Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind " meets "Village of the Damned".
24 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Midnight Special", USA, Competition.at Berlin 66: Festival Reviews by Alex Deleon: Photo: Midnight Special press conference at Berlin, with Jaeden Lieberher, child star. "Midnight Special" by Jeff Nichols, 37, his fourth feature, featuring Sam Shepard and Kirsten Dunst, Starring Nichols' regular Michael Shannon, and introducing charismatic child actor Jaeden Lieberher, 11.

This is high style sci-fi kitch set in the American south with lots of nightime car chases and spooky set pieces like the bombardment from space of a gas station to demonstrate the extraordinary powers of the kid in the back seat with the shining eyes. Extraterrestial children with radiating eyes were first employed in the British sci-fi thriller "Village of the Damned", 1960, and this has since become a standard Scifi cliché to notify audiences that children who radiate optically are not Of This World. The reference to Close Encounters comes at the end when we are treated to a view of extragalactic Space City to which child with glowing eyes will return. This set which looks like a giant tangle of Mobius Strips extending to infinity was pooh-poohed by many hard nosed critics who claimed it was too kitchy. I personally liked it because it added the perfect kitch icing to what is essentially a high-kitch layer cake with style to burn. Everybody wants a piece of this kid with glowing eyeballs and amazing kinetic powers which escalate as the film proceeds. A religious cult headed by Sam Shepard, (who has the Right Stuff as a self-assured religious cult fanatic) --to connect them with God; the CIA, to use him as a Secret Weapon; and the local police on general principles, not to mention his mother, Kirsten Dunst, who just wants her child back after he is kidnapped by his feckless biological father. One tricky question: How did Kirsten Dunst (still looking good at 35) give birth Here on Earth to an Alien from a different world? -- but you don't let such trivia bother you when you're enjoying the ride, and this film is one Heckuva ride! PS: "Midnight Special" is the perfect title for a flick that is probably destined to become a cult favorite at the Midnite Movies. Alex, Hotel Alper, Berlin, Monday, Feb. 22.
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