Hit Me With Your Best Shot!: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”


This week, Hit Me With Your Best Shot is getting the jumbo treatment with each of the Best Cinematography nominees of 1977 receiving a daily installment. First up is the Spielberg classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Recently with the start of Netflix’s Stranger Things and the misfire of The BFG (I’ve yet to partake either) have reignited talk about Spielberg’s aesthetic its weaker would-be descendants. Encounters remains the perfect prototype for the true Spielberg formula: primal fear, emotional resonance, and a sense of earned awe. Thematically, it’s also possibly his best in dealing with social outsiderism and daddy issues.

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In Review!: “Bridge of Spies”

With nearly 30 films to his credit, Steven Spielberg continues to find new paths of entry into his career-spanning themes: the value of a single human life, the nobility of social outsiders, and, most famously, the impact of fathers. His newest, Bridge of Spies, is a Cold War humanist exercise, exciting in its confident classical tropes and frustrating in its assemblage.

Tom Hanks stars as an everyman insurance lawyer thrust into an unfriendly spotlight when chosen to defend a captured Soviet spy, ultimately compelled by his duty to democracy and attempts to negotiate the safe trade of agents across opposing sides. The story beats are often expected, but perfectly suited to gifts that Spielberg is only recently reinvigorating.


Spies is a natural successor to his previous efforts with Lincoln, in that exhibits a much more collaborative spirit than which Spielberg has been credited. Though he’s worked with the masters, often having long-spanning partnerships with the likes of John Williams and Janusz Kaminski, his directorial efforts are presented with the lens of one solitary vision. Like Lincoln, Spielberg feels here to be speaking in unison with expert screenwriting and a massive ensemble of actors, though without reaching the consistent heights of that effort.

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