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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Super 8

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Perhaps a fitting alternative title for "Super 8" (Paramount) -- writer-director J.J. Abrams' able blend of nostalgia, drama and sci-fi thrills -- might be "Stand By Me Meets Godzilla."

Like its 1986 predecessor, in which a quartet of boys from rural Oregon set off through the woods in search of a rumored corpse, this is a look at youthful enthusiasm and the ties of friendship set against a background of ominous events.

Here the friends are a half-dozen teens from a rustbelt town in 1979 Ohio whose love of movies has prompted them to use the eponymous technology to produce a zombie flick they hope eventually to enter in a local festival.

Presiding over their endearingly amateur endeavor is would-be auteur Charles (Riley Griffiths). Charles' dictatorial tendencies on set are echoed in everyday life by his bossiness toward his best buddy (and makeup artist) Joe, played by Joel Courtney.

Joe's involvement in the project helps distract him from his strained relationship with his recently widowed father Jack (Kyle Chandler), the deputy sheriff of the area's police force, as well as from his own unresolved grief over the loss of his thoroughly devoted mom.

Charles' relentless search for "production values" leads his team—which also includes withdrawn but comely fellow student Alice (Elle Fanning) in the role of heroine—to a nearby railroad station for a clandestine midnight shoot. But things take an unexpected turn when they witness -- and their camera captures -- a mysterious train accident.

Though the military arrives in force the next morning, trying to conceal the truth about the incident, the wreck sets in motion a series of odd and portentous happenings Jack is determined to investigate.

Gently handled themes of bereavement, first love and family reconciliation, meanwhile, add depth to this wry horror homage as Joe and Alice (the latter, we learn, has domestic troubles of her own) form a touching bond through their shared vulnerabilities.

These romantic elements are kept enjoyably innocent. But the steady saltiness of the onscreen ensemble's vocabulary makes "Super 8" unsuitable viewing for their real-world contemporaries. That's too bad because there's much on offer here from which younger viewers might otherwise profit.

The film contains much action violence with some gore, drug use and references, several instances of profanity as well as at least one rough and many crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.




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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
St. Monica
The tears of this fourth-century mother contributed to her son's conversion to Christ.

Religious Profession
Lord of the harvest, thank you for all those Men and Women Religious who have answered your call to service.

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The love of husband and wife is the wellspring of love for the entire family.

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