Finally, here’s the long awaited post from my Dad for his Father’s Day present. Enjoy!
On the surface, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, is a story of how three individuals’ lives become intertwined when some possible alien ship encounters are experienced. Roy, an electric company engineer in Indiana, has a growing need to understand if he is crazy or if he has really received a message from the aliens. Jillian, a single mother from the same area of Indiana and her three-year-old son have received the message too and the aliens have apparently taken a particular liking to the little boy. The final character is Frenchman Claude Lacombe who is part of an international team both reaching out to the aliens and investigating the people the aliens have affected.
It would be easy to say I like Close Encounters because it is a Steven Spielberg movie. He both wrote and directed the film, and it was early on in his career when I feel he had a great child-like sense of wonder in his storytelling (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun). I also think he was enjoying his time saying, “I really get a big budget and get paid for having fun?” I could say I like the movie for the gifted John Williams score. I could discuss the symbolism of communication like languages (French, Spanish, Indian, English), physical interaction (radar, toys, sign), and art (music, painting, sculpture) to show that even humans have a hard time so why do we think the aliens could easily get their message across. I could say I like the 70s costumes – which weren’t costumes at the time but who would have put Teri Garr in a short yellow nighty and robe with earthy clogs – brilliant!! And I do think the special effects are good with the alien ships, the clouds, the lighting, the sandstorms, etc. I guess the problem I have is with the aliens. Why are there three different kinds of aliens so vastly different from each other?
My favorite part of the movie is the hero portrayed by the everyman who has been tapped for an adventure – Roy Neary. Despite his obstacles – like his beautifully portrayed dysfunctional family, like everyone thinking he is crazy, like his own belief that he is on the edge of sanity – he faces his fears, does the right thing, and is rewarded in the end. Richard Dreyfuss, who had been acting at this point for over 10 years but hadn’t had a great deal of recognition except for his role of Curt in American Graffiti and Hooper in Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws, is fantastic in this role. He shows anger, wonder, insanity, happiness, and despair. He gets to be in the action sequences – driving in the chase, driving cross country, climbing the mountain; being interrogated by the “bad guys;” saving the girl. He deals with the mundane – his son’s math homework, kids that want to stay up late (watch for a great quote – “I told them they could only watch five commandments), a boss who doesn’t want to talk to him, and a wife who cares for him but can only take so much. And he does it all while trying to figure out his purpose in life. He gets the Oscar nod from me!
So do yourself a favor, when you don’t feel the need for extreme action or extreme thought but want to play with your mashed potatoes, play in the dirt, and watch a great actor having a great time with a great script, get lost in the wonder of Close Encounters. It is better than Goofy Golf or Pinocchio. I give it a 9.9 out of 10!
Leave a comment | tags: 1977, 3 year old son, 70's costumes, alien ship, American Graffiti, art, bad guys, big budget, child-like sense of wonder, Claude Lacombe, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, clouds, communication with languages, cross country, Curt, dad, driving chase scene, dysfunctional family, Empire of the Sun, English, ET: The Extraterrestrial, face your fears, fantastic leading role, Father's Day, French, Frenchman, good special effects, Goofy Golf, great quotes, great script, guest blogger, having fun, Hero, Hooper, humans, Indian, Indiana, insanity, international alien investigation team, intertwining, Jaws, Jillian, John Williams, lightning, mashed potatoes, math homework, mountain, mundane scenes, music, Oscar worthy, painting sculpture, physical interaction, Pinocchio, play in the dirt, problem with the aliens, radar, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy, Roy Neary, sandstorms, save the girl, score, sign, single mother, Spanish, Steven Spielburg film, symbolism, Teri Garr, the everyman, three individuals, toys, wrote and directed | posted in Movies
I’ve seen Akira Kurosawa’s film, 7 Samurai. The second that I saw there was an anime dedicated to it (and supplied with the voice acting talents of Chris Sabat as Kikuchiyo) I had to see it for myself. In what I would call a very honest and original ode to Kurosawa, this 26 episode anime series follows the classic tale of the mighty vs. the meek. I saw this film quite a while ago in my film appreciation class and found it to be quite cinematic for its time (1954 in fact). With great characters and a good helping of action, nothing could be wrong with this film and anime classic.
The basic plot of Samurai 7 is that of David vs. Goliath. In a small rice village named Kanna, field workers and peasants must fulfill quotas of rice production to be paid to the bandits. These bandits are former
The cast of Samurai 7.
humans who have encased themselves in the wave of the future. In these new Gundam like bodies, the bandits hold sway over the lives of the peasants and demand rice in exchange for the peasants lives. And yet, despite their payment, the bandits take women to the imperium to become slaves.
After years of this slavery and menial servitude, the peasants decide to secretly do something about it. The village elder sends Komachi (Luci Christian), Rikichi (J. Michael Tatum), and Kirara (Colleen Clinkenbeard), the village’s water maiden. With her divining skills, the three peasants seek out the help of human samurai to fight the samurai encased in metal. Over the course of the show, 7 samurai are recruited in order to defend the rights of the lowly peasants of Kanna. Within this plot comes another plot (NOT INCEPTION B.S.) unlike the Kurosawa film. With an imperial plot by the merchants of the city, the 7 samurai must find the strength to fight off multiple enemies.
That's a legit battle right there.
What I really loved about this anime was the character designs of the 7 samurai. Shimada Kanbei (Robert Bruce Elliott) is the leader of the clan of samurai, wielding the most power. His brusque attitude can come off as disconnected, but he always has the goal in mind to help the peasants in any way he can. Okamoto Katsushiro (Sean Michael Teague) is the timid member of the group with a hidden power that is not revealed until the opportune moment. He also provides the majority of the love interest in the story for Kirara, although it becomes convoluted towards the end. Katayama Gorobei (Bob Carter) provides the easy, laid back man of wisdom with a protective attitude. Shichiroji (Duncan Brannan) plays the right hand man to Kanbei’s leadership in an almost transparent role. He never contradicts or creates any conflict with Kanbei, as I sort of expected. Kikuchiyo (Christopher R. Sabat) plays the outcast of the group as the robotic samurai, out to prove his worth to the humans around him. He plays a great comedic element in the show and provides an endearing character who, despite his buffoonery, inspires hope. Hayashida Heihachi (Greg Ayres) is the quiet, well to do good guy who only wants a good living and nothing more. And Kyuzo (Sonny Strait) plays the no nonsense badass turncoat. Great characters all around.
No words for this awesomeness.
And the animation was, I thought phenomenal. Interesting fact. To produce each individual episode, 32,500,000 Yen, ($300,000) were spent on each episode. The fluent switch between animation styles and the fighting scenes really stood out to me. The robotic digital animations were well coordinated with the samurai fights and the picturesque backdrops of different areas of the world created by Toshifumi Takizawa was a sight to behold. AND THE MUSIC. The keyed up traditional Japanese music with every fight scene and the melancholy tones of the peasant workers were just as good as the music from Kurosawa’s film. Funimation did a fantastic job with the dub and it all came together for a good two weeks worth of watching this on Hulu. I gotta hand it to Hulu, but they stream some quality looking entertainment. So hands off to all those involved with Samurai 7 and hell, how about it for Hulu? Best anime I watched in 2012 so far. 9.4 out of 10.
Will they be saved? Watch to find out!
2 Comments | tags: 1954, 23 episode anime, 7 Samurai, Akira Kurosawa, amazing score, anime version, badass, bandits, big budget, Bob Carter, bumbling comedic element, Chris Sabat, Christopher R. Sabat, cinematic, classic tale, Colleen Clinkenbeard, David vs Goliath, digital animation, dubbed, Duncan Brannan, Funimation, good quality streaming, great characters, Greg Ayres, Gundam like suits, Hayashida Heihaci, hidden power, honest and original, Hulu, imperium, J. Michael Tatum, Kanna, Katayama Gorobei, Kikuchiyo, Kirara, Komachi, Kyuzo, leader, love interest, Luci Christian, merchants, Okamoto Katsushiro, peasants, phenomenal animation, rice village, right hand man, Rikichi, Robert Bruce Ellliott, robotic samurai, samurai, Samurai 7, Sean Michael Teague, Shichiroji, Shimada Kanbei, shounen anime, slavery, Sonny Strait, soundtrack, Toshifumi Takizawa, turncoat, water maiden | posted in Anime/ T.V.