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ESJ's Movie Project - Back From the Dead Edition

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Long time no see, email friends. Since my last email in November, I deleted my Instagram and Facebook
 

ESJ's Movie Project

June 21 · Issue #18 · View online
I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

Long time no see, email friends. Since my last email in November, I deleted my Instagram and Facebook accounts in protest, which had the side effect of ending my Instagram movie-reviewing project. Still feeling good about that decision, btw, and would recommend others do the same … but that’s not what this newsletter is about.
Instead, let’s review some movies! Below, you’ll find mini-reviews of what I’ve watched this week in theaters and online, which I’m also starting to post to Twitter and Letterboxd.
And below that, you’ll find a new thing I’ve been wanting to try: A running list of every new movie I’ve seen in 2019, ranked from best to worst. TL;DR PLEASE GO SEE BOOKSMART, THANK ME LATER.
YOU’RE WELCOME (THAT WAS FOR LATER).

The Dead Don't Die
Pictured: Me staring into my first Jim Jarmusch movie.
I knew very little about this movie going in, other than the fact that there would be zombies and Bill Murray in it. That worked out well last time, but not so much here. This was an off-putting sort-of-parody of zombie movies with some entertaining parts, but it gives away its best ideas too early, with a lot of later gags falling flat. And it felt more overstuffed with characters than a recent Avengers movie.
Rocketman
Pictured: An ungrateful Elton John living my best life.
Maybe this movie benefited from the fact that I hated hated hated Bohemian Rhapsody and so any improvement on that would be better … but however deserved, I was pleasantly surprised! Rocketman runs up against my usual Problem With Biopics, which is that movies shouldn’t try to tell a person’s whole life story; it doesn’t tell the whole story but it tries to spread itself over way too much of Elton John’s life to not feel rushed. That said: The acting, song arrangements, and choreography were all quite good. Recommended.
The Perfect Bid
Pictured: A haircut I have had in the 2010s, sans mustache.
Stumbled upon this 2017 documentary on Netflix late at night and was drawn to it like a bad writer to a cliché about moths. It’s a fun, breezy story about The Price Is Right and a “contestant who knew too much” named Ted Slauson, who is one of those delightfully quirky characters that can carry an entire film. Some of the aesthetic choices are dubious, but the editing is solid, with great use of intercutting between the present-day interviews and the show itself.
Aladdin
Pictured: Me explaining to the dubious that, actually, it's good.
Aladdin was mocked and memed to death from the first teaser trailer but I have to say… it was good. Not mind-blowing or revolutionary, but still legitimately good. All the actors were well-cast, the songs are still great, and Disney’s padding/tidying up of the old story didn’t bother me, for once. Recommended.
Every New Movie I've Seen in 2019 (So Far), Ranked
Pictured: Me remembering my favorite scenes from Booksmart.
  1. Booksmart
  2. If Beale Street Could Talk
  3. Us
  4. Free Solo
  5. Avengers: Endgame
  6. The Favourite
  7. Amazing Grace
  8. The Wife
  9. Long Shot
  10. Shoplifters
  11. Apollo 11
  12. Aladdin
  13. Green Book
  14. Slut in a Good Way
  15. Cold War
  16. Rocketman
  17. Lego Movie 2
  18. Roma
  19. Buster Scruggs
  20. Shazam
  21. On the Basis of Sex
  22. Fighting With My Family
  23. They Shall Not Grow Old
  24. Mary Poppins Returns
  25. Captain Marvel
  26. Minding the Gap
  27. Tolkien
  28. Alita
  29. The Dead Don’t Die
  30. Stan & Ollie
  31. Vice
  32. Bohemian Rhapsody
  33. Aquaman

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