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🎬 "And that's the double-truth, Ruth!"

🎬 "And that's the double-truth, Ruth!"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #84 • View online

🐄 First Cow
I have a major problem with First Cow, and that is that (as of this writing) there is no Binging With Babish video teaching me how to make movie-accurate oily cakes and blueberry clafoutis. Otherwise, it’s great.
Directed by Kelly Reichardt with an exacting, patient eye, this is a lovely period drama about food, friendship, and status. John Magaro and Orion Lee are totally believable as an odd couple of outcasts in the Oregon Territory who steal milk from a wealthy man’s cow to make delicious baked goods.
I love the subtle ways this movie indicates the class differences among its characters without ever saying them out loud, and wish only that the predictable final act was as dramatically interesting as the first two. Recommended.
First Cow | Official Trailer HD | A24
First Cow | Official Trailer HD | A24
I watched First Cow on Amazon Video. It’s not currently streaming anywhere, but you can rent or buy it here.
☣️ 28 Days Later
I hesitated for a long time before deciding to watch the zombie movie 28 Days Later, which is about a deadly virus that spirals out of control.
But I needn’t have been worried because this film, frustratingly, shies away from the most interesting and “real” consequences of that event. Its early scenes of Cillian Murphy wandering the abandoned streets of London are famous for a reason — they are so hauntingly beautiful that they transcend the otherwise ugly digital video cinematography.
Very soon afterwards, however, Murphy’s character meets other survivors of the outbreak and it becomes an average, uninteresting zombie flick, with some characters making incredibly stupid decisions that get them killed, and others who are so obviously untrustworthy they should have big cartoon mustaches.
I could go on about how one of the most likable character is seemingly re-written mid-film, to disastrous results, but it’s not worth my time or yours. Skip it.
28 Days Later (2002) Official Trailer
28 Days Later (2002) Official Trailer
I watched 28 Days Later on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on DirecTV.
🍕 Do the Right Thing
Do the Right Thing is a masterpiece, and every time I watch it, I like it more.
When I first saw it in college, I didn’t really “get” the ending and was thrown by the Spike Lee of it all: His hyperverbal characters, their direct-to-camera monologues, and the in-your-face politics that doesn’t paper over ugliness and offers no easy answers. Of course, I’ve since learned to appreciate all of these things, and I think they work better in this film than in any other Lee movie I’ve seen.
Even back in college, however, I could appreciate Lee’s mastery of the craft: The small world of his story, a tight-knit majority-Black block in Brooklyn, is immediately believable and filled with characters who ping-pong off each other in delightful and disturbing ways.
I’m being intentionally vague about what actually happens on the day chronicled in the film, but the ending never fails to shock me. Now more than ever, you should watch this movie. Recommended.
Do the Right Thing Official Trailer #1 - Danny Aiello Movie (1989) HD
Do the Right Thing Official Trailer #1 - Danny Aiello Movie (1989) HD
I watched Do the Right Thing on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Peacock.
🐍 Hard Ticket to Hawaii
Written and performed with all the subtlety and exploitative nudity of a pornographic film, Hard Ticket to Hawaii is — nevertheless — a proper movie, and a very, very silly one at that.
I’ve seen it mentioned before on lists of “best worst movies” and it’s easy to see why: Some of the audaciously cheesy action scenes are so insane they have to be seen to be believed, and the winking tone makes it clear that everyone involved knew how low the bar was.
Unfortunately, I can’t give this movie a full “so bad it’s good” recommendation because outside of those few incredible scenes, Hard Ticket to Hawaii is padded with clinically tedious T&A, unfunny subplots, and lazy attempts at humor. You’d be better off watching clips on YouTube.
Hard Ticket to Hawaii - Original Trailer - HD Restoration!
Hard Ticket to Hawaii - Original Trailer - HD Restoration!
I watched Hard Ticket to Hawaii on Blu-Ray. It’s not currently streaming anywhere, but you can buy it on Amazon.
❄️ The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight starts out very strong. Filmed in ultra-widescreen, it quickly confines all of its major characters to one large room, a haberdashery in Montana during a blizzard.
This one decision by director Quentin Tarantino is a minor stroke of genius. At any given time, we can see a huge amount of the environment, and yet we (and most of the characters) don’t know what’s going on, as it becomes clear that some of the snowed-in folks cannot be trusted. Their varying backgrounds and races and connections to the recent-past Civil War generate a great deal of distrust and discussion about everything from the war to the contradictions of justice.
Unfortunately, the resolution of this knotty story is less inspired. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just acknowledge that fans of Tarantino’s bloodier films will not be disappointed. Personally, I found the climactic violence too predictable and too disconnected from the intrigue set up in the movie’s first two acts.
Still, there’s enough to like here — including an excellent cast led by Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and Walton Goggins — that I’m overall positive on The Hateful Eight. Recommended, cautiously.
The Hateful Eight Official Teaser Trailer #1 (2015) - Samuel L. Jackson Movie HD
The Hateful Eight Official Teaser Trailer #1 (2015) - Samuel L. Jackson Movie HD
I watched The Hateful Eight on Vudu, but you can stream it (or an extended edition that I haven’t seen) on Netflix.
🏛 History of the World: Part I
I don’t think anyone would argue that History of the World Part I is Mel Brooks’ finest work, but it has several scenes and ideas that I love.
Much like Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, the seams separating comedy bit from comedy bit are more visible here than they are in his other films: By all appearances, Brooks had 30 minutes of jokes about Ancient Rome and 30 minutes of jokes about the French Revolution and jammed them together with some 5-10 minute segments set in the Stone Age, Biblical times, and the Spanish Inquisition.
The latter is the source of one of the most wickedly funny concepts in his entire ouvere, a hammy old-school musical number about persecuting Jews sung by the head inquisitor, Torquemada (played by Brooks, of course). The other big highlight for me is the parade of brief appearances by his frequent collaborators, including Madeline Kahn as Empress Nympho, Harvey Korman as Count de Money (or is it De Monet?), and Dom DeLuise as a grotesque Emperor Nero.
Overall, though, it’s hard to recommend this one. If you only have time for one, watch that other movie with extended sequences set in late-Roman times, which also features an extended homage to the “Aqua Musicals” of Esther Williams.
History of the World - Part One - The spanish Inquisition - by Mel Brooks
History of the World - Part One - The spanish Inquisition - by Mel Brooks
I watched History of the World: Part I on Blu-Ray. It’s not currently streaming anywhere, but you can buy it here.
🏦 Heat
I had very, very high expectations for Michael Mann’s crime epic Heat before the title even appeared on screen. One of the first things you see is just the names of the two stars: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. “OK. Here we go.”
By the time of this movie’s release in 1995, Pacino had already crossed over into his later-career I’M SHOUTING ALL THE TIME shtick, but I’d argue that he and De Niro are both giving their best non-Godfather performances. They play a cop and a thief who are both at the top of their respective games, and dead-set on coming out on top.
It’s a tense, engrossing cat-and-mouse game, and I feel a bit cheated because I suspect that many action movies and video games have ripped this movie off, such that I can’t really see all the ways it was innovative.
The lead characters are very well-drawn, but I can’t say the same for most of their spouses and girlfriends, which was disappointing. There are also a couple subplots that don’t really go anywhere, but they’re not offensively distracting — just a bit of fat. Definitely recommended, if you have 170 minutes to kill.
Heat Trailer HD (1995)
Heat Trailer HD (1995)
I watched Heat on Blu-Ray. It’s not currently streaming anywhere but you can rent or buy it here.
🔢 Every Movie I've Seen in 2020, Ranked
(new additions in bold)
  1. 12 Angry Men
  2. Do the Right Thing
  3. Knives Out
  4. Parasite
  5. Arrival
  6. Airplane!
  7. Hot Fuzz
  8. Hamilton
  9. Groundhog Day
  10. All About Eve
  11. The Farewell
  12. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  13. What We Do in the Shadows
  14. Spotlight
  15. Booksmart
  16. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  18. Your Name.
  19. North by Northwest
  20. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  21. The Old Guard
  22. Thank You For Smoking
  23. Little Women
  24. Marriage Story
  25. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  26. La La Land
  27. Sunset Boulevard
  28. Ford v Ferrari
  29. A Fish Called Wanda
  30. Gremlins
  31. Apocalypse Now
  32. Hacksaw Ridge
  33. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  34. The Lunchbox
  35. Heat
  36. Little Miss Sunshine
  37. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  38. Coming to America
  39. Shrek
  40. Dolemite Is My Name
  41. Good Will Hunting
  42. Palm Springs
  43. The Grapes of Wrath
  44. Fantasia 2000
  45. First Cow
  46. Kedi
  47. The Great Escape
  48. Annihilation
  49. Wordplay
  50. Boyhood
  51. 1917
  52. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  53. Dark Waters
  54. Hail, Caesar!
  55. The Death of Stalin
  56. 50/50
  57. Hannah and Her Sisters
  58. Enemy of the State
  59. Captain Phillips
  60. Uncut Gems
  61. Frost/Nixon
  62. Almost Famous
  63. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  64. Bad Education
  65. Godzilla
  66. Just Mercy
  67. Da 5 Bloods
  68. Guardians of the Galaxy
  69. My Fair Lady
  70. The Hateful Eight
  71. Happy Gilmore
  72. Gates of Heaven
  73. Emma.
  74. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  75. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  76. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  77. Braveheart
  78. Bicycle Thieves
  79. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  80. Frankenstein
  81. Hugo
  82. All the Money in the World
  83. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  84. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  85. Onward
  86. Pain and Glory
  87. Bambi
  88. The Great Dictator
  89. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  90. Anastasia
  91. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  92. Animal House
  93. You’ve Got Mail
  94. The 39 Steps
  95. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  96. Modern Romance
  97. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  98. 3:10 to Yuma
  99. The Big Country
  100. Ghost
  101. History of the World: Part I
  102. The African Queen
  103. Greyhound
  104. Bamboozled
  105. Bullitt
  106. Dracula
  107. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  108. Bride of Frankenstein
  109. The Descendants
  110. The Hangover
  111. Joker
  112. Kingpin
  113. 28 Days Later
  114. Bridesmaids
  115. The Great Gatsby
  116. Hang ‘Em High
  117. 13 Assassins
  118. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  119. Kentucky Fried Movie
  120. Romancing the Stone
  121. Crocodile Dundee
  122. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
  123. Gods of Egypt
  124. The Gentlemen
  125. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  126. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  127. The Last Airbender
Did you enjoy this issue?
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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