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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.

After Hours (1985) Review

Time: 97 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Griffin Dunne as Paul Hackett
Rosanna Arquette as Marcy Franklin
Verna Bloom as June
Tommy Chong as Pepe
Linda Fiorentino as Kiki Bridges
Teri Garr as Julie
John Heard as Bartender Tom Schorr
Cheech Marin as Neil
Catherine O’Hara as Gail
Director: Martin Scorsese

A New York office worker (Griffin Dunne) has “a very strange night” when he ventures for a late night date with a woman he just meets (Rosanna Arquette), which turns into a waking nightmare when one mishap after another strands him in a hostile neighbourhood in his quest to return home before morning.

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I remembered After Hours as being a bit of a weird movie in Martin Scorsese’s filmography, albeit entertaining. I wasn’t certain about it when I first saw it year, but I was sure to remember to revisit it at some point in time, to see how I’d feel about it in the future. Upon rewatching it I found it to be largely the same as when I last saw it. Now I don’t exactly love it and I guess I can say that it’s one of my least favourites of his films (though by no means amongst his worst) but there’s a lot of things in here to like.

After Hours is like the personification of an endless and escalating nightmare that never ends, in a good way. It’s quite a weird movie, which only gets weirder and weirder as it progresses, the term is overused but it borders on being Lynchian. So I’d recommend not knowing too much going in or watching the trailer or anything like that. Despite the description it’s not a dreadful experience, in fact with the exception of The Wolf of Wall Street, this is the closest thing to a straight up comedy that Martin Scorsese has made. There was quite a lot of dark humour in the movie, and I thought most of it was good. It’s fairly plotless and pretty much just following one character for all the time, and as that it succeeded for the most part. It’s very fast paced and is just under an hour and 40 minutes long, still by the end you feel like you just experienced a whole night. This movie doesn’t necessarily do a lot wrong, but I didn’t personally get anything out of the movie or see what it was trying to say thematically. I just saw it as an entertaining and darkly comedic thriller, though I have an idea that Scorsese was also trying to say something, I just can’t figure out what it is. That’s probably the main thing that’s stopping me from loving After Hours, or at least at the same level as most of Martin Scorsese’s other movies.

Griffin Dunne is the lead character and the movie surrounds him the entire time, and he more than holds his own. He pretty much personifies the everyman caught in one crazy incident after the other, and you can really see him losing it as the night goes on and never seeming to get any break. The supporting cast was good as well, with many of them playing some weird and memorable characters, with the cast including Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, Thomas Chong, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara and more.

Martin Scorsese’s direction is great as usual. Even though he generally makes great looking movies, I was taken aback at how stunning this movie looked. The New York City’s Soho is very well captured, and Scorsese effectively conveys a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere excellently. The synth score by Howard Shore also accompanies the movie rather well and it’s a constant presence throughout the movie.

After Hours isn’t among Martin Scorsese’s best movies, but there’s a lot of things here to like. It’s weird, dream-like and entertaining, very well directed and it has a bunch of memorable characters along with Griffin Dunne’s central lead performance anchoring the movie. It’s a unique movie that’s worth a watch.