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🎬 Goldfinger, Gone Girl, Parasite, and Motherless Brooklyn

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ESJ's Movie Project

October 18 · Issue #35 · 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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Now, on with this week’s reviews … scroll down for a major development in the 2019 list.

🎩 Goldfinger
(yes, i know oddjob technically wears a derby and not a top hat, but there’s no derby emoji so give me a break)
Pictured: Alchemy? No, lady, alche-you!
James Bond movies exist in a decades-spanning continuum that reflect the cultural tastes of when they were made, but none has been as influential on the rest of the series as GOLDFINGER. In particular, the first half of this movie is a parade of moments that would all be in a highlights reel for the series, including the first comedic Q briefing, the car chase in the Alps with Bond’s tricked-out Aston Martin, and the “do you expect me to talk?” confrontation. Perhaps controversially, I think the story gets too silly even for a Bond movie after that point, but the great moments keep on coming: Pussy Galore’s introduction, the Grand Slam briefing, the fight with Oddjob in Fort Knox. These moments created a blueprint for the 21 movies (and counting) to follow, not to mention countless imitators and rip-offs, which makes it hard to objectively separate what works in Goldfinger vs. what is merely familiar. That said, I always have a great time watching it.
🤬 Motherless Brooklyn
Pictured: "Hey, look, a cinema playing The Incredible Hulk." "Keep driving!"
MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN is a detective story that seemingly wants to be twisted and cynical like Chinatown, but it’s too straightforward and earnest to earn its neo-noir stripes. Writer/director Edward Norton stars as a P.I. with Tourette’s and OCD nicknamed Brooklyn, trying to unlock a secret that led to his boss’s murder. With the exception of a virtuoso jazz musician who groks the voices in Brooklyn’s head, the large supporting cast is stocked with superficial characters saying uninteresting things, including an unusually dull Alec Baldwin. I wish we had spent more time learning about Norton’s character and less time being constantly reminded of his condition; having a hero with Tourette’s may seem on paper like a win for inclusion, but not when there’s so little there there besides.
🙍🏼‍♀️ Gone Girl
Pictured: Ben Affleck when he was sad-and-maybe-a-killer everyman, and not a sad-and-definitely-a-killer Batman.
GONE GIRL is a Hitchcockian thriller that actually surprised me, which is more than I can say for most of the modern mystery movies I’ve watched (see above). Directed by David Fincher, it is — of course — stunning to look at, and I was totally gripped by Rosamund Pike’s performance as Amy, as well as the twisty-turny-yet-always-logically-satisfying script. However, the movie falls just short of “perfect” for two reasons: First, the casting of a few “hey, it’s that guy!” celebrities in relatively minor roles, who subtract more than they add; and second, although I can’t say much in accordance with my no-spoilers policy, the final act of the movie was overlong and redundant. Overall, though, I would strongly recommend Gone Girl and am very glad I finally saw it after avoiding plot details for the past five years.
🍑 Parasite
Pictured: It's not delivery, it's 디지 오르노!
I went into PARASITE with sky-high expectations and it … might have still exceeded them? This was my first Bong Joon-ho movie and I — having a vague sense that he might have some surprises in store — made a point of learning only as much as was in the trailer, a strategy which I can recommend to everyone. This is a masterfully directed and acted film, which walks the line between crowd-pleasing and thought-provoking with an acrobat’s precision. If you can, I’d also recommend watching it in the theater while it’s new, with a crowd that hasn’t seen it yet. I’m grateful I had the chance to share the laughs — and, uh, the rest — with a room of strangers. My new favorite movie of 2019.
🏆 Every New Movie I've Seen in 2019 (So Far), Ranked
(new additions in bold)

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

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