Movie Review: Somewhere [2010]

Somewhere [2010]

Somewhere [2010]
Director: Sofia Coppola
Genre: Drama
Language: English/Italian
Country: USA

Somewhere opens with a shot of a black Ferrari aimlessly driving around in circles in an open area. This goes on for a few minutes, after which popular actor Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) steps out and gazes into the horizon. End scene. This minimalistic shot sets the stage for the rest of the movie, one that most either seem to love or hate, with very few settling somewhere in between.

Johnny Marco is an apathetic actor who shows little emotion to what surrounds his life. Twin strippers, hotel parties, movie press conferences — he seems disillusioned by it all. As he inches through his life, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) is left to live with him for an undetermined amount of time by his ex-wife. This brings a sense of change to Johnny’s life, and now he has no choice but to begin to show some signs of responsibility.

Somewhere [2010]

Not a lot happens in Somewhere. The movie focuses on Johnny’s life outside of the movies and it shows the strain of his relationship with his daughter, but there are no major events that take place. We are merely taken in on a period of this movie star’s life, one who is marred with some sort of depression. Director Sofia Coppola lets the film crawl along, often invoking the use of extended scenes, many of which will leave some people scratching their heads in bewilderment. Occasional quirks are brought up but never resolved. I found these traits to be enjoyable and oftentimes humorous, but it’s easy to see how they could bother certain audiences.

The best moments in Somewhere happen when both Johnny and Cleo are on screen together. Their relationship is simplistic, but there is noticeable chemistry between the two. This is helped by strong performances from the two leads. Stephen Dorff is effective at showing minimal emotion, and Elle Fanning’s acting feels natural and authentic. Since the movie is strictly about these two characters, there aren’t many noteworthy roles played by others. A seemingly random selection of Chris Pontius (of Jackass fame) plays Johnny’s friend and roommate, Michelle Monaghan plays an actress that he has worked with before, and Ellie Kemper (The Office) briefly escorts Johnny around in Italy.

Somewhere [2010]

While Somewhere’s slow pace sometimes works against itself, I found the movie to be a very interesting character study overall. It requires a fair amount of patience and the right mindset, but if you are willing to stick with it you should be able to get something out of it. While not up to the level of Lost In Translation, Somewhere is still an involving experience that can be utterly compelling at times.

7.5/10

Movie Review: Super 8 [2011]

Super 8 [2011]

Super 8 [2011]
Director: JJ Abrams
Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Language: English
Country: USA

As some sort of weird mash-up of the Goonies, E.T. and Cloverfield, Super 8 wears its influences on its sleeve. This JJ Abrams-directed and Steven Spielberg-produced summer blockbuster never really tries anything new; instead, it frequently relies on the tried-and-true tactics of old favorites to lead the way.

Set in the small fictional town of Lillian, Ohio in 1979, Super 8 follows a group of middle school-aged boys who are attempting to create their own zombie film. When they are filming a scene at the local train station, they witness a massive train crash caused by a truck that appeared to deliberately drive into the train’s path. This creates a *huge* explosion that sends pieces of the train flying everywhere, and the entire spectacle of it all is impressive — and LOUD. When the U.S. Air Force quickly shows up to clear out the area, it is obvious that this train was holding some very important cargo, something that the government does not want the public to know about.

The town of Lillian begins to experience some mysterious occurrences after the crash. Dogs are running away to other counties, people are missing and the power keeps flickering in and out. Naturally, the U.S. military has no intentions of cluing the villagers in on what’s going on, so it’s up to the kids to take matters into their own hands.

Super 8 [2011]

It’s at this point where the film started to lose me. The entire plot is pretty much basic paint-by-the-numbers stuff, and if you think something is going to happen then it will. It’s all very predictable, and the movie is full of hackneyed cliches that are more laughable than anything. The child protagonist, Joe (Joel Courtney, who reminds me a lot of Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous), struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with his father, Sheriff Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), after losing his mother in a factory accident. At the same time, Joe is attempting to hide a blossoming romance with his friend Alice (Elle Fanning) since their fathers hate each other. Alice eventually becomes the de facto “damsel in distress” and I’m sure you can guess where the story goes from there.

The ending, which I won’t discuss for obvious reasons, is perhaps the guiltiest culprit of all. It is unbelievably cheesy, and in typical JJ Abrams fashion leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Throw in some ridiculous moments such as characters conveniently knowing where to go and how to escape certain predicaments and you have a thoroughly disappointing film. I will give some credit to the group of child actors in the movie — all of them performed admirably, especially Elle Fanning, even though their characters had little redeeming values. There’s an obligatory fat kid who gets harped on about his weight and has a habit of yelling “Mint!” every other minute. There’s a kid with braces who is a pyromaniac, and his backpack full of fireworks is always brought up in an attempt to get a cheap laugh or two. There’s also a kid who vomits profusely when the going gets rough. Outside of the main protagonist, I didn’t care about any of them.

Super 8 [2011]

Super 8 is essentially a retread/homage to the old Spielberg blockbusters. There are so many plot holes, cliches and moments where the audience’s intelligence is severely questioned that it never comes close to reaching the levels of its influences. Perhaps I am not in the target audience — which seems to be 1) kids and 2) adults who still have a soft spot for the 70s/80s Spielberg movies they grew up with — but I just didn’t care at all for Super 8. It has its moments, such as the impressive train-wreck and some of the shots from the kid’s zombie film, but for the most part this is a fairly lackluster summer title.

5/10