Close Encounters of the Third Kind is my favorite film by Steven Spielberg. This movie makes me smile during every single second of its running time. It simultaneously scared the crap out of me as a kid and filled me with an overwhelming sense of wonder, and it has never left my imagination since the first time I viewed it with my parents on VHS in the old-school living room on the old-school “box” TV. I projected myself into this film; I became everyone in the narrative at a certain point, and over the years, every single time I watch this movie, I’m taken back to my childhood, and I’m also reminded of just how damn good everything is in this fantastic piece of work. It’s gorgeous (massive Vilmos Zsigmond POWER), it’s got tons of heart and the performances by everyone in the deep and varied cast are all magnificent.
It’s extremely funny, the close-up/reaction shots are some of the best ever captured, and the ending is so awe-inspiring and so thought provoking and so filled with wide-eyed joy that it’s impossible for me not to think about its general existence at least once a week. The lens flares used in this film are downright magical, the musical score and various melodies are infectious, and I’m still afraid of toys that feature a monkey playing the cymbals. Mashed potatoes have never looked the same, I think we can all agree on that. And those feverish moments with Dreyfuss acting like a personal disaster in his living room with half of his garden on the living room floor – it’s all of a piece and massively enjoyable and I can’t wait until it’s re-released in theaters later this year to celebrate its 40th anniversary, as I’ve never seen it on the big-screen. I’ll need to bring a change of pants for sure.
Review by Nick Clement