War of the Worlds (2005), for example. The private realm the film explores is that of the Ferrier family (Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, and Justin Chatwin). The public realm is an earth being attacked by aliens. The plot shifts from events in the private realm to events in the public. For instance. The film starts with the mother dropping off the kids, Fanning and Chatwin, at their father's (Cruise). We see how the three aren't comfortable around one another. We're next shown lightning storms across the world. We come back to Chatwin stealing Cruise's car. When Cruise goes to look for his son, the lightning storms hit locally. The film continues like this: incidents in the private realm followed by interactions with the public.
Usually the two realms affect one another the way the Earth keeps the moon in orbit and the moon causes the Earth's tides.
When the military is about to launch an attack on the aliens (a public event) Chatwin, who has spent the movie trying to convince Cruise he's not a child anymore (private), joins in, despite his father's protests.
The public realm has created an opportunity for Chatwin to solve a dilemma in the private realm.
Narratives use this collision in different ways.
In Bruce Almighty, the private is Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston's relationship. The state of the public realm, the outside world, reflects the quality of Carrey's life (when no one recognizes him, his life is middling; when everyone loves him, his life is great; when Buffalo is in a riot, his life is in chaos; when he accepts himself, the people around him accept him as well).
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button uses Benjamin's story and New Orleans during the approach of Hurricane Katrina to state that even the most amazing stories are swept away by the larger events of the world.
director: J.J. Abrams
main kid: Joel Courtney
kid's dad: Kyle Chandler
who is awesome: Elle Fanning
I don't remember where I recognize him from: Noah Emmerich
mint: Riley Griffiths (doesn't he look like the other What Do Kids Know? contestant in Magnolia?)(Or Buzz from Home Alone?)
Super 8 is a tribute to Steven Spielberg by J.J. Abrams. The film is riddled with allusions to Spielberg's past works.
The obvious ones being:
-The film opens with a factory: Schindler's List
-Joe Lamb mourns his mother: A.I.
-the monster alien: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
-the alien's attack on the bus: Jurassic Park
-Joe's confrontation with the alien: E.T.
Of all of Spielberg's films, War of the Worlds probably has the closest relationship with Super 8. Two reasons: 1. The importance of the father's relationship to his son. And 2. Because this relationship in Super 8 is the contrast of the one in War of the Worlds. Tom Cruise puts his children ahead of his fellow man. He shoots Tim Robbins, who has sheltered the family, because he's afraid Tim's ravings will catch the attention of the aliens. He fights people. He refuses to help people. War of the Worlds and The Road are very similar. The Road is another story where the father places the welfare of his child before the rest of the world.
Super 8 does the opposite. Jack Lamb is the deputy sheriff of Lillian, Ohio. The viewer is told, in the film's opening, Jack has never been a father to his 13-year old son, Joe. (we discover it's because he's all about his job). In this way, Jack is very similar to Cruise's War of the World's character. Although when the aliens arrive in WotW Cruise steps up to the plate and protects his family. In S8, Jack puts the town first.
S8 has a rich private realm. There's Joe and Jack's relationship. Joe's relationship with his film-making friends. Joe's budding romantic relationship with schoolmate Alice. Joe's tension with Alice's dad. And Joe's relationship with his mom's death.
The public realm is Lillian, OH, in the midst of a government hunt for an escaped alien.
(At one point, we're shown the global realm, when, during a town meeting, a woman blames a Russian invasion for the odd events taking place.)
S8 collides the realms for an "Ah-ha!" moment heavy with emotion.
Jack has just taken Joe away from his friends (who were filming a scene for their movie). They've returned to a dark home. Jack is telling Joe that Joe can't see Alice anymore. Not at all. That her father is scum. That this isn't a discussion. "Are we clear on this Joe?" Jack says.
One facet of the private realm has just crushed all the others.
Joe tells his father no. They're not clear. They have never been clear.
This is all private realm stuff.
Jack starts yelling at Joe that Joe doesn't understand. The situation is out of control. The town was depending on someone else, and now that person is gone and 12,000 people are counting on him.
Jack is obviously talking about the public realm (with the alien on the loose, soldiers running around, and the sheriff missing). But, in describing the state of the public realm while looking at his son, Jack realizes he is describing his son. Since his mom's death, Joe has been depending on Jack. And Jack hasn't been there.
In WotW the collision gives the son a way to show he is his own man. S8 doesn't want to bring about such immediate changes. Jack and Joe are not rectified then and there. We see the emotion in Jack's eyes as he's suddenly seeing himself though Joe. And then Jack leaves. The collision is not intended to solve a character problem but to reveal a problem to a character. Jack's epiphany is the sentimental apex of the film.
This collision also serves as a pivot for the plot of the film. Before this, S8's private realms had only casual interaction with the public. This first collision begets the rest. Alice is swept into the public realm. Joe and his friends must clash with it. Then Joe confronts his grief through the embodiment of the public realm: the alien.
It isn't until these battles take place and conclude that the film allows the private realm (and thus the viewer) catharsis.
Did I Like It:
Yes. I was caught up in it. Well made. But... J.J. ...do something without monsters?
I thought Elle killed it. She was awesome in Somewhere too. I thought all the actors did a good job.
Also. I had a big problem with the train crash. The scene is CGI on steroids. That's fine. But I felt four things were wrong about how it was done:
1. the train derails because a man drives his truck onto the tracks and hits the train head-on. This man survives. Despite half the truck being sheared away and the entire train raining down like armageddon.
2. the train rains down like its armageddon. okay, fine, this is an alien movie. But it's grounded in realism. I just don't buy how aggressively the train freaks out. I've seen scenes in the Final Destination movies that were less extreme.
3. what fucking directions are these kids running? The train derails and the kids, who were standing on the platform, filming a scene for their movie, take off. Yet it looks as though they're running parallel to the tracks? So all this stuff keeps narrowly missing crushing them. It's as if none of them ran away from the tracks. Again, I don't buy it. I think they would have run perpendicular to gain distance and safety. I'm convinced their direction was artificial because it makes the scene more "thrilling". I'm being nit-picky, I know, but, whatever.
4. Alice had driven the kids to the tracks in her dad's car (yes, she's under age). The car is parked next to the platform. The platform is destroyed. The kids are almost smashed 1,000 times. Yet the car is okay. The kids are able to drive away. I guess it's a miracle.
What It's Good For:
-constructing tension within a narrative
-people who love Spielberg
-seeing an alien
-a solid movie experience
-sort of a cheesy, emotional climactic action
-alien isn't really...iconic looking?
-another J.J. Abrams alien movie
% Character / % Actor's personality or previous roles