Close Encounters of the Third Kind ★★★★½

had previously only seen the climactic five-tone scene on a sleepover in 4th grade when we were surfing for scary movies. friend said "BORING!" and changed the channel. adult me does not think "BORING!" she thinks "BALABAN!"

here is what she also thinks: WOW!!!!!!!!!!! some of the most beautiful cinematography and visual effects of the sci-fi genre –– vivid bursts of cosmic color instead of sterile chrome. a simultaneously condemning and sympathetic portrait of obsession. the elastic tone effortlessly mutates from dramatic to comedic to horrific, keeping the story moving right along despite not much actually happening. this is spielberg at his artsiest and most self-possessed, a side of his work that i haven't really been exposed to but would love to see more of.

it was also enlightening to see how intensively this one influenced The X-Files, which is one of my all-time favorite shows (only up until mulder and scully finally kiss in season 7). obviously The X-Files is influenced by basically every sci-fi and monster movie that came before it, but certain elements are so blatantly emulated: for example, mulder's Tragic Backstory is basically a shot-for-shot remake of the child abduction scene.

only thing holding this back from being a total masterpiece is the one-dimensionality of the women characters ... not to diminish my gal teri garr but she and melinda dillon's characters have no real personality nor function apart from their relationship to roy. would rather have there be no women like in 2001: A Space Odyssey (total masterpiece) than two practically interchangeable ones. sure, roy is a flawed character, but he gets to have so many memorable moments, like when he hyper-focuses on sculpting his mashed potatoes at dinner or when he asks the scientists, "who are you people?" with a subtly satisfied and giddy grin on his face that shows he already knows.

NEVERTHELESS, i thoroughly enjoyed my close encounter of the third kind :) am going to track down my former 4th grade friend and tell her that we were frickin idiots

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