It’s never easy making a film of a great novel. For director Stanley Kubrick, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita presented not only the fairly typical challenge of translating a story built around characters’ internal thoughts and feelings but also, in 1962, the task of dealing with a taboo subject.
Forty years have hardly put a dent in Straw Dogs, the controversial 1971 film by director Sam Peckinpah (which spawned the faithful remake now showing in theaters). With its graphic depiction of violence, the movie remains as disturbing as ever.
Clinical depression isn’t exactly the stuff of Hollywood dreams. And in 2011, neither is Mel Gibson. His real-life drunken tirades have cost him dearly — and they make him an unlikely candidate for the necessarily sympathetic movie role of a severely depressed man who takes to talking through a beaver hand-puppet just to survive.
It's hardly the kind of story that drives a classic Steven Spielberg adventure: boy meets spaceship, boy struggles to make a second date, boy lives happily ever after in space. No sharks, no dinosaurs, no Nazis to subdue. But Close Encounters of the Third Kind has endured thanks to its irresistible portrayal of human-alien contact and the sheer spectacle of its special effects.