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🎬 "Toga ... toga ... Toga! Toga! TOGA! TOGA!"

🎬 "Toga ... toga ... Toga! Toga! TOGA! TOGA!"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #63 • View online

This week in quarantine: The funny but problematic classic Animal House; the movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events; and a redesign for this newsletter! Let me know what you think.
Most noticeably, I’m taking the “every new movie” list out of the newsletter for the time being, since it’s not going to be updated very much. I’ve replaced it with a new section, “Other Stuff I Liked This Week.” Scroll down and check it out.
📫 Reply to this email with your reactions and recommendations for what I should watch in the future.
🍺 Animal House
I think Animal House was the first R-rated movie I saw (albeit on a technicality, since Jaws was rated PG but would definitely be an R today), so I have some nostalgic feelings for it.
Watching it all these years later, it’s hard not to get distracted by the many jokes and innuendos that have aged poorly, and a lot of the other, non-problematic cartoony antics that fill out the runtime have been copied and mostly improved upon by other comedies.
Still, it’s worth recognizing how this film defined decades of college-related media (and unfortunately, some real behavior on campus, to boot) — it’s the Citizen Kane of “overgrown boys” movies.
And there are several twisted scenes that are still brilliant today: “I’m here to pick up Fawn,” the toga party, the rowdy probation hearing … I’m here to report that it’s still possible to enjoy those even if you’re not on board for the movie as a whole.
Toga! Toga! - Animal House (6/10) Movie CLIP (1978) HD
Toga! Toga! - Animal House (6/10) Movie CLIP (1978) HD
Animal House is currently streaming on Starz and DirecTV, or you can find it on all the big video platforms —$3.99 to rent, and $7.99 to $14.99 to buy (Amazon currently has the lowest price).
🍝 Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
I missed the boat on Lemony Snicket’s novels when I was a kid, but I finally watched the 2004 movie version of A Series of Unfortunate Events this week.
The cast members whose names you’d recognize are Jim Carrey as the greedy villain Count Olaf and Meryl Streep as the grammar-obsessed paranoiac Aunt Josephine, and they’re as excellent as you’d expect, but I was also impressed by the young lead actors, Liam Aiken and Emily Browning. I’ve seen the first episode of the Netflix series based on the books — which covers some of the same early scenes — and thought it was just OK. Aiken, in particular, is a much more compelling Klaus Baudelaire than his TV counterpart.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that Tim Burton was once attached to direct A Series of Unfortunate Events, because it looks and sounds exactly like one of his films, in all the best ways; it’s dark but not (very) scary, funny but not smug, and weird but not (too) alienating.
It’s a shame this movie didn’t do well enough to merit sequels, but if anyone has strong feelings on whether I should keep going with the Netflix series, let me know.
Lemony Snicket's A series of Unfortunate Events - Trailer
Lemony Snicket's A series of Unfortunate Events - Trailer
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is streaming on Netflix, or you can find it on all the big video platforms —$3.99 to rent, and $8.99 to $14.99 to buy (YouTube and Google Play currently have the lowest price).
😁 Other Stuff I Liked This Week
Last Friday, I finally obtained a Nintendo Switch (after years of missing out, and at an inflated eBay price since official channels are super sold out). But I’m very glad I did because the game that finally forced me to pay up, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, is as delightful as I could have possibly hoped. The latest entry in the famously chill game series is as cute and addictive as ever. Recommended.
My girlfriend has also picked up a new game, Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4, which I played and loved when it came out in 2018. Watching over her shoulder as she plays through it for the first time (and occasionally being handed the controller to beat a tough mission), I am reminded all over again that this is one of my favorite games of the decade. The story is outstanding, and the action scenes are more cinematic than some of the real Spider-Man movies.
One of my favorite podcasts, Everything Is Alive, recently returned for a new season. If you haven’t listened, you’re missing out: Host Ian Chillag does “interviews” with objects that you might have thought were inanimate, played by improv actors; Chillag brilliantly deadpans his way through the conversation, and takes a break in the middle to interview a real person whose work relates to the thing being interviewed. If you’re new to the show, start with my favorite episode from season 1: “Maeve, Lamppost.”
Finally, here’s a video essay from the YouTuber NerdWriter1 that blew my mind this week, about the craft that goes into a single page of a well-made graphic novel. It convinced me that I should finally read Art Spiegelman’s celebrated novel Maus, and that I should do it slowly:
Did you enjoy this issue?
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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