On this latest episode of the Substandard (subscribe, leave a review!), we discuss the 40th anniversary of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I didn't much like it the first time—what I remember was a family coming apart because of a father's mental breakdown. (Richard Dreyfuss, who plays the father, made a joking reference to this on Twitter.) Both in Close Encounters and E.T., there's an element of alien mind control that can be a bit unsettling. In the former, the aliens compel humans to come to Devil's Tower by imprinting an image in their brains, a melody in their ears. In the latter, the extra-terrestrial links his vital signs to a boy.
But watching Close Encounters in the theater this past weekend, I had a better appreciation of the film overall. There were great moments like the rediscovery of Flight 19 and a John Williams score that hints of Raiders. And how subtly the scene comes together at Indianapolis air traffic control is impressive. (You can read Sonny's review of CE3 here.) We also rank Spielberg—his most underrated and most celebrated works.
Also on the show (it's a long one!), Jonathan Last returns from hiatus. Cup or cone? Pancakes or waffles? I complain about Home Depot. Sonny mourns two losses near and dear to him. Plus a timeless review by "Gene"!