Monday, June 13, 2011

Super 8 Inspired: There's A Movie... Within A Movie

Exit reactions to Super 8 have been overwhelmingly positive (minus those few stinkers ripping it to shreds), with the general consensus that the film gets its highest marks for creating nostalgia for the movies of yore, paying homage to the likes of E.T., Stand By Me, and The Goonies.

There may be a couple details within the story that need a little tweaking, but overall the film creates a feeling that is not always delivered by the big box office draws; both a compelling, heartfelt story, with also some thrilling action.

Sure there is mystery (no spoilers) and explosions, but most memorable are the stars of the flick; a rag-tag group of kids. They definitely hit gold with these child actors, as every moment they are on screen-cursing like sailors, blowing up fireworks, or saving the day-is utterly priceless.

Setting the film into full force from the beginning, this group of childhood friends set out to make a film on a Super 8 camera. While filming a section of their epic amateur zombie flick, a horrific train crash occurs, and all the action is caught on their camera. The rest of the film showcases much more of their filmmaking, and it is my favorite element of the movie. (Definitely stick around for the credits where their entire film is shown. It's pretty incredible.)

Super 8 is not the first, or last, to brilliantly utilize the element of a movie within a movie, and walking away from the theater last night I couldn't help myself, and brainstormed a list of the best.

Without further ado, a list of those films that find the time to create art within art:

Scream Franchise

The entire basis, and originality of the Scream Franchise is its ability to make fun of other slasher flicks. Every character in the films are schooled on the "rules" of surviving horror films (though this knowledge doesn't always help...), and by Scream 2, their world is inundated by its own horror franchise; the quintessential movie within a movie, The Stab Series.

8 1/2

Anyone who has ever tried to put pen to paper will relate to the writers block inflicted on the most famous director in the world as he struggles to create his next big success (and maintain his sanity).


Like 8 1/2, but on crack (or whatever Meryl is smokin' from those orchids)...I wasn't always a fan of this movie, but have come to my senses, and decided that I now find it hilarious watching Nicholas Cage (as twins) fight the creative process, in his efforts to write a screenplay.

The Purple Rose Of Cairo

Cecilia (Mia Farrow) is so impassioned with watching every film at her local picture house, that the characters come to life and walk off the screen-literally. Jeff Daniels. You gotta love him in his!

Be Kind Rewind

What if you were the owner of a video store and every VHS copy got erased? (Whoa, doesn't that sound incredibly dated? Like the Flintstones, Man) Of course you would recreate every scene with bitchin' low budget quality! This is not necessarily recommended, but watching Mos Def and Jack Black recreate famous scenes from movies is worthy if you have some free time.

The Blair Witch Project

Side Bar: Remember when everyone thought this was real?

Anyway, The Blair Witch Project truly changed how we looked at movies. It was possible for a group of twenty somethings to go into the woods, and end up scaring the crap out of millions of people, but it's style also revolutionized low budget film making. The use of "first-person documentary style" shooting, on hand-held cameras, within the movie the audience is watching, inspired a trend. Movies, like Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity would never have been produced otherwise.

Ed Wood

Johnny Depp can always light up the screen as strange characters. Watching Depp play, Ed Wood,  "The worst director in history", is one of the many highlights of his career. Why is he not making movies like this anymore? 

For Your Consideration

The notoriously overlooked film, from the Christopher Guest hall of fame, follows a bunch of actors shooting, (the hilariously titled) "Home For Purim", and what happens when the talk of Oscar buzz starts floating around the set. Hilarity, and Botox, ensue.

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