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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Charles' relentless search for "production values" leads his team—which also includes withdrawn but comely fellow student Alice (Elle Fanning) in the role of heroine—to a nearby railroad station for a clandestine midnight shoot.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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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