Top 100 Movie Review: No. 080 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Ranked 80 on the IMDB Top 100 Movies. Watched August 2018.

Actors: Richard Dreyfuss (Roy Neary), Melinda Dillon (Jillian Guiler), Francois Truffaut (Claude Lacombe), Teri Garr (Ronnie Neary)
Director: Steven Spielberg

My rating: 8.5 / 10
Danelle’s rating: ? / 10

Synopsis:
Science fiction adventure about a group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) and single mother Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon) and her son witnesses an unidentified flying object. While in parallel story a group of research scientists from a variety of backgrounds lead by Frenchman Claude Lacombe are investigating the strange appearance of ships and WW11 planes in remote locations.

What’s to Like:
The sounds and music and practical effects are outstanding, the suspense, the end positive message and tone from what would be a frightening situation. The Frenchman who barely speaks English being the key scientist for most of the movie and the United Nations involvement which would be rare for a USA film made these days.

What’s not to Like:
Roy’s obsession with the UFO’s drives his family away in fear and he seemingly abandons them without much thought or later reference. Roy and Ronnie Neary’s parenting style of yelling and threatening their children is out of place.

Thoughts:
This is a classic sci-fi movie that stands the test of time. It’s amazing how many scenes have been reused or inspired other movies over the years for example the alien ships on the mountain and the sound communication. The plot throws up lots of mystery and questions; Are the aliens friendly? Will have they abducted people? Can we communicate with them? How would we in reality deal with such a situation?

The movie is more than just a science fiction movie, in many ways it is more of a drama with conspiracy thriller overtones that looks at how those of us on Earth might react to the possibility that there really is something out there by following two parallel storylines of the (optimistic) scientist / (concerned) government officials and the everyday people caught up with the sightings. With the aliens kept off-screen until the end and their presence only represented sporadically via mysterious lights and fleeting glimpses of their spacecraft you focus on the reactions, the military keeping it under wraps, the optimistic scientist, the panicked average citizen, how people react to others who have claimed to have an encounter, friends abandoning friends, and a wife abandoning her husband (very understand BTW).

While there are no action pieces in this movie as such the abduction scene of Jillian’s three year old son Barry was terrifying the first time I saw this movie. Jillian desperately trying to keep the aliens out while I son just wants to play with them after his previous positive experience.

The movie ranges from silly humour to drama to wonder and to outright terror—without any major issues. The characters are believable and interesting throughout, the individual who bought up his earlier bigfoot sighting showing how those who could have an experience could easily be shot down and seen as crazy. I thought that Jillian’s character after breaking into a ‘chemical’ spill quarantined area, evading the military and then climbing the difficult Devil’s Tower would not have stood back right at the end, her desperation for her son and everything she had been though probably wouldn’t not have seen her stop just short of meeting the aliens but eventually she comes down when she spots Barry leaving the UFO.

Any enjoyable movie well worth it’s place in a top movies of all-time list.

Academy Awards:

  1. Best Cinematography
  2. Best Sound effects editing
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Top 100 Movie Review: No. 099 – North by Northwest (1959)

Ranked 100 on IMDB Top 100 Movies.  Watched June 2017

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Actors: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

My rating: 9.5 / 10
Danelle’s rating: Unknown / 10

Synopsis:
A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

What’s to Like:
Iconic biplane and Mount Rushmore scenes, the double crosses and misunderstandings, surprising comedic moments

What’s not to Like:
Nothing.

Thoughts:
Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a hapless ad man who gets mistaken has a CIA agent while ducking his mother. Thornhill is then mistaken for “George Kaplan” and is kidnapped an interrogated. Despite Thornhill denying he is “George Kaplan“ this isn’t believed so the bad guys try to stage his death by forcing him to get drunk and having a driving accident. Thornhill manages to miraculously steer away from danger but is soon arrested for driving under the influence with both the police and his mother not believing him 🙂

Thornhill then spends most of the movie trying to clear his name as he chased across the country under the direction of the chilling Phillip Vandamm (played by James Mason), the spy master who imports and exports government secrets.

In the process of escaping death by car, the iconic biplane at a remote country bus stop and a near fall from Lincoln’s nose, Thornhill falls in love for the beautiful double agent Eve Kendall (played by Eva Marie Saint), who’s motives are rarely clear.

It’s only later revealed that ‘Kaplan‘ does not exist and was invented to distract Vandamm from the real government agent Eve Kendall. By the time Thornhill has the proof that he isn’t a spy he nobility goes along with the plan in order to keep Eve Kendall safe by staging his death.

Eve is a complex character who feels trapped in this double agent role and in my mind is a standout character determined to see her double agent role though even when knowing it could lead to her death at any time.

This movie is a mystery thriller with some comedic moments. It’s amazing how good the outdoors scenes are given the technology of the time, the character interactions keep you guessing on what is happening and why and while you suspect our heroes will survive there are tense moments as either or both Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall could perish as the movie reaches it’s thrilling end.

The movie was nominated for 3 academy awards:

    Best Writing, Story and Screenplay
    Best Art Direction
    Best Film Editing
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Top 100 Movie Review: No. 100 – Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Ranked 100 on IMDB Top 100 Movies.  Watched May 2017.

Actors: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf
Director: Michael Curtiz

My rating: 9 / 10
Danelle’s rating: 7 / 10

Synopsis:
Brought to the White House to receive a Congressional Gold Medal from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Broadway legend George M. Cohan (James Cagney) reflects on his life. Flashbacks trace Cohan’s rise, from a childhood performing in his family’s vaudeville act to his early days as a struggling Tin Pan Alley songwriter to his overwhelming success as an actor, writer, director and producer known for patriotic songs like “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.”

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Top 100 Movie Review: No. 083 – The Graduate (1967)

Ranked 083 on IMDB Top 100 Movie list. Watched May 2018.

Director: Mike Nichols
Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross

Nathan’s rating: 7.5 / 10
Danelle’s rating: 4 / 10

Synopsis:
A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

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Kathmandu and Nepal 2018 Bound

So it’s over 4 months since I returned to so-called reality of the working life. A necessity for sure in the economic world we live in, I need that money to travel the world. So unlike the aftermath of other big trips which usually means 2-3 years before travelling again this time I have a short 17 day trip around Kathmandu and Nepal via short one day stopovers in Hong Kong.

KathmanduFlights Booked
So I’ve booked my flights, starting with a paid economy one way ticket to Hong Kong with a mid morning flight on 12 October for $448.64. The mid morning flight means Qantas First Class Lounge time in Melbourne 🙂 From here I booked a return business class award on Cathay Pacific for 76,000 points and $593 HKD ($100 AUD). And finally another award ticket in Business Class on Cathay Pacific costing 65,000 points and $471 HKD ($80 AUD).

By Hong Kong (SAR) law airlines can only add charge actual taxes to award redemptions and not additional airline fees which is why I booked award flights from there but paid for the flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong. If I had booked award flights from Melbourne it would have cost about the same money and a lot more in precious points. This cost me $628.64 and 141,000 points for 1 economy flight and 3 business class flights. Booking all this flights as award redemptions would have cost $603 AUD and 169,000 points so I’m happy to pay $25 extra to save 28,000 points to go towards another business or first class flight in the future. I think I’ll use Hong Kong to position more award flights in future.

The flight up with Qantas will be on the A330-300 in economy (see a review here) as a Platinum member I have a small chance of having an empty aisle seat next to my window seat, I guess I’ll see. The Hong Kong to Kathmandu return business class flights is also on a A330-300 in Business Class but this isn’t like the modern long haul international (see a review here of this regional product) but will be fine for 5 hour flight even if the return flight is overnight.

But the real highlight is the return nine hour fifteen minute Cathay Pacific flight in business class on their new A350-900 service. This flight leaves Hong Kong at midnight and I’m sure I’ll enjoy when the seat turned in at flat bed (see review here).

Cathay Pacific Business Class A350-900

Lounges
One of the reasons I booked this flight this year is to take advantage of my Qantas Platinum membership. This gets me into the First Class lounges in both Melbourne (Qantas) and Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific) along with standard lounge in Kathmandu.

I’ve been to the First Class Lounge in Melbourne most recently as part of the Emirates First Class flight back n November 2017 (review here). Hopefully this time I might get to use the massage service.

The big chance here is to visit the large range of Cathay Pacific Lounges in Hong Kong. These are:

  • The Wing (First and Business Class Lounge) – Gate 1
  • The Bridge (Business Class Lounge) – Gate 35
  • The Cabin (Business Class Lounge) – Gate 23
  • The Pier (First and Business Class Lounge) – Gates 62
  • The Arrival (Business Class Lounge) – Passengeway between Terminals 1 & 2
  • The Deck (Business Class Lounge) – Near Gate 16

The Wing even has a private Cabana!

Cathay Pacific The Wing Private Cabana

The Cathay Pacific Lounge review here is something I’ll be reading a few times to plan my two visits to Hong Kong.

I might even find time to visit the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge (review here) as well but I’ve been there before and while I recall it was very good I think compared to Cathay Pacific’s Lounges I known where I’ll be spending most of my time 🙂

Now for the actual trip in this three places which I’ll cover in my next post.

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Africa 2017-18 Retrospective

The hardest part of a long an enjoyable trip is saying goodbye and transiting back into the so called ‘real’ life of Monday to Friday work. You end up in a half way situation of remembering fondly your trip but not wanting to look back too thoroughly as you’ll be sad you aren’t still there but not able to fully commit back to your normal life. At least this is my experience after a great trip and that’s exactly how I feel back my African Adventure.

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Africa Trip 2017-18: Day 62 Johannesburg to Melbourne, Australia

Monday 22 January 2018.
Highlights: Qantas Business Class experience, Returning home.

The last day of the trip was here and started with boarding the QF064 Johannesburg to Sydney for the 11 hour flight home. I flipped over my Fitbit watch back to Australian time and according to my watch it was now Monday 22 January 2018 not Sunday 21 January 2018 as the Johannesburg TV screens stated 🙂

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