Tag Archives: 1977 movies

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Review

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains violence
Cast:
Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary
François Truffaut as Claude Lacombe
Teri Garr as Ronnie Neary
Melinda Dillon as Jillian Guiler
Director: Steven Spielberg

Although aliens begin to make their presence felt to humans, the government denies their existence. However, when Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), an electrical lineman, encounters a UFO, he is drawn to the Wyoming wilderness.

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I have heard of Close Encounters of the Third Kind for a while. I knew that it was one of Steven Spielberg’s first movies, it’s about aliens coming to Earth, and it is known as a sci-fi classic. So, I’ve been wanting to check it out for some time. Eventually I did, and unfortunately it just didn’t work for me like it did for many other people. There were some things I liked but I couldn’t get into it overall.

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind actually started off quite well, I do like how Spielberg decided to focus on how people would realistically react to first contact from alien life forms rather than the aliens and the visual spectacle of it. However, after the first 20 minutes the movie really fell off for me. Although the movie is sort of about aliens coming to Earth, most of the movie focuses on main character Roy, played by Richard Dreyfuss, and what happens as a result of his close encounter with aliens. That sounds interesting on paper, but it basically just boils down to him going crazy and having a breakdown, begins throwing garbage into his house, stealing from his neighbours, and all around just driving his wife and kids away from him. The movie went from fun, creepy, eerie alien scenes to Richard Dreyfuss heaving dirt through a window and losing his mind. The story didn’t suck me in at all, if you remove Richard Dreyfuss’s storyline, the movie is mostly just constant scenes of people just discussing UFOs and aren’t particularly engaging. None of the characters are interesting or likable so it’s pretty hard to follow along with them, and unfortunately we are stuck mainly focusing on the worst character of them all. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is also known for its special effects and the majority of these big moments are in the third act, which is when stuff actually starts happening. While it was nice seeing these effects, it didn’t feel satisfying. What happens in the climax didn’t really make sense, and it leaves many questions unresolved. I’m all for ambiguity for the end of a movie, but after sitting through 2 hours’ worth of vague science fiction stuff and the protagonist going crazy, I was hoping for more of a payoff beyond a pretty light show. The movie is very slowly paced, and it came across as rather drab and uneventful, probably because not much actually happens in the movie. It’s not helped by the movie being way too long, well over 2 hours. There are a few engaging scenes, but it feels like much of the movie has a lot of filler.

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There’s not a lot to say about with the acting, it’s generally fine albeit forgettable and one note. Richard Dreyfuss is alright in the lead role, again the character he plays is rather annoying and unlikable, but that’s more to do with the writing than him.

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As I said previously, Steven Spielberg directed this movie, and in all fairness, the technical aspects are definitely the most impressive part of the movie. The visual effects are impressive, especially for the late 70s. It certainly would’ve been a spectacle to watch in 1977 and considering the time it was probably the best that cinema had to offer visually. The effects throughout the whole climax were particularly standout. There are also a few eerie and thrilling scenes that were actually directed quite well. The score from John Williams is good as to be expected from him.

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Unfortunately, I’m just couldn’t get into Close Encounters of the Third Kind at all. Despite some great visuals especially for the time, the story was rather dull and the characters were bland or annoying, both of which were trying my patience throughout. It was one of my least favourite movies from Spielberg. With that being said, with it being considered a classic I do think it is probably worth watching at some point, and I’m aware I’m in the minority of people who didn’t really like the movie.

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Epidode 4 - A New Hope

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa
Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin
Alec Guinness as Ben Obi Wan Kenobi
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Director: George Lucas

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) joins forces with a Jedi Knight (Alec Guinness), a cocky pilot (Harrison Ford), a Wookie (Peter Mayhew), and two droids (Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker) to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescues Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the mysterious Darth Vader (David Prowse).

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Star Wars (or what is now known as Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope) is an absolute classic, and pretty much everything has already been said about this movie. However, since I’ve been going through and reviewing all of the Star Wars movies again, I still have to talk about it, so I’ll do my best. Even with some issues (from the movie as it was released or some changes made later on), it had such an impact on cinema, even just as one movie before it became a series.

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Talking about the movie is pretty hard because so much of the movie practically speaks for itself. I’ll talk more about my personal thoughts, and even some problems about certain things. It was revolutionary for its time, with regards to the story, the world, and the technical execution. I will say that after the opening scenes and R2-D2 and C-3PO land on Tatooine, it does slow down a bit, and there’s a period where I’m not that invested in the story. It picks up when we first meet Obi Wan Kenobi, and picks up even more when we meet Han Solo and Chewbacca. When it’s them on the Death Star, that’s really when the movie shines, all the way to the end with the final attempt to blow it up. From that point forwards, it’s almost perfect and really entertaining. The story is simple but well planned out, and you can really tell why this movie was so influential, especially with the worldbuilding.

The cast mostly do well. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker wasn’t exactly great in this movie, however he noticeably improves over his next film appearances. Completing the rest of the trio is Carrie Fisher as Leia, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and both are great. Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi is also excellent, he really makes the character believable. With the combination of David Prowse’s physical performance and the iconic voice of James Earl Jones, Darth Vader is an iconic character. With that said, Vader wasn’t anything special in this movie, he has a classic look, can choke people with the force, and has a red lightsabre, but you more or less see him pop in and out of scenes, and you don’t really feel such a presence with him. He only really started being great in Empire Strikes Back.

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Considering all the odds and the ambition of the film, George Lucas has directed this excellently. Sure some visual effects haven’t held up, but that’s to be expected, with this movie coming out all the way back in 1977. Ignoring the visually effects, there is the fight between Obi Wan and Darth Vader which wasn’t the best. Of course you know that there it was probably special back then and that they were constrained from being something more than tapping swords. Still, you can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed watching it today. Everything else however is a masterclass on a technical level. The designs for the locations, aliens, costumes, everything is flat out perfect. While the lore of this world hadn’t been fully explored and explained in this one movie, it does very well to immerse you in the one that Lucas has created. Even a lot of the effects hold up today. The action scenes, from the fire fights to the end fighter pilot sequence, are all directed very well. There are some changes that Lucas added in on future versions of the movie for some reason, and not many of them are wanted. When the main characters arrive at Mos Eisley, there are random things passing in front of the camera and things in the background that weren’t exactly needed (probably in an attempt to make the location more active and alive), kind of distracting. And of course there’s the numerous changes to the Han shooting Greedo scene, honestly it doesn’t matter to me who shot first, but it’s fascinating how many times George Lucas kept trying to change this. In the more recent version of the movie (on Disney+), right before Greedo is shot by Han (or they shoot at each other or whatever), he says “Maclunkey”. Aside from that the only other notable change was the random addition of a scene of Jabba and Han, which was originally cut from the movie. Looking at it now, you can really tell that it was cut for a reason. It’s unnecessary already but it’s made worse by the horrible CGI on Jabba. It doesn’t drag down the movie but it does stick out in your mind. John Williams’ score speaks for itself, absolutely iconic and outstanding.

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope is a classic, and nothing will change that. There are some problems I have with it, but that just affects my enjoyment of the movie. I think it’s impossible to deny the importance and significance of this movie.

New York, New York (1977) Review

Time: 165 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Liza Minnelli as Francine Evans
Robert De Niro as Jimmy Doyle
Creator: Martin Scorsese

The day WWII ends, Jimmy (Robert De Niro), a selfish and smooth-talking musician, meets Francine (Liza Minnelli), a lounge singer. From that moment on, their relationship grows into love as they struggle with their careers and aim for the top.

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I remember seeing this movie among Martin Scorsese’s filmography as a musical, and I was kind of curious as to what that was like. Going in however I basically had no idea what to expect, except that Robert De Niro was in it and at some point the song New York, New York would feature. Let’s just say that the movie didn’t work out so great.

New York, New York is really long at around 2 hours and 40 minutes long and that’s unnecessarily long. I get that Scorsese movies are often lengthy, but this was overkill. There are parts that had my attention but then it drags in others. There was a lot of improvisation with the dialogue, especially in the scenes between the two leads. While at times it was good, in others it became incredibly messy and unfocussed. There is an overt issue with the movie, in that I get the impression that parts of New York, New York is a deconstruction of these types of movies. While it’s at least good to know that this is deliberate, it just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the movie, especially how much of it seems like a full on tribute to these types of movies. Credit where credit is due, the ending is actually pretty effective and worked very well for the movie. Side note but it is weird how much La La Land seemed to have taken from this movie.

Between the two leads, Liza Minnelli stands out the most and she was really good here, especially in the scenes where she sings and performs. This movie actually introduced me to Minnelli as I hadn’t seen her in anything before, and that’s actually one of the biggest positives I got from watching New York, New York. Now for Robert De Niro and his character… I should just preface this saying that he successfully and completely embodies the character as it was written. The problem is that it just so happens to be one of the most unlikable lead characters I’ve seen in a while. I get that it was on purpose but they succeeded a little too well. From the very beginning you get that vibe from him, and unfortunately he doesn’t improve over the course of the movie. I’m not kidding when I say that his character of Jimmy is more hateable than De Niro’s other characters from Scorsese movies, Travis Bickle, Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, Max Cady, etc. It’s worse when he’s paired with Minnelli’s character. Again, thankfully much of the way that it’s handled does seem very deliberate, so the toxic relationship between the two isn’t incredibly misguided or anything, it’s on purpose. I guess you’ve seen plenty of relationships where the couple are polar opposites of each other, yet they somehow work as a couple and you can buy that. But here you just have no idea why she would be attracted to him, in their first scenes she’s just as annoyed at him as we are and over time they somehow end up being together. In the scenes they share together when they’re not performing, you just want her to get away from him. I’ve talked a lot about this character in this review but he’s very much a major annoyance. Still, I guess that’s partially a testament to De Niro’s performance here, he’s fantastically convincing in the role, in fact he was probably too good. There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast but they play their parts okay enough.

You can see Martin Scorsese’s direction in the sense of how well it’s all handled and looks, however it does seem like much of his style is heavily inspired by other similar films in the genre. There’s actually not much to say about his direction here, it’s as good as musical from the 70s should be. As you can expect, when the music sections are very good, unfortunately they’re not as prominent as you’d think or hope for. However there is a pretty prominent music section towards the last act with Liza Minnelli, so it’s worth sticking around for that. When the movie embraces the musical aspects of the movie, it actually really shines.

New York, New York is very clearly not one of Scorsese’s best. Although I do admire what he was going for, overall I’m just going to remember it as an ambitious experiment that just didn’t work out that well. Despite some good acting, direction and music, the deconstructional take on musicals just didn’t work tonally, it’s way too long, and one of the lead characters ruins much of the movie. It’s not a must see, along with Who’s that Knocking at My Door and Boxcar Bertha, I file this under ‘watch only if you’re a Martin Scorsese completionist’. You really aren’t missing much if you don’t see this.

Suspiria (1977) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion
Stefania Casini as Sara
Flavio Bucci as Daniel
Miguel Bosé as Mark (dubbed in the English release by Gregory Snegoff)
Alida Valli as Miss Tanner
Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc
Udo Kier as Dr. Frank Mandel (dubbed by Frank von Kugelgen)
Barbara Magnolfi as Olga (dubbed by Carolyn De Fonseca)
Eva Axén as Pat Hingle
Director: Dario Argento

Suzy (Jessica Harper) travels to Germany to attend ballet school. When she arrives, late on a stormy night, no one lets her in, and she sees Pat (Eva Axén), another student, fleeing from the school. When Pat reaches her apartment, she is murdered. The next day, Suzy is admitted to her new school, but has a difficult time settling in. She hears noises, and often feels ill. As more people die, Suzy uncovers the terrifying secret history of the place.

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Months ago I watched Suspiria in preparation of the remake coming out later this year. Now in the month of Halloween, I decided to give my thoughts on it now. I had been hearing about Suspiria for the longest time, it had always been called one of the best horror movies of all time. I wasn’t even sure what the movie is, I know it was a horror movie from the 70s involving dancing and some very distinct colours but that’s it. Having seen it though, I can see why this movie is so beloved, with its visual style and look, some iconic scenes, so much great things are in this movie. Some aspects don’t work as well but the pros more than outweigh the cons.

You get the feeling that something is not right from the very beginning of the movie, and all the way to the end this movie really had my attention. I guess you could say that Suspiria is style over substance and you’d have a strong argument there, yet it actually works. Despite this, there is some exposition which can be a little too much at times but is a minor issue and didn’t bother me too much. Also, it is worth noting that originally the director wanted to use 12 year olds but the studio understandably didn’t agree to it to avoid controversy, so it was rewritten to be in their 20s. I bring this up because there are at times with some of the dialogue where it does feel a little childish and clearly some of the original dialogue still remain from earlier drafts. Horror movies don’t really affect me that much but I will say that Suspiria really did a great job at getting under my skin. Suspiria is just under an hour and 40 minutes long and it really works for me. It can feel drawn out at times and I can see why some would find it to really drag, but personally I was so caught up with the atmosphere and the mystery that I wasn’t really a problem for me.

There isn’t a ton of things to the characters really, especially when it comes to the people running the school, they particularly come across as being very one note. One thing that makes judging the acting really difficult is the fact that many of the actors are multi lingual and didn’t necessarily speak the same language, so a lot of dubbing was done (more on that later). It can also explain some of the disconnect with the actors with each other because it didn’t look like they knew what the other was saying (and that’s because a lot of the time that’s the case). Fortunately quite a lot of the movie is style over substance that you are able to forget about it for the most part. The acting isn’t really that great but I thought it was good enough for the movie. Jessica Harper was likable in her role of the lead character, the same went for her friend played by Stefania Casini.

Director Dario Argento’s work is a big part of why the movie works, he really creates such a fantastic atmosphere with the lighting, cinematography, music, pretty much everything. One of Suspiria’s highlights is the look of the movie, the cinematography by Luciano Tovoli is absolutely breathtaking. There are so many neon colours, red, blue, green, it is an absolute feast for the eyes, even if you aren’t super into horror movies but love watching movies with great colours and cinematography, Suspiria is kind of worth a watch. A lot of the time it doesn’t necessarily make sense as to why the colours are like that, but you can look past it. The visual effects are pretty dated and don’t really hold up well today. The music by Goblin is great and hypnotic, really adding to the tone and atmosphere of the movie. However I think it goes a little too loud at points, to the point where it gets distracting and overshadows the rest of the scene. The violence is graphic and stylised, really memorable, a lot of the practical effects are great. The editing doesn’t always work, like the transitions between songs are really jarring and sudden and cut off. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of dubbing, a lot of it is downright terrible but it’s fine if you don’t look closely at the actors’ lips.

Suspiria definitely lives up to all its praise of being one of the most iconic horror movies. It does have some dated aspects and some issues, but on the whole I think it’s a really solid horror thriller. As previously mentioned, Suspiria is having a remake which will release in about a month. I will admit I wasn’t really hyped for it (not because I don’t think the original can’t be touched, because it does show its age), all the polarising reactions are actually making me curious. As long as it tries being its own thing while staying true enough to the original that it can be justified being called a remake, I think it’ll be something unique.

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977) Review

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Star Wars Epidode 4 - A New Hope

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa
Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin
Alec Guinness as Ben Obi Wan Kenobi
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Director: George Lucas

The Imperial emperor who’s taken over the galaxy has created the ‘Death Star’ a powerful weapon that could destroy an entire planet. Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fischer), a leader of the rebels acquires plans of the Death Star and places them in R2-D2 (Voice: Kenny Baker), a droid but she is captured soon after. R2-D2 is sent with C-3PO (Voice: Anthony Daniels) to find Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness). They end up with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), a farm boy who lives with his foster aunt and uncle on the desert planet of Tatooine. They recruit the help of smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, and his first mate, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), a Wookiee to help them attempt to rescue Leia from Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice: James Earl Jones), the leader of the Imperial troops.

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Star Wars (sometimes known as Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope) is a world famous movie that everyone knows of. Star Wars was revolutionary when it came out but somehow still manages to hold up to today’s standards. It is a classic that will never grow old on audiences and a masterpiece that will last through many generations that will always be admired.

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The Star Wars movies have made an impact on countless other Sci-Fi movies and the biggest impact that it has made to cinema is the world that it has created. The world of Star Wars is interesting and every form of media expands it; from novels, to video games and even the prequels. Everyone is used to it now but it’s hard to imagine such a well crafted world being made in 1977. Whenever anyone watches Star Wars, it always feels fresh and new. Helping the film is the beginning that grabs your attention and it never lets go. Star Wars’s pace is always consistent and isn’t too slow or fast, it is somewhere in the middle. The film also ends satisfyingly with a climax that is always enthralling.

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Just about everyone knows the main characters; every one of them are memorable especially Darth Vader. From the very first moment you see Darth Vader; you can see that he is a menacing force to be reckoned with. It helps that he has the voice of James Earl Jones, adding more threat to an already dangerous character. Another character who steals the show is Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford. Ford gives Han such personality and is really enjoyable to watch him. These characters, along with Luke, Leia and all the other characters are well established and played perfectly by the actors.

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The special effects and sounds were groundbreaking in 1977 but still hold up today. Some of today’s movies’ special effects may be better looking than Star Wars but they didn’t make quite the impact that Star Wars made. There are even some movies in the 90s that didn’t have special effects as good as Star Wars’s. The production designs of the many places are also worthy of recognition as each place is made memorable and distinctive. John Williams’s scores that he has done for the entire Star Wars series are some of the best that he has composed, along with Indiana Jones. It goes so well with every shot of the film and every moment, especially the action scenes.

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Overall, there is never enough to say about Star Wars. Its world is interesting, the characters are memorable and the special effects are groundbreaking. This movie really is an adventure, its fun and has a story that is really engaging. If you haven’t seen this film for whatever reason, go watch it now. This masterpiece, which was cleverly made, is always an enjoyable film that will be in everyone’s memories for years to come.