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 it to the Irish to create such a dark and twistedly funny take on Final Destination meets the saddest of all losers who has to deal with it. A Film With Me In It is the story of Mark (Mark Doherty, writer and brother of co-star David O’Doherty) and how his career as an actor is really never going to take off. This gives an ironic sense to the title of the movie, based around an actor I’ve never heard of and a lot of my readers may have never heard of. From the very beginning, Mark Doherty’s acting comes off as quiet and reclusive, mixed with a hell of a lot of timidity. Mix this with the violent actions of the film and you have one of the funniest U.K. films I’ve ever seen.
A little more about Mark, the character. He lives in a small flat with his old arsed dog, and his completely catatonic brother in a wheelchair,
Mark, the fall guy.
David (David O’Doherty, his actual brother, as I’ve already said. The O’ makes all the difference). Being an actual comedian, it’s funny to see him not be able to say a damn thing throughout the whole film. Residing with him in his small and rundown flat is his girlfriend, Sally (Amy Huberman). She’s sick of everything that needs to be repaired and basically wants to leave Mark. Living in the same building is Mark’s alcoholic and gambling addict friend, Pierce (Dylan Moran). Fulfilling his role as the stereotypical Irishman, he’ll go out and drink, try and become a playwright, and end up at the races.
This may look familiar to another film…
Mark’s apartment is a deathtrap. The lights barely work. The window to the garden is a pair of slapped knuckles waiting to happen. Everything wobbles and creaks no matter what they try and do. And their landlord, Jack (Keith Allen) refuses to help repair anything until the rent is paid. With Mark being an out of work actor, there’s not a witch’s teat in Hell that he can ever scrape up enough dough to even fix the light bulb eerily flashing in the kitchen.
And that’s where things start to become a problem. A rising body count and a lot of individuals sticking their noses in where they don’t belong causes Mark and his “accomplice” Pierce to have to create a scenario in which all of these “sequential accidents” cannot be blamed on the two of them. With a quick wit and a lot of dark comedy that comes from body removal, these two dig themselves a grave. Can they even get out?
That silly O’Doherty doesn’t get to say a thing.
I sincerely loved this movie. I was laughing constantly at Dylan Moran’s lines of sarcastic pessimism and Mark’s inability to respond in any way. There are a lot of tragic things that happen in this movie, and its almost hard to laugh at some of them. The measures these two have to go to is well beyond absurd. It comes up to the point of downright cruel. But what the two get out of it is a great script and some ideas that could potentially make them criminals for life.
And there was such an eclectic cast in this film! There are the Doherty/O’Doherty brothers, one of whom is a comedian. The other, more of a sick joke comedian. Even Dylan Moran is a comedian. Keith Allen has done everything from music to movies, stand up, and writing. Aisling O’Sullivan is a renowned Irish actress that takes the part of the sweet small town policewoman (AKA Garda). Round that out with a sneak appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and you have yourself a wonderful little cast of simple comedy.
There’s some serious criminal activity going down.
This movie is dark. And I’m talking pitch black. There’s death, dismemberment, and not a heavy tear shed for anyone but the dog. A man down on his luck and it gets so much worse is hard to watch onscreen, especially when he just takes it. You need some sort of silver lining for a character like that. Well don’t you fret, there is one. And it may be the best little shiny cloud you’ll see all year. I was thoroughly wrapped up in this movie and its characters to the point where I would give anything for them to get away with it. If you wanna know what happens, you should definitely watch this film. You might find yourself loving it as much as I did. Although, this movie wasn’t one with me in it. 9.7 out of 10.
And here’s a little taste of what you’re getting into.