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🎬 Anastasia, Hugo, and the African Queen

Over the past few days, I've started keeping a diary of all the media I've been consuming during San
🎬 Anastasia, Hugo, and the African Queen
By Eric Johnson • Issue #61 • View online
Over the past few days, I’ve started keeping a diary of all the media I’ve been consuming during San Francisco’s “shelter in place” order — not just movies, but podcasts, YouTube videos, TV, and more. I’m not writing full reviews of these, but I loved all of these:
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Anastasia
Pictured: When the sun is at *just* the wrong angle, and also you're secretly royalty.
Pictured: When the sun is at *just* the wrong angle, and also you're secretly royalty.
1997’s ANASTASIA is a Disney movie in all but name (and it was distributed by 20th Century Fox, so … long game), but I had never seen it before this week; in fact, I was only vaguely aware of it, and was happy to find that it’s cute and enjoyable for adult viewers, too. The starry cast was probably an unnecessary expense since most of the voices don’t stand out, but I liked the animation and most of the songs. I could have done without the villain Rasputin’s cute bat sidekick (the cute animal quota was ably filled already by Anastasia’s dog, Pooka), and there should have maybe been a little more suspense for the viewer about whether things would work out. Overall, though, I liked Anastasia and am glad I finally saw it.
Hugo
Pictured: The first version of Microsoft Word's mascot was much cooler than Clippy.
Pictured: The first version of Microsoft Word's mascot was much cooler than Clippy.
It’s kind of hilarious that Martin Scorsese agreed to direct HUGO, a family-friendly movie with strong Wes Anderson and Steven Spielberg vibes and nary a gangster in sight. But you know what? He pulled it off better than I would have expected. The movie is uneven, with some clunky dialogue, awkward child acting, and occasionally weird editing, but the other parts are really high. I love the gorgeous shots of Paris and Hugo’s 1930s train station; the side plots about the people who work in that train station, including Sacha Baron Cohen’s station inspector; and the flashback scenes unpacking the backstory of Papa Georges, which are basically perfect. I also don’t go for movies that bluntly appeal to the audience’s love of movies most of the time, but this one does — and it totally worked for me.
The African Queen
Pictured: "Hey, look, miss — there's a dock on the left AND a dock on the right! It's a paradox."
Pictured: "Hey, look, miss — there's a dock on the left AND a dock on the right! It's a paradox."
For many years, the only thing I‘ve known about the 1951 Humphrey Bogart-Katharine Hepburn movie THE AFRICAN QUEEN is that the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland was designed as an unlicensed adaptation, with the bad puns added later. It’s a solidly entertaining “road trip” (loosely speaking) movie, although I didn’t really buy the Bogart-Hepburn relationship, and many of the special effects have aged so badly as to be unintentionally comical. Still, Hepburn herself turns in some very impressive scenes, and I really liked the sheer variety of challenges Rose and Charlie face en route to their final target.
🏆 Every New Movie I've Seen in 2020 (So Far), Ranked
(no new additions this week)

  1. Marriage Story
  2. Little Women
  3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  4. 1917
  5. Uncut Gems
  6. Just Mercy
  7. Emma
  8. Onward
  9. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
  10. Joker
  11. The Gentlemen

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Eric Johnson

I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

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