8:00 PM, 19th August, 2011
Based in a fictional town in 1970s Ohio, Super 8 follows a young group of friends who, while shooting their zombie movie on the titular film format, accidentally capture footage of a train crash which might just expose a government conspiracy. As the military roll into town and attempt to contain the area, our teen film crew must race against time to save their footage and their town from almost inevitable catastrophe.
It’s the latest feature from J.J. Abrams, who, as his many fans from twisty television series “Lost” will attest, knows how to keep audiences guessing through countless plot MacGuffins. After the phenomenal viral-led success of Cloverfield and an impressive reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise, Abrams has teamed up with Steven Spielberg to create a supernatural tale set in American suburbia closely akin to that of Spielberg’s own E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Following in footsteps as big as these is no easy task, but Abrams manages to capture the magic that made Spielberg’s early films so timeless, while invigorating the lovingly-recreated 70s period setting with a couple of genre-bending tricks of his own. Super 8 might tread familiar territory, but it’s reassuring to see that a creative and nostalgic-yet-original blockbuster can still be made today amongst the usual onslaught of tired franchises.
10:03 PM, 19th August, 2011
As the film opens, we find the female sewing machinists of the Ford automobile plant in Dagenham, Essex stripping down to their underwear to keep cool in their cramped and stuffy workplace. Dissatisfied with their deplorable working conditions and the fact that women are only being paid a fraction of the men’s wages, shop steward Rita O’Grady (Hawkins) leads a walkout of her fellow machinists, single-handedly and devastatingly stopping Ford’s production of car seat covers for three weeks.
With echoes of other cinematic portrayals of the struggling British working class life – but with a lighter touch than the similarly-themed Brassed Off – Made In Dagenham dramatises (with some historical licence) the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 that highlighted sexual discrimination and, together with other similar strikes it inspired, ultimately achieved equal pay for women in Britain.
There are plenty of laughs in the build-up to the walkout, and sympathy for these women comes easily as their individual stories are gradually fleshed out. Hawkins is watchable as always, and Richardson turns in a winning portrayal of government minister Barbara Castle, who intervenes to help resolve the strike, as does Hoskins as a union leader. With a soundtrack peppered with an impressive list of songs from the time period, and the high standards of British writing on display, Made in Dagenham is an uplifting and irresistibly entertaining time at the movies.