Close Encounters of the Third Kind The concept of the director's cut is a thorny one. If a filmmaker isn't careful, the ability to revise his or her work after its initial dissemination to the public can degenerate from a luxury into an obsession. That might be why Christopher Nolan refuses to issue a director's cut of any movie he makes, believing instead that the version we all saw on opening day is the film, now and forevermore. On the other end of the spectrum – and I do mean the spectrum – we have the late Jerry Lewis, who not only recut his films after distribution so he could watch them at home in their "ideal form," but obtained prints of other directors' movies for exactly the same purpose. I'm not kidding; he claimed to have done it hundreds of times. Picture Lewis, happily ensconced in his private screening room, convinced that "his" films The 399 Blows and 201: A Space Odyssey are just so much better. It's like, the most Jerry Lewis image ever.
Which brings me to the topic of this weekend's rerelease of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Studio promo maintains that audiences will be seeing a sweet 4K remaster of the film's director's cut. The only problem: There's no such thing as a CE3K "director's cut," at least by name. There's the original theatrical version, released in late 1977. There's the 1980 "Special Edition," which was sold as a kind of director's cut but actually included changes foisted upon Steven Spielberg by the studio – including some climactic footage of the inside of the mothership, which Spielberg himself recognized should never have been depicted. And there's the 1998 "Collector's Edition," which omits that mothership footage but retains some other alterations made in the Special Edition. You may now pick up your pencils and begin to take the test.
So who knows which version we are actually getting this week, all spruced up and bright for the high-definition generation? My guess is the Collector's Edition, since that's known as Spielberg's preferred cut. And one would like to think that, at this stage, he would kind of have some say in what get sent to theaters. But I'm not placing any bets. Personally, I've never seen any version but the 1977 original, and I've never felt the need to. I guess I was just on the Christopher Nolan bandwagon before there was such a thing. And there I will remain – at least until the last holdout changes his mind and we see ads for Ain't Done With Dunkirk. (PG)
Birth of the Dragon Fans and family of the late Bruce Lee have given the thumbs down to this wannabe biopic, which they say mischaracterizes the legendary martial artist's work and makes him play second fiddle as a character to a white buddy invented entirely for the film. Damn, at least the Green Hornet was a real guy. (PG-13)
Ingrid Goes West Aubrey Plaza plays a mentally unbalanced young woman who becomes fixated on social media acquaintances who have no genuine presence in her life. Weird, huh? And now we're all just gonna back into these bushes like Homer Simpson. (R)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D AMC Theatres are the only places you'll see this rerelease of the James Cameron classic, now restored and converted to 4K 3D. I understand that, before his death, Jerry Lewis had it down to 30 minutes. (R)