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🎬 Onward and The 39 Steps

With so many new movies getting postponed due to COVID-19, expect the next few weeks of this newslett
🎬 Onward and The 39 Steps
By Eric Johnson • Issue #60 • View online
With so many new movies getting postponed due to COVID-19, expect the next few weeks of this newsletter to be heavy on the older stuff in my collection. As always, if you have any recommendations (preferably not movies about pandemics or mass hysteria, please), just reply to this email.

🧙‍♂️ Onward
Pictured: Studio executives looking at the list of movies they were planning to release in the next couple months to theaters.
Pictured: Studio executives looking at the list of movies they were planning to release in the next couple months to theaters.
ONWARD is classic Pixar: A heartwarming but super creative story about family with clever jokes and a crew of familiar celebrities filling out the cast. It’s like a really good grilled cheese sandwich, never too surprising from bite to bite, but ultimately satisfying. Set in a fantasy world where magic has been largely supplanted by technology, the protagonists are elf brothers on a quest to spend one day with their deceased father. Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, playing the brothers, are exactly what you’d expect if you’re familiar with their other work, but the real scene-stealers are Mel Rodriguez as the centaur dating their mom and Octavia Spencer as a hilarious manticore-turned-restauranteur. The animation is lovely, too — but for Pixar, that’s just table stakes.
🔪 The 39 Steps
Pictured: The CDC says not to touch your own face, but this is fine.
Pictured: The CDC says not to touch your own face, but this is fine.
THE 39 STEPS is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s earlier films and has many of the hallmarks of his later hits: A regular person swept up in a dangerous adventure; duplicitous figures who initially seem trustworthy; and injections of comic relief and risqué moments to break up the suspense. However, I wasn’t as invested in it as I had hoped, and couldn’t take the danger facing the protagonist, Hannay, seriously. Maybe the film suffered because its best moments have been copied and improved upon — including by Hitch himself — but I still admired much about it, including the full-circle ending, the picaresque sequences of Hannay on the run on Scotland, and in particular the “handcuff scene” at the inn, which was surprisingly racy for 1935.
🏆 Every New Movie I've Seen in 2020 (So Far), Ranked
(new additions in bold)

  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

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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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