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🎬 "YOU ... SHALL NOT ... PASS!"

(this newsletter is also available on Medium) The most difficult decision of my week was which Lord o
🎬 "YOU ... SHALL NOT ... PASS!"
By Eric Johnson • Issue #93 • View online
(this newsletter is also available on Medium)
The most difficult decision of my week was which Lord of the Rings quote to use as the subject line of this email. How’d I do?
I made a half-hearted attempt to watch more spooky movies this week because it is spooky season, but then I forgot. I have plenty of other spooky movies to watch over the next few weeks, but hit me up in the replies: What are your favorite Halloween movies?
Also: If you like this newsletter, please consider buying me a coffee! However, if donating would cause you any financial hardship, then don’t give it a second thought. Keep reading! Thank you.

😗 Zoolander
Zoolander is a very silly movie carried almost entirely by Ben Stiller’s commitment to his character: A “really, really, really, ridiculously good looking” male model who is brainwashed by a fashion magnate to kill the prime minister of Malaysia.
Stiller’s costars, including Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson, are funny, too — albeit a little too winking-at-the-camera for my taste. As a fan of movies like The Princess Bride, I love a deeply earnest character in ridiculous costumes saying ridiculous things, and Zoolander fits that bill perfectly.
This was also a special movie for me because I saw it at a temporary drive-in movie theater in San Francisco, the first movie I’ve seen outside the house since Onward in early March. All the cars had their windows rolled up so we couldn’t hear the audience laughing, but it still felt good to be out and enjoying something with a few dozen strangers. If you have a drive-in near you, I’d recommend it.
Zoolander is good, too. Recommended. ★★★½
Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good - Zoolander (4/10) Movie CLIP (2001) HD
Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good - Zoolander (4/10) Movie CLIP (2001) HD
I watched Zoolander at a drive-in movie theater, but it’s currently streaming on Hoopla.
🪓 American Psycho
After seeing American Psycho, it now makes perfect sense to me why Christian Bale was cast as Batman.
This upsetting but engrossing satire is perched right at the intersection of mayhem, darkness, and high society, and Bale plays his part to unnerving perfection. This is not a subtle movie — it’s loud and bloody and I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t been pigeonholed as a Patrick Bateman type for the rest of his acting career; he’s just that good at playing a memorably creepy dude.
Following Bateman for the entire film and almost never pulling the focus away is a bold choice because it forces us to think about the exaggerated ways in which his callous materialism, elitism, and toxic masculinity — the acceptable veneer over his murderous rage — are present in our own social circles and ourselves. And suffice it to say I will never listen to Huey Lewis and the News the same way again. Recommended. ★★★★½
Morning Routine - American Psycho (1/12) Movie CLIP (2000) HD
Morning Routine - American Psycho (1/12) Movie CLIP (2000) HD
I watched American Psycho on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming on Peacock.
✂️ Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tim Burton’s movie adaptation of a darkly comedic Stephen Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is well-directed and mostly well-acted. But it doesn’t add up to something I really enjoyed.
A few of the songs are memorable, especially Sacha Baron Cohen’s “The Contest” and one of the big duets between Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, “A Little Priest.” But most of the others are so forgettable that I was wishing for a talked-through version of this story with the same actors and same creepy production design.
It’s also just lovely to see Alan Rickman in anything, however briefly, and lovelier still to have him happily singing. The actual meat of the story, so to speak, was less appetizing to me. I didn’t really buy Sweeney Todd’s character (something I imagine may be more fleshed out in the stage musical), and his gruesome methods were more shocking than dramatically interesting. I’d be willing to give this musical another chance if I can see it on stage, but as far as the movie goes … eh. ★★★
Sweeney Todd (3/8) Movie CLIP - Shaving Contest (2007) HD
Sweeney Todd (3/8) Movie CLIP - Shaving Contest (2007) HD
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, CBS, and Hoopla.
💍 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a perfect adaptation, and I don’t envy the person who has to write something interesting about it.
(Looks in the mirror.) Dammit.
The fact that this movie has aged so well in the past 19 years is remarkable, and not at all what happens to most fantasy/“genre” entertainment. Its success is attributable to — among other things — director Peter Jackson’s mastery of classical adventure filmmaking techniques, a script that doesn’t dumb down J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic lore, and an uber-talented cast that treats his material with the utmost seriousness. Bringing together Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, and about a dozen more brilliant actors was a miraculous feat of casting, the likes of which I don’t think we’ve seen again in the past two decades.
When I think about this movie, I think of the sweeping shots of New Zealand-as-Middle Earth, like everyone, but it’s no mistake that “LOTR memes” are a thriving internet phenomenon. When adults make fantasy stories for other adults, those stories become Petri dishes for our imaginations, encouraging us to twist and mutate those stories and apply them throughout our lives. The Fellowship of the Ring is so confident in its own merits that no amount of internet mockery can sap its power. Highly recommended. ★★★★★
LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition - The Shire
LOTR The Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition - The Shire
I watched the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD, and unfortunately, it’s not streaming or available to rent anywhere — it’s only available for purchase. The inferior theatrical version is currently streaming on HBO Max.
🥃 Bad Moms
I wanted to like Bad Moms because I like all three of its stars — Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn — but despite some funny scenes, the movie never rises above its station.
It’s a simple story about parenting in 2016, and the unfair expectations placed on mothers (both those who work and those who stay at home) to be perfect. All of that is a good start, but the film’s attempts to step out are only sporadically funny; too often, it falls back on lazy set-ups and punchlines, which is why it was no surprise to me that this was written by the same guys who did The Hangover.
This is a movie that desires “woos,” shouted at the screen in the theater at a rowdy screening, and that’s fine. I just wish that with such a good cast, Bad Moms had tried to do more. Skip it. ★★½
Bad Moms (2016) - The PTA Meeting
Bad Moms (2016) - The PTA Meeting
I watched Bad Moms on Blu-Ray; it’s not currently streaming anywhere, but it’s available to rent or purchase on these platforms.
🐾 Isle of Dogs
Despite being one of Wes Anderson’s slighter movies, Isle of Dogs is still quite charming, with excellent stop-motion animation, his trademark bleak whimsy, and an unnecessarily star-studded cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Greta Gerwig.
The premise is too much of a long walk to fully explain here, but briefly: In the near future, all dogs in Japan have been banished to an offshore trash island, and a young boy sets out to find and rescue his dog/best friend. Cleverly, the film commits to having the boy — and all other Japanese characters — speak almost entirely in Japanese, without subtitles, whereas “all barks have been rendered into English.” For the seemingly intended audience of Americans who don’t speak Japanese and have only a passing understanding of Japanese culture, this communication gap makes us see the adventure through the dogs’ eyes.
The pacing is pleasantly brisk and the jokes are good, even if this movie doesn’t have the same emotional impact as Moonrise Kingdom or The Grand Budapest Hotel. Recommended. ★★★★
Isle of Dogs - Trailer #1 (2018) Wes Anderson
Isle of Dogs - Trailer #1 (2018) Wes Anderson
I watched Isle of Dogs on Blu-Ray, but it’s currently streaming (in standard-def, with ads) on IMDB TV. Would highly recommend that you find an HD version instead!
🔢 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. Do the Right Thing
  5. Knives Out
  6. Parasite
  7. Arrival
  8. My Neighbor Totoro
  9. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  10. Airplane!
  11. The Lives of Others
  12. Hot Fuzz
  13. Boys State
  14. Hamilton
  15. Groundhog Day
  16. All About Eve
  17. West Side Story
  18. The Farewell
  19. 12 Years a Slave
  20. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  21. What We Do in the Shadows
  22. Spotlight
  23. Booksmart
  24. Her
  25. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  26. Moonrise Kingdom
  27. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  28. Your Name.
  29. North by Northwest
  30. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  31. The Incredibles
  32. Looper
  33. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  34. The Wrong Trousers
  35. The Old Guard
  36. American Psycho
  37. Thank You For Smoking
  38. Little Women
  39. Marriage Story
  40. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  41. La La Land
  42. Sunset Boulevard
  43. Ford v Ferrari
  44. A Fish Called Wanda
  45. Bringing Up Baby
  46. Gremlins
  47. Apocalypse Now
  48. The Hidden Fortress
  49. Hell or High Water
  50. Moneyball
  51. Hacksaw Ridge
  52. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  53. The Lunchbox
  54. Heat
  55. Little Miss Sunshine
  56. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  57. Coming to America
  58. Hustlers
  59. Shrek
  60. Wet Hot American Summer
  61. Dolemite Is My Name
  62. Good Will Hunting
  63. Palm Springs
  64. The Grapes of Wrath
  65. Fantasia 2000
  66. First Cow
  67. Kedi
  68. Honey Boy
  69. The Great Escape
  70. Ed Wood
  71. Isle of Dogs
  72. Annihilation
  73. The Hunt for Red October
  74. Wordplay
  75. Boyhood
  76. 1917
  77. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  78. The Philadelphia Story
  79. Dark Waters
  80. Hail, Caesar!
  81. The Death of Stalin
  82. Zoolander
  83. 50/50
  84. Hannah and Her Sisters
  85. Horse Feathers
  86. Enemy of the State
  87. Captain Phillips
  88. Uncut Gems
  89. Independence Day
  90. 9 to 5
  91. Frost/Nixon
  92. The Incredibles 2
  93. How the West Was Won
  94. Almost Famous
  95. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  96. Bad Education
  97. Godzilla
  98. Just Mercy
  99. Midnight in Paris
  100. Da 5 Bloods
  101. High Fidelity
  102. Guardians of the Galaxy
  103. My Fair Lady
  104. The Invisible Man
  105. The Hateful Eight
  106. Happy Gilmore
  107. Gates of Heaven
  108. Emma.
  109. Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  110. Home Alone
  111. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  112. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  113. Braveheart
  114. Bicycle Thieves
  115. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  116. Frankenstein
  117. Hugo
  118. All the Money in the World
  119. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  120. Live From the Space Stage: A Halyx Story
  121. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
  122. Onward
  123. Hidden Figures
  124. Pain and Glory
  125. Bambi
  126. The Great Dictator
  127. Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
  128. Anastasia
  129. Hot Rod
  130. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  131. Animal House
  132. You’ve Got Mail
  133. The 39 Steps
  134. (500) Days of Summer
  135. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  136. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  137. Modern Romance
  138. Shakespeare in Love
  139. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  140. 3:10 to Yuma
  141. The Big Country
  142. Ghost
  143. 28 Weeks Later
  144. History of the World: Part I
  145. The African Queen
  146. Greyhound
  147. Bamboozled
  148. Bullitt
  149. Dracula
  150. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  151. Bride of Frankenstein
  152. Howard the Duck
  153. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  154. The Descendants
  155. The Hangover
  156. Joker
  157. Kingpin
  158. 28 Days Later
  159. Bridesmaids
  160. The Great Gatsby
  161. 13 Assassins
  162. Creature From the Black Lagoon
  163. Bad Moms
  164. High Anxiety
  165. Kentucky Fried Movie
  166. Hang ‘Em High
  167. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  168. Ice Age
  169. Romancing the Stone
  170. Crocodile Dundee
  171. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  172. Hard Ticket to Hawaii
  173. Gods of Egypt
  174. The Gentlemen
  175. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  176. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  177. 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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