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🎬 "When I said 'no problem,' what I meant was, 'No… problem.'"

🎬 "When I said 'no problem,' what I meant was, 'No… problem.'"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #68 • View online

This week in quarantine: Two Disney movies for children and two very R-rated films about death, politics, and war. I contain multitudes!
📫 Reply to this email with your reactions and recommendations for what I should watch in the future.
🎼 Fantasia 2000
I really wish Fantasia 2000 hadn’t bombed at the box office.
The long-overdue sequel to the original Fantasia, from 1940, continues the format of its predecessor: Lovely short films, animated to the tune of classical music pieces such as Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, and Ludwig von Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
My personal favorite here is the segment set to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue — maybe my all-time favorite piece of music, which I heard for the first time when I saw Fantasia 2000 in theaters when it came out.
Almost all of the animation across the film still looks good today, save for some plasticky CGI here and there. My biggest gripe with the movie: The celebrity interludes between the music, which detract from the artistry of the animated pieces and seem to have been written by committee.
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Fantasia 2000 is currently streaming on Disney+ and is not available elsewhere to rent or buy digitally, as far as I can tell. Boo!
🇻🇳 Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a legendary movie, but I knew surprisingly little about it before I watched it for the first time this week, except for the fact that Martin Sheen and Marlin Brando would be in it, and the famous final lines.
I’m glad I finally got around to watching this — it’s a classic for a reason, a terrifying class in immersive cinema.
At first, I was apprehensive about Sheen’s character Capt. Willard; by the start of the story, he has already been pushed to the edge by some hellish experiences in the Vietnam War. But over the course of the next 2+ hours, the movie pushes him fully off the cliff, and it is captivating to see him fall.
There are many oft-quoted lines in this movie, and it was satisfying to finally see them snap into place, but I was also wowed by the scary dramatic range Sheen demonstrates here — something I’ll remember the next time I decide to rewatch The West Wing for the umpteenth time.
Apocalypse Now (1979) Official Trailer - Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall Drama Movie HD
Apocalypse Now (1979) Official Trailer - Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall Drama Movie HD
Apocalypse Now is currently streaming on HBO Go/HBO Now. It’s also available all the big video platforms —$3.99 to rent, and $9.99 to $13.99 to buy (Amazon, YouTube, Google, and Vudu currently have the best price).
☠️ The Death of Stalin
Armando Ianucci — best known for Veep, The Thick of It, and In The Loop — is no stranger to dark political comedy, but The Death of Stalin may be the darkest thing he’s ever done. But also, some of the scenes are among his funniest work.
The stellar cast includes Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev,  Simon Russell Beale as Lavrenti Beria, Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov, and Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov. Beale is downright terrifying at points, and Tambor — standard misgivings about his personal scandals aside — is gut-bustingly hilarious here.
Although they are varying degrees of evil, there is no rationalizing any of the characters here, as one might want to do with Simon Foster in In the Loop or Selina Myers in Veep. These are all men who sold their souls long ago and are fighting for the throne in hell. A climactic assassination scene recalls Fritz Lang’s M — quite a feat for a movie that also has some extraordinarily silly physical comedy.
The Death of Stalin Trailer #1 (2018) | Movieclips Trailers
The Death of Stalin Trailer #1 (2018) | Movieclips Trailers
The Death of Stalin is currently streaming on Netflix. It’s also available all the big video platforms —$3.99 to rent, and $13.99 to buy.
🚬 Pain and Glory
Well-made, well-acted, and a bit knowingly navel-gazing, Pain and Glory is an intimate story by and about writer/director Pedro Almodóvar.
Antonio Banders plays Salvador, the Almodóvar stand-in, a middle-aged film director dealing with scar tissue both physical and metaphorical. He is excellent. After the shaky first act, I got so immersed that I forgot I was looking at Banderas and started seeing him as Salvador only.
Although the flashback scenes to the protagonist’s childhood make a bit more sense by the end of the story, they slow down the pacing otherwise and I wish we could have just spent all our time with Banderas and the people around him, deepening those relationships and inferring what has happened to him rather than being shown it.
All in all, I don’t know that I’ll ever revisit Pain & Glory, but it was a lovely place to visit for a few hours.
PAIN AND GLORY | Official Trailer HD (2019)
PAIN AND GLORY | Official Trailer HD (2019)
Pain and Glory is currently streaming on Starz. It’s also available on all the big video platforms —$3.99 to $5.99 to rent, and $9.99 to $14.99 to buy (Amazon has the best price either way).
🦌 Bambi
Would you believe I made it more than 30 years without ever seeing Bambi? It’s true; until two days ago, I didn’t even know that the title character of this Disney classic was a boy.
With a very, very simple story about childhood and growing up, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the intended audience for this movie. However, I loved the gorgeous animation and the great score.
Although the animation has aged very well, the voice acting has not — especially in the second half of the film, where the characters grow up a bit and their voices deepen in jarring, unnatural ways. Also, WTF is up with Bambi’s father, the “Great Prince?” Absentee father much?
Bambi on the ice
Bambi on the ice
Bambi is currently streaming on Disney+. It’s also available on all the big video platforms, but only to buy — for $19.99 to $21.99.
Other Stuff I Liked This Week
If you’re the sort of person who obsessively watched Parks and Recreation, then chances are you’ve already seen last week’s recorded-in-quarantine reunion episode, checking in with all our favs in Pawnee who are sheltering in place like the rest of the world. This was a risky gambit for such a beloved ensemble cast, and I’m overjoyed that the episode was not only hilarious and heartwarming, but it also had something to say about mental health in quarantine. 99 shows out of 100 could not have pulled this off, but Parks & Rec did it. In case you’re looking for a new TV show to start (or an old one to watch from the beginning), the whole series is streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. New viewers, fair warning: The first season is rough but it gets much better in S2 and especially S3.
During some downtime this week, I also finally watched a video essay by one of my favorite YouTube creators, Patrick H. Willems, called What Do We Want From a Star Wars Movie? (Part II). As the name suggests, it’s a sequel to an earlier video that came out after 2017’s The Last Jedi, which is also good but not a strictly necessary prerequisite for watching the new one; this one is a meditation on why The Rise of Skywalker (and other recent Star Wars media, including Solo and The Mandalorian) didn’t work for him, and he does an excellent job articulating the disappointment of a longtime fan, without hurting the feelings of anyone who liked those entries in the franchise. It’s the best encapsulation of my own feelings on Episode IX I’ve encountered to date. And it’s funny!
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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