A mostly pleasant surprise in a year that has produced a lack of stellar animated outings.
If you've recently re-watched, as I have, Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" (1975), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), " "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), or any of his kid-friendly fantasy/adventure/science-fiction pictures -- or the later, harsher "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001) and "War of the Worlds" (2005) -- you'll quickly recognize that J.J. Abrams' Spielberg-homage "Super 8" (co-produced by Spielberg himself) is a mere shadow of the work that inspired it. The aforementioned Spielberg movies still dazzle, shock and inspire awe -- not only in their justly famous set pieces, but in the richness and sophistication of their shot-by-shot inventiveness. They're spellbinding because they always show you more than you realize you've seen.
Spielberg is a prodigiously adroit filmmaker; Abrams is a guy who has a lot of genuine affection for Spielberg's movies. And, for me, that at least makes "Super 8" far more watchable than, say, Richard Donner's desultory 1985 Spielberg clone "The Goonies," though it's nothing as lively or inventive as Joe Dante's 1984 "Gremlins," either (and, yes, Spielberg is listed as a producer on all three of these pictues).
Spielberg's popular entertainments do tend to feature suburban kids, fractured families, monsters, and such -- but that's not what the movies are about. Beneath the surface (and what gorgeous surfaces they are), these are sophisticated cinematic works. (I long ago made the case that "E.T." and "Close Encounters" are daring abstract experimental films that just happened to be thrilling and moving narrative movies, too.)
Marie writes: Doug Foster is a filmmaker and artist who produces large scale digital film installations that often play with ideas of symmetry and optical illusion. His piece The Heretics' Gate is currently on view at "Daydreaming with... St. Michael's" - an exhibition taking place at St. Michael's church in Camden, London. Note: Foster's piece first appeared at the Hell's Half Acre exhibition at the Old Vic Tunnels in London in 2010."The Heretics' Gate" draws inspiration from Dante's Inferno, the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. A twenty foot high, arched screen and a thirty foot long reflecting pool, are cleverly combined to deliver a mesmerizing and strangely ethereal vision of hell at the central focus point of the church's imposing gothic architecture. To learn more, visit: Liquid Hell: A Q&A With Doug Foster.NOTE: The exhibition is the latest installment in renowned British music producer James Lavelle's curatorial and collaborative art venture, "DAYDREAMING WITH..." - a unique and visceral new exhibition experience, inspired by the desire to marry music and visual art. The goal is to bring together some of the most acclaimed creative names working in music, art, film, fashion and design.
Marie writes: Having recently seen a stage play, I was reminded again of how much I enjoy them. And the buildings they're often performed in. Which sent me off looking for old ones and hopefully Theatres you never hear about - as then it's like stumbling upon a secret known only to a lucky few. And thus how I found "Minack Theatre Portcurno Cornwall" with a view over-looking the Cornish sea...