Tag Archives: French

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: My Father’s Take

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!

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Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Most of the time when you hear a vampire movie is being made, you don’t ever think it will ever get any Oscar buzz. In the case of Anne Rice’s novel turned movie, Interview with the Vampire, that’s a different story. Winning best score and art direction, even

Two regal and noble vamps.

nominating Kirsten Dunst for best supporting actress, this movie cleaned up for a drama about blood suckers. With an all star cast including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas, what woman could resist the allure of at least two hunky men? For me, I couldn’t resist a movie spoken in Old English (Shakespeare style).

At the start of the film, we encounter a reporter (Christian Slater, supposed to be played by River Phoenix before his untimely death) following an interesting man with long hair. Before he knows it, he is cornered by what he finds to be a vampire from the late 1700’s. His name is Louis (Brad Pitt, french pronunciation) and instead of sucking his blood dry, he tells him of his story. How he was turned and why he is here, now, telling him all this.

Is Jumanji what tainted this wonderful performance from Kirsten the child actress?

It all starts when Louis loses his wife and child, feeling as if he is a soulless human, wandering through the world in a cold daze. Seeking any means of escape, he encounters Lestat (Tom Cruise), a malevolent vampire who wishes to fulfill his wish, but not in the way he thought. Becoming companions, Lestat teaches Louis the way of the vampires and encourages him to enjoy the new life he has now. But Louis’ problem is that he still feels human with compassion and sympathy, not wanting to live a life alone, in the dark. Forever.

The movie moves through to the present day, skipping a few decades here and there, a century or more until we come to the point where

Great costumes.

Brad Pitt is talking to Christian Slater. It’d be interesting to see Louis enter the 20th century, but the movie was 2 hours long as it was. It covered all the important parts of a period piece film, with elegant and regal outfits galore. The music I didn’t notice as much (sorry those who won an Oscar for the soundtrack) but I was more swept up with the look and feel of the film. Elegant, but always with that underlying element of death.

Hispanic thunder.

I had tried to catch this movie earlier, but I’d only seen snippets of it. I always came in on that depressing scene with Kirsten Dunst and I was like, “I gotta check this movie out.” Sitting down to an elegant (not Underworldy) film about vampires, I had no idea what to expect. Anne Rice, another woman who wrote about vampires? Pleasantly surprised was the end result.

I really liked all the performances in the film. I think that, and the writing/scripting for the film really set it apart from other vampire movies. You felt like they were humans first, and you forgot that they were out in the dark all the time. The language is poetic and fluid, and seems to slip off their tongues as if it was first nature. Tom Cruise (although people may shit all over his attempts as an actor for his beliefs in Scientology) was ballin’ in this film. He’s one of those actors that you know it’s him, and you’ll always see him as Tom Cruise and not the character he’s playing. But by god, he can deliver a vengeful rage of a line or something just as emotionally stirring. He’s a very

‘Sup, Slater?

engrossing actor and needs to be given credit for it. Beliefs/opinions needs to be separated from a body of work. They have nothing to do with each other.

As for the rest of the cast, they all did just as well. Brad Pitt (other than a Fabio looking vampire with long hair) is emotion filled and  a likable main character. That’s what he usually is. Kirsten Dunst was a phenom as a child actress in this movie, playing the adult in children’s clothing, Claudia the vampire. You know those performances where you see it and you think, “That girl was in Spider-Man with a snaggle

Vampires you can fall for.

tooth…” That’s a “wow” performance. Antonio Banderas, you don’t see him that much anymore these days (other than Nasonex commercials). But I appreciated his accent all the same. The Hispanic Schwarzenegger. Rico Suave.

With a great cast and some spectacular settings, who wouldn’t believe this was a well done period piece. And I love a good period piece. This film deserved awards and it really focused on the humanity of the vampire. People didn’t like The Queen of the Damned in the mind of Anne Rice, but we’ll see what I have to say on the matter… 8.5 out of 10.


Taken: Liam Neeson Will Chop Your Neck

So this great little film appeared to me when it first came out to be a joke. I thought, “How could this movie be serious? Liam Neeson, a late 50’s year old man running around destroying people? No way…” But it was the truth. This movie came out with the full intention of blowing people’s minds. And, coming on the heels of the Bourne series, it kinda did. This movie functioned more as a sleeper film and turned into a classic (at least among my friends). I feel its a film most action fans can get behind, and I’ve heard talk of a Taken 2. Let’s hope it goes just that far.

So the plot of this movie is quite basic. Recently estranged from his wife and daughter, Byran Mills (Liam Neeson) feels separated and alone from the family he loved and lost due to his work habits. After a birthday party and run-in with a would

Where is my daughter?!?!

be star killer, Mills finds himself right back in the thick of his former lifestyle. And to make it worse, his daughter wants to leave the country with her friend, without adult supervision. Knowing the dangers of the outside world, Mills is hesitant at first, but is ever so gently tricked into letting his daughter go. And what happens? Of course, his daughter is kidnapped and she’s give 96 hours to be found.

But, as we all know, Liam Neeson has a special set of skills that make him a nightmare for men like those who kidnapped his daughter. And “good luck” to him. Will Neeson save the day? Watch the movie to find out. I find the abandoned father come back to save his little girl the most endearing part of this movie. (Not a emotional movie to begin with, but still.) The reconnaissance and lucky breaks that Neeson catches with finding his daughter is almost to good to be true, but I suspend my belief. (I mean, he found his daughter’s jacket at a construction site whorehouse by a random conversation? Right…) Other than that, this movie is pure and simple badassery.

Not even the French government will stand in his way.

Not much to say about acting or the stunts, it was all legit. Liam Neeson gave a powerhouse performance as a seasoned actor will naturally do. Maggie Grace gave a good performance as Mills’s daughter Kim, and Olivier Rabourdin gives a great performance as the conflicted cop, Jean-Claude. Trust me, some unexpected shizz is gonna go down. Set with a French landscape to fuel the story, this movie is worth checking out. Some scenes will leave you a bit breathless and its all worth it. 7.7 out of 10.


Rush Hour 3: And Chris Tucker Rides Out on the Horse He Rode in On

And sadly, the Rush Hour series draws to a close. In Detectives Carter and Lee’s last hurrah, the duo meets up after the untimely assassination attempt of the ambassador from Rush Hour that Detective Lee was assigned to protect. Lee (Jackie Chan) is determined with the help of Carter (the infamous Chris Tucker) to find the people responsible behind this attempt. As usual, another old man is behind it, (Max von Sydow) and there’s another attractive girl for Chris Tucker (Noemie Lenoir). Although not the best of the trilogy (Rush Hour 2 fo life.), this one holds its own as another great Brett Ratner piece.

What has always surprised me about the Rush Hour series is just how great and accurate the locations are that Lee and Carter travel to. We have L.A. in the orig, Hong Kong and Las Vegas in the second, and now L.A. and Paris in

Paris, Biatch!

the third. Just like the Bourne Series, these movies span the world and keep the action coming. (But Matt Damon cannot perform the functions of both Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, and in that way, lack somewhat.) The B-roll footage all around picturesque Paris is quite cool, including shots of a recreated Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triumphe (I hope that’ s how it’s spelled…). The stunts are really notable in this film, and I love how they end the movies with bloopers of Jackie Chan hurting himself doing his own stunts.

Notable actors? There are a few. We have as I mentioned Max von Sydow as the evil old man (quite cantankerous). Most notably I remember him from Minority Report, but he’s been in the biz for a while now.

Not actually brothers.

There’s Hiroyuki Sanada as Kenji, the badass orphan brother of Detective Lee. (They’re not actually brothers at all, they just grew up on the streets together. Which is weird, because Jackie Chan is Chinese and Hiroyuki is Japanese. It’s quite noticeable.) There’s also Yvan Attal, a traditionally French actor who made an appearance in this movie as George, the taxi cab driver. I do like it when they use actual actors from their places of origin in travel movies like these.

Other than that, this movie functions purely as a nice little closing to the Rush Hour series. The Triads are defeated when the list is found, Lee and Carter went through their rough patches and became even closer, it’s all good. It’s just truly a feel good movie. Besides a couple of parts. I would put this on Ross LaManna and Jeff Nathanson, but it might partly be the fault of Chris Tucker’s delivery. There a quite a few racist remarks that are made towards Iranians, French, and even a feel of American supremacy while Lee and Carter parade around France. It’s almost unbearably awkward. I would watch out for it, but at this point, Chris Tucker is untouchable.

 

Chris Tucker. Untouchable

The stunts are good, maybe better than the other two. Brett Ratner again directs the movie to the best of his ability, that’s fine. Chris Tucker is hilarious (to an extent) and there are some hot and steamy scenes in this you won’t wanna miss. I’d give this one an average rating in comparison to the entire series. 6.6 out of 10.