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🎬 “You haven’t worked a day in your life. How could you be exhausted?”

I got a digital advance copy of the book A is for Auteur this week, which is being published by the m
🎬 “You haven’t worked a day in your life. How could you be exhausted?”
By Eric Johnson • Issue #99 • View online
I got a digital advance copy of the book A is for Auteur this week, which is being published by the makers of the party game Cinephile. It’s nominally a children’s alphabet book — e.g. “C is for Coppola (Francis Ford): Luca Brasi sleeps with fishes, a horse head as warning. Apocalypse redux, the smell of napalm in the morning.” However, it’s also a coffee table book for adults, and I had a lot of fun looking at the delightfully detailed illustrations, trying to identify the movies being referenced. Thanks to Cory at Cinephile for sharing that in advance!
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🌺 Moana
Moana is one of my favorite Disney movies, period. The animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy, and the story is heartfelt without being sappy, and familiar without being contrived.
If you missed this one when it came out in late 2016 — a time when I really needed a comforting movie — the story is about a young woman (Auli'i Cravalho), who’s chosen to find the banished demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and enlist his help to save her island. After leaving the theater, I tweeted that her adventure is reminiscent of a Legend of Zelda video game, and I stand by that; this movie captures the exact same type of wonder those games instill.
Moana herself is an impressive, memorable character, so much so that I wish the film didn’t tongue-in-cheekily describe her as a “princess”; so many Disney princesses are so much less interesting that it feels like lampshading — you’re still putting her in this box even if you’re doing it with a meta wink. And the songs, all of which were written or co-written by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda while he was still on Broadway, are superb.
I definitely recommend this movie, and specifically I demand you watch it on a very large screen in HD. Singing along is optional. ★★★★½
Moana Official Trailer
Moana Official Trailer
Moana is currently streaming on Disney+.
😎 Men in Black
Along with Moana, I included Men in Black on my list of comfy movies last week, and for good reason: It’s a creative, fun sci-fi adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and asks the audience to do the same.
I’ve unintentionally been on a run of Will Smith’s greatest hits recently, catching this after Enemy of the State and Independence Day; here, as in those movies, his skill as a charismatic everyman uplifts even the most dubious surrounding material.
Smith plays J, a new recruit to a secret force of alien-tracking secret agents, and Tommy Lee Jones plays his grouchy mentor, K. The two have classic buddy cop chemistry, and Vincent D’Onfrio is terrifyingly good as an evil alien possessing a corpse; his physical performance here is incredible and disturbing.
On the downside, the romantic interest for J is barely a character, and despite the generally chill stakes of the film, I wish the climactic showdown were a little more tense. But the whole movie is clever enough that I’d say it holds up. Recommended. ★★★½
Men in Black (1997) Official Trailer 1 - Will Smith Movie
Men in Black (1997) Official Trailer 1 - Will Smith Movie
I watched Men in Black on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Starz, DirecTV, and Sling TV.
⚒️ Iron Man
I hadn’t revisited the original Iron Man in several years, but had always held it up in my mind as being one of the best Marvel movies. As the first entry in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, it certainly is an important movie, both for that series and movies as a whole in the 21st century, but I was less thrilled than consistently entertained on this viewing.
There’s a lot that works: Robert Downey Jr. as the brilliant asshole billionaire Tony Stark, the (relatively) small scope of the action, and the montage of Stark improving his suit — culminating in a risky and exhilarating first flight — are all excellent. However, the villain is dull and predictable, and the love interest Pepper Potts (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is hit or miss; I love when Paltrow and Downey are spar like characters in a screwball comedy, but in every other scene the screenwriters don’t seem to know what to do with her.
Marvel movies would have higher highs after this one, and lower lows, but all in all I still had a good enough time with Iron Man that I’d recommend it. ★★★½
Iron Man (2008) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Iron Man (2008) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Iron Man is currently streaming on Disney+.
🎆 Bottle Rocket
Wes Anderson’s first feature-length film, Bottle Rocket, is a story about an idiot and his dumber friends trying to become criminal masterminds. It’s a great premise, and baby-faced acting brothers Luke and Owen Wilson strike the right mix of naïveté and hubris to make their characters likable while also doomed to failure.
Although this film has a good soundtrack and introduces a now-famous costume — the all-yellow jumpsuit Owen Wilson’s character adopts with gusto — Wes Anderson’s iconic directorial style had yet to fully solidify, and the freshmanity of the project is evident, especially in an unconvincing romantic subplot. The final heist scene has several funny moments, but little narrative momentum, and I found myself wishing this indie film from a promising team had had enough budget to do something more ambitious.
There’s enough here that I can recommend Bottle Rocket, although later Anderson works like Moonrise Kingdom and Isle of Dogs are much more my jam. ★★★½
Bottle Rocket (1996) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
Bottle Rocket (1996) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers
I bought Bottle Rocket on Amazon, but it’s currently streaming on Mubi.
🔢 Every Movie I've Seen in 2020, Ranked
(new additions in bold)
  1. The Godfather
  2. 12 Angry Men
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  4. Get Out
  5. Do the Right Thing
  6. Knives Out
  7. Parasite
  8. Arrival
  9. My Neighbor Totoro
  10. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  11. Airplane!
  12. The Silence of the Lambs
  13. Dick Johnson Is Dead
  14. The Lives of Others
  15. Hot Fuzz
  16. Boys State
  17. Hamilton
  18. Groundhog Day
  19. All About Eve
  20. Ocean’s Eleven
  21. West Side Story
  22. The Farewell
  23. Vertigo
  24. 12 Years a Slave
  25. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  26. What We Do in the Shadows
  27. Spotlight
  28. Booksmart
  29. Her
  30. Moana
  31. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  32. The Matrix
  33. Moonrise Kingdom
  34. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  35. Your Name.
  36. North by Northwest
  37. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  38. The Incredibles
  39. Looper
  40. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  41. The Wrong Trousers
  42. The Old Guard
  43. American Psycho
  44. Thank You For Smoking
  45. Little Women
  46. Marriage Story
  47. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  48. La La Land
  49. Sunset Boulevard
  50. Ford v Ferrari
  51. A Fish Called Wanda
  52. Bringing Up Baby
  53. Gremlins
  54. Apocalypse Now
  55. The Hidden Fortress
  56. Hell or High Water
  57. Moneyball
  58. Hacksaw Ridge
  59. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  60. The Lunchbox
  61. Heat
  62. Little Miss Sunshine
  63. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  64. Coming to America
  65. Hustlers
  66. Shrek
  67. Wet Hot American Summer
  68. It Follows
  69. Dolemite Is My Name
  70. Good Will Hunting
  71. Palm Springs
  72. The Grapes of Wrath
  73. Fantasia 2000
  74. First Cow
  75. Kedi
  76. Honey Boy
  77. The Great Escape
  78. Ed Wood
  79. Isle of Dogs
  80. Annihilation
  81. The Hunt for Red October
  82. Wordplay
  83. Boyhood
  84. The Hunger Games
  85. 1917
  86. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  87. The Philadelphia Story
  88. Dark Waters
  89. Hail, Caesar!
  90. The Death of Stalin
  91. The Irishman
  92. Zoolander
  93. 50/50
  94. Hannah and Her Sisters
  95. Horse Feathers
  96. Enemy of the State
  97. Captain Phillips
  98. Uncut Gems
  99. Independence Day
  100. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  101. 9 to 5
  102. Frost/Nixon
  103. The Incredibles 2
  104. How the West Was Won
  105. Almost Famous
  106. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  107. Bad Education
  108. Godzilla
  109. Just Mercy
  110. Midnight in Paris
  111. Da 5 Bloods
  112. High Fidelity
  113. Guardians of the Galaxy
  114. My Fair Lady
  115. Iron Man
  116. The Invisible Man
  117. The Hateful Eight
  118. Happy Gilmore
  119. Gates of Heaven
  120. Emma.
  121. Men in Black
  122. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  123. Home Alone
  124. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  125. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  126. Braveheart
  127. Bicycle Thieves
  128. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  129. Bottle Rocket
  130. The Addams Family
  131. Frankenstein
  132. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  133. Hugo
  134. All the Money in the World
  135. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  136. Live From the Space Stage: A Halyx Story
  137. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  138. Onward
  139. Hidden Figures
  140. Pain and Glory
  141. Bambi
  142. The Great Dictator
  143. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  144. Anastasia
  145. Hot Rod
  146. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  147. Animal House
  148. You’ve Got Mail
  149. The 39 Steps
  150. The Princess and the Frog
  151. Elysium
  152. (500) Days of Summer
  153. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  154. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  155. Modern Romance
  156. H.M.S. Pinafore
  157. Shakespeare in Love
  158. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  159. 3:10 to Yuma
  160. The Big Country
  161. Ghost
  162. 28 Weeks Later
  163. History of the World: Part I
  164. The African Queen
  165. Greyhound
  166. Bamboozled
  167. Bullitt
  168. Dracula
  169. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  170. Bride of Frankenstein
  171. Howard the Duck
  172. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  173. The Descendants
  174. The Hangover
  175. Joker
  176. Kingpin
  177. 28 Days Later
  178. Bridesmaids
  179. The Great Gatsby
  180. 13 Assassins
  181. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  182. Benny & Joon
  183. Bad Moms
  184. High Anxiety
  185. Kentucky Fried Movie
  186. Hang ‘Em High
  187. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  188. Ice Age
  189. Romancing the Stone
  190. Crocodile Dundee
  191. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  192. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
  193. Gods of Egypt
  194. The Gentlemen
  195. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  196. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  197. The Last Airbender
  198. Manos: The Hands of Fate

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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