52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

[Last night, I took the kids to see it at The Bay Theatre. Below is a thing I wrote up as a way to get a reviewing job at the now-dead District Weekly.]

Steven Spielberg has a lot to answer for—Michael Bay, for example—though it’s not exactly his fault. His movies from the 70s and early 80s are rich in spectacle and detail. His followers kept the spectacle and missed the detail. That’s why Close Encounters of the Third Kind is still playing in revival, as it is this week, instead of, say, Pearl Harbor. Yes, the spaceships are cool, but the earth-bound stuff is cool, too—even, at times, awe-inspiring: Witness, for example, the astronomers rolling a globe through the halls of an office building, like children with a giant beach ball; or the sea of hands in the Indian desert pointing up in unison toward the washed-out sky; or the moment when Richard Dreyfuss and Melinda Dillon exit their car and see Devil’s Tower lifting out of the Wyoming landscape. That image alone—and not just the climactic vision of the mothership hovering over the same mountain—will more than compensate for the eight bucks it’ll cost you to see it on the big screen. Images like that are what movies are for.