A rare non-linguistics post: Saw Super 8. Critics are spot on: it's a movie that shows how to construct a coherent narrative like they used to make. It is simple, straight forward. It makes contemporary movies like Transformers, Thor, and Pirates seem amateurish and sad. It's like a tutorial in narrative film-making.
Unfortunately, it's like a tutorial in narrative film-making ... more like homework than enjoyment. I felt like I should be taking notes. Like there'd be a quiz at the end.
One reason this is so is simple modern history. 30 years ago, good narrative films were strictly the domain of Hollywood. TV was the domain of kitsch and schmaltz. But since the 1990s, TV (largely due to HBO, and more recently Showtime, TNT, AMC...) has taken over the mantel of prime story teller. We know from good narratives. We know from good structure. We know from good plot. We know from good formula (we loved Law and Order for 20 years, after all).
So now, in 2011, the ET/Goonies routine rings a bit hollow. Like movie-plot-by-the-book; paint-by-numbers film making. Sure, it's more coherent than Thor (a truly gawdawful film), but Breaking Bad and Mad Men are still way better, and they don't cost me $11 and a special trip. Don't even get me started on how much better the revived Doctor Who is than this Hollywood trash.