This week The Unenthusiastic Critic is making first contact with Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), starring Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, and Francois Truffaut.

First, we're having a preliminary discussion about aliens in movies, and about how Nakea believes that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is probably doomed because the extraterrestrials are far too intelligent to ever come here.

Then, we're sitting down for her first viewing of Spielberg's sci-fi classic. Close Encounters has been described as a film "without a sour note," but Nakea finds plenty of sourness in the story of a man going crazy and abandoning his family to go on an interstellar joy ride.

Is Richard Dreyfuss's Roy Neary a space-age prophet of the new millennium, or nothing more than an intergalactic deadbeat dad? Keep watching the skies, and keep listening to The Unenthusiastic Critic…


0:00: Prologue: from Mars Needs Women (1967)
0:47: Preliminary Conversation: Aliens
20:00: Interlude: Steven Spielberg on UFOs
21:00: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion
25:29: Interlude: 40th Anniversary Trailer
27:41: The Verdict: Post-Viewing Discussion
1:14:30: Outro and Next Week's Movie
1:16:10: Outtake

Notes and Links

—Movie Reviewed: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (dir. Steven Spielberg, Columbia Pictures, 1977; Director's Cut 1998).
—Prologue from Mars Needs Women (dir. Larry Buchanan, Azalea Pictures, 1967).
—Interlude from "30 Years of Close Encounters," Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition, DVD Extra.
—Links and Resources: "The Greening of the Solar System," Review by Pauline Kael, The New Yorker; "The Space Traders," Derrick Bell, collected in Faces at the Bottom of the Well (Basic Books, 1992); "Close Encounters Was When the Movies Got New-Age Religion," J. Hoberman, The New York Times.
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—"Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

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