July 5, 2011

Super 8

I’ve been asking in various places about recommendations for movies that are highly entertaining and well crafted, like the first two Ocean’s movies and the Bourne movies. Last night we saw Super 8, and it fits this genre perfectly. It’s like one of the good Spielberg movies from my childood, set in the era of my childhood. I’m sure that was part of J.J. Abrams’ intention. Anyway, what are movies you’ve seen that fit this description? (The second link will show you what has been suggested so far.)


  1. Michael Haydel on July 5th, 2011 at 10:48 am


    Did you feel like the first half of the movie was a bit stronger than the second?

    I kept wanting there to be more about just the kids, and their going-ons around Lillian – a la Goonies, maybe (BTW, did anyone else think Charles’ yellow jacket was a wink to Data’s from Goonies?).

    For me, the 2nd half took a turn into *relatively* standard sci-fi/monster movie territory – not a bad turn mind you, just a turn that part of me wishes never came.

  2. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I think that’s a good point, Michael. I think Abrams was trying to hit all the right notes in terms of a genre film, and I think he did, but yes, the first half was more successful as a character portrayal, and the energy there felt really good.

  3. Michael Haydel on July 5th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Yeah, good point too about Super 8 as a “genre film”.

    If you look at the first half or so of the film as Abrams’ love-letter or homage to Spielberg, he absolutely succeeded. And then as a whole, his treatment of the movie as a “genre film” was a success as well.

    I’ve read several accounts, and agree/feel the same way, of looking at Super 8 as a movie that can serve the same purpose for kids today, as a movie like Goonies or E.T. did for me when I was younger (I’m 28 now): in that, for lack of a better phrase, and to borrow Deron’s, it’s simply a Spielberg movie from my childhood, only in this case it’s an Abrams movie.

    And I can still watch those early Spielberg films and get the same feeling today that I did when I first saw them, which I just love.

    You know what movie I might be able to place in a similar category, to some degree? In America. Not from my childhood mind you, but, to me, a well-crafted and entertaining movie that has pretty broad appeal, but a more loving approach to its characters than your Generic Summer Movie might have. Ebert’s review might sell you on it, depending on how you feel about him/reviews in general.

  4. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Thanks, Michael. I appreciate your comments.

  5. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I think my favorite scene is when Elle Fanning is rehearsing her scene with the detective before the train comes and she has everybody weeping. That was really lovely.

  6. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Speaking of Americana and trains, although veering off-topic. It is so wild I have to tell it. The Iowan said that in the late ’60s, a train derailed near his hometown. Some guy came into town and started hiring kids to work for him “and the railroad.” He started ferrying these kids by van to the site and paid them “a fortune” to crawl into the overturned rail cars and haul out canned goods, etc., inside the wreckage. The pay was, I don’t know, $8 an hour or something. The cars were teetering, airless, hot, fluids were leaking, the conditions perilous. The Iowan and his young buddies worked from morning until dark. The Iowan did say he “complained to the man about the work conditions some” but no one listened and he continued to log as many hours as possible until the train was picked cleaned.

    Can you even imagine that happening today? Investigators. Lawyers. Freaked out parents.

  7. Sheila Ryan on July 5th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    That is a great story, Carole.

  8. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Holy, shit! Cindy! Isn’t that the same story that The Law Librarian’s dad told us when we went up there to interview him! Carole, we might know that guy.

  9. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Yes. We know this guy.

  10. Michael Smith on July 5th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Wait, you guys know the guy who hired the Iowan crawl into train wreckage and retrieve canned goods?

  11. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Yep. He’s the Law Librarian’s father. His stories are even better than the Law Librarian’s.

    I collect interesting people.

  12. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    OMG! You interviewed him? Did he hire the kids? Where can we see/read this? How wild is this. The Iowan would be beside himself.

  13. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Deron, what ever became of that footage? I know Joe was disappointed that he never got to see any of it.

  14. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Can you imagine a little reunion? The Iowan, 6-3, in his fancy D.C. suit he wears to go to work in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. Talking about the time he worked pulling cans out of a smelly teetering train outside a little town in Iowa.

  15. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I asked him what his mother thought about that. “Oh she was all for it.”

  16. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I have the tapes. But nothing to show them on.

  17. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Carole, here’s the amazing part. It was, of course, a huge event for the Iowan–it would be for anyone. Except for Joe. His entire life has been one such adventure after another. I’ve known him for years through his daughter and have visited him on his ranch a number of times, and each time there’s more.

    He’s the one who said that if you shoot someone it ruins your whole day. Have to go to the courthouse and all.

  18. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    What do you need?

  19. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Something that’ll play HDV tapes. I sold that camera to buy the Canon I shoot with now. I bet Ryan has something.

  20. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I’ll bet he does.

    Damn, I remember that the tape ran out just when the story was getting good. Plus some of the best stuff was before the interview. But still–it would be great to see what you have. That was a really good day.

  21. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    It was. Some of the best moments, cinematically, were when he was walking around with the chickens at the flea market and when we were eating menudo at the restaurant (well, y’all were eating menudo, I was a baby foot).

  22. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    This is the thing. It wasn’t a huge event for the Iowan. I was the one who thought it was hilarious. He told it in a very matter-of-fact way. He used to work grabbing turkeys out of huge masses of them and whirl them around for slaughtering places and do corn tasseling and all manner of Midwestern farm work. Even though his father was a lawyer and they really didn’t have to, it was standard for all of them to work and work hard.

    But I made the Iowan re-tell the train story this weekend. I thought it was wild because it would never happen today. I just thought he would find a video of Joe talking about it to be fun. And if the Iowan did one too, he might be interested in the other side. Maybe not. That’s all. I don’t want to put anyone to any work. If it happens, it happens. Okay?

  23. Deron Bauman on July 5th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I’m gobsmacked. This is wonderful.

  24. Cindy Scroggins on July 5th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Oh, Carole, I didn’t mean to suggest it wouldn’t be a good idea to put them together. I just wanted to say that something as amazing as that was so much a matter of normal life for Joe that the rest of us can just shake our heads in wonder. Something very good could yet come out of this. The very fact of the connection is amazing.

  25. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Cindy, I’m the one who said reunion, although that’s not really what I meant. Not in the flesh, of course, they’re too far away and both considered the train picking no big. Although I still think it might be fun to see them both recounting the event in video. I’ll work on it my side of the country.

  26. Sheila Ryan on July 5th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Here is an irrelevant photo of a freight train passing through Washington, Iowa a couple of months ago. Speaking of trains. And Iowa.

  27. Carole Corlew on July 5th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    There it is, the Iowan’s little hometown. Where he used to go with his dad and put quarters on the track to be squished by the train. Illegally of course. I hope they didn’t cause the train to derail in order to make work… Nah, the quarters were in the center of town and the wreck was outside of town!!!! But his dad was the town attorney. So I guess they were indemnified in a manner of speaking.