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🎬 "There is a very fine line between love and nausea."

🎬 "There is a very fine line between love and nausea."
By Eric Johnson • Issue #80 • View online

✊🏾 Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee’s ambitious new film Da 5 Bloods is steeped in the pop culture of the Vietnam War and in vibrant conversation with the real-life legacy of that war and race relations in the US.
On the surface as a movie, it’s a simple-enough premise: Four Black American Vietnam veterans return to the country to go looking for a missing treasure — and the remains of a lost squadmate who was KIA. Lee is as creative as ever here, and his most ingenious decision is to film flashback scenes with all the older actors playing their younger selves — it works surprisingly well. All the main actors are good, especially Delroy Lindo as this movie’s breakout character, Paul.
That said, the story is hindered by some extraneous characters and allusions to characters’ backstories that don’t get enough time to steep before everyone has to move on. I think Da 5 Bloods may have worked better as a miniseries, but as it is, I’m glad I watched it. Recommended.
Da 5 Bloods | Official Trailer | Netflix
Da 5 Bloods | Official Trailer | Netflix
Da 5 Bloods is currently streaming on Netflix.
👑 Coming to America
Is Coming to America the best comedy Eddie Murphy ever made? I think so! (But if you want to make the case for Pluto Nash or Norbit, hit reply and set me straight.)
As the crown prince of the fictional nation of Zamunda, Murphy travels to the US to find a bride; naturally, he chooses to go to Queens. The classic fish-out-of-water premise is buttressed by his hilarious earnest performance and a nonstop parade of “New York in the 1980s” time capsule moments, which the filmmakers surely knew they were chronicling at the time.
As he would do in many later films, Murphy and his costar Arsenio Hall also play several other roles, including a James Brown-esque reverend (funny) and a barbershop full of barbershop stereotypes (eh). These extra characters are more of a distraction than anything else, but it doesn’t matter because the main story is so strong.
Coming to America (1988) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Coming to America (1988) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I watched Coming to America on Blu-Ray, but it is currently streaming on fuboTV and Sling TV.
🏎 Ford v Ferrari
At two and a half hours, Ford v Ferrari is a long movie, but it’s so well made that the time flies by at 210 mph.
At the risk of straining your tolerance for metaphors, I’d compare it to a finely tuned racecar: It’s designed to do one very obvious thing, but every piece of it has been so well optimized that seeing it work is a thing of beauty.
As the racers Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, Matt Damon and especially Christian Bale are perfectly cast; the editing is damn near perfect; and the way the script heightens the true-story drama is believable and engaging. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not a car person, but I love a good car movie, and this is a great one.
Here’s something I wrote about this movie the last time I saw it, in November (which feels like 5 years ago):
I want to take a moment to also acknowledge Tracy Letts, who plays Henry Ford II and performs a vital role in the film: Humanizing and complicating what would have otherwise been a faceless corporation. Just as in the 2017 film Lady Bird, where he played the title character’s father, Letts is given relatively little to do but brings SO MUCH to every moment he gets.
Still true!
FORD v FERRARI | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX
FORD v FERRARI | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX
I watched Ford v Ferrari on HBO Go, but it’s also streaming on HBO Now/Max and DirecTV.
👻 Ghost
The special effects in 1990’s Ghost look super-corny by today’s standards, but the movie is otherwise enjoyable, to a point.
Lead actors Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore turn in solid performances, and there are a couple great scenes enlivened by the late character actor Vincent Schiavelli as a ghost haunting NYC’s subway, and Whoopi Goldberg as a mystic huckster who can (to everyone’s surprise) speak to Swayze’s ghost.
Putting aside the tropeiness of the latter casting, I wish the movie had centered on Goldberg’s character, not Swayze and Moore. She has a way more compelling backstory and an entertaining journey to go on between the start of the movie and its end, from skeptical fraud to true believer. The actual A plot, about a money laundering scheme, is a snooze.
Ghost (1990) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Ghost (1990) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I watched Ghost on AMC On Demand, but it’s currently streaming on Showtime, DirecTV, fuboTV, and IndieFlix.
 🦖 Godzilla
The 2014 reboot of Godzilla was … much better than I expected it to be!
Director Gareth Edwards, who would leapfrog from this film to the Star Wars prequel Rogue One, very effectively tells a monster story from human eye level here, conveying a more profound level fear and helplessness than the stereotypical nameless extras fleeing through the streets.
The main protagonist, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is pretty bland, and we don’t spend enough time with the other characters to really understand them, but there’s nevertheless a lot to like here: The score by Alexandre Desplat is very good, and supporting actor Bryan Cranston is superb in all the scenes he’s in.
One other criticism: It didn’t escape my notice that several of the big action scenes are set at night — a common blockbuster tactic for covering up inadequate CGI — and I found the climactic battle in San Francisco to be a bit confusing.
Godzilla - Official Main Trailer [HD]
Godzilla - Official Main Trailer [HD]
I watched Godzilla on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on fuboTV, DirecTV and Sling TV.
🌺 The Descendants
I was a little baffled by The Descendants, an Oscar-winning family drama starring George Clooney based on a bestselling novel. To be quite honest, I don’t the hype.
Maybe the book does this more gracefully, but the movie awkwardly welds together two stories, one about grief, the other about real estate, and neither of them really works.
On a technical and directorial level, everything tracks (the director is Alexander Payne, who also made Nebraska and Sideways), and the soundtrack is a lovely medley of Hawaiian music, but the central problem is that Clooney has to carry the story with a character who doesn’t change in any significant ways. His distant relationship with his daughters barely improves, and we’re told that his decision about the sale of 25,000 acres of land on Kauai is important, but the reasons for his ultimate decision are opaque and unsatisfying. 
THE DESCENDANTS - Official HD Trailer
THE DESCENDANTS - Official HD Trailer
I watched The Descendants on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Max Go and DirecTV.
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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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