Movie Review: ‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’

ET might as well be subtitled ‘A Gen-X childhood.’ Those of us who were around age 10 in 1980 received this film that was aimed right where we live.

img_0633-2

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Cast

Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote

Directed by

Steven Spielberg

Written by

Melissa Mathison

Other Info

Family, Sci-Fi
Rated PG
115min

Suburbs had been a thing in the 60’s and 70’s but they were blooming all over the American map in the 80’s. ET isn’t the only film from that decade that features them prominently. They are still very much with us today but there was rarely a time when new suburban plots and neighborhoods reminded so many people in America of home. The alien named ET is the interloper who walks across the suburban threshold and gives us an accounting of what we’ve done and where we’re headed. There is also a part of ET that will always appeal to any child. He is the little green man with magical powers that all the kids want face time with. He’s the pet on the street that every kids wants until the next cute one comes along.

ET came on the heels of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I remember seeing ads, on paper, that described what the film was going to be about. It explained the meaning of the term ET “Extra Terrestrial.” A creature from a place other than Earth. There was no photo but I think his green finger was pointing. This built incredible suspense or me at that age about a mysterious creature that Steven Spielberg was going to show us.

When the film starts out, we are in a tract home kitchen. There are Mexican designs like stucco visible but it might as well be a cookie cutter copy of what most American kids recognized as home. The kids are playing a board game and a single mother is supplying them with munchies, a pizza is on the way. This could not be more Americana, to me anyway. What makes it even more close to home for me is the way the mother (Dee Wallace) is a real estate agent. My dad was a real estate agent most of my young life in an Orange County city called “Mission Viejo.” It looks almost identical to the town in this film.

There is a little sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and an older brother Mike. Elliot is the middle child who makes the strongest connection with the alien. One night, after being left behind by his ship, ET is discovered by Elliot and that’s where the meter play begins. We get an other-worldly look at ourselves as earthlings through the eyes of this alien called ET.

Spielberg has been making movies that do this for decades. If you recall Back to the Future and the way it took us on a ride back to our childhoods to observe the choices the characters made and how they affected their future. Wouldn’t it be grand to go back and change things? I think it’s a very human thing to wonder that and therefore Spielberg’s film appeals to many. ET has a conflict with grow ups (who might report him to the authorities) and the government, NASA to be specific. In the film, I think Spielberg is showing us about ourselves and the way we want to conquer and own something alien rather than respect and learn from it.

There’s a hypnotic effect that comes from scenes with ET. He is such a creative figure. I heard that Spielberg wanted to make a creature that appeared ugly but would still be endeared to children and adults because of his mannerisms and actions. For many years after the film was released, there were ET shirts and toys selling off the shelves. Watching ET, especially in the final scenes, almost puts me in a trance every time I watch it. He gives the film a dreamy aesthetic that evokes wonder without fear.

I remember the Halloween scene so well because it reminded me of when I would go trick or treating. ET is still being hidden from the mother but the kids pull it off by pretending he’s Gertie dressed up like a ghost in a sheet. He is about her height. To me, this movie is more of a flashback to my childhood than a move plot to be reviewed. I would recommend it to any human as a heartwarming film about childhood. At the same time, know that it is a little sing-song and certainly there is no intense action or definitely no horror. This is a family film with enough of an edge to keep it highly suspenseful and engaging. It has the fingerprint of its household name producer on it for sure. As a classic film of all time, I highly recommend it to you.

Miss Sloane (2016)

Jessica Chastain has made a string of amazing films lately. I just reviewed her most recent one, The Zookeeper’s Wife. She is getting to be a sure bet when it comes to choosing a film to watch. This one is no exception.

Miss Sloane

Miss Sloane

“In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price.” -IMDB

Cast

Jessica Chastain Elizabeth Sloane
Mark Strong Rodolfo Schmidt
Gugu Mbatha-Raw Esme Manucharian
Michael Stuhlbarg Pat Connors

Directed by

John Madden

Written by

Jonathan Perera

Other Info

Drama, Thriller
R
Fri 09 Dec 2016 UTC
132min
IMDB Rating: 7.3

Director John Madden is known for Shakespeare in Love (1998), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and The Debt (2010). These are all powerful films in their own right. This story needed him to direct it because it is a larger than life story with powerful implications to women.

Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane, a rough and tough female lobbyist who gives the “good old boys” of Washington a run for their money. She plays the tough woman well though it isn’t always the one we see her cast in.

The story goes like this: Miss Sloane will do whatever she needs to get the deal to go down. This is not different from a lot of legal and political dramas we’ve seen over the years. What makes it different is that she is just like the male stereotype in the field, even keeping her own male prostitute after a long hard day.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a compelling film to watch that never left me bored. Some of her consequences are predictable but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy watching them play out. How hard can one go until one blows a gasket mentally? Miss Sloane is representative of women who have become like the traditional “Alpha Male” and we certainly don’t begrudge them the right to. Whether it’s the best option as a career is an interesting topic for discussion. I heartily recommend this to keep you on the edge of your seat.

9/10

Cafe Society (2016)

Romance, unrequited love, Hollywood, comedy, all this and more in Woody Allen’s latest flick.

Café Society

Café Society

“In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.” -IMDB

Cast

Jesse Eisenberg Bobby
Kristen Stewart Vonnie
Steve Carell Phil Stern
Blake Lively Veronica

Directed by

Woody Allen

Written by

Woody Allen

Other Info

Comedy, Drama, Romance
PG-13
Fri 05 Aug 2016 UTC
96min
IMDB Rating: 6.7

Allen does a pretty great job with this light romance set in 1930’s Hollywood. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart play the central couple playing “push pull” as he falls in love with her and she is in love with a married man, played by Steve Carell.

I really enjoyed the sets, scenery, and authentic wardrobe. If nothing else, the film puts you in a trance with those things. The story and acting are not much different from what we’ve come to expect from Allen. Still, it’s all enjoyable and there are highs and lows that keep one titillated.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Fans of Woody Allen films will enjoy this as it is true to formula. There is a couple and tension is visited upon them. In this case it’s up to us to guess which of the lovers is more foolish. I was just glad to see Allen put something out in 2016. I have to admit, I’m an almost unconditional fan of his work. Notwithstanding, this film is empirically good as a light romance period piece and I recommend it!

8/10

The Cell (2000)

Looking back at J Lo in this reveals and/or reminds the appeal she had even in 2000. She’s a detective out to catch a serial killer and he is quite elusive indeed.

The Cell

The Cell

“An FBI agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.” -IMDB

Cast

Jennifer Lopez Catherine Deane
Vince Vaughn Peter Novak
Vincent D’Onofrio Carl Stargher
Colton James Edward Baines

Directed by

Tarsem Singh

Written by

Mark Protosevich

Other Info

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
R
Fri 18 Aug 2000 UTC
107min
IMDB Rating: 6.3

The most important thing to note about this film is its visuals. They are creepy at least and horrifying at most. The visuals make this more than just a serial killer cat and mouse chase. Through a new technology, we get to see inside his thoughts, even through the murders themselves.

This movie may be hard to watch for some who are not open to its avaunt garde approach. It’s surreal and not always clear as to where people are or what is really happening.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Even by today’s standards, the effects in this are stunning. The acting and stories are not the best in this genre but they aerve the story well enough to make the film a fun ride. Despite it’s few flaws, I recommend it.

8/10

Pollock (2000)

Jackson Pollock was an American painter with a very eccentric personality. This film is his story. It has great acting and realistic, interesting story about how his odd pieces of art made it into the textbooks.

Pollock

Pollock

“A film about the life and career of the American painter, Jackson Pollock.” -IMDB

Cast

Ed Harris Jackson Pollock
Marcia Gay Harden Lee Krasner
Robert Knott Sande Pollock
Molly Regan Arloie Pollock

Directed by

Ed Harris

Written by

Steven Naifeh, Gregory White Smith

Other Info

Biography, Drama
R
Fri 23 Mar 2001 UTC
122min
IMDB Rating: 7.0

Ed Harris plays Jackson Pollock and also carries the job of director. I usually don’t care for films where the lead actor directs himself because I think it comes off as self serving. That’s not the case here. Harris presents to us a vivid story with vibrant characters and a thought-provoking script. Some may be put off by a slow pace at times. Not all scenes seem to fit together as important. Nonetheless, I found it enjoyable and entrancing.

Besides great directing and acting, there is a mesmerizing musical score in this film. It weaves in and out of the film and adds a lot of color to what’s happening. The film tells the story of Jackson Pollock and carries it through nine years to show how he achieved success and the effects of that success on his relationship and mental health. Pollock is well known for a type of painting that looks simply like splattered brushes across a canvas. This film helps show how he is much more of a painter than that and there is much more to his art.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The theme of art and a strong, alluring musical score make this a winner with me. Would you like to get a peek into the mind of an incredible artist? This film allows you that. For fans of art and art history around the time of Pollock, I highly recommend this film.

8/10