Close Encounters of the Third Kind 4pm (Spielberg, 1977) & They Live 7pm (Carpenter, 1988)
An excellent sci-fi double-bill from the Ritzy. Spielberg's movie needs little introduction but Carpenter's, which got a fairly lukewarm response on release, has increasingly garnered a fan base and is well worth tracking down.
This article on They Live by Jonathan Lethem at salon.com is fascinating but be warned: here be spoilers.
Here are the Chicago Reader reviews by Jonathan Rosenbaum:
For better or worse, one of Steven Spielberg's best films (1977), and perhaps still the best expression of his benign, dreamy-eyed vision. Humanity's first contact with alien beings proves to be a cause for celebration and a form of showbiz razzle-dazzle that resembles a slowly descending chandelier in a movie palace. The events leading up to this epiphany are a mainly well-orchestrated buildup through which several diverse individuals—Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Melinda Dillon—are drawn to the site where this spectacle takes place. Very close in overall spirit and nostalgic winsomeness to the fiction of Ray Bradbury, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that deservedly won an Oscar. This is dopey Hollywood mysticism all right, but thanks to considerable craft and showmanship, it packs an undeniable punch. With Teri Garr, Cary Guffey, and Bob Balaban.
Here is the trailer.
John Carpenter's 1988 SF action-thriller about aliens taking over the earth through the hypnotic use of TV. The explicit anti-Reagan satire—the aliens are developers who regard human beings as cattle, aided by yuppies who are all too willing to cooperate for business reasons—is strangely undercut and confused by a xenophobic treatment of the aliens that also makes them virtual stand-ins for the Vietcong. Carpenter's wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie's central conceit are explored only cursorily. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed in our midst, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and costar Keith David.