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🎬 Frozen II, Gone with the Wind, Django Unchained, and more

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🎬 Frozen II, Gone with the Wind, Django Unchained, and more
By Eric Johnson • Issue #42 • View online
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👒 Gone With the Wind
Pictured: "Psst, they're shooting Wizard of Oz next door, let's see if we can sneak a flying monkey into this movie."
Pictured: "Psst, they're shooting Wizard of Oz next door, let's see if we can sneak a flying monkey into this movie."
GONE WITH THE WIND is a gorgeous, epic, deeply problematic work of art. From its charming actors to the sweeping music to jaw-dropping scenes like the escape from Atlanta, it’s hard not to be impressed. And yet, the further I get from the incomplete version of the “slavery story” one hears in high school, the more I notice the intentional omissions: The way verbal and physical abuse of enslaved people is treated as a sign of youthful impertinence and not a commonplace weapon; the eagerness with which former slaves seem to want to preserve the status quo in the South, except for the cartoonishly rendered carpetbaggers; and, of course, the conflation of “master and slave” with an ancient nobility that we (the audience) are supposed to miss. As a work of American art, Gone With the Wind is a can’t-miss-it classic, but I do worry about all the people who have seen it, and continue to see it, but who don’t see the ways it distorts the real history. As someone who really believes movies can change our hearts and our minds, I have a hard time squaring the beauty with the negative externalities of this film.
☃️ Frozen II
Pictured: Always remember to season your magical salamanders before cooking them.
Pictured: Always remember to season your magical salamanders before cooking them.
The animation in FROZEN II is significantly better than the first movie, the comedy is funnier, and the story goes to darker, more fantastical places. But my feelings on the movie overall are mixed. There are no standout songs like Let It Go or The First Time in Forever, with an abundance of solo ballads as the characters go off on disjointed adventures. It’s entertaining enough to sit through, but the story feels underbaked upon reflection. I may not have been bowled over by the first Frozen, but I found myself missing its more subversive approach to fairy tale conventions, and wishing that the characters here spent more time playing off each other rather than doing their own thing.
🤠 Django Unchained
Pictured: "My friend Quentin gave me this incense candle, but it just smells like feet to me."
Pictured: "My friend Quentin gave me this incense candle, but it just smells like feet to me."
Like several other Tarantino films, DJANGO UNCHAINED is a revenge fantasy pitting righteously violent agents of chaotic good against evil. In this case, the evil initially appears to have some gray area, as Django (Jamie Foxx) dubiously joins Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a dentist turned bounty hunter, who dispatches wanted criminals with a gleeful nonchalance. However, the nuances of their profession diminish when the real big bad emerges: American slavery, as represented by a wealthy plantation owner named Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Leo is in top form here, unusually nasty and REALLY good at it, and his head slave, played by Tarantino’s frequent collaborator Samuel L. Jackson, proves to be a formidable adversary, too; however, as much as I love good villains, I think the movie loses something when it backs away from the Leone-style bounty hunting and leans into this unambiguous conflict. The cartoonishly excessive violence in the final act merely reminds us of the copious blood that was shed in the name of slavery, rather than offering a new insight on the injustice.
🤿 The Graduate
Pictured: "I'm just saying, maybe we could try listening to literally any other band besides Simon and Garfunkel for a bit."
Pictured: "I'm just saying, maybe we could try listening to literally any other band besides Simon and Garfunkel for a bit."
When it comes to the length of movies, I mostly ding them for being too long (see: The Irishman), but THE GRADUATE is too short. However, what we get of it is worth watching, with scenes that range from hilariously funny to painfully pitiful. Dustin Hoffman plays Ben, a directionless 21-year-old child of privilege in Southern California, who falls into an affair with the mother of one of his high school classmates — the iconic Mrs. Robinson. Anne Bancroft shines in that role, playing Robinson with the world-weariness of a 50-something even though Bancroft was only 36. The movie abruptly shifts when her daughter Elaine, played by Katharine Ross, returns home from college, and we’d supposed to believe that Elaine is the first person that Ben really likes. I wish we had more time to see Ben and Elaine together by themselves, because from what we see many of the rest of his actions that follow are implausible at best. On an unrelated note, I didn’t love the soundtrack as much as I thought I would based on the last time I saw this movie. Even though it features some of the greatest hits by one of my favorite bands, Simon and Garfunkel, the songs don’t quite work with the action on screen. As I understand it, this is the first or one of the very first movie to integrate songs this way, so I can look past that.
🏆 Every New Movie I've Seen in 2019 (So Far), Ranked
(new additions in bold)

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

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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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