Day 317: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

close_encounters_of_the_third_kind_1977_theatrical_posterI thought since I checked out the new sci-fi sensation Arrival yesterday that I would check out a real sci-fi classic for today. A friend suggested that I watch Close Encounters Of The Third Kind which was directed by Steven Spielberg (E.T.the Extra-Terrestrial) and it so happens to be today’s film. Everything is normal around the country until planes that went missing in the 1950’s mysteriously show up looking like they were brand new. It sets off a chain reaction of events where people around Indiana and other parts of the country come in contact or experience an encounter with UFO’s. One man named Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) and Jillian (Melinda Dillon) whose son was kidnapped want answers as to what it was they saw and why the government is lying about the events. They may just get the answer, but it might be more than they were looking for. The film also stars François Truffaut (Shoot The Piano Player) as Lacombe, Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein) as Ronnie Neary, Bob Balaban (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as David Laughlin, J. Patrick McNamara (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) as Project Leader, Lance Henriksen (The Terminator) as Robert, George DiCenzo (She-Ra: Princess Of Power) as Major Benchley, and Carl Weathers (Rocky) as Soldier. 

closeencounters15657One thing that I will say is that the soundtrack to this film is absolutely amazing and we shouldn’t be surprised by that considering John Williams (Star Wars) composed the whole thing. The score did exactly what it was supposed to do and that it is it helped move the film and it complimented it. Now as far as the film was concerned, this is actually an amazing motion picture especially for it’s time. Of course the film was overshadowed by Star Wars: A New Hope, but it deserves some mention and merit because the special effects were great for 1977. The aliens that you see in the film were kind of weird looking and OK, but it does the trick for the time. The shots of the spaceship are awesome and it’s incredible looking. The acting in the film was great especially from Richard Dreyfuss and Melinda Dillon who stole the show. Carl Weathers has a cool cameo as a soldier in the film who threatens Drefuss’s character and a lot of 80’s greats are in this film like Lance Henriksen, etc. Just like in the Arrival, they too have to learn the language of the aliens in order to communicate with them, but this was a better film. The end kind of made sense because you understood why and such. It wasn’t a huge build up to be let down by what the end result was. If you’re a fan of cinema then definitely give this one a watch because I loved it. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

R.I.P. Gene Wilder

VARIOUS - 1979

The world of comedy and the world of cinema lost a true legend today when it was revealed that actor and comedian Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83. Gene starred in classics like Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and even Stir Crazy. According to his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman, he passed away from complications of Alzheimer at his home in Stamford, CT. His nephew released a statement saying:

We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him “there’s Willy Wonka,” would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.

He continued to enjoy art, music, and kissing with his leading lady of the last twenty-five years, Karen. He danced down a church aisle at a wedding as parent of the groom and ring bearer, held countless afternoon movie western marathons and delighted in the the company of beloved ones.

gene-wilder-dead (1)I remember the first time I ever saw Gene Wilder in a film and it was actually Hear No Evil, See No Evil with Richard Pryor. I thought it was the greatest and funniest film when I was kid and I wanted to see more from him. Then I was completely blown away by his performance in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which to me is untouchable. Gene in his career was nominated for two Oscars with one being for his role in The Producers and the other for co-writing Young Frankenstein. He did however win an Emmy in 2003 for his guest work on the TV show Will & Grace. He made his debut on Broadway starring in the off Broadway play Roots before forming a friendship with Mel Brooks in 1963 after Brooks saw him in Brecht’s Mother Courage (Anne Bancroft was Brook’s wife and she was in the play as well). He did win an award on Broadway as he won the Clarence Derwent Award for promising newcomer.

Gene_Wilder_-_Gilda_RadnerOne of Wilder’s better runs was when he co-starred with Richard Pryor in films like 1976’s Silver Streak, Stir Crazy (which was a big hit), and the lesser of the hits like Hear No Evil, See No Evil, and Another You with Richard Pryor. While filming  Hanky Panky, he met his third wife, the legendary Saturday Night Live alum Gilder Radner. She would star in his most successful directing effort The Woman In Red in 1984 and she was in his other film Haunted Honeymoon before she grew ill with ovarian cancer. He devoted a lot of his time to taking care of her, but after her death he barely worked at all. His last real acting gig was for Will & Grace in 2002/03 before he left for good. Gene will definitely be missed as the world mourns the loss of another legend. R.I.P. Gene Wilder (June 11, 1933 – August 28, 2016).

Day 47: Johnny Dangerously (1984)

johnny dangerouslyFor today’s film, I wanted a little comedy in my life and so I chose a film featuring my favorite actor to ever play Batman in Michael Keaton (Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)). The film is called Johnny Dangerously  and it stars Keaton as the title character in this spoof film of 1930’s gangster movies. Johnny was just your ordinary average kid in New York City until some unfortunate events plunged him into the gangster life. Johnny is able to keep his life of crime a secret from his family for a very long time, but how long could it last. His brother Tommy (Griffin Dunne) is the district attorney hellbent on bringing down all the gangsters of New York. After being set up by a rival gangster named Danny Vermin (Joe Piscopo) and sent to jail, Tommy will have to prove that Johnny is is innocent before he gets the chair. The film also stars Marilu Henner (Taxi) as Lil, Maureen Stapleton (The Money Pit) as Ma Kelly, Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein) as Jocko Dundee, Richard Dimitri (When Things Were Rotten) as Moronie, Dom DeLuise (Blazing Saddles) as The Pope, Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) as Burr, Ray Walston (Lost In Space) as Vendor, Dick Butkus (My Two Dads) as Arthur, and the film was directed by Amy Heckerling (Clueless).

Marilu HennerI want to start off saying that I am huge fan of anything that takes place in the 1930’s gangster prohibition era and even though it’s a spoof film, I loved it. Michael Keaton is just masterful as the slick, charismatic gangster Johnny Dangerously. He is everything you would expect from that era as his personality certainly fits the character. Marilu Henner is also fantastic and she looks absolutely beautiful in this film. For a spoof film, there are so many heavyweights of the comedy world for that time. You have the always colorful and great Dom DeLuise who graces us with his presence. There is the very underrated Joe Piscopo who never gets enough credit for his comic abilities and the great performances he has had over those years. Then there are guys like the late and great Peter Boyle, Danny DeVito, Ray Walston, and so many more. I was a huge fan of Richard Dimitiri in this film with his overly broken English with his words like Fraggin or Icehole which reminded me of most of my family members. The film was fun to watch as I laughed so much at all the small things and the obvious jokes. Spoof films used to be fun and they always had great writing unlike the spoof films we get today which are overly sexual in their joke writing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they don’t make them like they used to. Check the film out on Netflix if you are a fan of spoof films. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.