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🎬 "Snakes ... Why did it have to be snakes?"

Scroll down for reviews of all four Indiana Jones movies (I had some extra time this week). Also: I'm
🎬 "Snakes ... Why did it have to be snakes?"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #91 • View online
Scroll down for reviews of all four Indiana Jones movies (I had some extra time this week).
Also: I’m excited for a new movie that’s coming out soon, something that hasn’t happened since … last year? Aaron Sorkin, please don’t let me down.
Finally: I’ve been trying to start a new habit of recommending good podcasts every day on Twitter. Follow me there if that’s your thing!

🕔 9 to 5
9 to 5 is a classic comedy that deserves a re-appreciation — I hadn’t seen it in maybe 15 years, but I’m glad I hunted down the DVD on eBay.
Starring the triple threat of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, this an unintentional period piece that captures the tipping point when “women’s lib” was finally being accepted as more than a liberal fad, and (some) men began to accept that feminism just means equality.
Its depiction of women being harassed and abused by the unqualified man at the top is unfortunately still relevant today, and the original script was much darker and meaner (something I learned from the superb podcast Dolly Parton’s America). However, the filmmakers consciously chose to stick to a more farcical tone, and the hijinks that ensue when Parton, Fonda, and Tomlin kidnap their boss (Dabney Coleman) are all funny and creative, if not exactly believable. Recommended. ★★★½
9 to 5 (1980) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
9 to 5 (1980) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I watched 9 to 5 on DVD, but it’s currently streaming on Starz and DirecTV.
🔂 Looper
Looper is the movie that made me a Rian Johnson fan, way before The Last Jedi or Knives Out.
It’s a smart, inventive, gripping sci-fi drama about an assassin in 2044 who kills people sent back in time to him from 2074, which is a brilliant concept on its own, but Johnson adds several finishing touches that are best left unspoiled. I loved the world-building here, which is detailed, but not in your face or implausible.
At the risk of starting an internet fight: I think this movie accomplishes what the original Blade Runner tried and failed to. It’s a dark vision of the near future with a new class structure of gun-toting men, and Looper explicitly engages with the human, moral questions of what it means to be one of those men, rather than getting sidetracked by the sci-fi of it all.
The stars — Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt — are all excellent, but I really like everyone in the cast, including Paul Dano, Noah Segan, and one of the best child actors I’ve seen in any movie, Pierce Gagnon. Recommended. ★★★★½
Looper Official Trailer #1 (2012) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis Movie HD
Looper Official Trailer #1 (2012) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis Movie HD
I watched Looper on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Starz, DirecTV, and Sling TV.
🌳 My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro is the cutest movie ever made, and one of the best-animated to boot. Here’s what I wrote about it when I saw it for the first time last year, in a movie theater (sigh):
I think the theater was dusty because there’s … something in my eye. The animation is tremendous and the score feels like I’ve known it my whole life. I knew it would be cute, but wow. This movie is an adorable knockout.
To that, I’d add that what really struck me on this re-viewing is the way Studio Ghibli perfectly captures the feeling of being a child — the wonder, the embarrassment, the helplessness, all of it! It’s a feat of nuanced animation that happens to be overlaid on a truly beautiful film. Highly recommended. ★★★★★
My Neighbor Totoro - Official Trailer
My Neighbor Totoro - Official Trailer
My Neighbor Totoro is currently streaming on HBO Max.
🐍 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Is Raiders of the Lost Ark a perfect action movie?
For me, it is: There’s a compelling cast, funny quotes, amazing music, and unforgettable action sequences. It’s so good that I barely know what to say about it.
You know the story: Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, an ethically dubious archaeologist and occult expert who gets asked by the US Army to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. Jones is the product of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas trying to one-up James Bond, but they also accidentally invented (or maybe Karen Allen deserves the credit) the all-time best “Bond girl”-esque character in Marion Ravenwood.
I love the way this amusement park of a ride precisely modulates its momentum: It slows down just enough to lull you into a sense of security … and then hits you with another jolt of excitement, without inducing whiplash. Highly recommended. ★★★★★
HD - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Theatrical Trailer
HD - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Theatrical Trailer
Raiders of the Lost Ark is currently streaming on Netflix and Sling TV.
❤️ Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is maybe the most frustrating movie in my collection.
Technically, it’s well-made: The action is clear and engaging, the music is very good, and there’s one extremely intense and scary scene that everyone who sees this movie will remember. But on a story and character level, it is an ENORMOUS step down from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it indulges in some lazier-than-lazy racist stereotypes that permanently stain its legacy.
In the first movie, we don’t need to be told how bad the Nazis were, so it’s unambiguous that they should be shot, punched, and melted; in this movie, the obscure Hindu death cult that serves as the big bad is so murkily defined that they just come off as “sinister brown people” rather than ideological enemies.
It doesn’t help that Indy’s companions, Short Round and Willie Scott (played by Ke Huy Quan and Kate Capshaw), are both annoying stereotypes in their own right, and prove to be uninteresting foils to our hero. Skip it. ★★½
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Trailer HD
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom Trailer HD
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is currently streaming on Netflix and Sling TV.
🐀 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is in many ways a regression for the series: A return to the lighter tone and simpler enemies of Raiders, built around nonstop action and seemingly written so as to barely acknowledge the existence of Temple of Doom.
And you know what? I’m totally fine with that. Despite its occasional merits, Temple of Doom has enough problems that it’s best left ignored, and I’d encourage any new viewers to just jump from Raiders to Crusade and Google the “kali ma” scene if they want to appreciate the second film’s most memorable sequence and have nightmares about it.
This film is a total delight, featuring Sean Connery as Indiana Jones’ father — Henry Jones, Sr. — and one of the few “flashback that explains the whole character” sequences that I can ever recall working for me. Those familiar villains, the Nazis, are back for a reason, and that’s because the Joneses are simple characters for whom the simple “good vs. evil” fight is good enough. Recommended. ★★★★½
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is currently streaming on Netflix and Sling TV.
👽 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Despite the best efforts of Karen Allen, John Hurt, and Cate Blanchett, the fourth and (maybe?) final Indiana Jones movie is a dud.
Picking up in 1957, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull awkwardly tries to fuse Cold War paranoia, daddy issues and aliens in a story that heaves under its own weight. Although the third movie’s solution (just have him fight Nazis again!) wasn’t an option in the 50s, one has to imagine there was a better way to situate Indy in a new era.
Compounding the problems is an abundance of unnecessary and too-plasticky CGI, which robs some of Spielberg’s cool action scenes of their suspense. A sword fight on trucks racing through the jungle? Hell yes! A sword fight that culminates in Shia LaBeouf surrounded by animated monkeys, swinging on vines like he’s Tarzan? No. Just no. Skip it. ★★
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is currently streaming on Netflix and Sling TV.
🔢 Every Movie I've Seen in 2020, Ranked
(new additions in bold; also, I fixed some old ordering mistakes towards the bottom of the list)
  1. The Godfather
  2. 12 Angry Men
  3. Do the Right Thing
  4. Knives Out
  5. Parasite
  6. Arrival
  7. My Neighbor Totoro
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  9. Airplane!
  10. The Lives of Others
  11. Hot Fuzz
  12. Boys State
  13. Hamilton
  14. Groundhog Day
  15. All About Eve
  16. West Side Story
  17. The Farewell
  18. 12 Years a Slave
  19. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  20. What We Do in the Shadows
  21. Spotlight
  22. Booksmart
  23. Her
  24. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  25. Moonrise Kingdom
  26. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  27. Your Name.
  28. North by Northwest
  29. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  30. The Incredibles
  31. Looper
  32. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  33. The Wrong Trousers
  34. The Old Guard
  35. Thank You For Smoking
  36. Little Women
  37. Marriage Story
  38. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  39. La La Land
  40. Sunset Boulevard
  41. Ford v Ferrari
  42. A Fish Called Wanda
  43. Bringing Up Baby
  44. Gremlins
  45. Apocalypse Now
  46. The Hidden Fortress
  47. Hell or High Water
  48. Moneyball
  49. Hacksaw Ridge
  50. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  51. The Lunchbox
  52. Heat
  53. Little Miss Sunshine
  54. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  55. Coming to America
  56. Hustlers
  57. Shrek
  58. Wet Hot American Summer
  59. Dolemite Is My Name
  60. Good Will Hunting
  61. Palm Springs
  62. The Grapes of Wrath
  63. Fantasia 2000
  64. First Cow
  65. Kedi
  66. Honey Boy
  67. The Great Escape
  68. Annihilation
  69. The Hunt for Red October
  70. Wordplay
  71. Boyhood
  72. 1917
  73. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  74. The Philadelphia Story
  75. Dark Waters
  76. Hail, Caesar!
  77. The Death of Stalin
  78. 50/50
  79. Hannah and Her Sisters
  80. Horse Feathers
  81. Enemy of the State
  82. Captain Phillips
  83. Uncut Gems
  84. Independence Day
  85. 9 to 5
  86. Frost/Nixon
  87. The Incredibles 2
  88. How the West Was Won
  89. Almost Famous
  90. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  91. Bad Education
  92. Godzilla
  93. Just Mercy
  94. Midnight in Paris
  95. Da 5 Bloods
  96. High Fidelity
  97. Guardians of the Galaxy
  98. My Fair Lady
  99. The Hateful Eight
  100. Happy Gilmore
  101. Gates of Heaven
  102. Emma.
  103. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  104. Home Alone
  105. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  106. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  107. Braveheart
  108. Bicycle Thieves
  109. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  110. Frankenstein
  111. Hugo
  112. All the Money in the World
  113. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  114. Live From the Space Stage: A Halyx Story
  115. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  116. Onward
  117. Hidden Figures
  118. Pain and Glory
  119. Bambi
  120. The Great Dictator
  121. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  122. Anastasia
  123. Hot Rod
  124. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  125. Animal House
  126. You’ve Got Mail
  127. The 39 Steps
  128. (500) Days of Summer
  129. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  130. Modern Romance
  131. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  132. 3:10 to Yuma
  133. The Big Country
  134. Ghost
  135. 28 Weeks Later
  136. History of the World: Part I
  137. The African Queen
  138. Greyhound
  139. Bamboozled
  140. Bullitt
  141. Dracula
  142. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  143. Bride of Frankenstein
  144. Howard the Duck
  145. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  146. The Descendants
  147. The Hangover
  148. Joker
  149. Kingpin
  150. 28 Days Later
  151. Bridesmaids
  152. The Great Gatsby
  153. 13 Assassins
  154. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  155. High Anxiety
  156. Kentucky Fried Movie
  157. Hang ‘Em High
  158. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  159. Ice Age
  160. Romancing the Stone
  161. Crocodile Dundee
  162. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  163. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
  164. Gods of Egypt
  165. The Gentlemen
  166. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  167. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  168. 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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