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Downton Abbey, The Godfather Part II, and In Bruges

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ESJ's Movie Project

September 27 · Issue #32 · View online
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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The Godfather Part II
Pictured: When you know who it was.
Pictured: When you know who it was.
Marlon Brando’s absence looms over THE GODFATHER: PART II, one of those sequels that is often touted as being superior to the original. For my money it falls short of that lofty claim, but remains a compelling work of art: Exquisitely directed throughout and finely acted in many parts. The flashback segments in particular, featuring a young Robert De Niro as a young Vito Corleone, are as strong as the original film; the “present-day” storyline, however, suffers from a lack of focus and an inferior supporting cast. As you might have guessed, next week’s newsletter will feature a review of the notorious final Godfather film, Part III, which unlike the first two parts I have never seen before. Fingers crossed.
In Bruges
Pictured: Mad-Eye Moody and Lord Voldemort on vacation.
Pictured: Mad-Eye Moody and Lord Voldemort on vacation.
Thank you to newsletter reader Cale for urging me to watch In Bruges after I mentioned it in last week’s newsletter. It had been on my list for years, but knowing it was about to leave Netflix finally gave me the kick in the pants I needed. Although I liked the leads of the film, hitmen played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, I absolutely loved every scene with their boss, played with profane panache by Ralph Fiennes. Much like Alan Rickman in Die Hard, he takes what could have been a rote villain role and makes every moment memorable. The stylishly abrasive script doesn’t always stick the landing, but the moments that work really work well. Bonus points to In Bruges for also being a Christmas movie that’s not about Christmas. According to IMDb, the town left its holiday lights up through March to accommodate filming.
Downton Abbey
Pictured: Lady Edith photobombs a Dolores Umbridge-Minerva McGonagall reunion.
Pictured: Lady Edith photobombs a Dolores Umbridge-Minerva McGonagall reunion.
It’s fitting that, on the day I saw the Downton Abbey movie, I also saw a tweet resurfacing Roger Ebert’s review of the 1999 Brendan Fraser film The Mummy. Ebert writes:
There is hardly a thing I can say in its favor, except that I was cheered by nearly every minute of it. I cannot argue for the script, the direction, the acting or even the mummy, but I can say that I was not bored and sometimes I was unreasonably pleased. There is a little immaturity stuck away in the crannies of even the most judicious of us, and we should treasure it.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Downton movie is devoid of things to praise, but I walked out of the theater with a peculiar sense of “I both enjoyed that and never need to see it again.” It is a visually gorgeous experience, in which talented actors speak in hushed tones about ridiculous things. One subplot in particular was so silly as to exceed even the soapiest storylines from the TV show — and yet, I couldn’t help but smile at Mr. Molesley, root for Tom Branson, and wish Daisy would get a spinoff. Good enough for me!
Every New Movie I've Seen in 2019 (So Far), Ranked
(new additions in bold)

  1. Booksmart
  2. The Farewell
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. Us
  5. Free Solo
  6. Avengers: Endgame
  7. The Favourite
  8. Amazing Grace
  9. Long Shot
  10. The Wife
  11. The Art of Self-Defense
  12. Toy Story 4
  13. Shoplifters
  14. Hustlers
  15. The Last Black Man In San Francisco
  16. Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood
  17. Apollo 11
  18. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  19. Aladdin
  20. The Peanut Butter Falcon
  21. Slut in a Good Way
  22. Green Book
  23. Cold War
  24. Official Secrets
  25. Ready or Not
  26. Always Be My Maybe
  27. Rocketman
  28. Roma
  29. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  30. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  31. On the Basis of Sex
  32. Shazam!
  33. The Lion King
  34. Downton Abbey
  35. Fighting With My Family
  36. They Shall Not Grow Old
  37. Yesterday
  38. Mary Poppins Returns
  39. Captain Marvel
  40. Minding the Gap
  41. Tolkien
  42. The Biggest Little Farm
  43. Alita: Battle Angel
  44. The Dead Don’t Die
  45. The Great Hack
  46. Stan & Ollie
  47. Vice
  48. Bohemian Rhapsody
  49. Aquaman

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