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ESJ's Movie Project - Once Upon a Time in ... Your Inbox edition

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ESJ's Movie Project

July 26 · Issue #23 · View online
I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

As I write this, it’s almost midnight on a Thursday, so pardon the short wind-up. But thank you to everyone who replied to last week’s email with suggestions of movies I should watch in the future! The door is always open, so keep your suggestions coming: Just reply to this email and I’ll see it.
The Big Sick
Pictured: What we wear to the beach in San Francisco, in July.
‪Having now seen it three times, I’m comfortable calling THE BIG SICK my favorite romantic comedy of the past 20 years. I love the fact that this is a romcom without a villain. There’s no rival love interest who must be defeated, because the incredible ensemble cast, led of course by Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, doesn’t need one‬. Every turn of the story is as compelling as it was the first time (and the second).
The Great Hack
Pictured: NOT a scene from Avengers: Endgame.
‪THE GREAT HACK is an ominously scored, lavishly shot recap of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that will work for a casual audience. But I wish it had been harder on Facebook, and told the story through one character chronologically, rather than hopping among several protagonists.‬ I also wonder if its unfocused dramatics will backfire, making people who know just a little less than enough about the story laugh at the real dangers it’s trying to warn us of.
Chronicle
Pictured: Fast food on the roof of a skyscraper. You know, typical high school stuff.
The high school heroics (and villainy) of CHRONICLE are solid, although I think you could make a case that this year’s Shazam! delivered an improved version of the same beats. And the movie’s central gimmick — everything is “found footage,” meaning shot on in-universe cameras — is more implausible than I remembered. Also, the characters are too uneven for me to enthusiastically recommend it. All that being said, there’s a lot of pieces I like here. Maybe fit for a TV remake?
Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood
Pictured: How cool I think I look walking into a party in new clothes.
‪ONCE UPON A TIME IN … HOLLYWOOD is a smart and fun Tarantino tale, probably in my top five of his films although it’s been too long since I’ve seen most of them to assemble an accurate ranking. It defies expectations without (too much) self-congratulation, delivers some rewatchable scenes, AND has an excellent soundtrack + a satisfying ending. I don’t think this movie needed to be nearly three hours long, but it is still Recommended.
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. The Art of Self-Defense
  11. Toy Story 4
  12. Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood
  13. Apollo 11
  14. Shoplifters
  15. The Last Black Man In San Francisco
  16. Aladdin
  17. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  18. Green Book
  19. Slut in a Good Way
  20. Always Be My Maybe
  21. Cold War
  22. Rocketman
  23. Roma
  24. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  25. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  26. On the Basis of Sex
  27. Shazam!
  28. The Lion King
  29. Fighting With My Family
  30. They Shall Not Grow Old
  31. Yesterday
  32. Mary Poppins Returns
  33. Captain Marvel
  34. Minding the Gap
  35. Tolkien
  36. The Biggest Little Farm
  37. Alita: Battle Angel
  38. The Dead Don’t Die
  39. The Great Hack
  40. Stan & Ollie
  41. Vice
  42. Bohemian Rhapsody
  43. Aquaman
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