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ESJ's Movie Project - Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Edition


ESJ's Movie Project

July 5 · Issue #20 · View online
I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

Belated Happy 4th of July! Here’s what I’ve been watching this week.
Forrest Gump
Pictured: How I feel when I don't shave for a week and look in the mirror.
Pictured: How I feel when I don't shave for a week and look in the mirror.
Forrest Gump is still very enjoyable, but it’s not as unimpeachable as I remembered. There’s a lot to like here, including Hanks’ performance, the soundtrack, and the clever juxtaposition of Forrest’s narration with the action on-screen. However, the pat-ness of the story doesn’t ring as true in 2019. I couldn’t help but wonder on this rewatch how today’s news will one day be nostalgically simplified.
The Dark Crystal
Pictured: The island of misfit Muppets.
Pictured: The island of misfit Muppets.
‪It took me several days to finish THE DARK CRYSTAL on Netflix, watching in 15-30 minute chunks. Although I admire the creative and lavish production design, and the fact that Jim Henson & co. were trying to do something darker than the Muppets and Sesame Street, the story does not work at all. The protagonist Jen is not a character, and the fantasy story hinges on the most tedious kind of prophecy. Sorry, Jim.‬
Toy Story 4
Pictured: Little Bo Peep, baaaaack in the series.
Pictured: Little Bo Peep, baaaaack in the series.
I finally saw TOY STORY 4 last Friday and it was good — not as great as the rest of the series, but a solidly entertaining update with some fun new characters, including some scene-stealing stuffed animals played by Key & Peele. I was disappointed, however, that their addition to the cast came at the expense of many of the toys from the past 3 films; normally, rewatching past films makes me appreciate sequels more, but here I was left wondering when Jessie or Rex or Hamm was going to get something interesting to do.
Also, not that anyone asked, but here’s my ranking of the Toy Story films: 3, 1, 2, 4.
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Good news: FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL is still great. I adore the friendships depicted in this movie, which feel super relatable and ground it perfectly; I’m apprehensive about the miniseries pseudo-remake coming to Hulu later this year, in large part because the pace of the movie doesn’t give it an outlet to let the characters blather on. And I’ll hold out hope that the two leads’ chemistry is more convincing than Andie MacDowell’s with Hugh Grant here.
Always Be My Maybe
ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE is uneven but hilarious in parts. Ali Wong is super sharp and I was thrilled to see so many places in San Francisco celebrated on film. This is definitely in the top tier of Netflix movies that I’ve seen; if it’s eligible for Oscars next year, we can save everyone a lot of time and just give Best Supporting Actor to Keanu Reeves now‬.
Pictured: Fashions to die for.
Pictured: Fashions to die for.
My final film of June was Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate movie, FRENZY. I had never seen this serial killer thriller before, but I really liked it — it’s disturbing in many parts but also blackly funny. Even near the end of his career, Hitch knew how to keep an audience in a suspenseful stranglehold (so to speak).
Fright Night
Pictured: Anton Yelchin looking cross.
Pictured: Anton Yelchin looking cross.
The 2011 remake of FRIGHT NIGHT is a deeply silly movie in which both David Tennant and Colin Farrell seem to be having a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the protagonist played by Anton Yelchin — who’s more excellent than not in his other films — doesn’t get much to do here besides react, and the early-3D CGI effects look even tackier today.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Pictured: When Peter should have asked, "Hey, weren't you in that really old movie Donnie Darko?"
Pictured: When Peter should have asked, "Hey, weren't you in that really old movie Donnie Darko?"
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME is more plugged into the MCU than its predecessor Homecoming, and not as original as Spider-Verse, with which it coincidentally shares some themes. It’s still a lot of fun, though, with GREAT special effects and cute dialogue. Recommended for Marvel fans.
Also, not that anyone asked, but here is my ranking of all the Spider-Man movies I’ve seen (including the narrative-heavy PlayStation 4 game that came out last year).

  1. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  2. Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018)
  3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
  5. Spider-Man (2002)
  6. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
  7. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The Last Man on the Moon
Pictured: A photo taken on the actual moon, which is kind of crazy when you think about it.
Pictured: A photo taken on the actual moon, which is kind of crazy when you think about it.
‪THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON is a solid documentary from a couple years ago about Gene Cernan, who was an astronaut on Apollo 10 and Apollo 17. It’s well-shot and informative, and I learned a lot about some of the less famous people at NASA, and the political dimensions of their work. But at times, it feels like Cernan had the final cut; we see a lot of him with his pals and family, but get only a glimpse of the dark side of his fame.‬
Every New Movie I've Seen in 2019 (So Far), Ranked
(new additions in bold)

  1. Booksmart
  2. If Beale Street Could Talk
  3. Us
  4. Free Solo
  5. Avengers: Endgame
  6. Amazing Grace
  7. The Favourite
  8. Long Shot
  9. The Wife
  10. Toy Story 4
  11. Apollo 11
  12. Shoplifters
  13. The Last Black Man In San Francisco
  14. Aladdin
  15. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  16. Green Book
  17. Slut in a Good Way
  18. Cold War
  19. Always Be My Maybe
  20. Rocketman
  21. Roma
  22. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  23. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  24. On the Basis of Sex
  25. Shazam!
  26. Fighting With My Family
  27. They Shall Not Grow Old
  28. Mary Poppins Returns
  29. Captain Marvel
  30. Minding the Gap
  31. Tolkien
  32. The Biggest Little Farm
  33. Alita: Battle Angel
  34. The Dead Don’t Die
  35. Stan & Ollie
  36. Vice
  37. Bohemian Rhapsody
  38. Aquaman
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