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The edition you can't refuse

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ESJ's Movie Project

September 20 · Issue #31 · View online
I'm reviewing every movie I watch, and watching every movie I own. Settle in, this is going to take a while.

Evergreen reminders: Reply to this email with your reactions and recommendations for what I should watch in the future; also, tell your friends to subscribe to this newsletter by sending them to this link.
Heads up for anyone with a Netflix account who does not buy physical media like a crazy person: The films listed below are leaving Netflix on Oct. 1 and all of them are great and worth seeing:
  • All the President’s Men
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Gremlins
  • Quiz Show
And I haven’t seen any of these, but they’re on my watchlist and also leaving Netflix in October, so I might try to squeeze one or two in. Let me know if you have any favorites I should prioritize!
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence
  • Cabaret
  • Deliverance
  • Frances Ha
  • Hoosiers
  • In Bruges
  • Platoon

The Godfather
Pictured: When you're Don Corleone, you can make anyone stick their face in your hair, if that's what you're into.
As someone who watches an exorbitant number of movies every year, revisiting THE GODFATHER nearly 50 years after its release is a reminder — refreshing for casual viewers, and no doubt terrifying for wannabe filmmakers — of the artistic potential of the medium. At nearly three hours long, The Godfather is long, but feels fast; epic in scope, but not especially difficult to follow; and somehow both surprising and satisfying, a narrative accomplishment that a vanishingly small percentage of films can claim. Praising it is neither brave nor novel. But it is right. If you’ll forgive the triteness, it’s apropos that the first half hour of this film takes place at a wedding, because movies are like marriages, albeit with several hundred people standing on the cake. The Godfather, in 1972 and today, is an incredible unification of creative professionals at the top of their game.
The Birdcage
Pictured: When someone tells you Billy Eichner was a better Timon than Nathan Lane.
It’s rare for a performer who shared the screen with Robin Williams to upstage him, but I’d argue Nathan Lane does just that in THE BIRDCAGE, a fitfully funny screwball comedy with a few great scenes that justify your two-hour investment. However, most of the scenes without Lane and Williams together drag on (so to speak), and Gene Hackman’s parody of a gay-fearing right-wing ideologue feels a bit too toothless today. I also wonder if Hank Azaria’s flamboyant manservant Agador would fly today; the character isn’t exactly punching down at gay people, but his queerness is the joke, in a way that is lazier and more one-dimensional than Lane’s or Williams’ characters.
Pictured: "Aim it at the bullseye on that cardboard cutout of Ben Affleck."
HUSTLERS is a well-acted and directed crime dramedy that takes a bit too long to get going, but once the caper finally starts the rest of the movies sails smoothly. I was impressed, but not surprised, by Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu’s lead performances; what was surprising was the level of polish on this movie’s sound mixing, a facet of filmmaking that often gets short shrift in non-action non-war movies. I also was not surprised to see Adam McKay’s name in the producer credits — as a meditation on greed, this would make a good double feature with McKay’s best film, The Big Short.
Every New Movie I've Seen in 2019 (So Far), Ranked
(new additions in bold)

  1. Booksmart
  2. The Farewell
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk
  4. Us
  5. Free Solo
  6. Avengers: Endgame
  7. The Favourite
  8. Amazing Grace
  9. Long Shot
  10. The Wife
  11. The Art of Self-Defense
  12. Toy Story 4
  13. Shoplifters
  14. Hustlers
  15. The Last Black Man In San Francisco
  16. Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood
  17. Apollo 11
  18. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  19. Aladdin
  20. The Peanut Butter Falcon
  21. Slut in a Good Way
  22. Green Book
  23. Cold War
  24. Official Secrets
  25. Ready or Not
  26. Always Be My Maybe
  27. Rocketman
  28. Roma
  29. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  30. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  31. On the Basis of Sex
  32. Shazam!
  33. The Lion King
  34. Fighting With My Family
  35. They Shall Not Grow Old
  36. Yesterday
  37. Mary Poppins Returns
  38. Captain Marvel
  39. Minding the Gap
  40. Tolkien
  41. The Biggest Little Farm
  42. Alita: Battle Angel
  43. The Dead Don’t Die
  44. The Great Hack
  45. Stan & Ollie
  46. Vice
  47. Bohemian Rhapsody
  48. Aquaman

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