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🎬 "I am big! It's the pictures that got small."

This week in quarantine movie-watching: the classic film noir Sunset Boulevard, a beloved recent anim
🎬 "I am big! It's the pictures that got small."
By Eric Johnson • Issue #62 • View online
This week in quarantine movie-watching: the classic film noir Sunset Boulevard, a beloved recent anime called Your Name, and “the movie where they cut Kevin Spacey out,” a.k.a. All the Money in the World.
📫 Reply to this email with your reactions and recommendations for what I should watch in the future.

📽 Sunset Boulevard
Pictured: "DJ, turn the beat up!" (eerie organ music intensifies)
Pictured: "DJ, turn the beat up!" (eerie organ music intensifies)
I’ve seen Billy Wilder’s SUNSET BOULEVARD so many times that the twists and turns no longer surprise me — but the acting still does. Gloria Swanson absolutely kills as the middle-aged former celebrity Norma Desmond, and Erich von Stroheim is quietly devastating as her butler, Max. A lesser actress might have made Desmond’s eccentricities cartoonish, but Swanson rides just up to the line of plausibility without going over. I’m less positive about the narration by William Holden’s protagonist, Joe Gillis, becuase it’s often over-written and sometimes redundant. I wish Wilder had trusted the audience enough to understand the story without the narration, as he would do a decade later in The Apartment; CC Baxter’s voice-over swiftly sets up the story and then goes away. That said, Gillis’ ominous intonations imbue the whole picture with an otherworldly suspense, and the movie overall is still great. Recommended.
🌠 Your Name
Pictured: Ineffective social distancing.
Pictured: Ineffective social distancing.
YOUR NAME is a gorgeously animated movie about fate, perspective, and how two seemingly opposite lives are intertwined. Using a Freaky Friday-esque premise, it marries fantasy with teen romance to great effect, with dashes of Shinto spirituality and laugh-out-loud humor. I first saw this movie when it was briefly in theaters in 2016, and went in knowing none of director Makoto Shinkai’s previous work. Although it helped that I was surrounded by anime fans who were already hyped for the new movie, I would still argue that anyone can enjoy Your Name, and that they should go into it as blind as they can. There are certain cultural elements that may stick out, especially the music, but at its heart, this is a powerful and entertaining film about love that transcends all boundaries. Recommended.
👂 All the Money in the World
Pictured: Marky Mark and his costar, Plummy Plum.
Pictured: Marky Mark and his costar, Plummy Plum.
I skipped ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD when it was in theaters, not out of a lack of interest, but because it was late 2017, an unusually good movie awards season. I’m glad I finally got around to it, because it’s a well-paced, solidly-acted thriller. Based on the real kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson Paul, the story mainly bounces among the boy, his mother, and his grandfather, played by Christopher Plummer. However, Plummer wasn’t supposed to be in the movie — All the Money in the World was initially shot and advertised with Kevin Spacey in the Getty role. It hastily underwent extensive (and expensive) reshoots to replace him after — well, you know. I’m surprised at how well that gambit worked. Plummer is one of our great actors, and he brings a despicable but weirdly sympathetic nuance to Getty. Super impressive for someone who was parachuted into the role.
🏆 Every New Movie I've Seen in 2020 (So Far), Ranked
(no new additions this week)

  1. Marriage Story
  2. Little Women
  3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  4. 1917
  5. Uncut Gems
  6. Just Mercy
  7. Emma
  8. Onward
  9. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
  10. Joker
  11. The Gentlemen
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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