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🎬 "I am not throwing away my shot"

🎬 "I am not throwing away my shot"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #83 • View online

🎤 Almost Famous
Almost Famous is a charming, albeit shaggy, story about young love, rock n roll, and why Frances McDormand is the most underrated actor of our lifetimes.
Based on writer/director Cameron Crowe’s real life experience, it follows a teenage music journalist, played by Patrick Fugit, who tags along with a rising rock band’s cross-country tour in 1973. Along the way, he develops intense relationships with the band and their groupies, who are led by a woman named Penny Lane (Kate Hudson).
I’ve seen this movie a couple times and never totally bought the relationship between Fugit and Hudson, which ripples outward through the movie, dampening some of the bigger dramatic story beats. But I can and do eagerly latch onto the journalism story here, and the colorful world of the 1970s music scene, which of course is scored with contemporaneous hits.
Almost Famous - Trailer
Almost Famous - Trailer
I watched Almost Famous on DVD, but it’s currently streaming on fuboTV, Showtime, and DirecTV.
🤠 Hang 'Em High
Hang ‘Em High is a competently-shot western starring Clint Eastwood that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to say.
It variously argues for and against vigilante justice, and for and against the necessity of cruel, corrupt capital punishment, before awkwardly shoehorning in a passionless romance in the final act.
Eastwood’s strong silent type doesn’t work anywhere near as well in this film as it does in the Dollars Trilogy, and the only scene I found really compelling was a public execution scene that damned public executions and the supposedly pious masses who treat death as a sporting event.
The score also pales in comparison to Ennio Morricone’s work in the Dollars films; it’s written with all the subtlety of a TV soap opera and deployed throughout the film at bizarre, awkward moments.
Hang'em High Trailer [HQ]
Hang'em High Trailer [HQ]
I watched Hang ‘Em High on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Starz.
⭐ Hamilton
I’ve been obsessed with Hamilton since the fall of 2016, but the filmed version of the show that hit Disney+ a few weeks ago — shot earlier that year — far surpassed my lofty expectations.
I knew that I would love seeing the original Broadway cast doing their thing, and a chance to see the show’s choreography from several angles, but I didn’t anticipate just how well-directed the final product would be. It’s more than just a filmed stage show, with a huge variety of angles, including close-ups and a top-down view that shows off the Hamilton stage’s iconic turntable.
Watching this musical time capsule, I repeatedly caught myself thinking or saying “she/he is so talented,” because this cast was stacked. Lin-Manuel Miranda captured lightning in a bottle here, and I can only hope that the proper film adaptation of In the Heights that’s supposed to come out next year will be as entertaining.
Hamilton | Official Trailer | Disney+
Hamilton | Official Trailer | Disney+
Hamilton is currently streaming on Disney+.
🐯 The Hangover
Despite a breakout performance by Zach Galifianakis and its reputation as “the good one” that preceded two disappointing sequels, I found most of The Hangover to be pretty tedious.
I’m sure it’s more enjoyable with a group because of the nonstop chaos (the operating theme of this movie is “wait, what the hell is happening?”) but watching a movie like this by myself really forces me to confront its weak points.
The characters are scantly drawn (a jerk, a cuckold, and a weird guy); there’s an over-reliance on “hey, it’s that guy!” cameos masquerading as jokes; and some sequences, including one of Rob Riggle as a taser-happy cop, are just hard to watch in 2020.
There are some good parts too: Galifinakis has some great lines, Ed Helms brings his all to a barely-written character, and the conceit of reconstructing a wild, forgotten evening in Vegas is fun in concept, if not always in execution. But before you ask, no, I’m not going to watch the sequels.
The Hangover (2009) Official Trailer #1 - Comedy Movie
The Hangover (2009) Official Trailer #1 - Comedy Movie
I watched The Hangover on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on DirecTV, Sling TV, TNT, and USA.
🍗 Hannah and Her Sisters
Hannah and Her Sisters is a compelling, but uneven, dramedy about the intersecting love lives of three siblings, played by Dianne Wiest, Mia Farrow, and Barbara Hershey.
That story would be more than enough for a great movie, but writer/director Woody Allen inserts himself into the movie with a funny but disconnected subplot about hypochondria and religion, and Michael Caine gets too much focus as the “protagonist” of one of the stories, as his character is married to Farrow but is actually in love with Hershey.
There are several excellent scenes, and all three of the female leads are believable as real sisters who know each other so well that they can anticipate what the others are going to say — and say just the right thing to really hurt them. More than anything, I wish the movie had carved out more time for Hannah herself (Farrow), who is denied a real dramatic arc but is instead acted upon by Caine and Allen.
Hannah and Her Sisters Trailer #1 (1986) | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Hannah and Her Sisters Trailer #1 (1986) | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I watched Hannah and Her Sisters on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Vudu Free (with ads) and DirecTV.
⛳ Happy Gilmore
Happy Gilmore gets something right that later Adam Sandler works got very, very wrong. Although all of his trademarks are on full display here (yelling, immature humor, blatant product placement), this is one of the movies he’s made where those things all, amazingly, work.
Like early seasons of The Simpsons, the oddball crudity is delivered in service of an ultimately likable character with a sympathetic goal: He needs to make a lot of money quickly to save his grandmother’s home from foreclosure.
How he gets that money — climbing the ranks of the snobby pro golf circuit while refusing to play by its rules — is an excellent container for Sandler’s hijinks, which hit more often than they miss here. As Gilmore, he is barely tolerated by people his own age, much less golf pros like the unctuous Shooter McGavin, played by the perfectly cast Christopher McDonald.
Oh, also, Bob Barker is in a couple scenes. He’s great:
The Price Is Wrong, Bitch - Happy Gilmore (8/9) Movie CLIP (1996) HD
The Price Is Wrong, Bitch - Happy Gilmore (8/9) Movie CLIP (1996) HD
I watched Happy Gilmore on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Max Go and DirecTV.
🔢 Every Movie I've Seen in 2020, Ranked
Oops, forgot to include my Parasite rewatch when I made this list. Fixed!
(new additions in bold)
  1. 12 Angry Men
  2. Knives Out
  3. Parasite
  4. Arrival
  5. Airplane!
  6. Hot Fuzz
  7. Hamilton
  8. Groundhog Day
  9. All About Eve
  10. The Farewell
  11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  12. What We Do in the Shadows
  13. Spotlight
  14. Booksmart
  15. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  16. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  17. Your Name.
  18. North by Northwest
  19. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  20. The Old Guard
  21. Thank You For Smoking
  22. Little Women
  23. Marriage Story
  24. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  25. La La Land
  26. Sunset Boulevard
  27. Ford v Ferrari
  28. A Fish Called Wanda
  29. Gremlins
  30. Apocalypse Now
  31. Hacksaw Ridge
  32. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  33. The Lunchbox
  34. Little Miss Sunshine
  35. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  36. Coming to America
  37. Shrek
  38. Dolemite Is My Name
  39. Good Will Hunting
  40. Palm Springs
  41. The Grapes of Wrath
  42. Fantasia 2000
  43. Kedi
  44. The Great Escape
  45. Annihilation
  46. Wordplay
  47. Boyhood
  48. 1917
  49. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  50. Dark Waters
  51. Hail, Caesar!
  52. The Death of Stalin
  53. 50/50
  54. Hannah and Her Sisters
  55. Enemy of the State
  56. Captain Phillips
  57. Uncut Gems
  58. Frost/Nixon
  59. Almost Famous
  60. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  61. Bad Education
  62. Godzilla
  63. Just Mercy
  64. Da 5 Bloods
  65. Guardians of the Galaxy
  66. My Fair Lady
  67. Happy Gilmore
  68. Gates of Heaven
  69. Emma.
  70. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  71. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  72. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  73. Braveheart
  74. Bicycle Thieves
  75. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  76. Frankenstein
  77. Hugo
  78. All the Money in the World
  79. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  80. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  81. Onward
  82. Pain and Glory
  83. Bambi
  84. The Great Dictator
  85. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  86. Anastasia
  87. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  88. Animal House
  89. You’ve Got Mail
  90. The 39 Steps
  91. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  92. Modern Romance
  93. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  94. 3:10 to Yuma
  95. The Big Country
  96. Ghost
  97. The African Queen
  98. Greyhound
  99. Bamboozled
  100. Bullitt
  101. Dracula
  102. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  103. Bride of Frankenstein
  104. The Descendants
  105. The Hangover
  106. Joker
  107. Kingpin
  108. Bridesmaids
  109. The Great Gatsby
  110. Hang ‘Em High
  111. 13 Assassins
  112. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  113. Kentucky Fried Movie
  114. Romancing the Stone
  115. Crocodile Dundee
  116. Gods of Egypt
  117. The Gentlemen
  118. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  119. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  120. The Last Airbender


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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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