Film Review – Loving Vincent

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Giving new meaning to the term labour of love, Loving Vincent is a visually mesmerising but dramatically tepid animated film, examining the events surrounding the death of celebrated painter Vincent Van Gogh.

Starting with the positives, the film is an astonishing technical achievement. Directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman shot live action performances, then had each frame painstakingly and lovingly oil painted in Van Gogh’s style, frequently segueing into famous images from his artwork (such as the crows over the cornfield). One is reminded of films like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly (which did a similar thing with live action tracings), but this still feels like a singular piece of work. Incidentally, the Academy aspect ratio used here cleverly matches that of Van Gogh’s paintings.

Taking it’s structural cue from Citizen Kane, the film is set a year after Vincent’s supposed suicide, as a young man Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth) tries to deliver a letter written by Vincent to his brother Theo. Upon discovering that Theo is also dead, Armand begins to ask questions about the circumstances around Vincent’s death, leading to monochrome flashbacks and raising the possibility of murder.

Such Amadeus style speculation cannot be definitively answered, but it is a shame the film lacks the narrative drive to match the passion that has clearly driven the animation. Booth is good in the lead, and there is decent support from the likes of Robert Glyaczk, Saoirse Ronan, John Sessions, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, Jerome Flynn and Chris O’Dowd. Yet I can’t help but wonder what might have been with a less dramatically inert screenplay.

In short, Loving Vincent is a worthwhile film for the curious, but not the masterpiece that might have been. That said it is a visually beautiful tribute to one of the greatest artists of all time.

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Inspiration: Children of the Folded Valley

Concluding my series on inspiration and influences for my novels, here’s a look at the stories that informed my most successful and “personal” book to date, Children of the Folded Valley.

Folded Valley cover

A coming of age memoir set against a “light” science fiction backdrop, Children of the Folded Valley is about a man recalling his childhood and adolescence amid an unusual religious cult. The novel draws on some elements of personal experience, but here are seven key texts that were also influential.

The Remains of the Day (Kazou Ishiguro) – Children of the Folded Valley has a similar flashback structure to Ishiguro’s masterpiece, with the protagonist also taking a journey from Oxfordshire to the West Country during his reminiscences. Obviously The Remains of the Day has very different subject matter, but the melancholy theme of wasted lives is definitely an undercurrent in my own novel.

Never Let Me Go (Kazou Ishiguro) – Ishiguro again, and actually a novel I am less keen on because for me dystopian narratives really need to culminate in an act of rebellion (successfully or otherwise). Although brilliantly written, this one is determined to be “realistic”, with the characters resigned to their fate, at the expense of dramatic satisfaction. However, it remains a key influence for this reason: I love the way the science fiction element remains very much in the background, unrevealed until it absolutely has to be, and even then very obliquely.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) – As with Never Let Me Go, the science fiction elements are kept cleverly in the background (hence my term “light” science fiction), because they are less important than the bone-chilling themes of religious dystopia. The hideous treatment of women in this appalling future was also influential to a certain degree, though to be honest I must sadly admit I didn’t have to look too far into my own experience of real life religious organisations to find inspiration on that front.

1984 (George Orwell) – Well, obviously. I mean, anyone writing a dystopian novel has to acknowledge the granddaddy of them all. Orwell’s scathing, brilliant condemnation of totalitarianism is a clear influence, even though his novel focusses more on political dictatorship and mine on religious dictatorship. Like Shakespeare and Dickens, Orwell despised “the mob” (in this case, a political mob manipulated by the state). In my novel, the brainwashed “mob”, followers of cult leader Benjamin Smiley, are equally insidious at times, even though they too are victims. The “bleeding” scene in Children of the Folded Valley is also influenced a little by “Room 101”.

The Wizard of Oz (L Frank Baum) – The wizard being revealed as a fraud is an important moment in the novel (and in the film), although the effect is largely comical. In Children of the Folded Valley, when Smiley is revealed for what he is, the effect is devastating. However, there remains a touch of the Wizard of Oz in his character, despite Smiley’s malevolence.

Great Expectations (Charles Dickens) – Just as 1984 is the ultimate dystopian novel, Great Expectations is the ultimate coming of age story and I borrowed from it extensively. There are definitely elements of Estella and Pip in the relationship between James and Miranda, though again I know the backgrounds are very different. It’s also worth giving an honourable mention to The Kite Runner here, as there were tonal elements that were an inspiration, particularly in the novel’s latter stages.

Lost (TV series) – Yes, I know this ultimately led to an exasperating and disappointing finale, but along the way the story of “the Others” proved very influential, in the way they operated much like a cult. Benjamin Smiley is not deliberately named after Ben Linus, but it is an amusing coincidence.

You can download or buy print copies of Children of the Folded Valley from Amazon here.

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Film Review – Blade Runner 2049

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Despite the drooling critical acclaim lavished on Denis Villeneuve’s much belated sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece, based on one viewing at least, I’d say this isn’t in the pantheon of genuinely great sequels (ie The Godfather Part II, The Empire Strikes Back). However Blade Runner 2049 is still a very good film, and one that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible with the best sound system.

Quite honestly, its best to know nothing about the plot going in (the film does assume you’ve seen the first one). Suffice to say, the themes of the original are explored again and at times expanded upon. Loneliness, cyber-slavery, the nature of memory… What does it mean to be human? To have a soul? One character is amusingly told he is getting on fine without one, but then Villeneuve (and screenwriters Hampton Fincher and Michael Green) expand the story into territory previously covered in films like Her and TV series such as the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. There is at least one very neat unexpected turn, and other bigger questions that arise – Can a civilisation be great without slavery of some kind? Is a transhumanist evolution inevitable? – are at least touched upon, though not necessarily fully explored. Nor do they need to be. Blade Runner has always been about ambiguity, and those looking for answers to the big questions raised by the original – including the true nature of Deckard (Harrison Ford) – are likely to end up with more questions. That’s as it should be.

Speaking of Harrison Ford, though he arrives late in the story, his performance here is terrific. Ryan Gosling is equally terrific as the main protagonist, and there is fine support from Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Sylvia Hoeks and various others, including a few cameos from characters in the original film. Musically, Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer provide a good stab at imitation Vangelis, with some effective quotations from the original score in key places.

Villeneuve directs with considerable flair; echoing the original with big close up shots of eyeballs and vast, smoggy dystopian cityscapes. The opening, which includes huge wide shots of solar farms, is genuinely breathtaking. Equally breathtaking moments follow, including the orange haze of a post-nuclear contamination Las Vegas, and an extraordinary fight sequence that takes place amid damaged holographic projections of performers like Elvis Presley. Oppressive yet oddly beautiful noir gloom hangs heavy on every frame, and for this man-of-the-match cinematographer Roger Deakins deserves every award going, especially that long overdue Oscar.

There are certainly nits to pick. For one thing the film is probably too long, and at least one of the afore-mentioned cameos feels unwarranted. There are certain plot beats from the first film that are recreated, and whilst that is sometimes effective, at least one key scene felt like an exceptionally expensive piece of fan fiction. As with the original film, I should add warnings to the sensitive for violence, swearing and nudity, though as with the original film, I think the context justifies it.

One more thing worth mentioning: the religious imagery and overtones subtly woven into the climax of the original appear again here, in a manner of speaking. This is a film that begins with one character being told he has “never seen a miracle”, only for it to end with a Christ metaphor that brings hope and redemption in an otherwise unremittingly bleak world. The metaphor isn’t as subtle or poignant as it is in the original, but it is effective.

All things considered, Blade Runner 2049 is far from the disaster it could have been. Indeed it is an unusually good film. However I suspect (and again, I stress this is based on one viewing), that it is not a great one.

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Inspiration: Uncle Flynn

Continuing my series on inspiration and influences for my books, here’s a look at texts that informed my debut novel, Uncle Flynn.

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A thrilling treasure hunt inspired by local history and walks on Dartmoor with my oldest son, Uncle Flynn is a good old-fashioned adventure story for young and old alike, with a surprising twist in the tale. It delves into themes of overcoming fear and the dangers of mollycoddling, but the heart of the story concerns the restoration of a relationship between father and son. Here are five key influential texts:

Five on a Treasure Island (Enid Blyton) – Not my favourite Famous Five novel (that would be Five go to Smuggler’s Top) but certainly the biggest influence on Uncle Flynn in that it features a map, treasure and villainous rival treasure hunters. Like all good treasure hunt stories, the real prize is not the gold but something greater – in this case, lonely George gaining lifelong friends in her cousins. In the case of Uncle Flynn, the afore-mentioned restored relationship between Max and his father is the real prize.

Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson) – I could hardly exclude this. As well as obvious treasure hunt iconography (maps, gold, etc), there are elements of Long John Silver in the darker side of Uncle Flynn. My book doesn’t have pirates though.

Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome) – Another obvious touchstone, and a classic of children having adventures out of doors. The inspiration here is more tonal, though other Ransome novels contain elements that perhaps proved a more direct influence on the plot (for example Peter Duck and Pigeon Post, which are both treasure hunt stories).

The Goonies (Film) – Childhood nostalgia plays a big part in my affection for this film, a treasure hunt adventure packed with secret tunnels, maps, boobie traps, villainous treasure hunters and so forth. Obviously there are also treacherous secret tunnels and treasure chambers in Uncle Flynn, so the influence is obvious.

Mary Poppins (PL Travers) – To be fair, the film provided much of the inspiration here, since the character arc of Mr Banks isn’t really present in the novels. Uncle Flynn shares a certain amount in common with Mary Poppins, in that he enters the story at a point when Max really needs him. They go on great adventures, like Mary Poppins with the Banks children, so in that sense both the books and the film are an influence. But it is the film that features the restoration of the relationship between Jane and Michael and their parents. Just as Mary Poppins leaves “when the wind changes” so Flynn leaves once Max’s relationship with his father is restored.

You can download or buy print copies of Uncle Flynn from Amazon here.

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Download The Thistlewood Curse FREE – for five days only!

Download The Thistlewood Curse absolutely FREE from Amazon Kindle – for five days only!

 

The Thistlewood Curse is a riveting supernatural thriller featuring a young detective and her lifelong friend, a paranormal investigator who specialises in astral projection. With a page-turning central mystery guaranteed to keep you guessing until the terrifying finale, don’t miss your chance to check it out absolutely FREE.

Here is the blurb from the back of the novel:

Can a ghost murder the living?

Lawrence Crane’s powers of astral projection are put to the ultimate test when he and his lifelong friend Detective Laura Buchan investigate a mysterious death on Lundy Island.

Sensing a dark power at work, they attempt to identify a human assassin under the control of supernatural evil.

But can they escape a terrifying, centuries-old curse?

Here’s a sample of the five-star reviews from Amazon readers:

“Everyone is a suspect… I usually can figure it out, but this was complex and kept me guessing… intensifying the scary aspects of the story because the murderer is so close and can strike anyone at any time.” – A Critical Reader

“Simon Dillon’s streak continues with another cracking book! The authors storytelling is top notch with the twists, turns and suspense covering the book with glue, that is to say, you can’t put it down.” – CaptainMJL

“This one will certainly leave you with “novel hangover,” still reeling from the emotional storm that just picked you up and spit you out. It was engaging, captivating, and immersive from the very beginning, and the plot twists were a pleasant surprise.” – Amazon Customer

“This wonderful thrilling novel is full of unexpected turns and reveals such a vast world of the spiritual realm. Surprisingly refreshing to read a detective mystery from a different aspect not only in the physical being.” – Liran

Download your FREE copy of The Thistlewood Curse here.

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Film Review – Goodbye Christopher Robin

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As an author I am predisposed to like Goodbye Christopher Robin, a biopic about AA Milne and his son Christopher Robin, and how the huge success of Winnie the Pooh affected their relationship. Given that I too have drawn inspiration from my children and their imaginary worlds for some of my novels, I fully expected I would enjoy the film. And enjoy it I did. It’s not groundbreaking cinema, but it is funny, touching and insightful.

Alan Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) returns from World War I suffering from PSTD; a condition little understood at that time, even by his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie). Relocating his family to the Sussex countryside to pen a hefty anti-war tome, Milne finds he cannot write, to the frustration of Daphne. She then leaves, telling him she will return when he has recovered his mojo. But rather than write an anti-war book, Milne finds himself drawn to his son Christopher (Will Tilston and Alex Lawther, playing him aged 8 and 18 respectively) and his childhood games. The two bond, and Christopher also forms a strong attachment to his nanny Olive (Kelly MacDonald). Along the way we see how the famous When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six poems were inspired (notably Vespers and Disobedience), as well as the characters and locations in Winnie the Pooh and so on. But once Milne’s books are a huge hit, and Daphne returns, Christopher struggles with the publicity of being at the centre of the increasingly famous stories. A rift with his father ensues as the shadow of World War II looms…

Director Simon Curtis helms with a sure hand, and performances are good. Some of the supporting characters are drawn a bit too thinly (Margot Robbie’s Daphne is particularly underdeveloped, and comes off as rather hard-hearted for much of the film), and this never quite scales the emotional heights of equivalent films (Finding Neverland for instance). Yet the central relationship is charming and believable. Certainly moments where Christopher inadvertently helps his father come to terms with the war are quite moving, as are the bittersweet scenes dealing with unwanted fame and growing up. Childhood is all too fleeting, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who left the cinema immediately wanting to go home and play with my children.

In short, Goodbye Christopher Robin is an insightful look at one of the most beloved properties in English literature, and a poignant father/son tale. Suitable for the entire family, but will be most appreciated by grown-ups.

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Film Review – Brimstone

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The shadow of Night of the Hunter looms large over Brimstone, a lengthy, lurid and savagely violent Dutch western from writer/director Martin Koolhoven. Upfront warnings for bad language, nudity, sex, violence and sexual violence are hereby duly issued, as this is another film that well and truly earns it’s 18 certificate.

The film is divided into four segments, each of them biblically titled (Revelation, Exodus, Genesis) save the finale (Retribution). The first part involves a mute farmer’s wife named Liz (Dakota Fanning), who is unsettled by the arrival of a new preacher in town (Guy Pierce). Her husband cannot understand her seemingly inexplicable alarm at the stranger’s presence. But when the preacher informs her that he is there to punish her, it becomes apparent their paths have crossed before. The promised punishment arrives swiftly, and at this point the film flashes back to prior events, then events prior to that, before finally returning to the present for the climactic chunk.

Brimstone is a curious but exceptionally nasty film. Beautifully photographed by Rogier Stoffers, with a fine score by Tom Holkenborg, it grips and intrigues for the most part, but it is overlong. The flashback structure reminds one of Tarantino, but without his sharp dialogue. Furthermore, whilst one senses the film wants to say something important about Christianity’s often appalling treatment of women, or the hypocrisy of repressed religious zealots, it’s impossible to take this entirely seriously. The film revels in sadism rather too much for this to be a plausible treatise on misogynistic perversions of the Christian faith.

And what sadism it is too. The screen is awash with graphic shootings, stabbings, throat-slashing, disembowelment, rape, incest, whippings, more whippings, hanging and more hanging… After a while it ceases to have dramatic vigour and just becomes numbing. By dialling the melodrama up to eleventy-stupid, I ended up thinking of the film as exploitation cinema masquerading as something more respectable.

All that said, I was never bored, and the film didn’t lack suspense, or scenery chewing performances (very pretty scenery, as it happens). Guy Pierce is wonderfully over the top and Dakota Fanning does very well too, along with Emilia Jones who plays the younger version of her character. And yes, no doubt to the delight of Game of Thrones fans, Kit Harington turns up too, in a supporting role.

In final analysis, Brimstone is a compelling if rather flawed piece of work. Night of the Hunter it ain’t, though it borrows extensively from that Charles Laughton classic, but it’s still well worth a look for genre fans.

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Inspiration: Dr Gribbles and the Beast of Blackthorn Lodge

Continuing my series on inspiration and influences for my books (which I began earlier this year), here’s a look at stories which informed my novel, Dr Gribbles and the Beast of Blackthorn Lodge.

This is a gripping tale for all ages with action and thrills to spare, involving spies, monsters, haunted houses, mad scientists and lots more besides. Inspired by the nightmares of my youngest son, here are five stories that also informed Dr Gribbles and the Beast of Blackthorn Lodge.

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) – An obvious influence. Whilst I don’t pretend that Dr Gribbles is a particularly weighty addition to the canon of literature on the dangers of playing God, those themes are present in my novel nonetheless.

Moonfleet (J Meade Falkner) – The chapter near the start of the novel, with John trapped beneath the crypt, definitely influenced the scarier, early sections of Dr Gribbles inside the “haunted” Blackthorn Lodge.

The Goonies (Film) – This film was a more obvious inspiration for Uncle Flynn, but the sequence where the gang hearing growling from the cellar and think the villains have a monster chained up is a clear influence on the section where Tim and Rob find the Creature in the cellar of Blackthorn Lodge.

The Living Daylights (Film) – In addition to obvious spy thriller influences, the novel is set in 1987, the year this film was released. Another homage to this underrated Timothy Dalton James Bond adventure can be found in the names of two key characters, Saunders and Whitaker (in The Living Daylights, Saunders is the MI6 Head of Section in Vienna, and Whitaker is an arms dealer villain).

An Unspecified Popular Fairy Tale – I cannot actually reveal the name of the fairy tale in question as it would make the ending of my novel too guessable, but if you read Dr Gribbles it will become very obvious that I’ve created my own rather demented take on said fairy tale.

You can download or buy print copies of Dr Gribbles and the Beast of Blackthorn Lodge from Amazon here.

 

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Film Review – Close Encounters of the Third Kind (re-release)

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Steven Spielberg’s 1977 masterpiece Close Encounters of the Third Kind has returned to UK cinemas in a very limited run. I have now seen this on the big screen in a variety of formats, including 70mm, 35mm and now digital 4K, but the fact remains that any big screen viewing is at least twenty times as powerful as watching it on television. In fact, this is in my top five, must-see at the cinema movies, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

For the purposes of this review, I am assuming everyone has seen the film. If you haven’t, stop reading now and find a screening immediately, because this review will have no regard for spoilers. Here then are ten reasons why, 40 years on, Close Encounters remains a stone-cold classic of the genre, plus one reason why, for all it’s brilliance, the film is flawed.

“He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him.”

The opening is nothing less than masterful. Initially silent white on black opening titles are gradually disrupted by an eerie chord, which builds and builds to a dramatic crescendo before the screen explodes into light. This incredible cut simultaneously celebrates the light and sound show that is cinema, hints at the aliens returning those planes that were lost in the Bermuda Triangle into the middle of the Mexican desert, and finally engages the viewer with the dramatic reveal of a light in a sandstorm, which turns out not to be a UFO, but the headlamp of a jeep. Amid the confusion and linguistic misunderstandings that follow, as UN officials meet with Mexican authorities trying to make sense of the inexplicable return of Bermuda Triangle planes, one witness speaks enigmatically of what he saw, whilst a translator notes: “He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him.” The sheer mysteriousness of the entire scene sends thrilling shivers up my spine every time I see it.

“Toby! You are close to death!”

This scene, introducing protagonist Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) and his family is a brilliantly observed sequence of suburban family squalor. Everyone talks over everyone else, and there are mess, misunderstandings and moments of utter hilarity, such as when Roy informs his oldest son he isn’t going to help with his maths homework, because that was why he went to school and studied, so he wouldn’t have to do maths homework. Or better still, when Roy yells at his younger son, after the noise of his incessant doll smashing pushes him to breaking point: “Toby! You are close to death!”

“This is nuts!”

Lost on the highway at night, Roy stares distractedly at a map whilst car headlights draw up behind his vehicle. Roy waves the car past, but rather than go around, the lights move up. Roy’s subsequent encounter with the UFO, and his eerie discovery of the people watching the UFOs on the hillside, brilliantly heightens the feeling of mystery, with Vilmos Zsigmond’s phenomenal cinematography at it’s most potent with bold, beautiful blacks featuring magical starfields and cloudscapes.

“Toys!”

The sequence where little Barry (Cary Guffey) is abducted by aliens is full-on terrifying, like a scene from a horror movie. The only thing that undercuts the terror is Barry’s complete absence of fear, as he has already discovered the aliens are not malevolent.

“I guess you’ve noticed there’s something wrong with Dad…”

Driven insane by the vision of a mountain in his mind, Roy builds said mountain out of shaving cream, pillows and even mashed potato, much to the alarm of his increasingly worried family. Eventually Roy’s breakdown precipitates his wife taking the children and leaving, whilst he remains behind to build a gigantic replica of the mountain in their sitting room. When this mountain turns out to be a real place – deftly revealed as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming – Barry’s mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) joins Roy there, despite the fact that the entire area is being evacuated.

“No-one’s going to believe the plague in this day and age!”

Said evacuation is undertaken due to a government cover-up of gargantuan proportions, and it is here that the film is all too believable. One darkly comic scene features a group of people trying to come up with a cover story scary enough to make sure everyone evacuates (“No-one’s going to believe the plague in this day and age!”), and there is something undeniably unsettling about large government vehicles masquerading as Coca-Cola trucks and the like.

“I want to talk to someone in charge!”

Needless to say, Roy and Jillian defy the quarantine, but are captured and are eventually questioned by Laughlin (Bob Balaban) and LaCombe (Francois Truffaut). The scene where Roy berates them, telling them they have no right to make people crazy, demanding to see “someone in charge” has been paid homage to in several films, most recently the 2014 Godzilla.

The appearance of the mothership

This sequence alone fully justifies seeking this film out on the biggest screen and best sound system possible. Mere words cannot describe the sheer jaw dropping spectacle and beauty of that moment, not to mention the incredible use of sound (most speakers simply cannot handle the low frequencies). The staggering, non-CGI visual effects were ground-breaking and remain as impressive as ever today.

“Play the five tones.”

Sound and music play key roles in the narrative, which includes John Williams’s evocative, Oscar-nominated score (he lost out at the Oscars – to himself – for Star Wars). The sequence where the aliens and humans learn to talk together with music remains a delightful, whimsical moment. Of course, communication is a key theme of the film.

“Bye…”

Which brings me to the ending. The moment where Roy volunteers to be taken away by the aliens – sticking out like a sore thumb next to the other potential astronauts all lined up with perfect neatness – is a sublime fusion of exquisite direction, cinematography, editing, sound and music. The way the aliens choose him, lifting his arms and carrying him away in a moment of rapture… It always brings a tear to my eye. Final farewells are said, and the mothership ascends… A cathedral of lights rising into the heavens, becoming a star.

My one criticism?

No matter how you slice it, the fact that Roy goes off with the aliens, leaving his wife and children (presumably forever) doesn’t quite sit right with me. Nor with Spielberg. Years later he admitted he made a mistake with that part of the script, which was doubtless influenced by the trauma of his own parent’s separation (he explored this theme much more effectively in the later E.T. The Extra Terrestrial).

That said, I understand what Spielberg was aiming for at a metaphorical level – a spiritual journey whereby those of limited vision cannot understand what is happening to Roy. I just think the story would have been better served if Roy had a different backstory that meant his ascent with the aliens didn’t mean abandoning a family.

One final thought: This is, absolutely, a deeply spiritual film akin to something of a religious experience. Interest in the UFO phenomena is an understandable response to the spiritual yearning in all of humanity for something greater than themselves. The problem, from a Christian perspective, is that the real UFO phenomena is both deeply alarming and almost certainly demonic. In 1977, Spielberg claimed he would never make a film about unfriendly aliens as the idea seemed absurd to him. Yet since then he has made a number of films that feature more malevolent extra-terrestrials, including War of the Worlds and the fourth Indiana Jones film. I can only wonder at where Spielberg’s research has taken him, and what has caused him to change his mind.

All that said, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is still a magnificent, moving and uplifting science fiction classic, filled with wonderful performances and stunning, iconic set pieces. It remains an essential watch on the big screen.

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Out of Context

I recently noticed Goodreads and Amazon contain features that allow readers to highlight quotes from my novels. Seeing these snippets out of context is interesting, because in some cases they cease to be the thoughts of my characters and become statements of belief or insights into life.

Folded Valley cover

For example, in the case of my most popular novel to date, Children of the Folded Valley, here are some out context thoughts:

On school:

“It was the culture of school I took a great disliking to; the idea that academic study is the be-all and end-all, and that to fail is to fail at life.”

On adolescence:

“When you feel the whole world wants you to act like an adult, but it continues to treat you like a child, you no longer trust the adult world.”

On selfishness:

“People often use childhood or adolescent trauma as an excuse for selfish decisions they take, and I for one refuse to offer such a simplistic explanation.”

On nostalgia:

“I do not long for the past, yet nor do I think of it as exclusively bad. I don’t ever want to go back, but I want things that are trapped there, lost forever.”

If any authors reading this have had a similar experience, by all means drop a few of your own out of context one-liners in the comments.

 

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