In a brief ongoing series, our heroic and intrepid editors discuss what they think has been the best media released in 2011… so far. Tonight’s topic is: Movies. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging, already in progress:
Bick: Okay, so should we start this bad boy on movies?
Josh: That works
Bick: Alrighty then. So, pretty much the best movie I’ve seen (at the theatre) in 2011 is Super 8. It probably has more to do with my not having seen very much this year, but I also think it was just really well made. Abrams clearly intended to capitalize on nostalgia for the 70’s and 80’s genre of Spielbergian sci-fi, and I think in that respect, Super 8 is a fantastic success. Although, even I have to admit the movie kind of falls apart in the last act, although, I think that may actually make me like it more if that makes any sense. Cause, up until the point where they actually really got into the crazy alien bit (spoilers, by the way) the movie had to rely on the cast and their attempts at making a movie.I mean, I could just watch an entire film about those kids trying to make their zombie flick, and fuck all the extraneous sci-fi bullshit. So, I mean, I guess based on nostalgic criteria alone, Super 8 is the best movie I’ve seen this year, and as much as the comics dork in me wanted to like Thor or Green Lantern or X-Men more, I was just won over by nostalgia for a generation of films I wasn’t even alive to experience. Oh, and the fact that they found child actors who were not only competent, but actually pretty good is just incredibly impressive to me.
Josh: I was going to be like, “Gee, are you writing a novel?” and then you did.
Bick: Sorry I wanted to be comprehensive.
Josh: No, that’s good. I haven’t even thought of my argument for Submarine.
Bick: Haha, fair enough. I’ll wait. This is all going in, by the way.
Josh: Okay, let me think…
There is a very thin line that a filmmaker has to tread when dealing with quirk, you know? Someone like Wes Anderson has made a career by wrangling oddball characters, and he generally does a pretty good job. But it almost seems like writer/director Richard Ayoade–a successful comedian and writer in England–took a page from Anderson’s playbook and then said, “Fuck it, I can do better.”
The film is a bit stylized by never flashy, and I love that shit. The story is divided into chapters, like with Inglorious Basterds, and in the entire first part we get bombarded with Oliver Tate’s eccentricities: he dabbles in French music and New Wave, he totes a briefcase to school instead of a backpack, he narrates his life and sees himself as the star of his own eccentric movie. He’s a hyperaware character who knows his status in the hierarchy of school but is overrun with a bloated idealism, and he identifies one of his classmates, Jordana, a girl who suffers from ezcema and too-cool-for-school-itis, as the perfect match for him. He flirts with her in his own weird way and eventually they pair up. This first chapter has the makings of a typical teenager quirky comedy–like Rushmore if Max focused on his own insecurities rather than on extracurricular activities. But as the other chapters unfold, a new, wholly unexpected level of darkness and emotion emerge.
Ayoade doesn’t tell the story through these odd characters. No, he establishes these characters as odd and then drops them into a world where Oliver tackles genuine uncertainty, confusion, disappointment, frustration, and terror. He seems self-assured and somewhat comfortable (or at least accepting) of his quirks, but as the film develops, Ayoade turns that assuredness into self-sabotage. Oliver’s quirks betray him, and it strains his relationships. As a person who also feels like he lives much of his life in his own head, I connected with the strange levity paired with the crushing sadness and frustration that pour out of Oliver. He tries his hardest to be himself and also do the right thing, but sometimes the former butts heads against the latter.
Bick: Now who’s writing a novel? That actually made me want to see the movie even more. Before I was mostly like “Richard Ayoade is funny! And British! And funny!” but the Wes Anderson comparisons, and the discussion of the characters actually intrigues me more.
Josh: It’s insanely good.
Bick: And it just makes me sadder that nowhere near my house will ever play it. We’ll have 6 screens for Transformers, though.
Josh: It’s like when I saw In Bruges and immediately thought, “Why the fuck aren’t Americans doing this?”
Bick: Man, In Bruges was good. Have you seen Super 8 yet?
Josh: Not yet. My parents are flying in tomorrow and hopefully they’ll want to see that. Which also means this 20 or so pounds I’ve lost in the past three weeks will be back and then some.
Bick: Hahaha. Parents, am I right?
Josh: Seriously. We Covells love to eat.
Next time on [Best of 2011… So Far]: Matt and Josh discuss their personal bests for Music in 2011. Tune in and see how that turns out!