Nate and Ryan rewatch Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the other sci-fi classic released 40 years ago. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Close Encounters solidified Spielberg’s aesthetic and helped bring hard(ish) sci-fi into the mainstream. With all the hallmarks of great Spielberg movies wrapped up nicely in one movie, Nate and Ryan explore what makes Close Encounters of the Third Kind an unusually under-seen classic, and what we all love about Spielberg.
Was Close Encounters of the Third Kind a part of your childhood? Where does it rank among Spielberg’s movies for you? How has Close Encounters aged? Let us know!
The recent death of Robin Williams came as a shock to everyone. It was especially shocking to us, as just days before Williams’ death, we recorded this episode on Hook. Though we couldn’t have known what would happen, we are glad that we had so recently been able to discuss and celebrate Williams through his work in this film. There is no shortage of material on Williams this week, some of it sincere and meaningful, some of it capitalizing on the inevitable fascination with the details.
Please be assured that this film was chosen weeks ago and we recorded it before (albeit a mere two days) his tragic death. It is not a crass attempt at clickbaiting, it is a genuinely thoughtful discussion of a film that has meant a lot to us since we first saw it as children.
In fact, this may be a tremendously fitting film to watch as one remembers Williams. If you were a child who grew up with Hook, it is a great reminder of the impact Williams had on you and will immediately recall just what it is about him that is so touching. If you haven’t seen it, or weren’t a child in 1991, this movie is a great example of Williams ability to pull ethos and humor from a character that could have been flat and uninspired.
It might be difficult, in hindsight, to see Williams so ably play a character who has lost sight of his happy thoughts, but it is also especially poignant to watch how beautifully Williams performs the scenes where he discovers what makes him happy. It’s a reminder to all of us that it is never too often, too late, or too trite to think about what makes us happy and to appreciate those people in our lives who make life “the only adventure worth living.”
It struck both of us, that as people paid tribute to Williams, many people our age mentioned Hook as one of the movies that impacted them. This movie may not have critical acclaim, but there is something about this movie in particular that comforts and enthralls, and we were delighted to revisit it.
As Nate mentions in the beginning of the episode, there may be aspects of our conversation that strike listeners as insensitive, in light of what has occurred this week. In particular, there is a part where we discuss a scene in which Hook threatens suicide and it is played for humor. In our discussion we are talking only about how the scene works in the film and are in no way making light of suicide or the agony that can lead a person to that point.
As a way of ringing in summer blockbuster season and celebrating the 30th anniversary of a great year in movies (see our list of 5 great ones from 1984), Nate and Ryan watched Gremlins, a film that, for some reason, neither of them had seen. Though this episode didn’t start out as a traditional “Nate vs. Ryan” episode, they couldn’t help but draw battle lines and square off about the value of Gremlins.
After listening, tell us your thoughts on movies from 1984, blockbusters, movies that are “so bad, they’re good,” and movies that maybe shouldn’t have been marketed towards kids.
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