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🎬 "What kind of bird are YOU?"

Thank you so much to everyone who read last week's issue and told their friends to subscribe. I loved
🎬 "What kind of bird are YOU?"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #87 • View online
Thank you so much to everyone who read last week’s issue and told their friends to subscribe. I loved seeing all the new names roll in and will do my best to make this worth your time.
(If you know someone else who’d like this newsletter, tell them to sign up at bit.ly/esjmovies).
For the new folks: I may write the reviews around here, but you are absolutely invited to reply to my newsletters with your own takes. And I’m always looking for recommendations for what to watch next, so just hit reply to this email to share those.
- Eric

⛵ The Philadelphia Story
The Philadelphia Story is a fast-paced, fast-talking 1941 rom-com with one of the best leading casts you could create in the golden age of Hollywood: Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant.
When the movie starts, Hepburn is a wealthy old money socialite preparing to remarry a new money climber after a previous marriage to Grant failed. Stewart is sent to secretly report on the marriage for Spy Magazine, along with a photographer played by Ruth Hussey, who I loved — she would have been my favorite character if Hepburn weren’t so good.
Some ostensibly comedic lines are problematic by today’s standards, such as Grant cavalierly joking about spousal abuse, but there’s still a lot to like here: The whole cast ping-pongs off each other beautifully, and Hepburn is written with a complexity that few female rom-com characters before or since have received. Recommended.
The Philadelphia Story (1940) Official Trailer - Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart Movie HD
The Philadelphia Story (1940) Official Trailer - Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart Movie HD
I watched The Philadelphia Story on HBO Max, and it’s also currently streaming on DirecTV.
🐆 Bringing Up Baby
Bringing Up Baby is a delightful screwball comedy with a terrible title, which sounds so hokey and run-of-the-mill on its face, two things this movie is decidedly not. 
Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant star as a troublemaking heiress and a troublephobic paleontologist who are, for complicated reasons, forced to spend time with each other … and a Brazilian leopard named Baby.
Every single scene with Grant and Hepburn is a winner, particularly the ones with only the two of them playing off each other; the film’s supporting cast is an odd lot of wacky characters, some of whom work and some of whom don’t, and you can feel the momentum of the movie shift into a lower gear when we have to spend time away from the main couple for the sake of the plot. Recommended.
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Official Trailer - Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant Movie HD
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Official Trailer - Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant Movie HD
I watched Bringing Up Baby on DVD, but it’s currently streaming on HBO Max and DirecTV.
⛺️ Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom was the second Wes Anderson movie I ever saw, and I wasn’t sure I was going to see it because I was lukewarm on Fantastic Mr. Fox (which, incidentally, every other person alive seems to love, so you and I both should probably give it another look).
Anyway, I will always be glad I took a chance on this movie, because I love it. It’s a near-perfectly crafted cocktail of sweetness and bitterness, set in an idyllic Norman Rockwell-esque vision of 1960s New England. And it somehow balances a charming, sweet script with heavy themes like escape mental health, trust, loneliness, and exclusion.
There are several laugh-out-loud scenes and quirky Andersonian touches, but what really elevates this movie from good to great is that undercurrent of darkness and believable characters at its core. And as if that weren’t enough, Alexandre Desplat’s score is extraordinary. Highly recommended.
Moonrise Kingdom Official Trailer #1 - Wes Anderson Movie (2012) HD
Moonrise Kingdom Official Trailer #1 - Wes Anderson Movie (2012) HD
I watched Moonrise Kingdom on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Peacock, DirecTV, and fuboTV.
🎧 High Fidelity
I love how incredibly good John Cusack is at being unlikable in High Fidelity — as Rob Gordon, he’s one of the top 5 detestable rom-com protagonists who, improbably and annoyingly, you kind of like by the end of the movie.
Leaning into fourth-wall-breaking monologues about his love life that mostly serve to reinforce his own cluelessness, Cusack sloooowly inches toward a more mature outlook on life while circling the drain of a quarter-life crisis. He’s backed up by a supporting cast that’s stacked with good actors, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lisa Bonet, and (in blatant “this guy is going to be a movie star” mode) a young Jack Black.
Although there are some pretty good needle drops, I do wish this movie about an obsessive music fan who owns a record store had a better soundtrack. And especially knowing now how charismatic Jack Black would be in movies like School of Rock, I sometimes wished that his manic energy was leading the story, rather than Cusack’s depressive self-pity. Still, recommended.
High Fidelity (2000) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
High Fidelity (2000) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I watched High Fidelity on DVD, but it’s currently streaming (in standard-def, with ads) on IMDb TV.
🏠 Home Alone
Let me get this out of the way up top: I love John Williams’ score to Home Alone.
The rest of the movie is … pretty good! But nothing about it is quite as singularly special as the score. Its second-strongest attribute is the cast: Macaulay Culkin is cute but not cloying, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are genuinely funny-scary villains, and Catherine O’Hara gives the movie a lot of heart as she races back to the Chicago suburbs where her family left Culkin behind.
I remember being a kid and loving the really famous part of the movie — Kevin’s booby-trapped showdown with the burglars — but now, I could take it or leave it. The absolute killer scenes for me, a boring adult, are Kevin’s heart-to-heart with Roberts Blossom in the church and John Candy’s brief but hilarious scenes with O'Hara as the “Polka King of the Midwest.” Recommended.
Also, here’s a relevant tweet from Wednesday:
Macaulay Culkin
Hey guys, wanna feel old?

I'm 40.

You're welcome.
Home Alone (1990) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Home Alone (1990) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I watched Home Alone on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on HBO Go/Now/Max and DirecTV.
🔢 Every Movie I've Seen in 2020, Ranked
(new additions in bold)
  1. The Godfather
  2. 12 Angry Men
  3. Do the Right Thing
  4. Knives Out
  5. Parasite
  6. Arrival
  7. Airplane!
  8. Hot Fuzz
  9. Boys State
  10. Hamilton
  11. Groundhog Day
  12. All About Eve
  13. The Farewell
  14. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  15. What We Do in the Shadows
  16. Spotlight
  17. Booksmart
  18. Her
  19. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  20. Moonrise Kingdom
  21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  22. Your Name.
  23. North by Northwest
  24. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  25. The Old Guard
  26. Thank You For Smoking
  27. Little Women
  28. Marriage Story
  29. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  30. La La Land
  31. Sunset Boulevard
  32. Ford v Ferrari
  33. A Fish Called Wanda
  34. Bringing Up Baby
  35. Gremlins
  36. Apocalypse Now
  37. The Hidden Fortress
  38. Hell or High Water
  39. Moneyball
  40. Hacksaw Ridge
  41. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  42. The Lunchbox
  43. Heat
  44. Little Miss Sunshine
  45. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  46. Coming to America
  47. Shrek
  48. Wet Hot American Summer
  49. Dolemite Is My Name
  50. Good Will Hunting
  51. Palm Springs
  52. The Grapes of Wrath
  53. Fantasia 2000
  54. First Cow
  55. Kedi
  56. The Great Escape
  57. Annihilation
  58. Wordplay
  59. Boyhood
  60. 1917
  61. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  62. The Philadelphia Story
  63. Dark Waters
  64. Hail, Caesar!
  65. The Death of Stalin
  66. 50/50
  67. Hannah and Her Sisters
  68. Enemy of the State
  69. Captain Phillips
  70. Uncut Gems
  71. Frost/Nixon
  72. Almost Famous
  73. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  74. Bad Education
  75. Godzilla
  76. Just Mercy
  77. Da 5 Bloods
  78. High Fidelity
  79. Guardians of the Galaxy
  80. My Fair Lady
  81. The Hateful Eight
  82. Happy Gilmore
  83. Gates of Heaven
  84. Emma.
  85. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  86. Home Alone
  87. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  88. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  89. Braveheart
  90. Bicycle Thieves
  91. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  92. Frankenstein
  93. Hugo
  94. All the Money in the World
  95. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  96. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  97. Onward
  98. Hidden Figures
  99. Pain and Glory
  100. Bambi
  101. The Great Dictator
  102. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  103. Anastasia
  104. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  105. Animal House
  106. You’ve Got Mail
  107. The 39 Steps
  108. (500) Days of Summer
  109. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  110. Modern Romance
  111. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  112. 3:10 to Yuma
  113. The Big Country
  114. Ghost
  115. History of the World: Part I
  116. The African Queen
  117. Greyhound
  118. Bamboozled
  119. Bullitt
  120. Dracula
  121. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  122. Bride of Frankenstein
  123. The Descendants
  124. The Hangover
  125. Joker
  126. Kingpin
  127. 28 Days Later
  128. Bridesmaids
  129. The Great Gatsby
  130. Hang ‘Em High
  131. 13 Assassins
  132. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  133. Kentucky Fried Movie
  134. High Anxiety
  135. Romancing the Stone
  136. Crocodile Dundee
  137. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  138. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
  139. Gods of Egypt
  140. The Gentlemen
  141. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  142. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  143. 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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