🎬 "Good evening, Clarice."





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🎬 "Good evening, Clarice."
By Eric Johnson • Issue #96 • View online
Hello, hello everyone — I have just returned from a lovely and restful vacation, but rest assured, I still made plenty of time for movies even while I was otherwise distancing myself from screens. I’m now back in front of my extra-large computer monitor at home, and I’ve been away long enough that staring at it is kinda nauseating!
As always, a reminder that you can support this newsletter with a one-time $3 donation at Buy Me a Coffee. Many thanks to Anne for buying three coffees last week (she says “movie nerds unite!” 🤓) and to my old friend Zach, who decided to end-run Buy Me a Coffee and Venmo me $3 instead. He says “hope you don’t mind,” and no! I don’t! If you want to donate like Zach, reply to this email and I’ll share my Venmo.
Anyway, tomorrow is Halloween. It sucks that we’re not able to really celebrate this year, but read on for a review of one of my favorite scary flicks … and two kids’ cartoons, and a Borat movie.

👨🏻 Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
I didn’t realize that when I revisited 2006’s Borat earlier this year, I was willing into existence a surprise sequel, filmed mid-pandemic and perfectly timed for the US elections.
But Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (etc.) is the movie America deserves right now, and honestly? It’s better than the first one, overall. Sacha Baron Cohen seems to be having fun stepping back into his most famous role here, but he (and Borat) quickly run into the problem with making a new Borat movie in 2020: Everyone knows who Borat is.
The solution is newcomer Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat’s daughter Tutar with aplomb. She completely commits to the broad comedy and is the perfect partner in crime for Cohen — as well as a plot point. Tutar is originally intended as a teenage bride for “Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence” and later for Rudy Giuliani. You’ve probably read what happens when Rudy unwittingly agrees to an interview with Tutar, and if you haven’t yet … well, it’s both unsurprising and still jaw-dropping. Recommended. ★★★½
BORAT 2 Official Trailer (2020) Sacha Baron Cohen, Comedy Movie HD
BORAT 2 Official Trailer (2020) Sacha Baron Cohen, Comedy Movie HD
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
🍷 The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite horror movies because it doesn’t rely on cheap tricks like jump-scares; this movie is legitimately terrifying, and it earns every skin-crawling moment.
Even if you’ve never seen it, I don’t need to tell you that Anthony Hopkins is a revelation as the long-imprisoned serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In under 20 minutes of screentime, he creates an unforgettable character, aided by director Jonathan Demme’s unnerving skill with extreme close-ups.
A great villain is crucial, and most people forget that this movie has two: Lecter, and Ted Levine’s more overt antagonist Buffalo Bill. However, Jodie Foster is also perfect as our hero Clarice Starling, completely believable in every interaction and smarter than the audience and her peers in all the right ways. I respect so much that Foster refused to return for the (I’m told) disappointing sequel.
I’m not interested in sequels, prequels, or even the spin-off TV series starring Mads Mikkelsen, which I’ve heard is quite good. The Silence of the Lambs is just the right amount by every measure; apart from some questionable language about mental health and transsexual people (which is vague enough that the filmmakers have plausible deniability), this movie is perfect and very satisfying as a stand-alone work. Highly recommended. ★★★★★
The Silence of the Lambs Official Trailer #1 - Anthony Hopkins Movie (1991) HD
The Silence of the Lambs Official Trailer #1 - Anthony Hopkins Movie (1991) HD
I watched The Silence of the Lambs on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Netflix, Showtime, DirecTV, and fuboTV.
🐸 The Princess and the Frog
I was eager to re-watch The Princess and the Frog now that it’s been announced that the 2009 movie will inspire a re-theming of one of the best rides at Disneyland, Splash Mountain.
(In case you’re out of the loop: Splash Mountain was based on an openly racist 1946 movie called Song of the South that Disney has refused to re-release in any format since the 1980s. The ride is not as obviously racist as the movie, but the characters in it are based on some harmful stereotypes that have overstayed their welcome. Anyway…)
On some level, I’m excited at the idea of the re-theming: Some of the songs in Princess and the Frog are lovely; the voodoo-dealing villain Dr. Facilier is creepy and creative; and it was nice to finally see a Black woman be a Disney Princess — and, what’s more, a Black woman who has a lot more to her than her looks.
Unfortunately, Disney really fumbles the ball with this story, transforming its unique protagonist into a frog and sending her on a meandering journey filled with comic relief sidekicks, only some of whose stories work on a story level. The result is a promising first act followed by a big comedown that frustrated me more than it entertained; this is a well-animated, fitfully fun movie, but the writers didn’t appreciate just how much potential they had on their hands. Skip it, and let’s hope the new Splash Mountain is better. ★★★
The Princess and the Frog - Trailer
The Princess and the Frog - Trailer
I watched The Princess and the Frog on Netflix, but it’s also currently streaming on Disney+.
🍝 Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an extremely silly, but very enjoyable, animated film from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directing duo who would later go on to make The Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Cloudy isn’t as clever or as well-animated as those films, but it has all the same heart and earnest commitment to its premise — in this case, an awkward young scientist who invents a machine that turns rain into food. Bill Hader is a fine lead, and I really liked the supporting cast of characters, which includes a crooked mayor (Bruce Campbell), a talking monkey (Neil Patrick Harris) and a nerdy meteorologist (Anna Faris).
This is, you might have guessed by now, a movie made for kids, but Lord and Miller always do a good job as the Señor Spielbergos of Pixar-quality work, although this movie’s morals are far simpler and less relevant to adults than their later works. Still, I was never bored here and am so glad this movie’s success led to even bigger things for them. Recommended. ★★★½
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - Official Trailer #1
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - Official Trailer #1
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is currently streaming on Netflix.
🔢 Every Movie I've Seen in 2020, Ranked
(new additions in bold)
  1. The Godfather
  2. 12 Angry Men
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  4. Do the Right Thing
  5. Knives Out
  6. Parasite
  7. Arrival
  8. My Neighbor Totoro
  9. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  10. Airplane!
  11. The Silence of the Lambs
  12. Dick Johnson Is Dead
  13. The Lives of Others
  14. Hot Fuzz
  15. Boys State
  16. Hamilton
  17. Groundhog Day
  18. All About Eve
  19. West Side Story
  20. The Farewell
  21. Vertigo
  22. 12 Years a Slave
  23. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  24. What We Do in the Shadows
  25. Spotlight
  26. Booksmart
  27. Her
  28. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  29. The Matrix
  30. Moonrise Kingdom
  31. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  32. Your Name.
  33. North by Northwest
  34. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  35. The Incredibles
  36. Looper
  37. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  38. The Wrong Trousers
  39. The Old Guard
  40. American Psycho
  41. Thank You For Smoking
  42. Little Women
  43. Marriage Story
  44. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  45. La La Land
  46. Sunset Boulevard
  47. Ford v Ferrari
  48. A Fish Called Wanda
  49. Bringing Up Baby
  50. Gremlins
  51. Apocalypse Now
  52. The Hidden Fortress
  53. Hell or High Water
  54. Moneyball
  55. Hacksaw Ridge
  56. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  57. The Lunchbox
  58. Heat
  59. Little Miss Sunshine
  60. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  61. Coming to America
  62. Hustlers
  63. Shrek
  64. Wet Hot American Summer
  65. It Follows
  66. Dolemite Is My Name
  67. Good Will Hunting
  68. Palm Springs
  69. The Grapes of Wrath
  70. Fantasia 2000
  71. First Cow
  72. Kedi
  73. Honey Boy
  74. The Great Escape
  75. Ed Wood
  76. Isle of Dogs
  77. Annihilation
  78. The Hunt for Red October
  79. Wordplay
  80. Boyhood
  81. 1917
  82. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  83. The Philadelphia Story
  84. Dark Waters
  85. Hail, Caesar!
  86. The Death of Stalin
  87. The Irishman
  88. Zoolander
  89. 50/50
  90. Hannah and Her Sisters
  91. Horse Feathers
  92. Enemy of the State
  93. Captain Phillips
  94. Uncut Gems
  95. Independence Day
  96. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  97. 9 to 5
  98. Frost/Nixon
  99. The Incredibles 2
  100. How the West Was Won
  101. Almost Famous
  102. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  103. Bad Education
  104. Godzilla
  105. Just Mercy
  106. Midnight in Paris
  107. Da 5 Bloods
  108. High Fidelity
  109. Guardians of the Galaxy
  110. My Fair Lady
  111. The Invisible Man
  112. The Hateful Eight
  113. Happy Gilmore
  114. Gates of Heaven
  115. Emma.
  116. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  117. Home Alone
  118. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  119. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  120. Braveheart
  121. Bicycle Thieves
  122. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  123. Frankenstein
  124. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  125. Hugo
  126. All the Money in the World
  127. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  128. Live From the Space Stage: A Halyx Story
  129. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  130. Onward
  131. Hidden Figures
  132. Pain and Glory
  133. Bambi
  134. The Great Dictator
  135. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  136. Anastasia
  137. Hot Rod
  138. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  139. Animal House
  140. You’ve Got Mail
  141. The 39 Steps
  142. The Princess and the Frog
  143. Elysium
  144. (500) Days of Summer
  145. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  146. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  147. Modern Romance
  148. Shakespeare in Love
  149. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  150. 3:10 to Yuma
  151. The Big Country
  152. Ghost
  153. 28 Weeks Later
  154. History of the World: Part I
  155. The African Queen
  156. Greyhound
  157. Bamboozled
  158. Bullitt
  159. Dracula
  160. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  161. Bride of Frankenstein
  162. Howard the Duck
  163. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  164. The Descendants
  165. The Hangover
  166. Joker
  167. Kingpin
  168. 28 Days Later
  169. Bridesmaids
  170. The Great Gatsby
  171. 13 Assassins
  172. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  173. Bad Moms
  174. High Anxiety
  175. Kentucky Fried Movie
  176. Hang ‘Em High
  177. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  178. Ice Age
  179. Romancing the Stone
  180. Crocodile Dundee
  181. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  182. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
  183. Gods of Egypt
  184. The Gentlemen
  185. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  186. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  187. The Last Airbender
  188. Manos: The Hands of Fate
Did you enjoy this issue?
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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