too harsh.

Perhaps a better way to put it is by using Spielberg movies and their varying qualities; Super 8 is 70 percent E.T./Close Encounters and 30 percent Minority Report. The movie starts off Promising, speeds on down towards Greatness, then makes an unexpected left-turn to Good, and that's a tad disappointing because goddammit, we saw that we were approaching Greatness, it was on the fuckin' horizon, and we certainly had the gas to make the mileage, so why did my driver chicken out and take the nearest exit? 

It's like Abrams can shoot like Spielberg and cast like Spielberg and production design like Spielberg, but he can't duplicate the missing ingredient of Genuine Fuckin' Emotion like Spielberg. He surely tries his absolute hardest to pull it off, but he can't; it's that whole "fails to stick the landing" deal. So while you have the occasional spectacular setpiece that is even more impressively crafted in today's age of Shoot The Shit Out Of It and Edit The Fuck Into It, you're also left watching dramatic scenes that look and sound like they should make you tear up and sniffle, but they don't because they're missing that emotional...you know...that emotional, uh, I don't know what. It's missing that extra oomph, I guess. 

I was left watching with this unfortunate sense of detachment and the last fuckin' thing a Spielberg movie -- or a wannabe Spielberg movie, for that matter -- should have you feeling is detached. Say what you will about the guy, but most of Spielberg's movies (his good ones, anyway) are sentimental motherfuckers, and I think it's because the dude was totally putting his heart into those flicks back then. Of course, Spielberg is now the long-time ruler/king of Hollywood, and he's proven himself a hundred times over, and he's a family man and his bank accounts have dollars on their dollars, and as a result, his popcorn spectacles now feel like obligatory Give Them What They Want works that engage the senses but not the fuckin' soul. 

And that's kinda how Super 8 ended up feeling to me; the final shot before the credits has this beautiful Michael Giacchino music that's basically slapping John Williams in his old man face and demanding that he step up before the young gunslinger takes him out like a bitch in front of the whole town, and it's all shot with this very reverent Wow Oh My God Wow style, and all of this shit should be tugging my fuckin' heartstrings but instead all I'm thinking is "Ah yes, I see what he's doing, this is where the audience would begin to cry." 

Motherfucker. I should be embarrassing myself in the theater by crying like Bradley Cooper on Inside The Actor's Studio, not thinking how impressive it is that Abrams almost made this look and feel like a Spielberg joint. What makes this even more painful to write is that I'm sure Abrams DID put his heart and soul into this movie; maybe he just probably expelled all that energy into working the surface, but had nothing left for the core, if that makes any sense and I'm sure it doesn't. There's nothing wrong with Good, But Not Great, but it does sting a bit when a movie is Great, But Then Good. There's an end credits sequence that I wish I could say was the cherry on top of the sundae for this movie, but sadly, compared to the movie that preceded it, it was the entire sundae while the movie was mostly vegetables. Jesus Christ, it really is always about food for me, isn't it?

Hey, by the way -- fuck Bradley Cooper. I'm sure he's a nice guy but fuck that guy; women swoon when he speaks French and go AWWW when he cries, and I guess that's OK because he's a great-looking guy. Yet if I do the same thing, these same women would call me a pretentious faggot. C'mon girls, Bradley Cooper's got better things to do, and you're not among them. A guy like me, on the other hand, I have no shame and can be easily molded to fit your standards, so it should be my out-of-shape ugly goods you should be after, not his. Because let's be real -- the closest you're gonna come to getting fucked by Bradley Cooper is when you pay full price to see The Hangover Part III