Close Encounters is about no less than human curiosity, our capacity to believe that aliens must represent the best in ourselves, and have the answers we’ve been looking for. Though it was sold on its intricate sets and handcrafted spaceships, it’s most reputable for Richard Dreyfuss, and Spielberg’s fathering of him.
Be wary of superheroes that seem like they were invented as puns. You might end up with a passionate mess, with 85% Dutch angles, undeveloped characters, and a soundtrack like a prepubescent DJ’s iPod on shuffle. “Justice is blind,” proclaims Daredevil. So is Matt Murdock. So is Mark Steven Johnson.
The plot of Duck Soup doesn’t exist in any conventional sense. The fictional country of Freedonia appoints Groucho Marx their king but that isn’t the point. Duck Soup understands that plots exist not to make sense of the ensuing antics, but only to get Groucho into the center of attention for an hour.
The Neon Demon shares a Grecian passion for allegory, telling a story of envy as a clash of idols in an uncertain realm. This film speaks through its eyes. It’s not really a movie with “characters.” It more resembles a statue gallery: Refn might be an over-imaginative child walking through it, making up the life and times of the stone prisoners cursed to stare at each other forever.
If Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a tour of fantasy-land (who else thought their feelings seemed stuffed with baubles like gift-bags from a theme park?), The Chamber of Secrets is like accidentally wandering into the maintenance closet. Something is disenchanted by it, and I can think of no harsher criticism, to call something squinty that once was wide-eyed.